Revisiting the rich history of Pallavaram

As of today, Pallavaram is just another suburb. But how many of us know that it has a glorious past, courtesy its hillocks.

According to K Prasad, historian and a teacher based out of VOC Nagar, Pallavaram, “Recent research on the books written by Lieutenant Colonel, surveyor, and geographer William Lambton, have proved that in 1802, he had laid the baseline from St Thomas Mount to a hillock in Pallavaram, to determine the length of a degree of latitude, along a longitude in the middle of the sub-continent.
Lambton and his successor, George Everest, spent the next few decades computing across the length of the sub-continent, what came to be called the ‘Great Indian Arc of the Meridian’.”

This was the beginning of the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India which did the groundwork for the accurate survey of India and to calculate the height of Mount Everest. As for its name, ‘Pallavaram’ was derived from ‘Pallavapuram’, it is said.

As per one of the oldest inhabitants of the neighbourhood, R Yesu, a retired employee from Madras Institute of Technology, Chrompet, Pallavaram, was one of the stronghold areas of the Pallava kingdom, while Perungalathur was the station for their war horses which got its name from Perumkalam (big field).

As a testimony to the resident’s statements, we have British archaeologist Robert Bruce Foote’s discovery more than a century ago.

Recent research on his manuscripts, stated that he had unearthed a stone implement used during early Paleolithic age, near a hillock in Pallavaram in 1863, which established the oldest human settlement here and also gave a historical identity to the locality.

That’s not all, in 1878, British archaeologist Alexander Rea also unearthed a sarcophagus from the hillocks of the neighbourhood.

After more than a century, the Central government had made amendments to its Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958, and enacted the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act on 23 January, 2010.

Following this, many areas in Pallavaram were marked as megalithic sites. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has unearthed many artifacts and the discovery of a 2,300-year-old sarcophagus last year stands tall.


S Ben Raja