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Time Required : 1-2 hrs

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Pallipuram Fort, Kochi Overview

The Pallippuram Fort is located in Pallippuram, on the northern extremity of the Vypin Island in the Ernakulam district of Kerala in southern India. The Portuguese built the mighty fort in 1503 and today, it stands majestically as the oldest surviving European monument in India.

The architecture of the Pallippuram Fort never fails to strike the visitor. The fascinating monument is complete with a hexagonal outpost, and the lowest floor is raised to a height of five feet. The fort is hexagonal, a form which is popularly known as ayikkotta or alikotta in southern India. The fort is made out of mortar, wood and laterite.

There is an open space inside the fort which allows secure passage to the cellar. According to local legends, this cellar is a tunnel which leads to the Cheraman Masjid in Kodungallur. The Pallippuram Fort was captured by the Dutch in the year 1661, following which it was sold off to the Kingdom of Travancore in 1789. As of now, it is a protected monument of the Kerala State Department of Archaeology.

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Story Behind the Name of Pallipuram Fort

The Pallippuram Fort derives its name from the Manjumatha Church which is located nearby. The church is dedicated to the Lady of Snow (Manju in Malayalam stands for snow) and was built by the Portuguese roughly around the same time when they made the Pallippuram Fort. Since the Malayalam word for church is Palli, the surrounding areas of the church came to be known as Pallippuram. Hence the fort is also known by the same name, that is the Pallippuram Fort.

There is also an intriguing myth that is associated with the name of the church. When Tipu Sultan attacked Kochi and made attempts to destroy the church, a phenomenal mist came down. The mist surrounded the church and hid it from the view of Tipu Sultan.

History of Pallipuram Fort

Formerly, the Pallippuram Fort was used by the Portuguese as a base to check their ships that would travel up and down from the Periyar to the Arabian Sea. The cellar in the fort served the purpose of storing gunpowder. A living quarter, a church, a hospital and other significant buildings can be found near it.

The Pallippuram Fort was attacked by the Dutch in the year 1662, who then occupied the fort. Since it was located in a very strategic position, it caught the attention of other rulers too. The Mysore rulers also tried to purchase the Pallippuram Fort from the Dutch, but due to the intervention of the East India Company, the proposal was terminated. However, the desire to buy and acquire the Pallippuram Fort did not end here. In what is defined as a strategic move, the ruler of Travancore purchased this grand fort along with the Kottappuram Fort in the year 1789.

Following the decline of the Mysore rulers, the possession of the entire Malabar area was taken over by the English East India Company. With the passage of time, the Pallippuram Fort lost its importance and was finally abandoned by the military. A memorial was erected the Government of Travancore built in front of it in 1909. Finally, in 1964, the Pallippuram Fort was declared to be a protected monument and has been under the Department of Archaeology ever since.

Structure and Architecture of Pallipuram Fort

The Pallippuram Fort is hexagonal, and this structure is known as the ‘ayikkotta’ or ‘alikotta’. The floor of the fort at the lowest level is at the height of 5 feet from the ground. The fort also houses a well that was used to provide fresh water to the fort. The door posts, lintels and gate of the fort are all arched and finely dressed.

The Pallippuram Fort boasts of an altogether different and fascinating design. A small flight leads the visitor to the ground level, while the opening in the north takes him/her to the cellar. This underground cellar was used to store gunpowder and was believed to harbour a tunnel which leads to the Cheraman Masjid in Kodungallur.

Laterite, chunam and wood were used to build this majestic fort. The six walls of the Pallipuram fort are all thickly plastered using mortar, while the door in the central circular slab is composed of granite. Presently, the fort walls are overgrown with vegetation.

How To Reach Pallipuram Fort

The nearest railhead to the Pallippuram Fort is the Ernakulam Junction, which is about 1 kilometre away from the main boat jetty to Vypeen Island, while the nearest airport is the Cochin International Airport, about 20 kilometres from Ernakulam town to Vypeen Island.

While in Kochi, you can hire a jetty operating from Ernakulam and Kochi to Vypeen. Bus services from Vypeen to Pallipuram are also available.

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