I am an Indiblogger

Friday, 20 January 2017

St Angelos Fort ..Kannur

    The bastions were there ,so were the cannons,the barracks ,dungeons ,prisons ,ammunition rooms , secret tunnels,cellars  and of course the many tales.It was all there,the stage was set,so I could now let my imagination run wild,of scenes that would have happened here few centuries ago.Fleets of ships waiting to be loaded with spices from the mainland,soldiers marching in their boots inside the fort to keep themselves ready for any sudden attack,horses being cleaned and fed in the stables,change of the guards at the fort gates and the bastions.The days must have been eventful inside the huge laterite walls of this very important fort in the Malabar.

The  main entrance to the fort


The main door of the fort(note the spikes)
The history of Saint Angelo's Fort
     After the Chera dynasty ,the Malabar region got divided into many territories ,amongst whom the Kolatharis were strong in the north and the Zamorins were established in the south.  .The Kolathiris were the ones who first entered into an alliance with the Portuguese,in order to become more wealthy and powerful.They had done this as the Zamorins (their rivals )had established themselves with the help of the Arabs.The king of Portugal sent Don Francisco De Almeida as the first Portuguese viceroy in India,who built the St Angelo's Fort.The fort was planned to be used as  a garrison for the navy and to help in the spice trade.But the Portuguese soon started making their settlement there and did not merely continue their spice trade.Much to the annoyance of local rulers they started forcibly converting  the locals to their religion.The Kolathiris and the Zamorins joined hands against the PortugueseThe Zamorins attacked the fort but were defeated.After the naval battle of Diu the portugeese  started losing their foothold and lost the fort to the Dutch.The fort remained in the hands of the Dutch for more than  a century .They renovated the fort mostly like how it is now.but later sold it to the Arakkal king Ali Raja,from whom the fort was finally taken over by the British.

The moat at the entrance from the bridge
The moat at the entrance of the fort provided a protective mechanism to the fort,it connected the Arabian sea in the east to the Mapilla bay in the west.
Cannon lined up in the well laid out gardens inside the fort

The prison seen from the walls of the fort

The chapel still remains ,built by the Portuguese and the oil lamp lighthouse used during those days can be seen behind the chapel
               The chapels and the prisons,remains of which can be seen today were built by the Portugeese. Much of the Portuguese structure were brought down by the Dutch.They built bastions named Hollandia,Zeelandia and Frieshlandia,as is obvious from the names.The ammunition rooms were made by the Dutch.And then the British,who made the stables ,the dungeons ,the cellars and the armory.Once seized from the Dutch the British used it as their chief military station in the Malabar till Independence.

The pictures above show the cannon balls kept out in the sun to dry probably after some chemical treatment,when we were visiting the place.An employee from the archaeological department was also seen cleaning the cannon balls .Approximately 12000 of them,these cannon balls,many of which were solid and quite a few even hollow, in different sizes were unearthed in 2015 when workers were digging the place to lay cables for a light and sound show recently set up in the fort premises.The cannon balls were found just one feet below the surface which suggests ,according to the 
archaeological department ,that they were discarded.

The stairs leading up to the fort walls

The stables and the barracks down  from the fort walls

The picture above is a view of the Mapilla bay from top of the fort .It owes its name to the Arab influence in the place ,with whom the local rulers were engaged in the spice trade.On one side of this Bay is the fort and on the other side is the Arakkal Palace ,the palace of the only Muslim rulers of the Malabar.The king of the Arrakal rulers ,Ali Raja and his queen held a place of prominence in the political scenario of erstwhile Cannanore,but that is  a different story altogether.As of now,I could not stop clicking the picturesque Mapilla bay,following are what my lens could capture for you.

A cannon directed towards the sea in one of the bastions  in the fort wall
The death stone of one of the dutch commandments wife and two children

Add caption
The Arabian sea gulfs in along the wall of the fort,creating a beautiful scenery.The cliff end of the Fort as seen from the top of the stables.A 360 degree view of the sea and the Mapilla Bay on the other side is simply amazing.

Inside view of the stables

An entrance to the fort  through a moat straight from the Arabian sea, can now be seen blocked.
The picture above suggests that small boats probably meant for loading ships stranded in the sea ,were loaded from these places inside the fort.

The cliff end of the fort
A lot of time can be spent at the cliff end of the fort.There are some vendors here as well as in front of the chapel,selling snacks and icecreams. Apart from being an ideal destination for historians  and nature lovers ,this place is a photographers delight.
A secret exit or entrance from the fort can be seen at the distance and the watch tower can be seen above it

The spacious inside o f the Fort
    The St Angelos Fort fort is about 3 kms from Kannur.It is visited by the tourists and the locals alike.I guess the locals treat this fort as a park ,as there is a lot of greenery in and around the place.The gardens and lawns inside are very well maintained by the archaeological department.One can easily spend 3 to 4 hours here.The archaeological department has  an office inside the fort which can be approached for further guidance .The fort is open to visitors from 8 in the morning to 6 in the evening ,but a visit during broad daylight is recommended for the best views around the place.A light and sound show is held here in the evening.There is no entry fees but a nominal parking fees are charged.There are no charges for cameras too .History buffs or not ,this place is a must visit for all who visit Kannur.
               The railway station at Kannur is also well connected to all parts of India.The nearest airports are at Calicut and Mangalore,while the new airport coming up at Kannur is expected to begin commercial operations in mid 2017.Kannur is on national highway 66 between Kozhikode and Mangalore.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

The drive to Kannur.... ..of forts ,beaches and lore

       My quest for the unknown has always driven me to places away from the mundane urban life, where every mile rode has brought in expectations and possibilities of an entirely new experience. Kannur was one such place ,which was little heard of ,and drew me to some exciting new exploits.

Breakfast at Kamat Lokaruchi,

          An early morning breakfast at Kamat Lokaruchi,in a chill December morning ,and we were on our way to this northern district of Kerala,which was called the land of looms and lore. Kannur is known for its weaving industry,and hence the looms,and talking about the lore ,it had many to narrate.And it did recount to us the rich history of its land,slowly  unfolding the many stories which it had to tell,through its numerous forts,palaces and harbours.

The car had finally taken a turn at the Brindavan garden,and we had started on the  Bangalore Virajpet highway.We were glad that the hustle of the traffic on the Mysore road was finally over,and so was the concrete jungle as the road slowly changed to different shades of green.The greenery around was not an unfamiliar one ,as the lure of it had brought us to the fourth visit to the state


The coffee berries put out to dry in the sun by the roadside

Wild flowers along the way

I don't know what the writing on the top of the gate meant ,I just loved the scene
Do like my Facebook page here for more interesting posts and itineraries

Few more flowers to fascinate me 

Some tender coconut water and pineapple slices are all we need on the way
    The roads were in perfect condition allowing us a smooth ride .We could not stop ogling at the palm lined roads with coffee plants and pepper climbers completing the picture.In such a pleasing situation a stop at the Rajiv Gandhi National Park seemed nothing but compulsory,to watch the forest department elephants ,or to take a very close look at the beautiful coffee berries.I had seen the coffee blossoms in other visits but this time I had luck for the berries.

  I must admit that I have a thing for those clay tiled houses  more so when they are double storied which dot the already splendid scenery.A look at those houses sparks off an imagination of the peaceful  and slow paced life they must have amidst nature.

Do not miss these pineapple,mango and carrot slices dipped in spiced water,they are an excellent thirst quencher,you will find them at every corner of Kannur,

      We were about to cross the Karnataka and Kerala border we came across  a small  nondescript concrete bridge across a narrow river,and paid least attention to it,only to learn later that it was the  Koottupuzha bridge,that  was built by the British in1928. I am not a history buff as such ,but when it comes in slices like this ,amidst nature I am awed .  Koottupuzha is the name of the village where it was built .So on my way back I did not miss an opportunity to click these pictures.

 The  Koottupuzha bridge

The coffee berries

The pepper climbers

           As I sat in the front seat of the zooming car,happily clicking away every random scene,no frame ,no composition worked .Only a  desire to grab the most of what was served before me in this bountiful platter,and take back home with me to remember.

 The temperature soared as we crossed the crowded market place of small town Irrity..In about 7 hours we were at Mathannur(The place in Kannur where we had booked our stay).The home stay was  The Amban Heritage,a cosy two storied villa,where we had booked our stay for three nights.We were glad to see our smiling hosts ready with  glasses of  cold butter milk for us after the long drive.

Where to eat and what to eat there
If you happen to go to Thallasery go for the Thallasery biriyani,(Kerala is a haven for non vegetarians)though you can get the same in restaurants in Kannur too.Very close to the Payyambalam Beach is the eating joint named Odhen's.We had our lunch there.It was quite a satisfying experience.This places is for seafood lovers.They have  seafood cooked so differently ,that we can vouch for.One should be careful not to reach there late because lunch gets over soon and they wind up by four in the afternoon.One should also be prepared to wait for a table for about fifteen minutes.


Places to visit in Kannur
  • St Angelo's fortRead here
  • TheThallasery fort
  • The Chera beachRead here
  • The Parashini Kadavu temple
  • The Payyambalam beach
  • The Muzhappilangad beach(drive in beach)
  • The lighthouse and the walk way
  • The Arrakal museum
       The Kannur district in north Kerala is about 310 kms. from Bangalore.It takes roughly 7 to 8 hours for a leisurly drive to the place(considering the Makkoottam Churan Ghat that comes on the way).
The route-Bangalore-Mysore-Virajpeta road-Makkoottam Churan Ghat-Koottupuzha bridge-Irrity-Kannur
  One can find many hotels and refreshments at Irrity,ATMs and hoispital facility is also available there.THere are not many eateries after one takes the deviation from the Mysore road to the Virajpeat road.
               The railway station at Kannur is also well connected to all parts of India.The nearest airports are at Calicut and Mangalore,while the new airport coming up at Kannur is expected to begin commercial operations in mid 2017.Kannur is on national highway 66 between Kozhikode and Mangalore.