A saint and a surveyor

SAINT THOMAS MOUNT in Chennai is best known for being the place where St Thomas was martyred (by whom I have no idea). A friend in Bangalore, John Fernando, told me that apart from the much-revered saint, another notable person is commemorated on the summit of the Mount. His bust can be found near the east end of the church almost hidden away between a couple of banyan trees. The bust is a depiction of the British Colonel, William Lambton (1753-1834).

It is appropriate that the soldier Lambton is commemorated on the summit of the Mount. For, it was from this lofty place that in 1800 he commenced his trigonometric fieldwork for his project, a great trigonometric survey of India.

To quote Wikipedia, Lambton’s:
“… initial survey was to measure the length of a degree of an arc of the meridian so as to establish the shape of the Earth and support a larger scale trigonometrical survey across the width of the peninsula of India between Madras and Mangalore. After triangulating across the peninsula, he continued surveys northwards for more than twenty years. He died during the course of the surveys in central India and is buried at Hinganghat in Wardha district of Maharashtra.”
Lambton’s assistant was George Everest (1790-1866), who succeeded him as Surveyor General of India. Everest is associated with a famous Peak in the Himalayas. However, it was not him but two others, Andrew Scott Waugh and Radhanath Sikdar, who ascertained the mountain’s height.

I am grateful to John for mentioning Lambton’s memorial to me. Even without seeing this bust, a visit to Saint Thomas Mount is worthwhile as there is much of interest to see there including an old church built by the Portuguese, gravestones and paintings with Armenian script on them, and the vibrant nature of Indian Christianity.

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