St. Angelo Fort Kannur
Near Cannannore Cantonment, Burnacherry, Burnacherry, Kannur, Kerala 670017, India
A seaside fort which was under the influence of the Portuguese, the Dutch, the British and Arakkal Ali Rajas
Location of St. Angelo Fort Kannur
More about St. Angelo Fort Kannur
St. Angelo Fort (also known as Kannur Kotta or Kannur Fort) is one of the most important seashore forts of Kerala. It is situated at the side of Ayikkara Mapila Bay on a cliff protruding into the Arabian Sea about three kilometres from the town of Kannur. The fort is one of the earliest structures of the Portuguese on the Malabar Coast.
History of St. Angelo Fort
The Portuguese navigator, Vasco da Gama first came to Malabar Coast in 1498 AD developing a cordial relation with the Kolathiri Raja who was the king of Kolathunadu, a feudal kingdom in North Kerala. To establish commercial relations with the Portuguese, the king offered a site to construct a factory at Kannur and thus the first trading arrangements were made.
The Portuguese navigator Pedro Alvares Cabral subsequently in 1500 AD made adjacent installations in the factory (warehouses). During the second visit of Vasco da Gama in 1502 AD, he built a palisade with the permission of Kolathiri Raja and 200 Portuguese soldiers were stationed at the factory.
In 1505AD, Dom Francisco d’Almeida, the first Portuguese Viceroy to India, obtained permission from the Kolathiri Raja to construct a fort and it was completed in 1507AD. The fort was named St.Angelo. Later on it became an important military station for the purpose of defence of the west coast.
The time of Dutch
As part of the colonial imperialism, the Dutch were also competing to establish their supremacy on trade in India, particularly in Kerala, along with other European powers like the Portuguese, the British and the French. In 1663 AD, the Dutch captured the fort from the Portuguese and made modifications on it. Then it was sold to the Arakkal Ali Rajas of Kannur in 1772 AD. Later the British seized the fort in 1790 AD and enlarged it to become the most important military station in the Malabar Coast.
After the Independence of India
After the independence of India, the fort was abandoned by the British and later became a protected monument under the Archeological Survey of India. In recent times, thousands of cannonballs each weighing several kilos were discovered from the fort premises in 2005. The Archeological Survey of India which led the excavation believes that these were buried as part of military preparedness.
Architecture of the Fort
The fort is a combined feature of Portuguese, Dutch, and British architecture right from the early 16th century. It is massive, built of laterite roughly triangular on plan with high walls on a rocky point.
A dry moat runs from the land side of the fortress on one side. During the period of the Portuguese, in order to isolate the fort form the mainland, a water moat connecting the Arabian sea to the Mapila Bay was constructed. Most of the buildings like chapels, houses of mercy prison, offices and other amenities in the fort were built by the Portuguese. The Dutch built the horse stables and ammunition house inside the fort. The main gate is towards the land and is protected by bastions.
The cannons that are used by the Portuguese and British were kept inside the fort. Presently the cannons are fixed in the merlons and bastions of the fort wall pointing towards the sea.
Exploring St. Angelo Fort
The fort offers fascinating views of the Arabian Sea, the nearby Mapila Bay, and the small Dharmadom Island far away. A sea wall projecting from the fort separates the rough sea and inland water.
The fort stands majestically with history plastered all over the walls, reminding of a time when the spice trade was at its peak along the coast - and the entire region was at siege from various dynasties from India, Europe and the Middle East for control of the trade. There are three large bastions built by the Dutch, an old lighthouse that used to be lit by a lamp during the British days, a restored chapel, barracks, cannons and tombstones in the fort. The prison rooms inside are dark with only a single hole for supplying food. some of the parts of the fort are collapsed but majority of it is still in a very good shape.
The myth of the secret tunnel
There is a pathway behind the fort which stretches a kilometre or two into the sea.
There is a not so believable yet very intriguing story around the fort that mentions a secret underground tunnel of 21 km inside the fort which connects it to Thalassery Fort. This tunnel is said to be used by the soldiers to escape from the attack of enemies. The story is far fetched, but it really would have been super cool to have a secret tunnel system underground.
Getting to St. Angelo Fort
The fort is located near to the Kannur Town (3 km) and there are buses and taxies available from the town to the fort. The major railway station too is located in Kannur. St. Angelo Fort is in Kannur District of Kerala State in Southern India.