The Chengalpattu Survey of 1767-1774 was perhaps the first effort that the British made to understand the ways of the Indian people before devising modes of effectively subjugating and administering them. Accounts of over 2100 localities of the Chengalpattu region of Tamil Nadu were collected as a part of this Survey. These accounts present the most detailed picture available anywhere of the functioning of Indian society, economy and polity at its basic level, before it was disrupted and transformed through the instruments of British administration.
We have so far been led to believe, on the basis of rather tenuous historical evidence, that India of that time was a poor, scientifically and technological backward, and socially and politically dysfunctional nation. The locality accounts presented in these manuscripts, however, present a picture of Indian society and polity that is the exact opposite of these images of poverty and dysfunctionality
This book presents detailed accounts for two localities, Thirupporur and Vadakkuppattu, in the original Tamil script of the of the palm-leaves and in English translation. The introduction gives an overview of the Chengalpattu information and highlights some of the important features of the society, economy and polity of Thirupporur and Vadakkuppattu.