Fort St. Angelo in Kannur

Trip Start Nov 29, 2013
Trip End Jan 09, 2014

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Flag of India  , Maharashtra,
Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Both Chris and I like trains, so we went by train from Cochin to Tellicherry, some 20 kilometres before Kannur our destination according to our programme. Five hours in AC three chairs, talking with some Indian travellers, a liitle walk now and then, reading Indian newspapers and magazines that can e bought at most of he train stations.

We stayed in the Ayisha Manzil homestay of the owner Mr. Moosa, who is descending of the Arrakan royal family that the VOC teamed up with to chase away the Portuguese here, we heard later from our guide. The house on top of a hill is old. Mr. Moosa loves to have some pags of whiskey when his wife is away. He more or less forced us to go shopping with him at 07:45 in the Tellicherry fish market. But it gave me good opportunities to make nice pictures. The meals were served o a nice terrace in front of the mansion.

In Kannur we had one day to see the Portuguese fort St. Angelo and to visit the Indian family of my good friend and IRC colleague Cor and Smitha Dietvorst. Our guide Caesar Perreira had already red eyes from alcohol at 10:00 in the morning.

Quite a bit of The St. Angelofort in Kannur built by the Portuguese stands today. Walls, bastions, barracks and cannons are still there, maintained by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI). The fort houses in fact a sub office of the ASI.  After a while looking around we meet one of the Tourist Policeman at the fort. It is Gokulan Veena. He is very pleased when I show him the picture of him and his colleague in the Bauke van der Pol book. He shows it to everyone who he sees and carries the book around as a trophy. And yes he wants to have a personal copy.  We notice that many Indian school classes visit the fort.

The fort was taken over by the VOC in 1663 with the help of the moslim Ali Radja of the Arakkal dynasty. The Ali Radjas were already trading from Kannur in the fifteenth century and teamed up with the Dutch to get rid of the Portuguese hindrance for their trade. Until 1771 the Arrakal dynasty worked together peacefully with the Dutch sharing the trade of cardemon and ginger. The Dutch sold the fort in that year to Ali Radja for 100,000 rupees. In 1790 the British occupied it.

This shared history is probably the reason that this fort is definitely the best that we have seen on this trip.

We also visit the private Arakkal museum that tells the history of this dynasty. It is small but it has good information panels. It also has an interesting section on the Dutch in Kerala. There is also an interesting website on the Dutch in Kerala

The authors of this site write that "the contributions of Dutch to Kerala had long term impacts. The Portuguese ruled Kochi for more than a century. Though the Dutch ruled for a short span, the British who came later emulated the Dutch. K.P Padmanabha Menon, K.M Panicker, Dr. T. A. Punnen and Prof. A. Sreedhara Menon had done in-depth study on Dutch. 

The Dutch had more tolerance towards other religions than the Portuguese. The Portuguese blindly followed the sentiments of the Catholics which created much turbulence."

“The influence of Dutch in Kerala can be grouped under the following sub-headings:

  1. Botany & Medicinal Plants
  2. Agriculture
  3. Industry & Commerce
  4. Medicine
  5. History & Culture
  6. Administration”
One of the highlights and tourist attractions in this fort is the Dutch tombstone of Godefridus Weverman's wife Susanna Geertruyda Pfeifer, 17 years old. She died along with her newborn baby on 28th March 1745 on her first delivery.It is a slab of black stone fixed on a wall.

Cor and Smitha's family

Smitha’s brother Suman picks us up at 13:00 for lunch with his wife (who is at a wedding). Suman is working in a bank, he is a musician and has a band that sings religious songs in India pop style. We listen to a few songs in his car and he shows us the big banner in town for the New Year’s eve show he gave. We meet Smitha’s father at their family home, Sneetha, Suman’s wife and their boys Alaap and Adaarsh. We spends a nice afternoon with all of them, and go to a few other tourist spots in Kannur.

At the end of the day the guide who tool us back was even more drunk than earlier. Fortunately th driver was OK.
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Cor Dietvorst on

Smitha's father told her that he really appreciated your visit. Good to read and see that Fort St Angelo is beiing well maintained. Did you see the Dutch gravestone of the wife & children of Godefridus Weverman?

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