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IIT-M, TCE to carry out stability study of Nayak era bastion

IIT-M, TCE to carry out stability study of Nayak era bastion

Madurai: Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) and Thiagarajar College of Engineering (TCE) in Madurai will carry out a stability study of the West Gate bastion, the last of the remnants of Nayak era fort in Madurai. Based on the outcome of the study, the city corporation may turn the structure into a tourist spot, according to official sources. The bastion was part of the 72 bastions of Nayak era fort constructed during the reign of Viswanatha Nayak, the first ruler of Madurai Nayak dynasty that lasted from 1529 to 1736. Viswanatha Nayak assisted by his chief minister Ariyanatha Mudaliar divided the kingdom into 72 palayams (administrative regions) and installed poligar kings.

British East India Company took control over Madurai and most of Nayak’s regions with relative ease subduing poligar kings by 1790. Madurai was formally annexed to the Madras Presidency in 1801 and the Madurai collectorate was established. Madurai’s British collector John Blackburn decided to expand the city beyond its walls and ordered the demolition of Nayak’s fort. The massive walls were brought down filling the moat and Veli streets were established during the 1840s. Only the West Gate bastion survived the transition.

“Madurai was a double fortified city with Pandya era fort around Meenakshi temple and Nayak’s fort at the periphery. From Pandya’s fort, only Vittavasal survived, while only the West Gate bastion remained from Nayak’s,” says archaeologist C Santhalingam of Pandyanadu Centre for Historical Research. The bastion managed to survive the post-Independence era too. Under the government’s mega tourism project, a park was established at the bastion in 2011. But the bastion doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Trees are growing on the fort walls, posing a danger to the more than 400-year-old structure.

Corporation commissioner Dr K P Karthikeyan said the civic body is planning to promote the bastion as an important tourist attraction in the city.

But the stability of the structure must be studied before any developmental works are taken up.

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