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
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.