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The Dutch Palace was gifted around 1555 by the Portuguese to the Raja of Kochi

Kerala, known for its rich history and culture, has massive forts, palaces and religious sites that stand as a testimony to its past glory. The state is a treasure trove of architectural monuments; the traces can be seen starting from Tangasseri, a thickly populated beach area on the shores of Kollam city, which witnessed the Portuguese establishing a trading centre for pepper in 1502. Due to wars with the Moors/ Arabs, the ancient church of St Thomas was destroyed. In 1517, the Portuguese built St Thomas Fort Tangasseri Quilon which was destroyed with the subsequent wars with the Dutch. The remnants of the Dutch and Portuguese forts can be found in Tangasseri. There is also a 144 feet lighthouse, built in 1902 and still functional today. The Infant Jesus Church in Tangasseri, an old Portuguese built church, stands presently as a memento of the Portuguese rule. The old cathedral was demolished and replaced by a new cathedral at a cost of approximately Rs 4.5 crore and consecrated and blessed on December 3, 2005. The metallic cross on the top of the church is said to be one of the largest crosses in India. “Fort Kochi – Zone itself is built and maintained on the colonial heritage style and still its maintaining. Most of the building are built in this period and on the colonial style. Some of them are converted into hotels, and some others are on office buildings. The tourism department is keenly concentrating on promoting this sector and is also funding to maintain some areas. The tourism department has already promoted a walking tour through the colonial heritage zone of Fort Kochi,” says Johny Abraham George, managing director, Intersight Group of Companies, and president of Kerala Travel Mart. Mentioning some of the colonial heritage places, he added that Kochi has the following structures: Aspinwal Building, David Hall, Bastian Bungalow, Vasco Homestay, Old Harbour Hotel, J Thomas & Co Bungalow (near St Francis church), Koder House (build during colonial period in colonial style by Jew), Fort Heritage Hotel, Tea Bungalow Hotel, Dutch Cemetery, Santa Cruz Basilica, V.O.C Gate (it was the office of the East India Company). In Munnar -Tea Estate Managers’ bungalows in Idukki district (Munnar, Perimedu), while Thalasseri has Aisha Manzil Homestay, Thalaserry Seminary, English Church, Brennen School, British Cemetery, Gundert Bungalow. Trivandrum houses the V.J.T Hall, British Residency Office (now KITTS Building) and museums.

The Tangaseri lighthouse, built in 1902 is still functional today

Next on the list is The Mattancherry Palace, located on the Jew Town road in Mattacherry. The palace also known as Dutch Palace was gifted around 1555 by the Portuguese to the Raja of Kochi. The palace is built in quadrangular structure in the traditional Kerala architecture showcasing artistic murals, temple art and portraits and exhibits of the Raja of Kochi. The St Francis Church, built in 1503, is the oldest European church in Kochi and has a great historical significance which was a witness to the European colonial struggle. The church was declared a protected monument in April 1923 under the Protected Monuments Act of 1904. As a protected monument it is under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) but is owned by the North Kerala diocese of Church of South India. The St Angelo Fort, located in Kannur city, was built by Dom Francisco de Almeida, the first Portuguese Viceroy of India in 1505. Tourists are allowed to visit the monument daily between eight in the morning to six in the evening. The monument is under the ASI. The Tellicherry Fort in Thalassery town in Kannur district of Kerala was built in 1708 by the British East India Company to defend the Malabar coast. The fort comprises of huge walls, strong flanking bastions, and various secret tunnels opening to the sea. The Bolgatty Palace was built in 1744 by the Dutch and is the oldest Dutch palaces built outside Holland. The palace has been converted into a heritage hotel for tourists comprising of a nine-hole golf course and Ayurvedic centre and daily Kathakali performances.

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