Tamil Nadu

Alamparai Fort set to rise from the ruins after more than 350 years

The Alamparai Fort was once a thriving port and mint of the Muslim and French rulers

The Alamparai Fort was once a thriving port and mint of the Muslim and French rulers   | Photo Credit: SPECIALARRANGEMENT

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Department of Archaeology has begun restoration work on the structure

After lying derelict for over 350 years, the Alamparai Fort, which was once a thriving port and mint of the Muslim and French rulers, is set to regain its majesty, as the Department of Archaeology has begun restoration work.

The funding for the conservation and restoration project has come from the Asian Development Bank, which has allotted ₹8.02 crore for the initiative.

The work is on in full swing and is expected to be completed in seven months.

“The restoration will not only resurrect the ancient fort, but also attract tourists,” a senior official of the Archaeology Department said.

Situated along the Chennai-Puducherry East Coast Road in Madurantakam taluk of Kancheepuram district, the 15-acre brick and lime square structure was built by the Muslim rulers in the 17th century AD.

It was under the control of Nawab Dost Ali Khan in 1735, and was gifted to French Governor Joseph François Dupleix in 1750.

“Coins were minted after the French received the fort, and the Alamparai varahan is equal to ₹3,” the official said. Important commodities like salt, cloth and ghee were exported from Alamparai, which is situated close to the Marakkanam port.

Alamparai, a flourishing place of trade and commerce, fell into oblivion when the British, led by Sir Thomas Eyre Coote, captured the fort in 1760 and inflicted damage on it.

Neglect and sea erosion took a further toll on the structure.

“It has survived thus far because of the quality construction material that was used at that time. The walls, with a 1.2-metre width, weathered the ravages of the time,” said a senior official, explaining that the restoration work will involve mending, reconstruction, grouting and underpinning.

Special bricks procured from Karnataka are being used for brick stitching in the worn out portions of the fortress wall. Mortar made of unslaked lime from Kazhugumalai, mixed with sand, gallnut and jaggery, is used for construction and pasting. A special mortar and pestle has been installed to make the paste.

Traditional restoration

“We will reconstruct wherever restoration is impossible, following the traditional method. Existing cracks will be sealed with grout. Foundations will be strengthened where necessary by pouring concrete through the gunning method,” the official said.

Two retired officials of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) are monitoring the restoration work to ensure that it strictly adheres to established standards.

“We are also creating facilities like toilets, parking lots and drinking water dispensaries on-site for the benefit of tourists,” the Archaeology Department official said.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 8:25:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/alamparai-fort-set-to-rise-from-the-ruins-after-more-than-350-years/article30563893.ece

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