An upright View of a Choultry or oblong Colonnade, belonging to the Pagoda in the Fort of Vellore
Artist: [Call, John]
Etching made in 1792 of the columned mandapam or hall of the temple at Vellore Fort, by John Call, part of King George III's Collection. An accompanying handwritten note by Call, the Chief Engineer in Vellore, explains ' This Choultry stands fronting the East within the outer wall which surrounds the Pagoda in the Fort of Vellore and the Governor being a Mahametan, neither the Pagoda nor Choultry appeared to have been used for any religious purposes for many Years past, but were both converted into magazines'. He describes the striking appearance of the columns which though dusty looked as if fashioned of bronze. He was impressed by how stones of this size had been carved into such detailed figures, horses and foliage without them being broken. Since the place had just been taken after a long siege and emptied of its inhabitants, he regretted the absence of any historical and mythological information to explain the subject of his sketch. Vellore, on the Palar river in Tamil Nadu state in south India, is famous as a centre for medical research and treatment. It has a fort with a massive wall and moat dating from the 15th-16th centuries at the time of the Vijayanagara empire. It subsequently passed into the hands of the Muslim sultans of Bijapur. The fort was captured by the British in the late 18th century and members of Tipu Sultan's family were imprisoned here after the fall of Seringapatam. The temple within the fort is dedicated to Shiva as Jalakanteshwara or 'Lord who resides in the water'. Its mandapam has some of the finest sculptures in Tamil Nadu. The outer pillars have sculptures of rearing horses and dragons, and the inner pillars have sculptures of yalis or leogryphs.