ARCOT, the name of a city and two districts of India in the presidency of Madras. Arcot city is the principal town in the district of North Arcot. It occupies a very prominent place in the history of the British conquest of India, but it has now lost its manufactures and trade and preserves only a few mosques and tombs as traces of its former grandeur. It is a station on the line of railway from Madras to Beypur, but has ceased to be a military cantonment. The most famous episode in its history is the capture and defence of Arcot by Clive. In the middle of the 18th century, during the war between the rival claimants to the throne of the Carnatic, Mahommed Ali and Chanda Sahib, the English supported the claims of the former and the French those of the latter. In order to divert the attention of Chanda Sahib and his French auxiliaries from the siege of Trichinopoly, Clive suggested an attack upon Arcot and offered to command the expedition. His offer was accepted; but the only force which could be spared to him was 200 Europeans and 300 native troops to attack a fort garrisoned by 1100 men. The place, however, was abandoned without a struggle and Clive took possession of the fortress. The expedition produced the desired effect; Chanda Sahib was obliged to detach a large force of 10,000 men to recapture the city, and the pressure on the English garrison at Trichinopoly was removed. Arcot was afterwards captured by the French; but in 1760 was retaken by Colonel Coote after the battle of Wandiwash. It was also taken by Hyder Ali when that invader ravaged the Carnatic in 1780, and held by him for some time. The town of Arcot, together with the whole of the territory of the Carnatic, passed into the hands of the British in 1801, upon the formal resignation of the government by the nawab, Azim-ud-daula, who received a liberal pension.
The district of North Arcot is bounded on the N. by the districts of Cuddapah and Nellore; on the E. by the district of Chingleput; on the S. by the districts of South Arcot and Salem; and on the W. by the Mysore territory. The area of North Arcot is 7386 sq. m., and the population in 1901 was 2,207,712, showing an increase of 4% in the decade. The aspect of the country, in the eastern and southern parts, is flat and uninteresting; but the western parts, where it runs along the foot of the Eastern Ghats, as well as all the country northwards from Trivellam to Tripali and the Karkambadi Pass, are mountainous, with an agreeable diversity of scenery. The elevated platform in the west of the district is comparatively cool, being 2000 ft. above the level of the sea, with a mean maximum of the thermometer in the hottest weather of 88°. The hills are composed principally of granite and syenite, and have little vegetation. Patches of stunted jungle here and there diversify their rugged and barren aspect; but they abound in minerals, especially copper and iron ores. The narrow valleys between the hills are very fertile, having a rich soil and an abundant water-supply even in the driest seasons. The principal river in the district is the Palar, which rises in Mysore, and flows through North Arcot from west to east past the towns of Vellore and Arcot, into the neighbouring district of Chingleput, eventually falling into the sea at Sadras. Although a considerable stream in the rainy season, and often impassable, the bed is dry or nearly so during the rest of the year. Other smaller rivers of the district are the Paini, which passes near Chittore and falls into the Palar, the Sonamukhi and the Chayaur. These streams are all dry during the hot season, but in the rains they flow freely and replenish the numerous tanks and irrigation channels. The administrative headquarters are at Chittore, but the largest towns are Vellore (the military station), Tirupati (a great religious centre), and Wallajapet and Kalahasti (the two chief places of trade).
The district of South Arcot is bounded on the N. by the districts of North Arcot and Chingleput; on the E. by the French territory of Pondicherry and the Bay of Bengal; on the S. by the British districts of Tanjore and Trichinopoly; and on the W. by the British district of Salem. It contains an area of 5217 sq. m.; and its population in 1901 was 2,349,894, showing an increase of 9% in the decade. The aspect of the district resembles that of other parts of the Coromandel coast. It is low and sandy near the sea, and for the most part level till near the western border, where ranges of hills form the boundary between this and the neighbouring district of Salem. These ranges are in some parts about 5000 ft. high, with solitary hills scattered about the district. In the western tracts, dense patches of jungle furnish covert to tigers, leopards, bears and monkeys. The principal river is the Coleroon which forms the southern boundary of the district, separating it from Trichinopoly. This river is abundantly supplied with water during the greater part of the year, and two irrigating channels distribute its waters through the district. The other rivers are the Vellar, Pennar, and Gadalum, all of which are used for irrigation purposes. Numerous small irrigation channels lead off from them, by means of which a considerable area of waste land has been brought under cultivation. Under the East India Company, a commercial resident was stationed at Cuddalore, and the Company's weavers were encouraged by many privileges. The manufacture and export of native cloth have now been almost entirely superseded by the introduction of European piece goods. The chief seaport of the district of South Arcot is Cuddalore, close to the site of Fort St David. The principal crops in both districts are rice, millet, other food grains, oil-seeds and indigo.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)