Synopsis of the Book


My Biography Paliacatte the Pulicat  - 1400 to 2007

By Prof. Jayapaul Azariah, Ph.D


Released by eminent historian Dr. S. Muthiah and

First copy received by Ms. Akila Srinivasan, Hon. Counsel of Netherlands, in Chennai


The book highlights the glory of the past Tamil Society (Malabarian - as the South Indians who were then called) of past Paliacatte, the present Pulicat (located 60 km North of Chennai). New information on past the environmental changes that may have taken place to create the present Pulicat Lake has been provided. It has been pointed out that once upon a time, just 400 years ago, the present Pulicat Lake was an extensive estuarine region of the massive River Colingui (Kalangi). Paliacatte, the Pulicat was once a glorious seaport with a well-organized import-export system. But currently Pulicat Lake faces an anthropogenic threat to its sustainability as a thriving fisheries centre. Interpretations presented in this biographical study are based on the maps of the Atlas of Mutual Heritage. These maps are indeed a Treasure Island for Paliacatte, the Pulicat.


Pulicat was once an important Dutch colonial settlement, necessitated because of the establishment of the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) Dutch East India Company (DEIC) in South India while the second important event was the fortification of the city by building the "Fort Geldria" in Pulicat.


The contribution of Dutch settlement along the Coromandel Coast, especially at Palliacatta – Pulicat are very many. Unlike the native kingdoms, the Dutch were experts in documentation of their journey and details of their settlement. Their skilled Factors drew detailed maps of South India, giving details of the river system and other topographical details. They also maintained accurate information on the import-export of items from Pulicat on a daily basis. This registry was called the "Dagh Register". The Dutch installed a deep sense of environmental ethics in terms of planting of trees in their settlement. They respected and gave equality to native religions like Hinduism and Islam. Moreover, they did not force local Malabarians to convert to Christianity. There is a chapter on Church history and about the Reformed church in Pulicat in the 17th century. During their sojourn in South India, especially at Palliacatta they permitted the building of new Hindu temples and mosques. One of their major contributions to Indian science is the taxonomic compendium of plants of South India, which is entitled as "Hortus Indicus Malabarcus" The entire work was compiled into a twelve volume series under the title authored by Henry Adrian van Rheede around 1678.


The objective of the present study is draw attention of planners on  the problems of Pulicat Lake and its people and promote a multidimensional picture of the forgotten past glory of Pulicat. In the present book, new materials have been included which have been gathered from a variety of sources such as scientific documents in biological literature, historical studies made on Tamil culture, trade and literature and other published literatures relating to archaeology and epigraphy. An enumeration of fish species before and after the tsunami has been listed.


It is the hope of CReNIEO that this preliminary and basic research study may open up the way for more fruitful cooperation among various research groups to preserve the beauty and sustainability of the Pulicat Lake and consequently the livelihood of fisher community of this unique and delicate region. The book is priced at Rs. 100 which goes to the Pulicat National Matriculation School.


The Author, Dr. Jayapaul Azariah is the former Professor and Head & Director, School of Life Sciences, University of Madras. He is the founder of All India Bio Ethics Association and was invited to deliver key note address in the first, second, third and fourth World conference on Bio Ethics, Spain. He is an associated editor of Eubios, Journal of Asian and international Bio ethics and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of International Association of Bio Ethics. He is presently the Dean, of Environmental studies CReNIEO.

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