Vellore Fort, Vellore restoration of two historical colonial structures began in 2022

Renovation work  on Colonial buildings inside the Fort in

Above image: Old British building inside the Vellore fort located in the heart of the town. The fort is known for its ramparts and the moat. On the terrace is missing the slanting tiled portion. photo credit: .........

Dating back to 16th century, the Vellore Fort is an important historical site that was once controlled by various dynasties including the  Vijayanagara rulers , Tipu Sultan and the British. The fort covers  a huge area of about  135 acres surrounded all around by a well- built moat. Within the fort there are  a mosque, the St John's church and Jalakantheshwara temple. The mosque dates back to the early period of the the Nawabs of Arcot,  Jalakantheshwara  temple was built by the Vijayanagara rulers. As for the church,  it was built by Robert Clive in the 1800s. At present, offices of sub-treasury, PWD, police and forest department are functioning inside the fort.

old British building, Vellore, TN

Colonial buildings inside the Fort in 
 Photo Credit: C. Venkatachalapathy. 
Above image: Vellore fort colonial building interior part.  Take note of the huge arches and the wooden rafters that support the Madras roofing...................... 


Vellore mutiny, 1806, Tamil

Above images:  The Vellore fort, TN  fort was once the venue of the earliest resistance against the oppressive rule of the English company. Though lasted a day; it was subdued by the enforcements from the Madras regiments. The Vellore revolt (10 July 1806)  predated the Indian Revolt of 1857 by about 50 years. The Indian killed or wounded 200 British soldiers because of too much interference in religious matter and intimidating attitude toward the natives. About 300 Indian patriots were killed including summary execution of about 100. The revolt   was brutal and shook the British East India Company badly.  It was the first major mutiny by the Indian sepoys in the East India Company.......... 

There are two colonial buildings on the fort premises and in 2022 Vellore corporation and the ASI  began the restoration work to preserve the old structures that are more than 100 years old. Before restoration work,  the two colonial buildings were used as Conservator of Forests and taluk offices until a decade ago. They moved out to facilitate the restoration work, according to the ASI office of the Vellore circle. 

Vellore Fort, Vellore city, Tamil Nadu.

Restoration work began after getting permission from the ASI HQ, New Delhi and the needed funds. The  idea is to make the fort  a tourist hub which is a good proposition. The restoration is on as per guidelines set by the conservation experts.  Accordingly, an expert team was set up to give guidelines for restoration. 

Characteristic of many old colonial masonry buildings (using well-fired clay bricks  and ground lime and mortar), the structures here were built with Indo-Saracenic style with  eye-catching arches and Madras roofing supported by wooden beams and rafters. These buildings once served as  office quarters of the British officers. They were stationed here to guard the Mysore rulers of the Wodeyar royal family. Hyder Ali and his son, Tipu Sultan’s large families also once lived here. 
Over the years, these buildings  became severely damaged with many cracks in the pillars, walls and roof due to overgrowth of vegetation. The culprit was thick growth of plants and root wedging. The flooring and wall plastering were in bad condition. Restoration of a heritage building back to its old grandeur require proper planning and it is consuming. The engineers have to pick the right construction material used in the olden period and follow the old technique to preserve the heritage elements. 
Govt. offices, Vellore Fort, TN

As per guidelines,  the damaged  Madras roofing will be carefully restored using  teak wood joints with burnt bricks laid on lime mortar.  The advantage of flat terrace is it provides better light, ventilation, more fire resistance and better appearance to the building. Because of lack of gradient on the flat terrace special care was taken to make the roof  leak-proof during rainy seasons.
Location of Vellore, TN.

Strictly following the traditional methods, the cracks on the walls will be plastered with lime stones. For this purpose limestones were sourced from South Tamil Nadu  Virudhunagar. In the terrace work nattu odu (local tiles) were widely used  decades ago. Such tiles are rare now, However special care was taken to relay the roof flooring with terrace tiles (Nattu odu) sourced from  from Rajapalayam, Pannaivellam and  Kadukakai from Kalugu Malai in south Tamil Nadu. This blending helps  absorb excessive heat and keep the moisture intact inside the building. Plans are afoot to finish the entire work before the  arrival of NE monsoon.