Pallippuram fort is known in European records as Ayacotta, Jacottah, Jyacottah, Jaycotta etc.
The area was named after the chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Snow (Manjumatha church), which was erected by the Portuguese in 1503. In Malayalam 'Palli' means church, thus the surrounding area became known as Pallippuram. Other names of Pallippuram are Munampam and Palliport.
This fort was called as Azhikotta or Ayakotta during its construction, which literally means "the fort at the river mouth."
As stated in British documents, it is an outpost rather than a fort, which was built on the northern extremity of Vypin Island in Cochin State i.e., present Ernakulam district of Kerala.
This three-storied fort was originally built by the Portuguese. The Dutch captured it in 1661. It was sold to Travancore in 1789.
One of the causes of Tipu Sultan's invasion of Travancore in 1789–1790 was the Raja of Travancore's acquisition of this outpost along with the Kodungallur (Cranganore) fort from the Dutch.
During the early days of the Portuguese settlement on the West Coast, three forts were built; one at Cochin known as fort Manuel or fort Emmanuel (The area adjacent to the fort remains is now known as Fort Kochi), at Kodungallur (Cranganore) and at Pallippuram.
Ayakotta, the little fort at Pallippuram, is the only monument of the early Portuguese era that is not in ruins, and hence the earliest European monument still standing in India.
When the Portuguese first explored the West Coast, the Vypin island was originally a part of the Cochin State. The Raja of Cochin gave the Portuguese permission to construct an outpost on the northernmost point of Vypin so they could watch over the entrance of foreign ships to the Periyar river.
Gasper Correa calls it "the little Castle" and says it was built in 1507 to hold the entrance to the backwater, that it was octagonal in shape, that each of the facet was pierced for cannon and that it was garrisoned by about 20 men. Strangely it is called by Correa as an octagonal building and by Day as "a small octagon tower".
The fort is in fact a hexagonal building.
The materials employed in the construction of this fort are laterite, granite and wood. The whole of the masonry work consists of laterite blocks set in chunam. The surfaces of the walls are well plastered with mortar.
Inside the fort, the floor is raised to a height of 5 feet from the ground level. Each face of the fort having 3 embrasures one above the other. There are on the whole 18 embrasures for mounting cannons and guns.