October 15, 2011

Sadras - The Fortress Town

Sadras is a fortress town located approximately at a distance of around 70 kms from Chennai, the gateway to South India. Sadras is the anglicized name of Chaduranga Pattinam.

Dutch Fortress
Sadras has two tourist sites. The first one is a Dutch fort and the second one is an old Hindu temple. Sadras was established as part of Dutch in the 17th century CE. It soon became a center for weaving muslin cloth for export. The Dutch built the magnificent fort for the commercial purpose near the beach in Sadras. The first battle between the Dutch and the British East India company started here and it is referred as the Battle of Sadras. The fortress was raided by the British in 1818 CE and came under their control. Today, the fortress, which is under the control of Archaeological Survey of India, has only few structures and walls. Most of parts of the fortress are in the ruins. There is a section where the graveyard of Dutch men are found inside the fortress.

Dutch Tombs
Apart from the historical Dutch Fort, there is another place of interest in Sadras. About 0.5 km from the fortress, there is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu is called as Giri Varadar in this temple. This small beautiful temple doesn't have rajagopuram (tower). A long lamp post and the small shrine of Hanuman are located in front of the temple on the road. The main entrance of the temple has the idols of Ganesha and Nagaraja (snake God) on either sides.

 The main shrine is located on a raised platform (rather on an elevated hillock). The entrance of the main courtyard has the idols of Lakshmi Narasimha and Lakshmi Naryana which are generally not found in the other Vishnu temples. The sanctum sanctorum has the idol of Lord Giri Varadar in the standing posture with four arms. The deity is also called as Malai Mandala Perumal. His consorts Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi are found on his either sides. Outside the sanctum sanctorum, the idols of Lakshmi and Narayana are found. There is a separate sub-shrine in Maha Mandap where a lot of utsav idols (bronze idols) are placed.

Malai Mandala Perumal Temple
The temple has only one prakara (corridor). The shrine of the Goddess Perundevi is located in the prakara. There are also other shrines such as Vishnu Durga, Andal and Alwars in the prakara.

In front of the main shrine the bali peeth, flag staff and the small shrine of Garud are located. The idol of Garud is rare as it is found along with eight serpents (Ashta Naga Garud). It is believed that the first Alwar, Bhoodath Alwar had stayed in this temple. As per the history, Raghavendra Swamigal had also stayed in this temple for sometime.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:

Site Name: Sadras
Site Type: Hindu temple, Fortress, Historical site
Location:  15 kms from Mamallapuram, 85 kms from Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: Dutch fortress in ruins; old temple for Lord Vishnu where the idol of Garud carries eight snakes
Nearest Railway Station: Chenglepet
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Reachable by road from Mamallapuram, Chennai or Chenglepet
Hotel: Available only in the nearby cities - Chenglepet or Chennai
Restaurants: No restaurant; you need to come to Chenglepet, Mamallapuram or Chennai

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