Cuddalore lies 25 km south of Pondicherry on the coast of the Bay of Bengal, in Tamil Nadu. Cuddalore has two districts: the "Old Town" and the "New Town" (Thirupathiripuliyur), separated by the Gedilam River. 1748 to 1752, Cuddalore was the capital of the English Possessions on the Coromandal Coast.
Through the centuries, Cuddalore has been subject to a number of foreign powers including the Netherlands, Portugal, France and more recently, the British. In the 1600s, the French and English came to Cuddalore for trade and business. The French established a settlement at Pondichery and the British at Cuddalore. The French and English, while engaged in the Seven Years' War, fought the naval "Battle of Cuddalore" on 29 April 1758. It was an indecisive battle between a British squadron, under Vice-Admiral George Pocock and a French squadron, under Comte d'Ache. British casualties were 29 killed and 89 wounded, while France lost about 600 men. From 1789 to 1794, there was further unrest in Cuddalore due to the War of American Independence and the Second Anglo-Mysore War culminating in the siege of Cuddalore after which the town was returned to Britain as part of a peace treaty. Some streets in Cuddalore retain British names such as Clive street, Wellington street, Lawrence road and Imperial road.
Cuddalore has both Shiva and Vaishnava temples. Ancient texts about Cuddalore refer to sacred sites and notable people in the area.
Temples in Chozha Naadu (North of the River Kaveri)
- "Padaleeshwarar" is a Saiva (Shiva) Hindu temple in "Thiruppadirippuliyur" ("Padaliputhiram" in the Samanas period) in central Cuddalore.
- "Perumal" is a temple in Thiruvandhipuram, 7 km from Thirupathiripuliyur.
- "Tirumanikuzhi a paadal petra stalas" (familiar place for Saiva) is a shiva temple 9 km from Cuddalore.
- Thiruvadhigai Veerattaneswarar Temple and the Thirunavalur Shiva temple are 15 km from Cuddalore near the Jumma Mosque bus stand.
- Thiruvanthipuram, the Sacred Abode of Lord Devanatha, 7 km west of Thirupathiripuliyur Railway Station is one of the ancient Vaishnavite temples. It is one of two Nadunattu Tirupathis. There are 108 Vaishnavite shrines sanctified by the visit of the great Alwars and Acharyas.
- The temple of "Sri Natarajan" has a representation of its deity which is noted for its design depicting the figure in a dancing form.
Temples of Nadu Naadu
- Aadhinath Jain Temple at Cuddalore Old Town
- Natarajar Temple at Chidambaram
- Pasupateswarar Temple at Thiruvetkalam
- Uchinathar Temple at Thirunelvayil
- Paalvanna Naathar Temple at Thirukkazhippalai
- Patanjali Nathar Temple at Omampuliyur
- Tuyartheerthanathar Temple at Thirukkaanaattumulloor
- Soundareswarar Temple at Thirunaarayur
- Amritaghateswarar Temple at Kadambur
- Natarajar Temple at Neyveli (Cuddalore)
- Theerthapureeswarar Temple at Thiruvattaturai
- Sudarkozhuntheesar Temple at Pennaagadam
- Nerikkattunayakar Temple at Goodalaiyatrur
- Swetargavaneswarar Temple at Erukkattampuliyur
- Sivakkozhuntheeswarar Temple at Tiruttinai Nagar
- Mangalapureeswarar Temple at Tiruchopuram
- Veerateswarar Temple at Thiruvathikai
- Vridhagireeswarar Temple at Vriddhachalam
- Pasupateeswarar Temple at Thirutturaiyur
- Vaamaneswarar Temple at Thirumaanikkuzhi
- Paataleeswarar Temple at Thiruppaatirippuliyur
- Devanathaswamy Temple at Thiruvanthipuram
Cuddalore's beaches are becoming a tourist destination. Silver Beach is the second longest beach in Tamil Nadu. It lies 2 km from Cuddalore on India's south east Coromandel coast.
Cuddalore Old Town
During the Mughal period, Cuddalore Old Town was called "Islamabad". It remains a predominantly Islamic area. It hosts one of the oldest and biggest mosques in south India. The mosque and housing in Cuddalore Old Town are built in the Persian style. In 1866, the Cuddalore municipal offices moved to Manjai Nagar. After this, the terms "Old Town" and "New Town" were coined.
Fort St David
Fort St David is situated on the river Gadilam near Devanampattinam. It was built in 1653 A.D. by Elihu Yale, a Hindu merchant. In 1677, when Shivaji captured Gingee, the fort fell into the hands of the Marathas. In 1690, the British East India Company purchased the fort and the adjacent villages (within "ye randome shott of a piece of ordnance".) A great gun was fired to different points of the compass and all the country within its range, including the town of Cuddalore, passed into the possession of the English. The villages thus obtained are called "cannon ball villages". The fortifications were strengthened in 1693, 1698, 1702, 1725, 1740 and 1745. In 1746 Fort St. David became the British headquarters for British India. The British ruled a greater part of south India (Tamil Nadu, parts of present day Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka) from Fort St. David. An attack by Dupleix was successfully repulsed. In 1756, Clive was appointed governor. The French captured the fort in 1758 but in 1760 relinquished it to Sir Eyre Coote of the British East India Company. The French recaptured the fort in 1782 and held it in 1783 during the "Battle of Cuddalore". In 1785 the fort passed into British possession. By this time, however, the centre of British rule was Fort St George. The stamp of the post office at Silver Beach depicts Fort St David.
The Garden House
The "Garden House" was the official residence of the Cuddalore District Collector, Robert Clive. It is typical of later medieval architecture. The roof of the Garden House was built using only bricks and slaked lime with no steel and wood. There was an esplanade ("Chevalier Shivaji Arangam" or "Manjai Nagar", now known as Manjakuppam) beyond the residence.
How to Reach Cuddalore
Cuddalore is connected with other parts of Tamil Nadu through a rail and road network.
By Road: Buses run to nearby towns such as Pondicherry (Puducherry), Chidambaram, Panruti, Tindivanam and Villupuram. Buses to major cities of Tamil Nadu such as Chennai, Tiruchirapalli, Salem, Tiruvannamalai are also available.
National Highway NH-45A (the Villupuram - Pondicherry - Cuddalore - Chidambaram - Nagapattinam Highway) passes through Cuddalore.
By Rail: Cuddalore has two railway stations, Thirupadirippuliyur and Cuddalore Port Junction, with station codes TDPR and CUPJ respectively. The station code for Cuddalore Port Junction was previously COT, as the station is located in Cuddalore Old Town. Thirupadirippuliyur railway station is located in the Cuddalore new town and is at a walkable distance from the Cuddalore bus stand.
By Air: Chennai airport (International & Domestic terminals). The nearest airport is at Pondicherry (Puducherry), approximately 25 km from Cuddalore. (Commercial flights will start operations in the near future).