Coromandel Coast

Coromandel Coast

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The Coromandel Coast is the name given to the southeastern coast of the Indian Subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

 between Cape Comorin and False Divi Point
False Divi Point
False Divi Point is a low headland located at the northern end of the Coromandel Coast, in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India.It is located at the apex of the Krishna River delta. The area is low, swampy and dominated by mangroves.- See also :...

. It may also include the southeastern coast of the island of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

.

Etymology


The land of the Chola dynasty was called Cholamandalam (சோழ மண்டலம்) in Tamil
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

, literally translated as The realm of the Cholas, from which Coromandel is derived. Another research shows that the coast along the Chola country was called Cholamandalam which was later corrupted to Coromandel by the Europeans. According to The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea by Wilfred Harvey Schoff, the Chola coast was derived from the native Tamil
Tamil language
Tamil is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It has official status in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the Indian union territory of Pondicherry. Tamil is also an official language of Sri Lanka and Singapore...

 name Chola-mandalam, from which the Portuguese derived our modern word Coromandel.

Description


The coast is generally low, and punctuated by the deltas of several large rivers, including the Kaveri (Cauvery), Palar
Palar River
Palar is a river of southern India. It rises in Nandi Hills, India in Kolar district of Karnataka state, and flows 93 km in Karnataka, 33 km in Andhra Pradesh and 222 km in Tamil Nadu before its confluence into the Bay of Bengal at Vayalur about 100 km south of Chennai...

, Penner
Penner River
The Penner is a river of southern India. The Penner rises on the hill of Nandi Hills in Chikballapur District of Karnataka state, and runs north and east through the state of Andhra Pradesh to empty into the Bay of Bengal...

, and Krishna, which rise in the highlands of the Western Ghats
Western Ghats
The Western Ghats, Western Ghauts or the Sahyādri is a mountain range along the western side of India. It runs north to south along the western edge of the Deccan Plateau, and separates the plateau from a narrow coastal plain along the Arabian Sea. The Western Ghats block rainfall to the Deccan...

 and flow across the Deccan Plateau to drain into the Bay of Bengal
Bay of Bengal
The Bay of Bengal , the largest bay in the world, forms the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean. It resembles a triangle in shape, and is bordered mostly by the Eastern Coast of India, southern coast of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to the west and Burma and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the...

. The alluvial plains created by these rivers are fertile and favour agriculture. The coast is also known for its ports and harbours, Pulicat
Pulicat
Pulicat is a historic seashore town in Thiruvallur District, of Tamil Nadu state, South India. It is about 60 km north of Chennai and 3 km from Elavur, on the barrier island of Sriharikota, which separates Pulicat Lake from the Bay of Bengal. Pulicat lake is a shallow salt water lagoon...

, Chennai
Chennai
Chennai , formerly known as Madras or Madarasapatinam , is the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, located on the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal. Chennai is the fourth most populous metropolitan area and the sixth most populous city in India...

 (Madras), Sadras
Sadras
Sadras is a fortress town located on India's Coromandel Coast in Kanchipuram District, 70 km south of Chennai in Tamil Nadu state. Sadras is the anglicized form of the ancient town of Chadhuranga Pattinam....

, Pondicherry, Karaikal
Karaikal
Karaikal is a major port city of east coast of India and a municipality in Karaikal district in the Union Territory of Pondicherry, India. Several explanations are offered for the word 'Karaikal'. The imperial Gazetteer gives it the meaning 'fish pass'. According to Julien vinson the town is said...

, Cuddalore
Cuddalore
Cuddalore is a fast growing industrial city and headquarter of Cuddalore district in the Tamil Nadu state of southern India. Located south of Pondicherry on the coast of Bay of Bengal, Cuddalore has a large number of industries which employ a great deal of the city's population.Cuddalore is known...

, Tranquebar
Tranquebar
Tharangambadi is a panchayat town in Nagapattinam district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, 15 km north of Karaikal, near the mouth of a distributary of the Kaveri River. Its name means "place of the singing waves"...

, Nagore
Nagore
Nagore is a town in the Nagapattinam District, Tamil Nadu, India. It is located approximately 16 km south of Karaikal and 4 km north of Nagapattinam. Tiruvarur , Mayiladuthurai , Muthupet are nearby towns. It has a population of approximately 90,000. The prime attraction is the renowned...

, and Nagapattinam
Nagapattinam
Nagapattinam is a town in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the administrative headquarters of Nagapattinam District. It is a prominent seaport on the east coast of India and an important centre of trade and commerce.The town of Nagapattinam dates back to the Sangam period...

, which take advantage of their close proximity with regions rich in natural and mineral resources (like the Chhattisgarh
Chhattisgarh
Chhattisgarh is a state in Central India, formed when the 16 Chhattisgarhi-speaking South-Eastern districts of Madhya Pradesh gained separate statehood on 1 November 2000....

 belt and the mines of Golconda
Golconda
Golconda may be:Places:* Golkonda, ruined city and fortress in India* Golconda, Illinois, town in the United States* Golconda, Nevada, former town in the United StatesOther:* Golconda...

 and Kolar
Kolar
Kolara is a city in the South Indian state of Karnataka. It is the headquarters of Kolar District. It is known for being one of the gold mining sites in India....

) and/or good transport infrastructure. The planar geography of the region also favours urban growth and agglomerations.

The Coromandel Coast falls in the rain shadow
Rain shadow
A rain shadow is a dry area on the lee side of a mountainous area. The mountains block the passage of rain-producing weather systems, casting a "shadow" of dryness behind them. As shown by the diagram to the right, the warm moist air is "pulled" by the prevailing winds over a mountain...

 of the Western Ghats, and receives a good deal less rainfall during the summer southwest monsoon, which contributes heavily to rainfall in the rest of India. The region averages 800 mm/year, most of which falls between October and December. The topography of the Bay of Bengal, and the staggered weather pattern prevalent during the season favours northeast monsoon, which has a tendency to cause cyclone
Cyclone
In meteorology, a cyclone is an area of closed, circular fluid motion rotating in the same direction as the Earth. This is usually characterized by inward spiraling winds that rotate anticlockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere of the Earth. Most large-scale...

s and hurricanes rather than a steady precipitation. As a result, the coast is hit by inclement weather almost every year between October to January. The high variability of rainfall patterns are also responsible for water scarcity and famine in most areas not served by the great rivers. For example, the city of Chennai is one of the driest cities in the country in terms of potable water availability, despite high percentage of moisture in the air, due to the unpredictable, seasonal nature of the monsoon.

The Coromandel Coast is home to the East Deccan dry evergreen forests
East Deccan dry evergreen forests
The East Deccan dry evergreen forests are an ecoregion of southeastern India. The ecoregion includes the coastal region behind the Coromandel Coast on the Bay of Bengal, between the Eastern Ghats and the sea...

 ecoregion
Ecoregion
An ecoregion , sometimes called a bioregion, is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than an ecozone and larger than an ecosystem. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural...

, which runs in a narrow strip along the coast. Unlike most of the other tropical dry forest
Tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests
The tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forest biome, also known as tropical dry forest, is located at tropical and subtropical latitudes. Though these forests occur in climates that are warm year-round, and may receive several hundred centimeters of rain per year, they have long dry seasons...

 regions of India, where the trees lose their leaves during the dry season, the East Deccan dry evergreen forests retain their leathery leaves year round. The Coromandel coast is also home to extensive mangrove
Mangrove
Mangroves are various kinds of trees up to medium height and shrubs that grow in saline coastal sediment habitats in the tropics and subtropics – mainly between latitudes N and S...

 forests along the low-lying coast and river deltas, and several important wetland
Wetland
A wetland is an area of land whose soil is saturated with water either permanently or seasonally. Wetlands are categorised by their characteristic vegetation, which is adapted to these unique soil conditions....

s, notably Kaliveli Lake
Kaliveli Lake
Kaliveli Lake is a coastal lake in the Viluppuram District of Tamil Nadu, India. This lake lies approximately 16 kilometers north of Pondicherry and 10 kilometers north of Auroville, near the Bay of Bengal....

 and Pulicat Lake
Pulicat Lake
Pulicat Lake is the second largest brackish – water lake or lagoon in India. It straddles the border of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu states on the Coromandal Coast in South India. The lake encompasses the Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary...

, that provide habitat to thousands of migrating and resident birds.

History



By late 1530 the Coromandel Coast was home to three Portuguese settlements at Nagapattinam
Nagapattinam
Nagapattinam is a town in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the administrative headquarters of Nagapattinam District. It is a prominent seaport on the east coast of India and an important centre of trade and commerce.The town of Nagapattinam dates back to the Sangam period...

, São Tomé de Meliapore, and Pulicat. Later, in the 17th and 18th century, the Coromandel Coast was the scene of rivalries among European powers in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries for control of the India trade. The British established themselves at Fort St George
Fort St George
Fort St George is the name of the first English fortress in India, founded in 1639 at the coastal city of Madras, the modern city of Chennai. The construction of the Fort provided the impetus for further settlements and trading activity, in what was originally a no man's land...

 (Madras) and Masulipatnam, the Dutch
Dutch Coromandel
Coromandel was a governorate of the Dutch East India Company on the Coromandel Coast between 1610 until the company's liquidation in 1802. It then became a colony of the Kingdom of the Netherlands until 1825, when it was relinquished to the British according to the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824. Dutch...

 at Pulicat, Sadras
Sadras
Sadras is a fortress town located on India's Coromandel Coast in Kanchipuram District, 70 km south of Chennai in Tamil Nadu state. Sadras is the anglicized form of the ancient town of Chadhuranga Pattinam....

 and Covelong
Covelong
Covelong is a fishing village in India, 40 kilometres south of Chennai, on the East Coast Road en route to Mahabalipuram. Covelong was a port town developed by the Nawab of Carnatic, Saadat Ali...

, the French at Pondicherry, Karaikal
Karaikal
Karaikal is a major port city of east coast of India and a municipality in Karaikal district in the Union Territory of Pondicherry, India. Several explanations are offered for the word 'Karaikal'. The imperial Gazetteer gives it the meaning 'fish pass'. According to Julien vinson the town is said...

 and Nizampatnam
Nizampatnam
Nizampatnam, also known as Petapolly , is a seaport town in Andhra Pradesh state of southern India. Nizampatnam is located in Guntur District, of which it is a mandal, in the delta of the Krishna River, which empties into the Bay of Bengal...

, the Danish
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 in Dansborg at Tharangambadi.

Eventually the British won out, although France retained the tiny enclaves of Pondicherry and Karaikal until 1954. Chinese
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 lacquer
Lacquer
In a general sense, lacquer is a somewhat imprecise term for a clear or coloured varnish that dries by solvent evaporation and often a curing process as well that produces a hard, durable finish, in any sheen level from ultra matte to high gloss and that can be further polished as required...

 goods, including boxes, screens, and chests, became known as "Coromandel" goods in the eighteenth century, because many Chinese exports were consolidated at the Coromandel ports.

On December 26, 2004, one of the deadliest natural disasters in modern history, the Indian Ocean earthquake, struck off the western coast of Sumatra
Sumatra
Sumatra is an island in western Indonesia, westernmost of the Sunda Islands. It is the largest island entirely in Indonesia , and the sixth largest island in the world at 473,481 km2 with a population of 50,365,538...

 (Indonesia). The earthquake
Earthquake
An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. The seismicity, seismism or seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time...

 and subsequent tsunami reportedly killed over 220,000 people around the brim of the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

. The tsunami devastated the Coromandel Coast, killing many and sweeping away many coastal communities.

Applications of the name


Four ships of the British Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 bore the name , after the Indian coast. The Coromandel Peninsula
Coromandel Peninsula
The Coromandel Peninsula lies in the North Island of New Zealand. It is part of the Waikato Region and Thames-Coromandel District and extends 85 kilometres north from the western end of the Bay of Plenty, forming a natural barrier to protect the Hauraki Gulf and the Firth of Thames in the west...

 in New Zealand was named after one of these ships, and the town of Coromandel, New Zealand
Coromandel, New Zealand
Coromandel is the name of a town and harbour on the western side of the Coromandel Peninsula, which is on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand...

 - after the peninsula. A red nail varnish made by Chanel
Chanel
Chanel S.A. is a French fashion house founded by the couturier Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, well established in haute couture, specializing in luxury goods . She gained the name "Coco" while maintaining a career as a singer at a café in France...

 is named coromandel due to its suggestions of exoticism. One of the earliest superfast trains of Indian Railways that runs between Howrah and Chennai is named Coromandel Express.

In literature


The 1955 historical novel Coromandel! by John Masters
John Masters
Lieutenant Colonel John Masters, DSO was an English officer in the British Indian Army and novelist. His works are noted for their treatment of the British Empire in India.-Life:...

 describes a young English adventurer arriving in the 17th Century at the Coromandel Coast - the founder of the Savage family, whose descendants' lives at various periods of British rule in India appear in other books of Masters' series.

Also, the little-known early 20th-century poet Walter J. Turner
Walter J. Turner
Walter James Redfern Turner was an Australian-born, English-domiciled writer and critic.Born in Melbourne, the son of a church musician, he was educated at a technical college in that city, but left for England to pursue a career in writing...

 wrote a poem entitled 'Coromandel'.

"The Courtship Of The Yonghy-bonghy-bo" by Edward Lear
Edward Lear
Edward Lear was an English artist, illustrator, author, and poet, renowned today primarily for his literary nonsense, in poetry and prose, and especially his limericks, a form that he popularised.-Biography:...

is set on the Coast of Coromandel.

Coromandel Wood is referred to by Dame Edith Sitwell in her poem "Black Mrs Behemoth", part of "Façade", the grain of which, she likened to the rolling, curling smoke of a blown out candle. Her brother, Sir Osbert Sitwell composed a poem entitled "On the coast of Coromandel".