Palakkad fort, Palakkad, Kerala - 18 interesting facts

grand entrance of Palakkad fort, Palakkad,

moat, Palakkad fort, Kerala. Trip 

Palakkad fort, in the prime location of Palakkad town, is one of the finest and well preserved forts in the state of Kerala. Steeped in history, it saw the fall of Tipu Sultan of Mysore who took over the fort after the death of his father Hyder Ali. Later the East India company took the control over the fort for their expansion in the southern peninsular India. Unlike the forts in the northern  and western states of India, it is not a  sprawling fort  with well decorated palaces, buildings with powerful cannons, etc. This was mainly built  for defensive purpose. 

Palakkad location map, Kerala.

Mysore rulers Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan,

The following features make this fort stand apart. 

01. Hyder Ali, who was the military general with the ruler of Mysore kingdom - the Wadiyar royal family,  visited this place in 1756 at the request of the  Ittikkombi Achan, the king of Palakkad, He sought the military assistance of Hyder Ali as the local ruler, had faced  constant threats from the Zamorin ruler of   Kozhikode.  Hyder Ali,  was holding a key position at Dindikal (now part of Tamil Nadu).  At that point of  time within the royal family of Mysore, there were serious issues brewing, besides the ruler was facing  threats from other kingdoms outside . 

Palakkad Fort, Palakkad, Kerala.

02. The ruler of Palakkad in 1755 ACE wanted to build a fort and asked his friend in 1757 one  Kallekulangara Raghava Pisharody to identify a suitable land that could provide adequate protection and other needs like water, etc. In the southern part of India most of  the forts,  with some exceptions, were built with mud-lime mix just for basic resistance against the invading army  

03. Being an astrologer and architect, Pisharody advised the king to build a strong fort with hard stones to resist against artillery attack from the invaders. Further, the  durable fort could last longer  irrespective of vagaries of weather, climatic condition, etc.  The fort was to be  built with armory and other features associated with any fort.. 

04. Hyder Ali realized the importance of this fort in the south Malabar region with which he could improve communication  with Coimbatore. This could help him mobilize his army along with army stationed in Dindukal. 

05. An interesting historical fact is involvement of French engineers who designed the fort with facilities like  water resources, adequate armory to store arms and ammunition besides open ground in front of the fort  to have clear and free firing range. Another advantage is, the guards could spot any enemy movements far away from the fort and could inform the defending army before hand. 

06. Kannur and Bekal may be  bigger forts, but they are devoid of a moat around them; the Palakkad  has a wide and deep moat and for a soldier on the horse, it is impossible to leap over it even when the moat becomes dry during the summer. 

07. The moat is  built in such a way, the water would never get dried up in any of the hot summer  months. 

08. The fort had a copious supply of water to last long for a  long siege by the raiding army. There is a well-preserved step well inside the fort and also a Hindu temple dedicated to God Hanuman. The Mysore rulers never destroyed the temple for the simple reason that the Hindu god would protect them and the soldiers. 

09. The Mysore rulers had stationed 10000 soldiers with adequate arms and supplies to use the troops  here and at Dindukal as enforcement forces in case of war in near-by places. 

10. The fort is a blend of features of  both 'jala durgam' and 'mahee durgam'  (as in 'Arthasasthra'). The entry gate faces west as in many Islamic forts and  the structure is similar  to the forts at Srirangapatna, near Mysore and Agra.

11. Hyder Ali, (c. 1720 – 7 December 1782), rising to the post of Dalavayi (commander-in-chief)  to Maharajah Krishnaraja Wodeyar II, he not only began to  dominate the titular monarch and the Mysore government but also took advantage of the confusion in the royal family and finally sized the kingdom in 1761. Owing, his allegiance to the  Nizam of Hyderabad, however, Hyder Ali  fought many wars with skill and tactics for the Mysore ruler. . 

12. Hyder Ali with a powerful army took over the Palakkad fort  and imprisoned  king Ittikombi Achan the local ruler. He  shifted the king to his  Srirangapatna fort, With the king's authority, Ali  began collecting taxes in the Plalakkad area.  

13. Upon Hyder Ali' death (on 6 December 1782),  his son Tipu Sultan grew to be a powerful  ruler and gave stiff resistance to the EIC's expansion down south. During the second Angelo-Mysore war  (1780–84)  Tipu Sultan continued the battle after his father's death (while away on war campaign)and along with the French forces in 1782 he firmly protected the fort. 

14. The British forces led by Col. Fullerton overcame the 11 day siege  (siege began on 15 November 1784) and captured the fort.  Later, Tipu  recaptured the fort after a short spell. 

15. Surprisingly, the Mysore army used this fort to mint coins with a view to replacing the coin named 'Veerarayan panam  by  ''Hydari'' - Sultan panam

14. It was here the Kochi king Rama Varma Sakthan Thampuran and Tipu Sultan met  in 1788 and the latter asked his help  to raid  the Travancore  kingdom (now a part of Kerala)  ruled by Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma (Dharma Raja).The Kochi ruler, being shrewd, did not make any commitments to Tipu. 

15. Yet another interesting incident associated with this fort is Tipu Sultan met a famous astrologer one  Machatt Ilayathu. and asked him to predict the fate of his pet parrot. When he said it would live long, Tipu  tried to kill the bird with his sword . It was a futile attempt and the bird escaped without any trace. Since then this astrologer had become the court astrologer of Tipu, who was a strong believer in astrology . 

16. Another piece of information is during the Hyder Ali period, the slave trade was on on the coastal Malabar and historians say the Mysore ruler did not ban it. The price for a slave was 200 to 250 'panam' during Hyder Ali's time. If a buyer  wanted to buy  two or three child slaves  the price was just 100 panam.

16. Tipu Sultan' luck took a down hill journey. In the final Angelo - Mysore war, Tipu Sultan was killed in his fort Srirangapatna (now part of Karnataka) in 1798 by the  troop led by officer Wellesley and in 1790under Col Stuart, the British company began improving the facilities in the fort.  Later  the British Raj (under the Crown administration) continued to use it as  a garrison, etc., for the army.

17. For administrative reasons Palakkad became a taluk under the jurisdiction of the Madras Presidency. During the struggle, the British used to imprison leading people who protested against their rule. 

18. The most impressive feature of this rhombus shaped fort its e enormous thick walls  which could withstand heavy bombardment of cannons. This is the reason why  the fort is durable even today and is well-preserved.