A true paradise on Earth, Kerala has always been a traveler’s destination. It is blessed with a perfect flavorsome cuisine, friendly population, and plenty of natural beauty, moreover, has stunningly beautiful cultural arts. Kerala also has a unique and distinctive history comprising of several rulers and dynasties. Visiting Kerala will surely provide you valuable insight into the historic events that led to the unfolding of the current state, as well as the serene beauty of it. Here is a guide to some of the best attractions and historical places in Kerala to make your visit even more memorable.
1. St. Angelo Fort
Also known as the Kannur Fort, this spectacular fort was built as early as 1505 under the leadership of Francesco de Almada (Portuguese viceroy). This fort faces the magnificent Arabian Sea and is under the Archaeological Survey of India for its maintenance. The interesting history which led to its construction states that when Vasco De Gama had visited India for the first time, he received a piece of land from the local king. When De Gama decided that he wanted to build a settlement over it, he handed over the construction responsibilities to Francesco De Almada. The Kannur Fort is an important tourist destination in Kannur attracting several visitors each year.
2. Mattancherry Palace
Famous all over India as the ‘Dutch Palace’ due to being built by the Portuguese in 1555, this Palace is now turned into a museum. The architecture of the Palace is mostly inspired by the Nalukettu architecture (traditional architecture of Kerala) with just a tint of European influence. This Palace, although was originally constructed by the Portuguese, was presented as a gift to the then king of Cochin. Visit the Palace to have a closer peek into the lives of the Cochin Rajas.
3. Edakkal Caves
Located in the Wayanad district of Kerala, these caves are the broken fragments of our ancestors. They consist of wall paintings from the Neolithic Age and the paintings which are deemed to be from the Stone Age are said to be the only ones in all of South India. The structure of the caves suggests that they are more of a cleft; they were formed by a gigantic split in a comparatively larger rock. The Edakkal Caves are a great way to learn about the way the early man lived and behaved. A must-see spot!
4. Bekal Fort
Fun Fact: Bekal Fort happens to be the largest Fort in Kerala in terms of area. This incredible fort is made up of laterite stones and is situated on the shores of the Arabian Sea. Many people suggest that it was built by Shivappa Nayaka, and has been under the dominance of several rulers from the Sultans to the British Raj. Originally, the Bekal Fort wasn’t meant to house any administrative activities, therefore does not contain any mansions within. However, being a fort primarily built for defense purposes the Fort does exhibit several features for the same. Also visit the Observing Tower and Bekal Beach situated near the Fort, while you’re still there!
Getting its name when Tipu Sultan took over the region and utilized the Jain Temple there as a ‘battery’, this peaceful town yells historic significance. It is situated in Wayanad and was earlier called Ganapathivattom. Upon its invasion, Tipu Sultan had also built a fort in the region. Sadly, this fort now remains in ruins and unavailable for the public eye. The splendid natural bounty of the town, along with its historical heritage is what drives its tourism. With plenty of accommodation services and transport facilities, you are sure to have a leisurely trip to this quaint town!
6. Peralassery Temple
Kerala is extensively known for its immense faith and pilgrimage centers. It is extremely famous and the main deity in this temple here is Lord Subramanya. According to popular legends, Lord Ram accompanied by Lakshmana and his devotee Hanuman stopped here on their way to rescue Sita. It was Lord Ram who wanted to consecrate the Lord Subramanya idol in his place. Therefore, he sent Hanuman to find an idol for the same. However, when he failed to arrive at the correct time, Lord Ram consecrated his Peruvala, eventually gaining the name Peralassery. The temple pond is impeccably built and is considered a prime devotional site.
7. Pazhassi Raja Archaeological Museum
Located in the famous city Kozhikode, the Pazhassi Raja Archaeological Museum is a wonderful art gallery showcasing items from the Indus Valley civilization and the megalithic age. These collections include pottery, stones, metal sculptures, stone statues, and many more structures from ancient times. The museum is present in a house that was earlier termed as East Hill Bungalow. Witness the extraordinary historical artifacts found here!
8. Thalassery Fort
Erstwhile declared as an important trading center under the Europeans, this ancient fort was constructed by the initiative of the East India Company. It was built as a symbol of colonial power in 1703 and played a significant role in the economical and military activities during the colonial reign. The Thalassery Fort is built squarely with artistic carvings on the doors and walls. The glorious stories, secret pathways, and unique architecture are worth exploring. Spend a good amount of time discovering the Fort to have a great time with your family.
9. Jewish Synagogue
This amazing Synagogue is situated in Old Cochin and was built by Jews who used to occupy the Jew Town area. The place has phenomenal architecture and a classy interior comprising of the antique chandelier, hand-painted tiles, and imported lamps. In one of the 7 Synagogues, several tourists are attracted to the lavish decor and grand architecture. A truly impressive place to be!
10. St.Francis Church
Enter the St Francis Church and you enter the oldest existing European church in India. Constructed in 1503, the Church has a modest and simple style of architecture. The famous explorer Vasco Da Gama is buried in the yards of this ancient Church in 1524 (Remains were sent to Portugal in 1538). Moreover, this Church is maintained by the CSI (Church of South India) and remains an important component of Kochi tourism.
These heritage sites provide an interesting side to the state of Kerala. History forms a significant part of our lives and is ever-present. Indeed, the lessons we learn from these sites form an important part of our cultural identity. Explore these beautiful places and enjoy the various local stories they have to offer.