Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Historical Tangasseri Fort Near Kollam Beach – A Travelogue

Introduction

Saint Thomas Fort is located in the beach town of Tangasseri, near Kollam district in Kerala. It is a ruined fort located about 5 kilometers away from the Kollam city.  It is about 71 kilometers from the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala. The historians believe that this fort was associated with the Chinese trade from the first millennium A.D. As the years passed by, it became the center of trade for even the Portuguese after they found out India.

saint thomas fort

Origin of Saint Thomas Fort in Kollam

The beach town to a great extent is indebted to this historical church for its prominence in the past. When Tangasseri became the trade center for the Chinese, the Dutch, the Portuguese, and the British, the Saint Thomas fort became the center of commercial activities. Due to the trade prominence it enjoyed when compared to other cities in pre-independent Kerala, it soon turned into a Golden Village for different traders in the region. After finding the significance of this small town, this fort was built by Alfonso de Albuquerque with the help of queen of Portuguese to organize and protect trade being developed there. At that time, this fort was known as the Forte de Sao Tome. After the establishing of the fort, a port was built in 1515 by the Portuguese to facilitate trade with other countries. Soon it became the power center of the region for the Portuguese. By 1518, the sovereignty of Saint Thomas Fort was complete with the Portuguese controlling the trade through the adjacent port.
tangasseri fort


Integration of the Fort with Kerala Culture


After having established the sovereignty of this fort and associated port, the Portuguese continued their reign in this region for several years till they were overpowered by the Dutch in 1661. As a result of this transition in the history, both the fort and the port were handed over to the Dutch. They further improved the facilities at the fort and the Tangasseri town and made it into a capital by the name Dutch Malabar. Later, the town and the port fell into the hands of the British East India Company. Later, the authorities of Saint Thomas Fort accepted the lease by Travancore as part of the British government arrangement for a period of 20 years.

Current Situation of the Fort


During its heydays, Saint Thomas Fort was originally 20 feet tall. Due to the poorer maintenance, only some portion of it remains today. That portion is currently facing the beach. The Government of India has taken upon itself the mantle of restoring its original form, and it has undertaken its restoration work through its wing Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). At present, the restoration work has been completed. The tourists visiting this area can visit this fort that tells its importance in the textbooks of Kerala history. At present, this fort is under the control of ASI.
current fort remains
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