About 15 odd kilometers away from the famous Mahabalipuram-also known as the Jewel of the Coromandel Coast-lies the hidden town of Sadurangapattinam. A small town tucked away next to Kalpakkam, was once famously known for a fairly big Dutch settlement. The Sadras Fort is one such imprint that the Dutch have left us with before they were driven away by the British.
“Imperialism is the monopoly stage of capitalism.”
The proximity of the ports on the Eastern parts of India, to Southeast Asia and China, made them very attractive for the Europeans. The first Europeans to set foot on the shores were the Portuguese in the 16th Century; in all probability they were linked to Jesuit missions, as well as the spice trade which started to dominate the scene right across Indian coastline then. Details of their travels to South India can be traced in the accounts of Jesuit Antonio Rubino, written in early 17th century.
The Danes were next in line, setting up a trading base close by in Tranquebar (Tharangambadi) in the year 1620. The Dutch East India Company built the magnificent Sadras fort as a commercial outpost at Sadhurangapattinam in the early 17th century.
These are exciting times for history and travel buffs to Tamil Nadu with the discovery of ruins 800 meters off the coast of Mamallapuram by the NIO (National Institute of Oceanography) and ASI (Archaeological Survey of India).
A NIO-ASI excavation near Punjeri village, 1.5kms from Mamalla in 2003 revealed remains an ancient sea-port from early historic and medieval times. During the tsunami in December 2004, locals had noticed a row of boulders when the sea receded before they were swallowed. One of them had remarked that they saw sunlight glistening off the top of a pagoda. Marine archaeological explorations in 2004-05 revealed many structures including long walls, pathways leading to a raised platform, scattered rectangular dressed stone blocks and a broken statue representing a lion. The presence of biological aquatic growth have made it difficult to pin-point the structures. These have now been reinforced by a recent exploration from March 10th to 18th. These were indeed vestiges of the ancient port.