Visit The Famous Vattakottai Fort (Circular Fort) in Kanyakumari (2023)
Tamil Nadu is a spectacular state in the southern half of India that is home to Kanyakumari, the southernmost tip of India. Kanyakumari is a unique town that is bordered by the three seas that surround India – the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, and the Bay of Bengal. This small coastal town in Tamil Nadu was earlier called Cape Comorin. The mountainous terrain of the town surrounded by three seas is a sight to behold with raised patches of hills, paddy fields, and lines of coconut trees that make Kanyakumari stand out. Many people are surprised to learn that Kanyakumari is the only place in India from where you can see the sunrise and the sunset from the same beach.
Not only is Kanyakumari famous for this unique natural phenomenon, but it is also known around the world as being a beautiful coastal town with spectacular beaches, temples, forts, and many iconic monuments. These historical monuments attract tourists from all over the world, and round the year, tourism is at a boom in Kanyakumari.
One such iconic historical monument that attracts hundreds of tourists is the Vattakottai Fort.
Vattakottai Fort, meaning the Circular Fort, is a seaside fort in Kanyakumari. Mainly built out of granite blocks, the unique feature of Vattakottai fort is that a part of it even extends into the sea. Built-in the 18th century, the Vattakottai Fort was constructed as a huge coastal defense fortification and barracks during the Travancore empire.
Not many people are aware that Vattakottai fort was the last seaside fort that was constructed under the Travancore kingdom.
History of the Vattakottai Fort
The Vattakottai Fort was built in the 18th century by Elakkara/Punachal Valiyaveetil Marthandan Chempakaraman Pillai for the Travancore rulers. In later years, the Vattakottai fort was further modified under the supervision of Captain Eustachius De Lannoy, who was an ex-Dutch naval officer of the Dutch East India Company. The later went on to command the Travancore Army, which had once defeated him itself in the Battle of Colachel. Captain De Lannoy is famous throughout Kanyakumari as he oversaw the reinforcement and overhauling of many forts in the town.
After earning the trust of the then Travancore King Marthanda Varma, Captain De Lannoy became the commander of the Travancore Army. He carried out the entire reconstruction of the Vattakottai Fort under his supervision under extended defense fortifications that he undertook throughout the Travancore kingdom.
Visitors to the Vattakottai Fort are rewarded with some of the most picturesque views of both the Western Ghats hills on one side and the sea on the other side. Another unique and fascinating feature near the area of the fort is a beach made up of black sand. The Vattakottai fort and the beach are located around seven kilometers from the center of the Kanyakumari town, in the Agasteeswaram Taluka. Resting on the coast of the spectacular Bay of Bengal, the Vattakottai Fort has been enhancing the beauty of Kanyakumari for centuries now.
Architecture of the Fort
Sprawled over 3.5 acres, the Vattakottai Fort is one of the most visited attractions in Kanyakumari and also in Tamil Nadu. The aesthetics and architecture of Vattakottai fort are famous, and the historical significance of this fortress, combined with its scenic location, has made it into one of the most visited tourist spots in the country.
Since Vattakottai means ‘Circular Fort,’ one would normally assume that the fort was constructed in a circular manner. However, the fort is actually built in a rectangular shape, and it was so named because it allowed an easy lookout for enemies approaching from any and all sides of the fort, providing a 360-degree view.
This rectangular fort is spread over lush green land by the sea, surrounded by tall walls that are 25 feet on each side. Even today, the glory of the past is unmissable. The Vattakottai fort was constructed to withstand force and stop attacking armies at the front walls itself. These front walls are an impressive 29 feet thick, with the side walls being 18 feet thick. The inner walls are 6 feet wide. Due to such heavy fortifications, this fortress remained unbreached for over two centuries.
The entire Vattakottai fort has been constructed to withstand the force of nature as well, being built out of huge granite blocks. The massive fortress is wholly equipped with equipment rooms, watchtowers, army cantonments, and other provisional facilities that are needed for an army to survive any attacks. The impressive watchtowers of the Vattakottai fort allow you to get a complete view of the distant surroundings, all the way up to the sea even. The northern side of the Vattakottai fort has a slop that housed a canon, reaching all the way to the upper parapet. From the epigraphical and literary evidence that has been found, it would be correct to say that the Vattakottai Fort was built primarily to keep a watch out and protect the erstwhile Kumari Port, which was one of the richest harbors of that era.
Located right next to Vattakottai fort are the remains of a lighthouse in Leepuram. Located ideally just by the sea, this lighthouse is today a favorite picnic spot. Many couples like to come to watch the waves splash by the lighthouse.
It is said that in the olden days, the Vattakottai Fort gave a perfectly clear view of the Padmanabhapuram Palace from its watchtowers. In fact, there is also a four feet wide secret tunnel located inside the fort that leads straight to the palace. This tunnel was built with the purpose of allowing the king and his family to make a quick escape in the event of a successful invasion or an emergency. However, this secret tunnel is today closed to tourists to avoid anyone getting lost and to prevent any untoward incident from happening.
One unique thing you will notice at the Vattakottai Fort is that several walls of the fort have carved motifs of fish on them. A similar type of fish motif was used extensively by the Pandya Empire, and as a result, archaeologists believe that the Vattakottai fort must have been under the rule of or under the use of the Pandya Empire at some point in its history.
There is a small pond located in the center of the Vattakottai fort, which lends a sense of serenity to the entire place today. This is a popular spot for visitors to sit and relax as they stare into the peaceful and majestic atmosphere all around.
Today, you will be pleasantly surprised to spot many windmills around the Vattakottai fort, calmly generating clean energy as they stand witness to this magnificent Vattakottai fort.
How to Reach the Vattakottai Fort?
As it is a very famous tourist spot, you won’t have any trouble getting a cab or autorickshaw to the place. The closes railway station is the Kanyakumari Station, which is only eight kilometers away from the fort, about a 9-minute drive. There are also regular buses that ply and from the fort throughout the day.
The Vattakottai fort is also located very close to the Sri Narayan Maharaj Datta Temple, which is another famous attraction in the area. As a result, a lot of buses ply their routes to this temple first and then go onwards to the fort.
From the center of Kanyakumari to the Vattakottai Fort, the distance is only seven kilometers, making it very pocket-friendly to just hail a cab if you don’t want to wait for the bus.
What are the timings for the Vattakottai Fort?
The Vattakottai Fort is open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm every day of the week.