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Udayagiri Fort

Puliyoorkurichi  |      3  |   

Udayagiri Fort is located at Puliyoorkurichi on the Thiruvananthapuram – Nagercoil National Highway in Kanyakumari District of Tamilnadu. This fort, also known as De Lannoy's Fort or Dillannai Kottai, stands as a remnant of the historic Travancore regime. It is built of massive granite blocks and it covers an area of 90 acres, enclosed by isolated hills that are almost 260 feet in height. Udayagiri Fort was named after the King Udayanan of Padmanabhapuram.

This fort was the camping and training ground for the king’s army. Some remains of the furnace used for making ammunition can still be seen. Today the fort is a natural park with a tree house, herbal garden, deer and bird enclosures, and an aquarium. This was the most important military barracks of the Travancore rulers, when Padmanabhapuram was their capital.

Udayagiri Fort is an ancient fort which was constructed in 1600 AD. The fort is said to have been destroyed during war. The fort was rebuilt during the reign of Marthanda Varma, between 1741-44 under the supervision of Eustachius De Lannoy, a Flemish naval commander of the Dutch East India Company, who later served as the Chief of the Travancore Army. De Lennoy was one of the 24 European prisoners taken by King Marthanda Varma in 1741 when he was defeated the Dutch at Colachel. He joined King Marthanda Varma and became the trusted General of Marthanda Varma and remained loyal to him for 37 years. He trained the Travancore Soldiers in the European method of fighting.

As a Christian, De Lannoy was prohibited from entering the king’s palace at Padmanabhapuram and he resided primarily at Udayagiri Fort, or Dillanai Kotta (De Lannoy’s Fort) as it is locally called, where he also built a small chapel for his family and other Christians. Captain De Lannoy’s military skills and trust were recognized not only by King and the state officials, but also by the subjects of Travancore, who called him by the nom de guerre ‘Valia Kaaptain’ (meaning 'valiant Commander'). De Lannoy died a natural death in 1777. De Lannoy's tomb in the fort is marked out by a stone cross planted at the top, with the inscription in both Tamil and Latin. His wife and son are also buried by his side.

De Lannoy, who was trusted and liked by both the king and his subjects was buried at the chapel inside Udayagiri fort. In the early days, the fort was of strategic importance. Prisoners captured in the campaign against Tippu Sultan were confined in the fort for some time. In 1810, the East India Company's Army under Colonel Leger marched into Travancore through the Aramboly Pass (Aralvaimozhi) to quell a rebellion under the leadership of Velu Thambi Dalawa. In later years, English East India Company troops were stationed at the fort until the middle of the 19th century.

Udayagiri Fort covers an area of about 90 acres (36 ha), with an isolated hill 260 feet (79 m) high, the fort contains an old foundry which was used for casting guns. The fort is built of massive granite blocks around an isolated hillock. This was the most important military barracks of the Travancore rulers, when Padmanabhapuram was their capital. Prisoners captured in the campaign against Tippu Sultan were confined in this fort for some time.

Presently, the fort has been turned into a bio-diversity park by the Tamil Nadu forest department, with sites of historical importance, such as De Lannoy's tomb, remaining as protected archaeological sites under the Archaeological Department of India. It is said that a brass gun 16 ft. long bored as a 22 ponder, found in the fort could not be removed even for a few yards by many people, even with the help of 16 elephants.

De Lannoy's body was buried within the fort and a chapel was built at his burial site. De Lannoy's tombstone lies within the walls of the ruined chapel. The inscriptions on his stone are both in Tamil and in Latin. His wife and son were buried by his side. The tombs of the Dutch Admiral Eustachius De Lannoy, (in whose honour the fort was once called Dillanai Kottai – De Lennoy's Fort), and of his wife and son can still be found inside a partly ruined chapel in the fort.

There is a wildlife park inside this fort. There are around 13 types of wild animals, 50 types of birds and 60 types of forest trees in this park. There is also a park for children. There was a small building nearby, inside which there was an aquarium. An artificial fountain has also been established in the fort. Recently, officials of the Department of Archaeology found an underground tunnel within the fort. The roads inside were neatly laid and we all are ready to take a stroll through these roads.

Mon – Sun: 09:30 AM - 05:30 PM

Udayagiri Fort is located at Puliyoorkurichi on the Thiruvananthapuram –Nagercoil National Highway. The fort is close to Padmanabhapuram palace, won't take more than 10 minutes to reach from the palace. Udayagiri Fort is located at about 2 Kms from Padmanabhapuram Palace, 3 Kms from Thuckalay, 14 Kms from Colachel, 16 Kms from Marthandam, 18 Kms from Kulasekharam, 19 Kms from Kuzhithurai, 6 Kms from Eraniel, 14 Kms from Nagercoil, 20 Kms from Boothapandi, 33 Kms from Kanyakumari and 62 Kms from Thiruvananthapuram. Nearest Railway Station is located at Eraniel and Nearest Airport is located at Thiruvananthapuram.

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