Fort St. Angelo of Kannur, Kerala State - a well-preserved historical monument

 Fort St. Angelo, Kerala. S. India

Ft. St. Angelo, Kannur, Kerala state. India

St. Angelo’s Fort, located just 3 km west from the town of Kannur is one of the important forts in the Southern state of Kerala, India. Built in 1505 by the first Portuguese Viceroy, Don Francesco de Almeda, the fort provides a beautiful view of the Moppila Bay and Dharmadom Island, which are situated near-by. The Moppila Bay is a natural fishing bay which is being  used by professional fisher men today.

Kannur location map.

This historical fort facing the Arabian sea saw several battles over the ownership of this fort and it also silently witnessed  the victory and defeat of many rulers just like the ebb and flow of the sea waters in the Arabian bay. The local Indian ruler Zamorin and Kolathiri made a futile attack on the fort - 1507. Alfonso de Albuquerque who superseded Almeda as the Governor General, was arrested by the latter in this fort; however, his arrest did not last till October 1509. 

The fort  saw  a change of ownership in 1663 and the Dutch became the masters of that area. With respect to  imperialistic ambition, the Dutch were  equally competent to establish their supremacy in commerce  in peninsular India, particularly in Kerala, along with other European powers like Portuguese, British and the French. In 1663, the Dutch captured the fort and made some modifications that included  horse-stables and ammunition house inside the fort. The main gate is towards the land and is protected by bastions. In the epitaph of Susanna Weyerman, the first wife of Dutch Governor Godfried Weyerman, who died on March 28, 1745 AD, at the age of 17 years, there was a reference to  the capture of  Ft. St. Angelo by the Dutch. They added bastions  such as   Hollandia, Zealandia and Frieslandi for better protection.. The Dutch had a small settlement in  Tranquebar (Tharangambadi) in Nagapatnam district of Tamil Nadu.  Fort Dansborg  locally called Danish Fort located on the shores of Bay of Bengal  was built in the land ceded by Thanjavur king Ragunatha Nayak in an agreement with Danish Admiral Ove Gjedde in 1620 and acted as the base for Danish settlement in the region during the early 17th century. The fort is the second largest Danish fort after Kronborg. 

As the Portuguese tried to dominate the spice trade  The Ali Radjas who who had been in this trade in the fifteenth century  teamed up with the Dutch  to curtail the  the Portuguese influence in the  trade. The Arrakal dynasty  till 1771 maintained a cordial relationship with the Dutch  and shared trade  in  cardamom and ginger. In those days across Europe spices from Kerala (Malabar) were quite popular.  At last the Dutch  decided to call it quits sold the fort in  1772 to Ali Radja for 100,000 rupees. I

 In 1790, the British, who were on a land grabbing spree in south India, laid their hands on this fort by seizing it by force from the local ruler. During this period, the British East India company under the patronage of the British Crown was a major force to reckon with and they had already captured many parts of India, of course, by dubious means!! Till they left the Indian shores for good in August, 1947, the British used this fort  as their  major military station. They made many modifications to suite their needs 
St. Angelo’s Fort, Kerala India

The major attractions in the fort are the
adjoining bastions, massive triangular in design,  built by the Dutch and the moat that runs around the monument. This protected monument is under the control of  the Archaeological  Society of India. Though some architectural features were redesigned by the Dutch and the English later, the overall design of this fort is an example of Portuguese architecture. There is a huge thick wall separating the saline sea water of the Arabian Sea from the inland water. The Portuguese built   chapels, house of mercy prison, offices and other amenities in the fort.  

The small island of Dharmadom, 100 meters off the coast  is spread over an area of about  five acres in the Arabian Sea, providing a breath taking view of  St. Angelo's Fort in the back drop of amazing sunrise and sunset. 

The Dutch in Kerala

Arrakal Museum, Kerala, Dutch section.

St. Angelo’s Fort, moat. Kerala India

This historical fort can be accessed by road, train and air. The nearest railway station is  Kannur, just 3 km from the Fort. The nearest airport is Karipur International Airport  Kozhikode,  93 kms away from the fort.