Tangacherry Fort (Ft. St. Thomas), Kollam needs urgent conservation - scope for tourism development!!

Located in the beach town of Tangasseri on the shores of the Arabian Sea close to Kollam city(3.1 mi), Kerala is one of the oldest European forts that came up in 1519. Having established a trade post in 1505 CE the Portuguese explorers  under the direction of commande Afonso de Albuquerque had a fort built to safeguard their trading center and warehousing facilities. The engineer was one  Hector De La Casa. and he took two years to build the fort with  bastions and wide corridors, using mostly sandstone and lime mortar. The walls around the fort were  sturdy and 20 ft tall.  iIt was called Fort St.Thomas or Fortaleza da São Tomé.

Tangacherry had trade like with China several centuries ago. Later under the command of Rijklof Van Goens, Governor-General of Dutch East Indies on December 28,1658, Dutch naval troop raided the Portuguese settlement.. The Dutch East India Co between 1661 to 1795 controlled the settlement and finally  the English East India company took over control from 1795. The British were keen to expand their commerce and the ruler of Kollam  granted them 20 year lease on the fort.

Tangasseri Fort, Kollam, Kerala upload.wikimedia.org 

Tangasseri Fort, Kollam, Kerala upload.wikimedia.org 

Both Tangacherry fort and  the  nearby  cemetery still lie neglected close to the Buckingham canal which was once 750 meter long and 10 meter wide. The fort at its inception had had three towers and four bastions and the entrance was from the seafront to load and unload merchandize. All are in ruins.  Now the canal looks like a small stream and this shrinkage being due to  due to illegal encroachment and reclamation activities. Tangacherry fort  is an important heritage site that is closely intertwined with the growth and development of this place and also Kollam. A good part of the fort wall has disappeared and visitors can see only a part of the fort. Historical records point out that once Fort St. Thomas (Tangacherry fort) stood on a land of 20 acres of land and presently only 5.7 cent land is under its occupation. Though much has been damaged or obliterated, the ruins highlight the past glorious colonial era in this part of Kerala. 

Tangacherry near Kollam.traveldealsfinder.com

In the third week of September 2017 the Mayor of Quilon corporation visited  the Tangasseri Fort and the vicinity to check on unauthorized  mining and reclamation activities and was appalled by the illegal activities going on in collusion with a section of dishonest village officials despite ASI's notice board not allowing  mining and construction activity within 300 meters of the periphery of the fort. Over the past several years  houses had been built illegally close to the fort causing structural damages. Small houses began to appear in the nearby Dutch cemetery. 

The onus is on the ASI and the state government to save this historical monument from total destruction by  hooligans and antisocial people.  First step in the right direction is to stop illegal mining and reclamation activities near the fort and relocation of poor families illegally occupying the Dutch cemetery, damaging the tombstones and relics there.  The latest budget allocation of Rs 10 crore to set up a heritage museum in Thangassery  is a good news and it will help save the remaining remnants' of past colonial era that saw the rivalry among three European powers here to control the spice trade.