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The history of Chennai is predominantly marked by the rise and fall of great South Indian dynasties and colonial powers. During first century A.D. the region was an important administrative and economic centre. The region used to be ruled by the Chola's, then Pallava's, followed by Vijayanagar rulers. The popular temples and archaeological findings reveal the close connections of this place with the great dynasties. The early settlements were centered somewhere near Mylapore suburbs. This part of the city, then, constituted a major port. The next conspicuous event was the coming of the Europeans.
The Portuguese were first amongst the foreigners to arrive the city. The early conquests were primarily meant for trade as the city provided one good entry point into the Indian mainland. The Portuguese arrived in 1522 A.D. followed by Dutch in 1612 A.D. The last to come was the British East India Company. The East India Company bought the lands here from Nayak of Vandavasi and got the permanent settlement rights. A year later Fort St.George was established and that increased the stronghold of East India Company over the region. The modern city of Chennai has grew as a result of expansion and development of that very particular place. The place during those days was famous as Madrasemen. Trade and commerce flourished within short span of time. The French seizing an opportunity in the year 1746, attacked the fort and captured it. After three years a treaty was signed and that put the region once again into the hands of the British.
By 18th century A.D. the region had fully grown into a major urban centre. It was then that Madras Presidency was established. The city became the state capital after independence and continued to be called by the name Madras. However, in August 1996 the name of the city was officially changed to Chennai.