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Thalassery Fort

Edapally (NH-17), Palissery Thalassery, Thalassery New Bus Stand, Kanyakumari - Panvel Highway, Pilakool, Palissery, Thalassery, Kerala 670103, India

Beach
Fort

The 17th century fort, a British stronghold during the colonial times.

Location of Thalassery Fort

More about Thalassery Fort

Tellicherry Fort (also known as Thalassery Fort) is a 17th century fort in Thalassery town of Kannur District of Kerala State in Southern India. The fort was a stronghold of the British during their occupation of India and it lies on a low wooden hill running down to sea, protected by waters.

History of the Tellicherry Fort

Thalassery was one of the most important European trading centres in Kerala during colonial times. It was the main opening for spices, hill products, and timber from the vast hinterlands. Towards the end of the 17th century, the British opened a factory north of Thalassery. And later they obtained a site in Thalassery from Kolathiri Raja, the king of Kolathunadu (a feudal kingdom in North Kerala in which Thalassery was a part) and established a factory in 1708. 

The Udayamangalam branch of Kolathiri family and Korangoth Nair- the local chieftain resented the establishment of the factory and they attacked and made serious damages to the British property. In order to safeguard their trade activities, with the support of Kolathiri Raja they built a fort around the outlaying hills of Thalassery. 

The French occupation of Mahe, 5 km south of Thalassery started in 1725 compelled the British to strengthen their fortification to establish stronghold on the Malabar Coast. From 1776 to 1784, they kept a strong military establishment at Thalassery Fort although it was originally established as a warehouse for cardamom and pepper. 

The time of Mysore Kings and post Independence 

In 1718, Hyder Ali, the ruler of Mysore Kingdom tried capturing the fort in his campaign to control Malabar. He failed in his attempt of conquering Malabar and later his successor Tipu Sultan was forced to cede Malabar to the British in 1792 after numerous wars. 

After the Independence of India, the fort housed many government offices. Later it was handed over to the Archeological Survey of India recognising its historical significance.

Architecture of the fort

The Tellicherry Fort rises to a height of 10 meters and it is oblong in plan overlooking the sea. Built out of laterite blocks, it has high walls and strong flanking bastions and secret tunnels to the sea behind. The tunnel, now closed leads to the sea from where those seeking a sudden getaway could do so.

There is a small lighthouse inside the fort as well. It stands on the western side and a winding staircase leads to the top. There are two underground chambers that used to store goods like pepper and cardamom. It is said that the coins of the British East India Company were minted here. 

 

The fort had been constructed in a strategic location to withstand assaults and invasions. The design of the fort is in a way that it facilitates quick survey of enemies approaching by the sea. On a lighter note, it was at the beach near this fort that the British engaged in their first ever cricket matches against the Indian natives.

Inside the premises of Tellicherry Fort

One of the unique feature of the fort is the entrance. The entrance to the fort is through the top of a giant 10 meter wall. Visitors have to ascend the stairs to enter the fort. The first thing to notice upon entering will be the arch shaped station where the guards used to keep vigil.

A wide courtyard, two underground chambers, a tunnel leading to the beach, lighthouse, and bastions which once help artilleries follow the guard station. The tunnel to the beach is now closed due to security issues. The underground chambers were used to store pepper and cardamom, and British coins were also minted here. It is said that Major General Arthur Wellesley conspired here to capture Pazhassi Raja, the ruler of Kingdom of Kottayam in Malabar.

 

The fort offers incredible views of the sea and the low laying nearby areas of Thalassery. Looking from the fort, it is amazing to think about the time when the British engaged in their first ever cricket matches against the Indians in the beach below.

 

Getting to Tellicherry Fort

The fort is situated very near to Thalassery bus stand and requires only 10 minutes of walking. Thalassery, situated in the middle of Trivandrum- Mangalore bus route is connected very well with the rest of the districts of Kerala State. The nearest major railway station too is in Thalassery, and that too is only 10 minutes away from the fort by walking.