Fort Tellicherry, Kerala built by East India company, steeped in colonial history in Kerala


Among the attractions associated with the British in Kerala,Thalassery Fort, built by them in 1708 is an interesting one and you may say a legacy of early British rule in this part.  Over a period of time after the fort had been built, this area became a major town with a naval base.  In the late 18th century it was a harbour-fort with a strong naval base. EIC also ran a factory within the fort. The value of Tellicherry as a British naval base meant that her capture could seriously impact the situation of the Bombay Marine on the west coast. So,  built on a rock cliss, it was a well-protected fort.

Historical Ft.Tellicherry,

Ft.Tellicherry, Kerala.
This fort was a silent spectator of  many wars and skirmishes among the rulers of Mysore - Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, the English company and chieftains of Kerala  who revolted against the British company. Men like Pazhassi Raja were associated with many wars. In about 1780 the fort was captured by Sardar Khan's Mysore army, but later the  the British recaptured the fort  in 1792, and  jailed about 1,200 militants of Mysore, Sardar Khan, it is believed  committed suicide inside the fort. After a peace treaty with Tipu, the English company wanted to control Kottayam.  Wayanad fell to the East India Company and sent a Mysore Commission to seize Wayanad and  annex it to either Canara or Coimbatore. Wayanad being a traditional possession of Kottayam Raja and that Pazhassi had been in control of this region since 1793, Pazhassi  was furious and  considered the  move  an encroachment on his country's ancient provinces.

An important historical fact is  it was here in the underground chambers of the fort a conspiracy was hatched by Arthur Wellesley (later one of the British army troop commanders in the fall of Tipu Sultan in 1799; later Duke of Wellington) to capture Pazhassi Raja, a warrior prince and de facto head of the kingdom of Kottayam who supported the English company's wars against Tipu. But after Tipu's death, EIC wanted to control Kottayam  and consequently, Pazhassi Raja resisted the East India Company from 1793 onwards till his death in 1805.

Ft. tellicherry and lighthouse, Kerala.

Having landed here in 1863, and developed their trading activities, despite competition from other European power, the British shifted their commercial base from Kozhikode to this place, a sea front area from where they could watch enemy movement on the sea and got a better firing range all around for defence. The fort on the rocky cliff served dual purposes  initially to serve as a warehouse to store spices like cardamom and pepper and to defend the enemy attack and to offer facilities for transit cargo. The beach can be accessed through a gate on the rear. 

Square in plan about 90 feet above the sea level to avoid sea erosion the fort is provided with massive wall rising to a height of 10 meters; climbing is a tough job for the intruders. Fort is accessed through a  flight of steps at the entrance. There are two underground chambers, a tunnel (now closed) to connect the beach and bastions.  During 1799 and 1805 a makeshift mint was operated in the underground chamber to mint coins known as pagoda for trade purposes. Part of the underground was used for garnering pepper and cardamom. Among the forts in Kerala this for had witnessed tough battle among the European powers, local kings and Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan who was keen to capture Travancore state and the ports there. Th sturdy fort stood the test of time and severe impact of many wars. There is a longhouse to help the ships on the high seas. ...