Architecture Trail: Incredible British Monuments To Visit In Tamil Nadu

Take a tour through Tamil Nadu and discover the fascinating history and architectural marvels of the Madras Presidency from railway stations to high courts, quaint libraries, churches, and more
Fort St George
The majestic Fort St GeorgeTamil Nadu Tourism

Discover the past with an awe-inspiring collection of historic monuments and structures, constructed by the British over a span of centuries in Tamil Nadu. Our meticulously curated list of destinations is a treasure trove of both well-known and offbeat places, each offering a unique glimpse into the British era. These sites are a visual feast, and they bear witness to the incredible feats of architecture of their time. Explore centuries of history and gain a deeper understanding of the cultural significance of these incredible landmarks.

Fort St George

On your next visit to Chennai, discover the magnificent Fort St George. Completed on April 23, 1644, on St George's Day, the fort is located on the Coromandel Coast near Chennai. The fortress formed a new settlement area known as George Town, which eventually became the bustling modern-day city of Chennai. In the eighteenth century, the 6 metre-high walls withstood numerous attacks. Within the premises, visitors can explore several fascinating attractions, such as the Fort Museum, which houses a treasure trove of over 3,000 artefacts from various periods.

The Indo-French Gallery is a must-see, showcasing clocks, stamps, furniture, lampshades, and centuries-old British coins. The Uniform and Medals Gallery is equally remarkable, featuring military uniforms, ceremonial costumes, and medals awarded to soldiers who participated in numerous conflicts across the Indian subcontinent. A visit to the fort is both educational and awe-inspiring. The flagstaff at Fort St. George craved from a single piece of teakwood originally part of a ship's mast, holds a significant place in history. On August 15, 1947, it became a potent symbol as the Indian tricolour was raised high upon it, marking the culmination of British rule in India.

Entry

Fort St George: Indians: Rs 5. Foreigners: Rs 100. Children below 15 years: Free

St George Museum: Indians: Rs 15. Foreigners: Rs 200. Children below 15 years: Free

Timings

Fort St George: 9 am to 5 pm (all days except Fridays)

St George Museum: 9 am to 5 pm (all days except Fridays)

St Mary’s Church

The church is the oldest Anglican church east of the Suez and the oldest British building in India
The church is the oldest Anglican church east of the Suez and the oldest British building in IndiaBraveen Leo

Within the bustling Assembly building in Fort St. George is the St. Mary's Church, a significant Anglican landmark. Constructed between 1678 and 1680 AD by the British East India Company, this church stands as the oldest Anglican church east of the Suez and the oldest British building in India. Its construction was overseen by William Dixon, with architectural design credited to Edward Fowle. Notable governors of the East India Company, including Robert Clive and Elihu Yale (co-founder of Yale University in the USA) had their marriage solemnised inside this historic church.

Address: 37HP+FJW, Shankar Rd, Rajaji Rd, Fort St George, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600009

Timings: 10 am to 5 pm (Monday to Saturday). It holds regular mass on Sundays

Ripon Building

Ripon Building
The structure is a stunning blend of Ionic and Corinthian stylesTamil Nadu Tourism

Experience the grandeur of the timeless Ripon Building, located in the heart of Chennai, near the Central Railway Station. This iconic building is named after Lord Ripon who was a viceroy of British India. Today, it serves as the headquarters of the Greater Chennai Corporation and is a perfect example of neoclassical architecture. Admire the beautiful all-white exterior, featuring a stunning blend of Ionic and Corinthian styles. Unfortunately, access to the structure is restricted, so you will have to admire it from the outside. However, the façade is occasionally lit up for special events. For instance, in 2023, vibrant colours illuminated the building to celebrate the end of the Hero Asian Champions Trophy 2023.

Address: 53, Raja Muthiah Rd, Kannappar Thidal, Periyamet, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600003

Madras High Court

Madras High Court
The court is an imposing red Indo-Saracenic structure Tamil Nadu Tourism

Designed by JW Brassington and completed by Henry Irwin in 1892, the Madras High Court is a remarkable example of architectural excellence. The imposing red Indo-Saracenic structure is said to be the world's second-largest judicial building after the Courts of London. As you explore the premises, you will be struck by the beautiful tree-lined squares and red-brick buildings that make up this historic complex which has witnessed countless important moments in history. It is not just the exterior that is impressive. Inside, you will find two remarkable lighthouses. One is a Doric column of Pallavaram granite; the other is atop a dome on the main building, visible 32 miles out at sea. The Madras High Court symbolises the city's rich history and architecture, or simply the beauty of a bygone era.

Address: Parry`s Corner, Chennai 600104

Entry: You can visit with a valid ID proof, but the courtrooms are out of bounds without a pass.

Royapuram Station

Royapuram Station was inaugurated on June 28, 1856, by Lord Harris, who was the Governor of Madras at that time. On July 1, 1856, the first passenger train ran from Royapuram to Wallajah Road, covering a distance of 60 miles (97 Km). The station also served as the headquarters of the Madras & Southern Mahratta Railway until 1922, later the headquarters was relocated to Egmore. The building was designed by William Adelpi Tracey in the classical style of the Renaissance period. Although its activity and influence have diminished over time, it remains an important heritage building in the city, not only for its architecture but also for its historical significance.

Address: 473V+PC5, N Terminus Rd, Chetty Thottam, Royapuram, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600013

Egmore Government Museum

Egmore Government Museum
The museum is the second oldest of its kind in IndiaTamil Nadu Tourism

Explore a world of art, culture, and history at one of the country's oldest museums - founded in 1851, this museum is the second oldest of its kind in the nation, after the Indian Museum in Kolkata. Located on Pantheon Road in Egmore, it was built on a 15-acre campus and was envisaged as a place of recreation, entertainment, and knowledge. With its collection spread across six buildings, this museum is a treasure trove of art, archaeology, anthropology, and more. The museum also has exhibits for folk art and music, a bronze collection, a recently reopened National Art Gallery (NAG), and a Children's Museum that has interactive educational exhibits. Housing the Connemara Public Library, this museum also offers a glimpse into unique literary collections. The Connemara Public Library is an architectural marvel. Its foundation stone was laid in the year 1890 and even today it stands in all its pride with an impenetrable silence making for a perfect reading environment.

Address: Pantheon Road, Egmore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600008

Timings: 9:30am to 5pm. Closed on Fridays and government holidays

Stone House, Ooty

Stone House in Ooty
Stone House in OotyTamil Nadu Tourism

Located in the charming hill station of Ooty, the Stone House is a historic bungalow. Built in 1822, the house was owned by the British Governor John Sullivan and is fondly known as 'Kal Bangala' by the local tribes, which means 'stone house' in Tamil. The bungalow is a fine example of European architecture that blends in perfectly with the natural beauty of South India. It was originally constructed as Sullivan's residence but later became part of the secretariat, which only adds to its historical significance. Presently, the Stone House serves as the official residence of the Principal of the Ooty Government Arts College and continues to attract tourists from all over the world. The bungalow is also home to Sullivan's Oak, a grand and majestic oak tree, which is believed to be the oldest in Ooty. One of the most striking features of the Stone House is its location, which is near the L-shaped Ooty Lake. This tranquil lake is a popular tourist destination and offers a breathtaking view of the surrounding hills.

Address: Stone House Area, Thalayathimund, Ooty, Tamil Nadu, 643002, India

Timings: 10 am to 5 pm every day

Nilgiri Library

The Nilgiri Library is a place of wonder and knowledge that has enriched the minds of readers for over 150 years. Opened in 1859, the library's Gothic architectural style and extensive collection make it a popular destination for book enthusiasts. The building features a unique red ochre hue and was designed by Robert Chisholm, who is said to have introduced the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture in British India. The library has a vast collection that includes rare titles on the Nilgiris and hill tribes and 19th-century British journals. It is a treasure trove of knowledge waiting to be explored, and a charming little haven where you can lose yourself in a world of imagination and discovery.

Address: Upper Bazaar, Hospital Road, Ooty, Tamil Nadu 643001

Timings: 10am to 1pm, and 2.30pm to 6pm

Victoria Public Hall

Victoria Public Hall
Also known as Town Hall, it was built in 1887Tamil Nadu Tourism

The Victoria Public Hall, also known as Town Hall, is a magnificent example of Indo-Saracenic architecture. Built in 1887 to honour Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, this historic red-brick structure in Chennai has been a witness to countless remarkable events. From hosting the city's first cinema show to being a platform for renowned leaders like Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the hall holds a rich tapestry of history. With its halls capable of accommodating up to 1,200 individuals and striking architectural elements such as Corinthian columns and arcaded verandas, the Victoria Public Hall is an architectural gem. Under the leadership of the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC), the restoration work promises to revive its former glory. The planned transformation of the ground floor into a museum and administrative offices, coupled with the conversion of the first floor into a vibrant cultural venue with exclusive spaces, ensures that Victoria Hall will continue to captivate and inspire for generations to come.

Address: 11/33, Evr Salai, Park Town, Kannappar Thidal, Poongavanapuram, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600003

Timings: 9am to 5.30pm. Sundays closed

Napier Bridge

Napier Bridge
An aerial view of the bridge at sunsetTamil Nadu Tourism

Discover the historical allure of the iconic Napier Bridge in Chennai. Originally constructed in 1869, this bridge links Fort St. George with Marina Beach, offering more than just a passage. With its six long arches and a span of 149m, the bridge presents a remarkable sight, particularly at night. Ensure you do not overlook the chance to behold the splendour of this historic masterpiece during your visit to the renowned Marina Beach.

Central Railway Station

Central Railway Station
The station is recognised as a heritage site,Tamil Nadu Tourism

This iconic railway station, designed by celebrated architect George Harding, is a masterpiece crafted from a blend of reinforced concrete and Porbandar stones. Recognised as a heritage site, the station showcases a captivating fusion of Gothic Revival and Romanesque architectural styles. Its foundation, laid on February 8, 1915, by the esteemed Governor of Madras, Lord Pentland, represents a rich historical legacy. During the British Era, this distinguished building served as the primary entry point for people heading to South India. Also known as Madras Central, the station underwent expansion and redesign by Robert Fellowes Chisholm in 1990. The imposing central clock tower, soaring proudly at a height of 136 feet, stands at the heart of the structure, symbolising its grandeur and historical significance.

Address: Kannappar Thidal, Periyamet, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600003

Senate House

Senate House
The structure showcases the design of renowned architect Robert Fellowes ChisholmTamil Nadu Tourism

The striking Senate House stands as a powerful testament to India's rich history and its struggle for freedom. The building at the Madras University Campus seamlessly combines Indo-Saracenic and Byzantine architectural styles, showcasing the design of renowned architect Robert Fellowes Chisholm. As the current seat of power for the Madras Legislative Council, the Senate House offers a glimpse into history with its Great Hall, Secretary's Room, and other significant areas. With its impressive architecture, including six massive pillars, four towers, and stunning porches, all topped with a brick shell and lime mortar roof, the Senate House truly captivates with its blend of grandeur and modern functionality. Whether for its historic significance or its contemporary amenities, the Senate House promises a captivating experience for all who visit.

Address: University of Madras, Navalar Nagar, Chepauk, Triplicane, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600005

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