Thalassery Fort is a renowned tourist destination in the Kannur district of Kerala. With its rich history and stunning architecture, Thalassery Fort is a must-see for anyone visiting the region.
Tellicherry is the anglicized version of Thalassery, while Cannanore is the Anglicized form of Kannur.
The British arrived in Thalassery in 1683 and erected a goods shed, establishing it as their commercial capital and shifting it from Kozhikode (Calicut).
In 1700, the British constructed the Thalassery Fort atop a small hill known as Tiruvellapad Kunnu. To further fortify the structure, bastions were added and the height was increased in 1708. This fortification served as a strategic stronghold for the British, allowing them to maintain control of the region and protect their interests.
The fort's site was chosen for its strategic seaward orientation, providing a formidable defense against potential assaults.
This square, laterite fort stands out for its impressive vented walls and powerful flanking bastions.
The fort has a grand arched gateway, adorned with intricate carvings of small figurines at the entrance.
There are two underground chambers that were once utilized to store spices such as pepper and cardamom.
There are secret tunnels that lead to the sea, which could have been used by the fort's inhabitants as an escape system in the event of an assault. These tunnels are now blocked.
Inside the fort is a lighthouse.
We have this description of the Tellicherry fort from the 'Oriental Commerce of the East India Trader's Complete Guide', by William Milburn, published in 1825:
This principal British settlement on the Malabar Coast, is located about ten miles south of Kannur. The fort is of considerable size with strong walls, though rather ruinous. Inside the fort are comfortable dwellings for the chief and other members of the factory.
It is a trading point for both domestic and international trade. Most of the vessels from China destined for Bombay and Goa make a stop here, offloading part of their cargo, which is then resold to the local population. The returns are typically in the form of local produce such as ginger, pepper, coconuts, coir, and cotton cloth, which is of excellent quality and highly affordable. There are several Portuguese merchants in the area, as well as a few Parsees.
The customs are farmed by a Parsee merchant residing in Tellicherry, and the fees vary depending on the goods purchased and sold; it is therefore advisable to negotiate an exemption from all duties, which can be easily arranged with the merchants.
Bullocks and water are provided by the master attendant. Rice and paddy are expensive; gram is available; poultry is indifferent; yams and other vegetables are scarce and costly.
It is difficult to procure plank or mats for dunnaging the hold, and stowing the pepper here; they should therefore be brought from Bombay, or sent for to Cochin.
The coins currently circulating here are pagodas, rupees, fanams, pice, and tars. There are two varieties of fanams; one is a small gold coin, composed of a significant alloy of silver and copper, while the other is a silver coin. The pice and tar are both copper coins, minted in England.
Accounts are kept in rupees, quarters, and reas, just as they are in Bombay.
Commercial weights are typically measured in pollams, maunds and candies. Long measures are commonly measured in cubits and gaz. These measurements are used in a variety of industries, from construction to agriculture, to ensure accurate measurements of goods and materials.
After independence, the fort housed many government offices.