The Danish connection

In Pulicat, the view from the lighthouse is of the sea, the lagoon, a clear perimeter of what was once Fort Geldria, the small and big mosques, the ancient temples and the cemeteries. The story of this ancient trade port goes much deeper than its well-known Dutch heritage, but it is still possible to imagine a time when Danish ships with tall sails crowded these waters, traded in textiles and spices, and the Dutch eventually built a stronghold. Pulicat or Pallaicatta , till 1690, was the capital of the Dutch Coromandel.

According to Asia in the Making of Europe: A Century of Advance: South Asia by Donald Frederick Lach, the Dutch first got trading rights in Masulipatnam in 1605 and explored Pulicat the following year. In 1609, they landed in Pulicat in search of water. They went on to strike up trade relations with the Muslims there (since the Arabs had reached Pulicat earlier). With permission from Queen Eraivi, wife of Venkata II (the Vijayanagar King), they established a factory and began trading, mostly in textiles and diamonds. The Portuguese in Pulicat attacked the Dutch who began to feel threatened. And so, they established a fort in 1613 — Fort Geldria — to protect themselves from the other local kings and the Portuguese. This fort is now overgrown with bushes but its perimeter and moat are still visible.

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