Aug 21, 2021 2 min read

A South Indian Coastal Fort with a Dutch connection

Good afternoon,

This week we have a beautiful story from Jency Samuel about a trip she took to the south of India. I will leave her say the rest.

Have a relaxing weekend!

A south Indian Coastal Fort with a Dutch connection

We had gone to the southern tip of India for a family wedding. With time on our hands we went birding in nearby places and ended up in Vattakottai, a granite coastal fort. In Tamil language, Vattakottai translates literally as circular fort, for it does have a circular plan.

The fort is believed to have been a military base to protect the Kanniyakumari Port. For many centuries famed pearls from the region were being exported from this port and hence needed protection.

Originally constructed with bricks, 18th century ruler King Marthanda Varma who ruled over the southern Venad Kingdom had the Dutch (the Dutch had some strongholds in India then) army general Eustachius de Lannoy to renovate the fort. de Lannoy, who strengthened the fort, decided to clad the walls with granite blocks. And so stands the coastal fort today as a granite sentinel against the azure sea.

From atop the fort, one can see the shimmering shades of blue as far as the eyes can see. Because the fort is close to Kanniyakumari, the tip of peninsular India where the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean, and Arabian Sea meet.

View from the coastal fort Vattakottai.

While the blue of the sky and that of the ocean enhanced the vastness, the white waves gently broke against the sands, offering a visual treat. The beaches of this southern stretch have black sands because of the presence of minerals.

To the left of the fort a small freshwater stream joined the sea. It was amazing to see tiny freshwater fish swimming against the flow and sheltering in the shallow edges to avoid being carried by the stream into the sea. One of the wonders of nature.

Literature reveals that the southern coast was a hub of maritime trade. As a lone fishing boat returned, I imagined wooden boats and traditional water crafts mentioned in ancient Tamil literature sailing the seas. It brought home a truth.

Notwithstanding the anthropogenic climate change, the oceans will live on, witnessing the human stories that keep unfolding along its edges. While we are but a speck on time and space, it is our responsibility to make sure that the oceans do not overstep their bounds, and swallow coastal towns and cities.

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Have a nice weekend,


Joep Janssen
Joep Janssen
Founder and editor-in-chief Nextblue
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