There are many forts in Kerala which are examples of pure colonial powers in our state and it also demonstrates the influence of foreign culture in the architecture. The historical cultural heritage of Kerala can be understood by looking at these forts.
India has a rich history and Kerala is no exception having a rich treasure of historical forts and palaces that reflects the splendor of the bygone era of kings and queens. However, the forts here are much less opulent than their Rajasthani counterparts but it is in their simplicity that marks their beauty. Having good natural harbors, Kerala has been host to a number of foreigners who settled on its coast and thus its architecture has influences of various countries that have blended in beautifully and harmoniously to lend Kerala, it's present look.
In the olden times, many European countries have made their settlements in Kerala. Some of the forts built by them include St.Angelo's Fort, Bekal Fort, Palakkad Fort, Chandragiri Fort, Cranganore Fort etc.
Bakel Fort is the largest fort in Kerala, situated at Kasaragod district, North Kerala. spreading over 40 acres (160,000 m2). Some important features of this fort are the water-tank with its flight of steps, the tunnel opening towards the south, the magazine for keeping ammunition and the broad steps leading to the Observation Tower, which is a rarity. From there one has an ample view of towns in the vicinity like Kanhangad, Pallikkara, Bekal, Kottikkulam, Uduma etc. The nearest railway stations are Pallikare, Kotikulam, Kanhangad,and Kasargod. This observation center had strategic significance in discovering even the smallest movements of the enemy and ensuring the safety of the Fort.
Bakel Fort, The largest and the best-preserved fort in Kasaragod district of Kerala, is surrounded by a splendid beach. It is believed to be built in the 1650's by Shivaappa naik of the Ikkeri dynasty. The fort changed hands over the years to the Kolathiri Rajas, the Vijayanagar empire, Tipu Sultan and finally, the British East India Company. Today, the Bekal fort and its surroundings are fast becoming an international tourist destination and a favorite shooting locale for filmmakers. Shaped like a giant keyhole, the historic Bekal fort offers a superb view of the Arabian Sea from its tall observation towers, which were once used for placing huge cannons. There is an old mosque near it that was built by the valiant Tipu Sultan of Mysore. Bekal is one of the five centres selected by the Government of India to be developed into a 'Special Tourism Area'.
The best way to explore the wonderland of Fort Cochin is by walking or cycling. The highlights of the fort are the Chinese fishing nets, the Jewish Synagogue, the Dutch palace, the Portuguese and British Architecture. Once an obscure fishing hamlet, Fort Cochin was the first European township in trade in Indian history. The magnificent Chinese fishing nets sketch a spectacular skyline.
In 1553 with the permission of Maharaja of Cochin, Fort Immanuel, the first European Fort in India was constructed here by the Portuguese in which they built their houses, Churches and other buildings. Dutch wrested it from the Portuguese in 1663 and during the Dutch era, Fort Cochin climbed the heights of fame as a rich commercial centre, major military base, an illustrious cultural hub, a noted ship building yard and an age-old centre of Christianity. The British took over the town in 1795 and relegated it to the role of an administrative outpost. However, it remained the trade centre of spices and tea and one can still see the distinct strain of Indo-European Architecture in the bungalows and villas in this place that matured mostly in this period.
St. Angelo Fort (also known as Kannur Fort or Kannur Kotta), is a fort facing the Arabian Sea, situated 3 km from the town of Kannur, a city in Kerala state.
A massive triangular laterite fort, replete with a moat and flanking bastions. The first Portuguese Viceroy, Don Francesco de Almeida in 1505, constructed it and it passed hands from Dutch to British who renovated and equipped it to be their most important military station in Malabar. A protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India, it offers a fascinating view of the Moppila Bay and Dharmadom Island situated 100 metres away from the mainland in the Arabian Sea. The Moppila Bay is a natural fishing bay and has turned into a modern fishing harbor. A sea wall projecting from the fort separates the rough sea and inland water.
Tellicherry Fort is in Thalassery (Tellicherry) a town in Kannur District of Kerala state in south India.
The British East India Company built the fort in 1708 to establish a stronghold on the Malabar Coast. In 1781 Hyder Ali, ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore, was unsuccessful in capturing the Fort in his campaign to control Malabar. His successor, Tipu Sultan, was forced to cede Malabar District to the British in 1792, at the conclusion of the Third Anglo-Maratha War.
The square fort, with its massive walls, strong flanking bastions, secret tunnels to the sea and intricately carved huge doors, is an imposing structure. The fort was once the nucleus of Thalassery's development. It is now a historical monument preserved by Archaeological Survey of India.
Chandragiri Fort, built in the 17th century, is in Kasargod District of Kerala, south India. This large squarish fort is 150 feet (46 m) above sea level and occupies an area of about seven acres by the side of the river Payaswini. The fort is now in ruins.
The fort has an eventful history. In earlier days, the river was considered to be the border of two powerful kingdoms - Kolathunadu and Thulunadu. When Thulunadu was captured by the Vijayanagara Empire, the Kolathunadu kings lost the Chandragiri region to them. During the decline of the Vijayanagara Empire, the area was administratively looked after by the Keladi Nayakas of Ikkeri. When the Vijayanagara Empire fell in the 16th century, Vengappa Nayaka declared independence. Later Shivappa Nayaka took over the reins. He built a chain of forts of which Chandragiri is part.
Nedumkotta or Travancore lines was a wall built as a protection against consistent invasion and threats from northern kingdoms mainly Zamorins of Kozhikode. It was built by the Dharma Raja Karthika Thirunal, King of Travancore with the support and permission of the Kingdom of Kochi.
The Nedumkotta was a defence fortification constructed along the northern borders of the erstwhile Travancore State. It passed through the territories of the then Cochin State. The Nedumkotta was built primarily to resist the invasion under Hyder Ali Khan against Travancore State. It was raised mainly with clay and mud, and reinforced with stones, laterite and granite at strategic places. It started from the Krishan Kotta on the west coast, above Kodungallur, and stretched up to the Annamalai Hills on the Western Ghats.
Also known as Tipu's Fort or Hanuman Swamies Kotta, this well-preserved fort of 18th century is situated in the heart of Palghat (Palakkad) town. Built by Haider Ali of Mysore, supposedly to hasten communication between Coimbatore and the West Coast (both the sides of Western Ghats), it is today a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India.
Haider Ali's son Tipu Sultan earned the title of the 'Lion of Mysore' and became a legendary hero by waging a series of wars against the British colonial rule. In 1784 after a siege lasting eleven days, the British Colonel, Fullerton stormed the Fort. It later fell into the hands of the Zamorin's troops but was recaptured by the British in 1790. Tipu Sultan lost his life in 1799 in an encounter with the British and the fort later came to be known in his name. The sober majesty of the laterite walls of the fort reminds one of the old tales of valor and courage.
The East Fort is located at the heart of the CBD of Thiruvananthapuram city, the capital city of Kerala- a South Indian state. East Fort got its name from the eastern entrance to the fort built by the Kings of Travancore. The old city was all inside the fort on four sides with the Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple at the center. It is said that there were huge metal gates on this entrance to the Fort which was decorated with the symbol of a conch, which was the isignia of the Royal Family of Travancore.
Dutch Mattancherry Palace
Dutch palace in Mattancherry, Kochi, features Kerala murals depicting Hindu temple art, portraits and exhibits of the Rajas of Kochi.
Far from affluence and indulgence of imagination, the Mattancherry Palace has a quaint charm of its own. The Portuguese built the Mattancherry Palace in 1557 and had gifted it to the Raja of Cochin, Veera Kerala Varma, partly as compensation for a temple they'd destroyed, and partly as a bribe to gain favors from the ruling dynasty. In 1663, it fell into the hands of the Dutch who renovated the palace and thus, it is also known as the 'Dutch Palace'. A two-storied, quadrangular building, with a small temple dedicated to the deity Palayannur Bhagwati in the central courtyard, its Central Hall on the upper storey has a beautifully carved wooden ceiling and was once used as the venue for the coronation of Cochin's Rajas, and has a beautifully carved wooden ceiling. Dining Hall's ornate ceiling is decorated with a series of brass cups while the ceiling of the Assembly Hall is also highly ornamental.
A series of beautifully executed and well-preserved murals from Hindu mythology adorn the walls of the rooms.
Compared to the other forts in Kerala, Anjengo fort lacks some typical look and characteristics of a fort. It is more like an enclosed bastion with high laterite walls. The fort also has some lookout points and there entrances on east and west.
The British East India Company established Anchuthengu Fort or Anjengo Fort in 1695 after the Queen of Attingal gave it permission to do so. The fort served as the first signalling station for ships arriving from England.
The fort was the East India Company's first permanent post on the Malabar Coast. It played an important role in the Anglo-Mysore War.
Pallippuram Fort is a fort in Ernakulam district of Kerala. It was built by the Portuguese in 1503 and is the oldest existing European fort in India. The Dutch captured the fort in 1661 and sold it to the State of Travancore in 1789. This fort is situated in the northern extremity of the Vypeen island. This fort is in a hexagonal shape and popularly known as ayikkotta or Alikotta.
The tourists, in order to reach Pallipuram Fort, can avail of the ferry service operating from Ernakulam and Kochi to Vypeen and there are also buses available from Vypeen to Pallipuram.
Chendamangalam fort is in Ernakulam district and is one of the oldest forts of India. It is believe to be around 450 years old. There are many valuable historical documents, relics etc which are kept for display.
Cranganore Fort, otherwise known as Kodungallur Fort, was built by the Portuguese in 1523 A.D. and was called Fortaleza da Sao Tome. The Dutch took possession of it in 1661 and later it came under the control of Tipu Sultan. The Dutch wrested it back from Tipu Sultan, but the fort eventually came under the control of Tipu, who destroyed it in the following year. The remains of the fort show that the original fort wall was 18 feet in thickness. The ruin is also known as Tipu’s fort. The fort is about 2 km from the town of Kodungallur.
Hosdurg Fort is a fort situated in Kanhangad which is part of Kasargod district in Kerala. Hosdurg Fort with its round support looks impressive from a distance. Somashekara Nayaka from the Keladi Nayaka dynasty of Ikkeri built this fort. The place is made well known by the Nithyanandasram with 45 caves.
This fort is actually an old Shiva Temple popularly known as Karpureshwara Temple, the courts and other government offices, and residential houses. The fort tower was used as crematorium and burial ground for long time. Outside the fort Nityananda Ashram to the south-west and Shri Lakshmi Venkatramana Temple to the south-east.
Thangasseri fort is situated in Kollam district. It was also called as 'Dutch Quilon'. The word meaning of Thangasseri is 'gold village' as this was the place where trade was done using gold as the currency. This place was the favorite spot of the Dutch and the Portuguese. The fort was built in the 16th century and at present only the ruins are left behind. It was about 20 feet tall. At present, this fort is managed by the Archaeological Survey of India.