Visit The Majestic Udayagiri Fort in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu (2021)
The state of Tamil Nadu is famous for its magnificent temples and grand architecture. The state has seen countless kingdoms and dynasties rise and fall, each having left their respective trademark on the state’s history and architectural landscape. These dynasties have left behind many majestic forts that still stand tall as a testimony to the glorious past of Tamil Nadu. One such fort that even today tells the tales of the past is the Udayagiri Fort in Kanyakumari.
The Udayagiri Fort is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Kanyakumari. Often known as Dillane Kottai or De Lannoy’s Fort, the Udayagiri Fort is a remnant of the royal regime of Travancore.
The Udayagiri Fort is located just 14 kilometers from Nagercoil, which is in Thuckalay Town in Kanyakumari. You can reach the fort easily from the Thiruvananthapuram-Nagercoil national highway at Puliyoorkurichi. This entire area is historically very significant because it served as the most important military barracks of the Travancore rulers.
With Padmanabhapuram as the capital city of the Travancore rulers, the Udayagiri Fort remained critical for many centuries as a major defense point.
History of the Udayagiri Fort
The Udayagiri Fort was originally built in the 17th century and was again rebuilt and reinforced in the 18th century by Maharaja Marthanda Varma of Travancore. The Udayagiri fort is built over an area of 90 acres. This also includes an isolated area of 260 feet. There is also an old foundry that was used for many years for casting guns.
The Udayagiri fort was initially built out of mud during the rule of the Venadu King, Sri Vira Ravi Varma, and later rebuilt with stone under the reign of Marthanda Varma. The Nattars of Nanjilnadu also gave donations to construct the structure of the Udayagiri fort.
During the rule of Marthanda Varma, the Udayagiri fort was rebuilt between 1741-44. This was carried out under the supervision of Eustachius De Lannoy, who was a Flemish naval commander of the Dutch East India Company. He later also went on to serve as Chief in the Travancore Army.
In its initial days, the Udayagiri Fort was a place of great strategic importance. Prisoners who were taken captive during the campaign against Tipu Sultan were kept confined in this fort for quite some time. Then, in 1810, the East India Company’s Army, under the command of Colonel Leger, marched into Travancore using the Aramboly Pass to put out a rebellion that took place under the leadership of Velu Thambi Dalava.
In its later years, the Udayagiri fort also housed troops of the English East India Company well until the middle of the 19th century. The foundry located on the premises of the fort was established here under the supervision of the resident general and was used for manufacturing of mortars, guns, and cannonballs.
Today, the remains of this furnace are perhaps the biggest testimony to the glorious past that the fort has witnessed. It is also said that a brass gun that was 16 feet long was discovered in the Udayagiri fort complex, but no one could move it even by a couple of feet by 16 elephants and a huge number of people.
There is an isolated hill surrounding the Udayagiri fort that was used as a training ground for the king’s army for many years.
Impressive Architecture of the Udayagiri Fort
The Udayagiri Fort is indeed unique, and its impressive architecture makes it a must-see when you are in Kanyakumari. The Udayagiri fort is constructed from huge granite blocks and located around an isolated hilltop.
You can also find the tombs of the Dutch Admiral Eustachius De Lannoy, his wife, and his son. The graves are located inside a partially ruined chapel inside the Udayagiri fort. In honor of Admiral De Lannoy, the Udayagiri fort was once also known as Dellanai Kottai or De Lannoy’s Fort.
In fact, De Lannoy’s body was buried inside the Udayagiri fort itself, and the chapel was built later on at his burial site. His tombstone even today lies within the walls of this partly ruined chapel. There are inscriptions on this tombstone in both Latin and Tamil, showing the important role Admiral De Lannoy played in shaping the history of this area and the Udayagiri Fort. His son and wife are both buried by his side inside the chapel.
In recent years, the Archaeological Survey of India discovered a tunnel within Udayagiri fort, and excavation work is still ongoing in the tunnel area to find out more details.
Udayagiri Fort Today
Presently, the Udayagiri fort has been converted into a natural park, and there are a treehouse, bird and deer enclosures, an aquarium, and herbal gardens on the premises.
The Tamil Nadu Forest Department has turned the Udayagiri fort and its surrounding area into a biodiversity park. In the meanwhile, De Lannoy’s tomb, the chapel, and other areas of the fort remain as protected archaeological sites.
The Archaeological Survey of India takes care of the fort today.
What Are The Timings Of The Udayagiri Fort?
The Udayagiri Fort is open from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm all seven days of the week.
Is There An Entry Fee?
Yes, there is a nominal fee of Rs. 10 per adult to enter the fort. Children can enter free of cost.
What Other Places Can I Visit Around The Udayagiri Fort?
When you are in Kanyakumari and exploring the Udayagiri Fort, there are many other attractions that you can check out. These include:
- Kanyakumari Temple
- Kanyakumari Beach
- Courtallam Falls
- Vivekananda Rock Memorial
- Thiruvalluvar Statue
- Our Lady of Ransom Church
- Bharatmata Temple
Also, don’t forget to visit the Triveni Sangam when in Kanyakumari, which is the famous confluence point of the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean, and the Bay of Bengal.
Devotees visiting the Kanyakumari Temple often visit this confluence point to dip their feet in the water as it is considered holy. From the Triveni Sangam, you can get one of the most spectacular views of the sunrise and sunset. The rock memorial is also located just a stone’s throw away from this seashore.
So make the most of your trip to Kanyakumari by not only visiting the Udayagiri Fort but also checking out the nearing tourist attractions.