Oct 14, 2018

Napoleon and me ...!

One of my memorable trips last month was a drive to the The Manora Fort ... A desolate early 19th century monument on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, near Thanjavur. The 8 storied hexagonal  23m high structure has a peculiar pagoda like architecture quite alien to South India.

The history of this structure throws light on some interesting political scenario in the 19th century Tamil region.
The structure was commissioned by the Maratha ruler of Thanjavur , Serfoji II ,in the year 1814-15 . The Stone inscriptions (in Tamil, Urdu, Telugu, Marathi and English) proclaim the Maratha ruler as a friendly ally of the British and that the 'column' was erected to "commemorate the triumphs of the British and the downfall of (Napoleon) Bonaparte"(in the battle at Waterloo).

The Tamil inscription stone
The structure has a moat all around and seems to have been used as a sea side retreat for the ruler while  also serving as a light house . There is also a belief about a secret underground tunnel exit from the base of the building  for the royal family to escape in case of any eventualities. But there is no visible evidence for the same. 

The dried up moat around the fort 





There is a mangrove adjacent to the monument which is unapproachable for visitors. The beach is smelly and not of any significance for visitors. Visitors are restricted to climb beyond the 2nd level. 


view from the beach

Now to the interesting question..." What is the connection between Napoleon and me?"
Well, you know by now the connection between the Manora Fort and Napoleon. But the interesting part is that, my great great grandfather Vanathirayar was the Minister of Serfoji II , under who's supervision the Manora (including many other buildings during Serfoji's reign) was built. He was the first Christian convert in my family, edified by the legendary missionary Father Christian Schwartz who was also the teacher of the then young prince Serfoji II. The photo here is his grandson Arogyam Vanathirayar (born 1867) who is my great grandfather.
My ancestral place Anaikkadu lies 20kms north of Manora. 

Arogyam Vanathirayar, photo 1910

10 comments:

  1. Such an interesting post Ash.....and wonderful photos!

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a wonderful post with such beautiful pictures. So nice to read about your great great grandfather. Hope you have a delightful day. Thank you too for visiting me...it is very nice you do.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for sharing this part of your personal story, Ashok. Great post!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Interesting place. Great pics.
    Awesome history. Cool connection!
    Thanks for your visit to my blog.
    Happy Durga Puja & Dussehra

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a fascinating place.

    ReplyDelete
  6. fascinating history and wonderful photographs ! thanks for sharing :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow, That's interesting connectivity and great explored place and history ! Cool bro

    ReplyDelete