Historical Ft. Emmanuel, Kochi, Kerala - First Portuguese fort in Asia!!

Ft. Emmanuel, cochin, india.  en.wikipedia.org

cannon bastion at Ft. Emmanuel (Fort Kochi) cochin, indiaalamy.com/

 The south western state of Kerala  for centuries was known for its quality spices and tea world over and merchants from West Asia and Southern Europe established coastal posts and settlements in Kerala  to procure and export the products to their respective countries. The  maritime history of coastal Kerala  is an old one. The Arab traders  had a monopoly in spice trade in Kerala  during the middle and late Middle Ages. After the  arrival of the Portuguese with the discovery of first sea route to India from Europe by Vasco de Gama who landed at Kappad beach of Kozhicode in 1498, the quiet political scenario under the Zamorin rulers had begun to change  and at stake was the tranquility of this place. Taking advantage of the enmity between local ruler and the king of Calicut, the Portuguese's dominance was on the increase with the establishment of a trading center at Tangasseri in Quilon during 1502. They not only attacked the Arab traders, their competitors  who had been engaged in trade activities for a long time, but also provoked the Zamorin ruler who gave them permission to establish trade on his soil.

After making a strategic alliance with the ruler the Portuguese traders established Fort Immanuel, in Fort Kochi, in the period between  1502 - 1503 . In September 1503 the ruler of Kochi granted permission to Afonso de Albuquerque who headed the Portuguese settlement,  to build a Fort  near the waterfront of the Arabian Sea for easy access to the ships.  The construction began on   26 September, and  "it took the shape of a square with flanking bastions at the corners mounted with ordnance". It was not a strong fort - a sort of jerry-built fortification with walls  made of double rows of coconut tree stems securely fastened together and with earth rammed firmly between.  It was further protected by a wet ditch around it.  The fort was named   "Emmanuel" in  October 1503  after the then King of Portugal. The purpose of the fort was to safeguard their trade activities, their go-downs, stocks, etc. To make  the fort much safer and to face impending threats from other traders on the coastal Malabar, the Portuguese in enforced the fort in 1538.   

Massive in size, the fort built by the traders from Portugal,  had further strengthened their hold on this region as their trade in spices, etc was a lucrative one. It is so big  the entire township was within its confines. The Dutch who had a monopoly in the East Indies, took keen interest in the  better quality spices of Malabar and invaded the Portuguese establishment in the 17th century. During their invasion the fort  and other monuments took all the beatings and became heavily damaged, only a few escaped their fury and rampage.  By that time the East India company, after acquiring Bengal in Eastern India in a cunning way, got hold  of many kingdoms in the north. Spice trade, being profitable the set their eyes on  the native spices of Kerala. In the early decades of 19th century, the English company with a strong army and better artillery power,  invaded this place and destroyed the buildings, etc built by them. 
Ft. Emmanuel, Kochi, plaque, gunnery. alamy.com

Ft. Emmanuel, also known as Fort Manuel, is a ruined fort located at Fort Kochi beach in Kochi (Cochin), close to  Mattancherry, Kerala. By 1806, the fort was in a shambles, now  visitors can see only the damaged vestiges of the old fort- a Gunnery at Fort Emmanuel complete with a cannon . The Dutch, and later the British, had destroyed most of the fort walls and its bastion.  The  remnants  point out this simple fortification was the result of the first strategic alliance between an Indian ruler and the Monarch of Portugal;  it was the first Portuguese fort in Asia.  They built their settlement behind the fort, including the St Francis Church. Within the fort, there is a Catholic Church -St. Francis church built by   Francisco de Almeida, Portuguese Viceroy in 1506; in 1516, it was further strengthened. Later the Dutch and English destroyed many Catholic churches except this one.