Nagapattnam lighthouse, a colonial heritage structure

Lighthouse at Nagapatnam, Tamil Nadu. nagapattinam.nic.i
Nagapattinam, once belonged to erstwhile composite Thanjavur District, is an important small port of Tamil Nadu and has been around since the 8th century, period of great Chola kings. Located on the confluence of Kaduveiyaru river with the Bay of Bengal, this historical town is the headquarters of Nagapattnam district. It is more a fishing port and until 1970s  there was a direct shipping  service  available from here to Penang (Malaysia) and Singapore. In the by-gone days, in the harbor area, a flagstaff was provided on which a flag used to be hoisted to enable vessels to enter the port. The famous Velankaani Our Lady of Health Basilica built by the Portuguese and the Nagore Durgah are the major attractions here and people in thousands visit these places. Tirunallar temple dedicated to Lord Shaniswara (planet Saturn) near Karikkal (Pondycherry state) and Sikkil  Subramaniya Swamy temple are popular pilgrimage centers for the Hindus and they are close to this port town.

Earlier Nagapattnam was under the control of the Portuguese and the Dutch . In November 1781, the town was conquered by the British East India Company and while under the British company,

Circular stirway, Nagapatnam lighthoue,

Nagapatnam Lighthouse,

Dutch engraving showing Nagapatnam c. 1680.

it was  here
in 1846 the first conventional 20 meter tall  Lighthouse tower was built  inside the port prescient to guide the ships and the fishing boats sailing in the Bay of Bengal. The top of the tower had a wick lamp inside the 6th order optic that provided the source light and  later this conventional system was replaced in 1903 with a  new equipment, having  4th order optic for better enhancement of light and providing  occulting flashes. The flashes would be visible at far off distance in the sea and  the beam would help the ship navigators locate the coastal line.  During the retreating Monsoon (November-December), over the Bay of Bengal normally low pressure troughs develop that may generate into cyclones. In those days and even today the Nagapattnam coastal area is  highly vulnerable to thunder storms and cyclones. The British, prudent as they were, way back in 1903 introduced a  storm warning signal hoisting mast to warn the fishing community in case the sea was rough and dangerous to venture into. The color of the flag to be hoisted may vary, depending on the intensity of the storm or cyclone.

Tamil Nadu state map.

A major renovation work was done in 1923 with the installation of a  new PV equipment. This  system had a 85 mm burner and first order optic assembly in two panels, revolving on mercury float. It was made by by M/s. Chance Bros., Birmingham, England. After 1985, a better equipment was in place. The PRB-21 equipment with sealed beam lamps supplied by M/s. ANA, New Delhi. It  was installed on 20th March 1985. 

Since the port  became a major fishing harbor in the past, a better light source equipment for the light house became a necessity. The Radio beacon equipment (400 W) supplied by MACE, Visakhapatnam, transmitting on 295 kHz (installed in 1992) and the ‘Tide land’ ‘Racon’( installed on 3rd September 1996) were the additions made in the 1990s. The DGPS equipment made by M/s Leica Geo Systems, U.S.A was integrated on 30th April 2003, converting Radio Beacon to DGPS station. Halogen lamps provide the light source. This equipment replaced the old auto head lamps.
After the tragic 26 December 2004 devastating Tsunami triggered by the movement of Tectonic plates, causing severe submarine earthquake  off the Indonesian  Islands that had left a trail of destruction and death along the coastal area, a Tsunami warning system has been in use since then.