Step into History: Exploring Kodungallur Fort

Kodungallur fort is a major tourist attraction situated along the Malabar coast in Thrissur district of Kerala.

Cranganor or Cranganore is the anglicized form of Kodungallur.

It is important to note that Kottapuram fort is a misnomer for Kodungallur fort. In Malayalam, 'Kotta' means fort and 'Puram' means surrounding area. The area surrounding Kodungallur fort is known as Kottapuram due to the presence of the fort. Therefore, it is not "Kottappuram" fort.

Kodungallur fort is one of the earliest Portuguese settlements on the West Coast, along with Fort Manuel or Fort Emmanuel at Fort Kochi and Ayakotta at Pallippuram. 

Kodungallur fort was constructed by the Portuguese in 1536, then known as the fort of St. Thomas.

Viceroy Dom Francisco de Almeida had written to the Portuguese king in 1508, suggesting that a fortress be built at Kodungallur, situated alongside a river that connected to Calicut. He argued that such a fortress would effectively impede the flow of pepper from the river to Calicut.

In 1536, during the governorship of Nuno da Cunha the formidable fortress was constructed. Diogo Pereira was appointed as its first captain. 

The fort was enlarged in 1565. 

The Dutch traveler, Philip Baldaeus, noted that the Portuguese initially had only a tower, which they later reinforced with a wall, and eventually surrounded the entire area with well-constructed earthen fortifications.

In January 1662, the Dutch under the command of Van Goens captured the Kodungallur fort, marking a significant victory in their campaign to expand their colonial empire at Cochin.

"200 Portuguese being slain during the action, besides a great number of Nairs who were all thrown into the river, and carried backwards and forwards several times by the tides, a most terrible spectacle to behold", describes Dutch Captain Nieuhoff. "After the city was plundered it was laid level with the ground, except one stone tower, which standing upon the river, was preserved intire, and a garrison put into it for the security of the river".

In 1789, the Dutch sold the fort of Kodungallur and the post of Ayakotta (Pallipuram fort) to Raja Rama Varma of Travancore, which served as a catalyst for Tipu Sultan's invasion of Travancore in 1789-90.

During the April 1790 invasion of Travancore, Tipu Sultan captured the Kodungallur fort and the Ayakotta post.

What we see now is a wall of the fortification about 60-70 yards in length, a ruined gateway and an underground powder magazine, all situated on a mound of earth!

At the entrance of the fort, you can see the Ko-thi Kallu, a small granite pillar erected to mark the boundary between the Kochi and Thiruvithamkoor (Travancore) principalities.

 'Thi' is engraved on its one side to denote Travancore and on the other side 'Ko' for Kochi.