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Forts & Places

Tipu’s Fort, Palakkad

The Tipu’s Fort, also known as Palakkad Fort, stands in the heart of Palakkad town. Palakkad is a small town on the lower edges of the Sahyadri ranges of the Western Ghats, with patches of dense forests and crisscrossed with rivers.

One of the well preserved forts in south India, Tipu’s Fort was constructed in 1766 AD and is today a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India. The sober majesty of the laterite walls of the fort reminds one of the old tales of valour and courage.

The fort was built by Hyder Ali (1717 – 1782), the emperor of Mysore province (now part of Karnataka State), supposedly to facilitate communication between both sides of the Western Ghats, (Coimbatore and the West Coast). He had captured the Malabar and Kochi regions which come under the West Coast area. His son Tipu Sultan (1750 – 1799) a warrior as well as a linguist was known as the ‘Tiger of Mysore’. Tipu waged a series of wars against the British colonial rule.

In 1784, after an eleven-day seige, the fort was captured by the British under Colonel Fullerton. Though it later fell into the hands of the troops of the Kozhikode Zamorin, it 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.

Visiting hours: 0800 – 1800 hrs
Entrance is free.

Getting there

Nearest railway station: Palakkad, about 5 km
Nearest airport: Coimbatore about 55 km in Tamilnadu State; Cochin International Airport, about 140 km

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Forts & Places

Thangasseri, Kollam

Thangasseri or ‘Dutch Quilon’ as it was called, was once a British enclave. Meaning ‘gold village’ in local parlance, this was the hub of a flourishing trade that used gold as currency. This seaside village of historic importance shelters the ruins of an old Portuguese fort and churches built during the 18th century. It is situated 5 km away from Kollam town in the state of Kerala.

The famed lighthouse of Thangasseri was built in 1902 and stands 144 ft high. The beacon can be seen up to 13 miles out at sea. Check out the lighthouse at Thangasseri which is open to visitors from 1530 – 1730 hrs.

Get to see the sun setting and the moon rising simultaneously at Thangasseri on the drive down the Lighthouse Road, which gives you a breathtaking view of the sea as well.

Getting there

Nearest railway station: Kollam Junction, about 3 km away
Nearest airport: Trivandrum International Airport, about 59 km away

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Forts & Places

Thalassery Fort

22 km from the land of the exotic art form of theyyam in the Northern district of Kannur is the small town of Thalassery. In this town stands an imposing historical monument – the Thalassery Fort.

The East India Company which had established its settlement on the Malabar Coast in 1683 built the monument as a testimonial of their colonial imperialism in 1703. The fort was once the nucleus of Thalassery’s development.

The imposing square fort has massive walls, huge, intricately carved doors and secret tunnels to the sea all in all, the perfect setting for you to get an authentic taste of some local history and heritage!

Getting there

Nearest railway station: Thalassery, about 900 meters away
Nearest airport: Calicut International Airport, about 96 km away

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Forts & Places

St. Angelo Fort, Kannur

A massive triangular laterite fort, replete with a moat and flanking bastions, the St. Angelo’s Fort also called Kannur Fort was constructed by the first Portuguese Viceroy, Don Francesco de Almeida in 1505.

In 1663, the Dutch captured the fort from the Portuguese and sold it to Ali Raja of Kannur. In 1790 the British who seized control over the fort, renovated and equipped it to be their most important military station in Malabar.

Today, St. Angelo’s Fort is a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India. The fort offers a fascinating view of the Moppila Bay and Dharmadom Island. Dharmadom Island, only 5 acres in area, is situated 100 metres away from the mainland in the Arabian Sea. The Moppila Bay is a natural fishing bay. A sea wall projecting from the fort separates the rough sea and inland water. Today, the bay has turned into a modern fishing harbour, developed under the Indo-Norwegian Pact.

The fort offers fascinating view of a natural fishing bay and a sea wall projecting from the fort separating the rough sea and inland water.

Getting there

Nearest railway station: Kannur, about 3 km away
Nearest airport: Calicut International Airport, about 93 km away

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Forts & Places

Shakthan Thampuran Palace, Thrissur

The Palace of Shakthan Thampuran located in the district of Thrissur is a landmark in the annals of the Perumpadappu Swaroopam, the former ruling dynasty of Kochi. The palace located in the heart of Thrissur town is a major attraction, especially for those with a special interest on rulers and dynasties. At the Shakthan Thampuran Palace, one can come across and understand several interesting and remarkable aspects of the erstwhile rulers of Kochi.

Historians consider the reign of King Rama Varma Shakthan Thampuran (AD 1790-1805) popularly known as Shakthan as the golden era of Kochi. At a very young age itself, Shakthan Thampuran demonstrated extraordinary intelligence and bravery. During his reign, he maintained cordial relations with European powers including the English and also with rulers of neighbouring regions like Mysore and Travancore. Shakthan Thampuran was a farsighted ruler, whose outstanding administrative skills and diplomacy resulted in admirable achievements in key sectors.

Situated close to the famous Vadakkumnathan Temple in Thrissur, the Shakthan Thampuran Palace formerly known as Vadakkechira Kovilakam was renovated by Shakthan Thampuran in its present form. According to the territorial expansion of erstwhile Kochi dynasty, the Shakthan Palace was its Northern most located one. The palace, built in the Dutch and Kerala style of architecture belongs to the few structures of this kind in Kerala. The main structure of the palace has a two-storeyed building and a traditional Kerala style Naalukettu. High roofs, extra thick walls, spacious rooms and floors paved with finely smoothened Italian marbles are some of the structural specialities of this palace. The interiors of the palace, because of its unique construction offer comfortable and pleasant staying conditions irrespective of the prevailing weather conditions.

A visitor to the palace can find references to the rulers of Mysore, who have stayed at the Shakthan Palace at various points in time. It is also believed that Tippu Sultan entered the palace with his troops, and the flag mast that he erected can be seen close to the palace compound wall, in front of the palace. The final resting place of Shakthan Thampuran is also located inside the palace, besides that of a Zamorin and that of a ruler of Kochi.

The palace also has a very ancient Sarpakaavu or Serpent Grove, which is a place for worshipping the serpents according to Hindu belief, and was once widely practiced in Kerala. Located on the Southern side of the Shakthan Palace is the Heritage Garden prepared recently to exhibit and preserve some of the indigenous plants and trees of Kerala. There is also an archaeological garden situated in the Northeastern part of the palace, where one could find collections from the Stone Age found from the outskirts of Thrissur.

The Shakthan Palace, which was recently renovated by the State Archaeology Department with financial assistance from Kerala Tourism, also houses an elaborate museum. The museum houses some interesting galleries like the Bronze gallery, where one can find bronze statues belonging to the period between the 12th and the 18th centuries; a Sculpture gallery displaying granite statues from the 9th century to the 17th century; and the Epigraphy gallery showcasing the genesis and evolution of ancient writings.

Other galleries of interest in the museum here include, the one for Household Utensils made of bronze and copper, used by the rulers of Kochi; the Numismatics gallery, which systematically displays ancient coins, which were in circulation in the erstwhile province of Kochi and neighbouring regions; and the History gallery depicting some of the milestones of the Kochi dynasty; and a Megalithic gallery exhibiting remains of the great Stone Age.

Getting there

Nearest railway station: Thrissur, about 2 km
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 58 km

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Forts & Places

Poonjar Palace, Kottayam

The Poonjar Palace is a glorious testimony to the regal opulence of a bygone era. Within the palace walls is an extraordinary royal collection of antiques and exquisite furniture including a palanquin, a droni (treatment bed) carved out of a single piece of wood for Ayurvedic massages, huge chandeliers, palm leaf engravings, jewel boxes, varieties of lamps, sculptures of Nataraja (the dancing Siva), grain measures, statues and weapons. A unique conch preserved here is taken out once a year for ritualistic purposes.

Near the palace is an amazing replica of the Madurai Meenakshi Temple. The walls of this temple bear sculptures that narrate stories from the Puranas (the legends of ancient India). However, the most fascinating thing here is the Chuttuvilakku (row of lamps) carved out on the stone walls of the Sastha Temple nearby. Such rock-cut lamps are rare in India.

Getting there

Nearest railway station: Kottayam, about 30 km
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 76 km from Kottayam town

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Forts & Places

Pierce Leslie Bungalow, Fort Kochi

Pierce Leslie Bungalow, a charming mansion was the office of Pierce Leslie & Co., coffee merchants, founded in 1862. A representative of the Fort Kochi colonial bungalow, this building reflects Portuguese, Dutch and local influences. Characteristic features are wood panels that form the roof of the ground floor, arched doorways, carved doors and sprawling rooms. Waterfront verandahs are an added attraction.

Getting there

Nearest railway station: Ernakulam, about a kilometre
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 30 km from Ernakulam

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Forts & Places

Padmanabhapuram Palace

A magnificent wooden palace of the 16th century, Padmanabhapuram Palace lies at the land’s end of mainland India – Kanyakumari. An enticing ediffice to any lover of art and architecture this old palace of the Rajas of the erstwhile Travancore (1550 to 1750 AD) is a fine specimen of Kerala’s indigenous style of architecture. The antique interiors are replete with intricate rosewood carvings and sculptured decor. The palace also contains 17th and 18th century murals. One can see: the musical bow in mahogany, windows with coloured mica, royal chairs with Chinese carvings, ‘Thaikkottaram’ or the Queen Mother’s palace with painted ceilings, rose wood and teak carved ceilings with 90 different floral designs.

Durbar Hall of the palace has a shiny black floor specially made from a combination of egg white, jaggery lime, burnt coconut, charcoal and river sand, granite tubs to cool curd and buttermilk, secret underground passages, the King’s bedroom with a four poster medicinal bed, mural paintings, pictures of Lord Krishna, hanging brass lanterns lit continuously since the 18th century, open air swimming bath, granite dance hall, Saraswathi (goddess of knowledge) temple, large earthen urns, room for scribes and accountants, carved figures on columns holding oil lamps, pooja (worship) rooms with jackfruit tree columns, fish carvings on the ceilings, enormous teak beams, Belgian mirrors and an outer cyclopean stone wall fitted together without mortar.

Visitors to the palace are often overwhelmed by the royal splendour of erstwhile Travancore. Though the palace is situated in Kanyakumari district of Tamilnadu State, it comes under the Government of Kerala’s administration.

Visiting hours:  9 hours to 17 hours (All days except Mondays)

Getting there

Nearest railway station: Nagarcoil (Tamilnadu), about 16 km
Nearest airport: Trivandrum International Airport, 52 km away

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Forts & Places

Nilambur Kovilakam, Malappuram

Nilambur Kovilakam is is located 30 km from Malappuram district in Kerala. It is the erstwhile residence of local rulers and is famous for its beautiful frescoes and artwork in wood. On the grounds of this dismantled ancestral home of the Nilambur Royal Family is the Vettakkorumakan Temple.

Getting there

Nearest railway station: Nilambur is the terminus of the Shornur – Nilambur railway line.
Nearest airport: Calicut International Airport, about 26 km from Malappuram town

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Forts & Places

Mattancherry Dutch Palace, Ernakulam

Built by the Portuguese in 1557 and presented to Raja Veera Kerala Varma of Kochi, the Palace was renovated in 1663 by the Dutch. The palace with a Bhagavathi Temple in the central courtyard is built like the typical Kerala style mansion – the Nalukettu – the home of the aristocracy, nobility and upper classes, with four separate wings opening out to a central courtyard.

The double storeyed palace building which stands by the panoramic Kochi backwaters has an exquisite collection of murals collectively covering over 300 sq ft of its walls. The themes of these murals have been borrowed from the great Indian epics – the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha, and mythology and legends about the Hindu gods especially Guruvayurappan. Some murals depict scenes from Kumarasambhavam and other works of the great Sanskrit poet Kalidasa. Also on display are royal paraphernalia like weapons, swings and furniture which offer a glimpse of the lifestyle of the royal family.

Visiting hours: 1000 – 1700 hours on all days except Fridays.

Getting there

Nearest railway station: Ernakulam, about 10 km
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 42 km