The present day city of Chennai started as an English settlement known as Fort St. George. The Vijayanagar rulers who controlled the area, appointed chieftains known as Nayaks who ruled over the different regions of the province almost independently. Damarla Venkatadri Nayakudu, who was a Telugu King, and an influential Padma Velama Nayak chieftain under the Vijayanagara King Peda Venkata Rayalubased in Chandragiri-Vellore Fort, was in-charge of the area of present Chennai city when the English East India Company arrived to establish a factory in the area. It was Darmala who gave the East India Company in 1639 a grant of a piece of land lying between the river Cooum almost at the point it enters the sea and another river known as the Egmore river.
On this piece of waste land was founded Fort St. George, a fortified settlement of British merchants, factory workers, and other colonial settlers. Upon this settlement the English expanded their colony to include a number of other European communities, new British settlements, and various native villages, one of which was named Madraspatnam. It in honor of the later village upon which the British named the entire colony and the combined city Madras. Controversially, in an attempt to revise history and justify renaming the city as Chennai, the ruling party has purged the history of the early English Madras settlements. According to the new party history, instead of being named Madras, it was named Chennai, after a village called Chennapattanam, in honour of Damerla Chennappa Nayakudu, father of Venkatadri Nayakudu, who controlled the entire coastal country from Pulicat in the north to the Portuguese settlement of Santhome. However, it is widely recorded that while the official centre of the present settlement was designated Fort St. George, the British applied the name Madras to a new large city which had grown up around the Fort including the \”White Town\” consisting principally of British settlers, and \”Black Town\” consisting of principally Catholic Europeans, Armenians, Jews, and allied Indian minorities.