Alamparai Fort, Kadappakkam, Kanchipuram
Alamparai fort is one of the least known historic places found on the southern outskirts of Chennai. It is around 100 kms away from Chennai through ECR Road and is very near to Pondicherry. The ruins of Alamparai Fort (also called Alampara) lie near Kadappakkam, a village 50 km from Mamallapuram on the land overlooking the sea. Constructed in the late 17th century during the Mughal era, the Alamparai Fort once had a 100 – metre long dockyard stretching into the sea, from which zari cloth, salt, and ghee were exported.
Alamparai was a seaport in historical times. The place had other names like Idaikazhinadu, Alamparva and Alampuravi. The fort was built during the Mughal era between 1736 and 1740 CE. The fort was initially under the control of the Nawab of Arcot, Doste Ali Khan. In 1750, for the services rendered by the famous French commander Duplex to Subedar Muzarfarzang, the fort was given to the French. When French were defeated by the British, the fort was captured and destroyed in 1760 AD. More recently the structure was damaged in the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.
Alamparai is mentioned in several places in the diaries of Ananda Ranga Pillai, Dubash to Dupleix in French India. It was the primary port of trade for the Arcot Nawabs. They had a mint there, and later, at the request of Dumas, the governor of Madras Presidency, The People who worked in the Mints of Alamparai (it is mentioned as 'Alampuravi') moved to Pondicherry and established a mint with the approval of the Nawab of Arcot. It was a regular port of call on the Coromandel Coast, having a 100 m (330 ft.) dockyard.
The other contemporary ports were Pulicat, Madras, Mylapore, Sadras (12 km from Mahabalipuram), Pondicherry, Cuddalore, Porto Nova, Karaikal, Tharangampadi (Tranquebar), and Nagapattinam. A team of archaeologists found out coins minted during the rule of Nawabs. Some rare artifacts like the arms and ammunition used by the Nawabs and French were also found in fort. The only two references to it were in an untranslatable German document, and in one digitized document making a passing reference to it as Allemparva, on the Coromandel Coast.
The fort covers an area of 15 acres (0.061 km2). The fort is built of bricks and limestone and at its centre there is a mausoleum. There are tall walls around the fort and brick steps lead to the top. The watch tower from the fort provides good view of the surroundings. The square shaped fort with Towers at angles (4 corners), were built of bricks and lime mortar. It occupies an area of nearly 15 acres and the length of the Dockyard is about 100 meters. Alamparai was also known as Alambarva, and Alampuravi. Zari, Clothes, salt and Ghee was exported from the Alamparai port.
Alamparai Kasu & Varahan (Coins) were minted at the Alamparai Mint. As per the inscription available, Pottipattan who was in charge of the mint construction and a Shiva temple, a Big pond and a Choultry on the highway for the benefit of the pilgrims who travelled on the east coast from Kasi to Rameswaram. This highway lies at a distance of two miles on the western side of Alamparai Fort. This Fort is maintained and protected by the state Department of archaeology.
On the east side of the fort is a marvellous view of the backwaters. The waters lap gently against the edges of the fort, and you can see the sea in the distance. The hypnotic blue of the sky and the sea are soothing. A boat ride along the backwaters is another exciting possibility. Local fishermen assist tourists in a boating experience around the fort.
There are references to the region in Sangam literature Sirupanatrupadai as a trade post. As of 2011, the fort received an average of 25,000 visitors every year. The Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) listed the fort as one of twenty lesser known tourist spots in the state. The Corporation listed the fort in the international tourism fair held at Berlin. The fort is pictured in several commercials and cinema. Portions of Pithamagan, a 2003 Tamil film, starring popular actors Suriya and Vikram, was shot in the fort.
Alamparai Fort can be reached on driving down the East Coast Road, about 100 kms (62 mi) from Chennai, 5 kms (3.1 mi) from Vedal, 50 kms (31 mi) from Mamallapuram and 50 kms (31 mi) from Pondicherry (Puducherry). A two-hour drive down the East Coast Road — about 100 km — desperately peering at road signs, and you sight the luminous green signboard announcing Kadappakkam. In the centre of this settlement is a path to the left leading to the fort and the backwaters. About two-and-a-half kilometres down this picture perfect road, with gentle backwaters and white beaches, a sandy track turns right and you bounce your way down a rough track to the Alamparai fort.