Forts of Kerala
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.
Also known as Tipu's Fort or Palakkad Fort, 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 largest and the best-preserved fort in Kasaragod district of Kerala, Bakel Fort, 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 i the bungalows and villas in this place that matured mostly in this period.
One of the oldest European monuments that exist in India, the Portuguese built Pallippuram Fort in 1503. It is famous for the renowned Catholic Church at Pallippuram, which is an important pilgrim centre.
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.
St. Angelo Fort
A massive triangular laterite fort, replete with a moat and flanking bastions, St. Angelo's Fort is also known as Kannur Fort. 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.