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14th International
Congress of

Pallipuram Fort

Stepping into Kochi is like stepping into the labyrinthine alleyways of history where you encounter the fresh wafts of the bygone era that comes from the ancient streets, palaces, museums, synagogues, cathedrals… Kochi is all this and more. This time, we invite you for a trip to Pallipuram in Vypeen Island near Kochi to behold and feel the earliest of all European memories in India.

Amid the huge trees that romance the skies, untouched by the hubbubs of the town, enduring the snags of time, there stands a fort in its geezerhood - the Pallipuram Fort. Built in 1503 by the Portuguese the Pallipuram Fort is considered as the oldest surviving European monument in India. Also known by the name Ayikotta or Alikotta the fort is a gigantic hexagonal structure.

The architecture of the fort is quite fascinating with a hexagonal outpost and the lowest floor raised to a height of five feet. Laterite, mortar and wood are used for the construction. The layout enables to mount as many guns as possible commanding all quarters round the fort. There is a cellar inside the fort, which was used at that time as a magazine. There is an open space inside, affording easy passage to the cellar. The local people believe that the cellar is a tunnel that leads to the Cheraman Masjid in Kodungallur (Kodungalloor). 

The fort fell into the hands of the Dutch army in 1663. In 1798 the fort was purchased by the Travancore Maharaja and is now a protected monument of the Kerala State Department of Archaeology.

Pallipuram got its name from the nearby Manjumatha Church, dedicated to the Lady of Snow (manju in Malayalam denotes mist or snow) which was also built by the Portuguese roughly at the same time as the Fort. In Malayalam the word Palli means church and thus the surrounding areas of the church became Pallipuram. There is an interesting legend associated with the name of the church. Accordingly, when Tipu Sultan attacked Kochi and tried to destroy the church a miraculous mist came down, enveloped the church and hid it from him.

Getting there:

Nearest railway station: Ernakulam Junction, about one km from the main boat jetty to Vypeen Island
Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport, about 20 km from Ernakulam town to Vypeen Island

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