11 Historic Forts You Should Visit in Kerala, India

Bekal Fort is the largest fort in Kerala
Bekal Fort is the largest fort in Kerala | © unknown/Pixabay
Charishma Thankappan

Forts are one of the surviving symbols of history that stand testimony to the past of a land. Built by the governors of the land, they acted as the fortifications of safety and security of the rulers. Like every other land, Kerala too has several forts which tell their tales of antiquity. While most of them are in a state of disrepair, there are a few that live on as the markers of glory of the era they were built in. Dating from the 1500s, here are 11 forts that must be visited in Kerala before they are lost forever.

1. St Angelo Fort, Kannur

Built in 1505 by Dom Francisco de Almeida, the first Portuguese Viceroy of India, St. Angelo Fort, AKA Kannur Fort, offers fantastic views of the Arabian Sea and Mappila Bay harbor. It is fairly well preserved as a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India.

Cannons at Kannur Fort | © Priya Sivaraman/Wikimedia Commons

2. Palakkad Fort, Palakkad

Palakkad Fort, AKA Tipu’s Fort was built in its present form in 1766 CE by Hyder Ali Khan, de facto ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore, and Tipu Sultan’s father. It is among the best-preserved forts in South India and is located in the heart of Palakkad town.

Palakkad Fort is a frequented picnic spot in the town today | © Vishnu Dhyanesh/Wikimedia Commons

3. Pallippuram Fort, Ernakulam

The oldest existing European fort in India today, Pallippuram Fort, was built by the Portuguese in 1503. This hexagonal fort is situated in the northern extremity of Vypin island and is locally known as Ayikotta or Alikotta.

Pallippuram Fort | © Callmeantz/Wikimedia Commons

5. Bekal Fort, Kasaragode

Built in 1650 CE by Shivappa Nayaka of Keladi and sprawling over 40 acres, Bekal Fort is the largest fort in Kerala. The music of the waves from the adjoining beach is an idyllic backdrop while walking along the manicured lawn. The glimmering golden sunset you can witness here will soothe you into contemplation.

Bekal Fort and beach | © unknown/Pixabay

6. Hosdurg Fort, Kasaragode

Ruins, Historical Landmark, Archaeological site

Ruins of Hosdurg Fort
© Noeljoe85/Wikimedia Commons
Hosdurg fort in Kasaragode, with its round bastion, is an imposing structure built by Somashekara Nayaka from the Keladi Nayaka dynasty of Ikkeri. The fort is now in ruins. The place near the fort is famously known for the Nithyanand Asram with its 45 caves.

7. Thalassery Fort, Kannur

Thalassery, AKA Tellicherry was one of the most prominent European trading centers in Kerala and to establish a stronghold on the Malabar Coast, the British East India Company was compelled to strengthen the fortification of their property. The square Thalassery Fort, with its high walls, strong flanking bastions, secret tunnels to the sea, and intricately carved doors is an imposing structure.

Entry gates of Tellicherry Fort | © Vinayaraj/Wikimedia Commons

8. St. Thomas Fort, Kollam


Remains of St Thomas Fort at Thangasseri
© Deepesh ayirathi/Wikimedia Commons
St. Thomas Fort, AKA Thangasseri Fort, is a ruined fort located in the beach town of Thankasseri in Kollam. Thangasseri is known for its trade relations with the Chinese traders, from as early as the first millennium CE. Due to its importance as a trade port, it was later colonized by the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British during the European reign in Kerala.

9. Fort Emmanuel, Ernakulam

Ruins, Archaeological site, Historical Landmark

Gunnery part of Fort Emmanuel
© Challiyan/Wikimedia Commons
Fort Emmanuel, AKA Immanuel Fort, is a ruined fort located in Fort Kochi. The fort was built by the Portuguese subsequent to the permission granted by the Rajah of Kochi in 1503 CE. The first part of Fort Kochi comes from this fort. Later in 1663, the fort was captured by the Dutch, who in turn held it until 1795, after which the British took control by defeating them.

10. Kottappuram Fort, Thrissur


The ruins are also known as Tipu’s Fort
© Challiyan/Wikimedia Commons
Cranganore Fort, AKA Kodungallur Fort or Kottappuram Fort, is situated in Kodungallur in Thrissur district. The stone fort was built by the Protuguese in 1523, and was called Fortaleza da Sao Tome. The Dutch took possession of the fort in 1661, which later came under the control of Tipu Sultan, who destroyed it shortly after.

11. Anchuthengu Fort, Thiruvananthapuram

Anchuthengu Fort, AKA Anjengo Fort, was established by the British East India company in 1696 subsequent to the permission received from the Queen of Attingal in 1694. The fort is located in Anchuthengu, Thiruvananthapuram and was the first permanent post of the British on the Malabar Coast.

The fort got its name from the trees that were there in the land it was built on – Anchuthengu – five coconut trees | © Prasanthvembayam/Wikimedia Commons

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