Tamil Nadu has witnessed a rich past. This land of Cholas, Pandyans, and Nayakas is dotted with magnificent structures created by them. The dynasties of the surrounding geographies also laid their claim over many regions of this state. Their excursions led to the building of newer structures which added to the heritage of Tamil Nadu. The eastern border of this state is the southeastern coast of India. The Dutch, the French, and the British entered the country from this coast. They built the forts and settlements; they also took over the existing fortifications and reinforced them. So, here is the list of forts in Tamil Nadu:
5 Well-known Forts in Tamil Nadu
If you are interested in the forts of Tamil Nadu, one fort that you can’t miss to explore is Gingee Fort. It encloses vast tracts of land and three hillocks. Perched atop each of them are three citadels. These citadels are enclosed within solid stone walls that form a vast triangular-shaped area. The highest of all the three citadels is situated on the Rajagiri Hill. It is 800 feet high and can be reached by a strenuous climb. The bastioned walls of Gingee are about 13 km long. The fortified city is dotted with arcaded chambers, temples, mosques, pillared pavilions, stables, and granaries. The most striking structure on the flat land is the five-storeyed Kalyana Mahal. Gingee became known when it turned into a fiefdom of Vijaynagara Rulers. After changing several hands, Gingee was finally in the control of the British in the 18th century. Read More
Location: Gingee Fort is 158 km southwest of Chennai, and 71 km northwest of Puducherry.
Vellore Fort is the place where Indian soldiers revolted for the first time against British establishment. Hence, this fort of Tamil Nadu is a glorious structure that Indians should feel proud about. Situated in the heart of the Vellore city, Vellore Fort is a fine example of military architecture. Its double fortifications are bolstered by a deep moat surrounding the outer walls. In its heyday, the moat was filled with more than a thousand crocodiles. The ramparts are made of granite blocks, and outer ramparts are lower than the inner ones. In 1799, Tipu Sultan’s family was detained here by the British. Within the fort, there is a well-known temple called Jalakanteswarar, a church, a mosque, and several government offices. Read More
Location: Vellore is 137 km west of Chennai, and is just 70 km from Kanchipuram.
Fort St George
Chennai City has originated from Fort St George. This sea-facing fort was Britain’s first bastion in India. Before British built St George in the 18th century, there was a fortification here. But today nothing remains of the original St George fort. The ramparts and battlements you see today are all from the 18th century. The 17 hectares of the protected land is dotted with the colonial-era buildings. Some of them are very impressive. There are only two buildings which are accessible to the visitors: St Mary’s Church and the Fort Museum. The museum has a good collection of portraits, weapons, coins, regimental flags, and uniforms. St Mary’s Church is considered to be the oldest ‘Protestant Church’ in Asia. It has a plain and whitewashed facade broken by arched openings. Read More
Location: Fort St George is just 4 km east of Chennai Central Railway Station, and 21 km northeast of the Chennai International Airport.
All that remains of this 17th century fort are a few dilapidated walls. Alamparai, being a seaport, was utilized for maritime trade. While the fort has nothing much to offer, the location is surreal. Alamparai has an unspoilt beach and placid backwaters. Along with being a heritage place, it is a good picnic spot. Alamparai was with Nawab of Arcot before it was gifted to the French. Later on, British destroyed the fort after capturing it. Further damage was done by Tsunami in 2004. Read More
Location: Alamparai is 54 km south of Mahabalipuram.
This 17th-century hill fort was an outpost of Nayaks of Madurai. It is another example of the military architecture of the past. Hyder Ali is supposed to have added some rooms and chambers here after he took it over. Tipu Sultan’s governor improved the strength of the fortifications. British bolstered it further after capturing it in 1790. Today ASI (Archaelogical Survery of India) maintains the fort. Up at the top of the hill, there is a dilapidated temple. This temple, dedicated to Abhiramiamman, is the most impressive monument in the fort. You will also find the remains of prison cells, kitchen, stable and a huge chamber.
Location: Dindigul Fort is situated in Dindigul City.
9 Offbeat Forts in Tamil Nadu
This is one of the most impressive fortresses of Tamil Nadu. But sadly it lies unmaintained. Three fortifications at different levels guard the fort. The bastions are semi-circular and the fort appears to be oblong in shape. A feudal lord, under the Nawab of Carnatic, is said to be the man behind Ranjankudi. The lowermost wall is the main rampart. There is a moat, fed by a tank, that encircles the fort. The most significant event associated with Ranjankudi is the battle of Valikondah. In this battle, fought in 1791, British troops defeated the French.
Location: Ranjankudi is 17 km north of Perambalur Town, and 73 km north of Trichy.
This 17th century fort is set atop a rocky hillock. It was built by the king of Ramnad – Sethupati Vijaya Raghunatha – who eventually lost it to the rulers of Pudukkottai. Just like the other forts in Tamil Nadu, Thirumayam ultimately came under control of the British. You can enter the fort from north, south, and east. On the way to the top there is a chamber which must once be a gunpowder storehouse. Opposite to that chamber, on the slope of a boulder, is a rock-cut shrine containing a ‘linga’. On the top of the fort, there are some cannons mounted on the platforms. Also there are two ponds and a tank. On the southern slope, there are two more rock-cut shrines.
Location: Thirumayam is 90 km northeast of Madurai.
Dutch East India Company built this fort in 1613. Its remains can be found in the seashore town of Pulicat, 56 km north of Chennai. Before Dutch entered here, Pulicat was the trading post of Portuguese. After building the fort, they turned it into the capital of Dutch Coromandel. Today only a Dutch Cemetery survives in the fort.
Location: Pulicat is 60 km north of Chennai.
Vattakottai is a seaside fort in Tamil nadu; it is very close to the southern tip of India. Walking along its ramparts, you can catch the glimpses of the shore and the sea. You can also spot distant hills of Western Ghats. Eustachius De Lannoy, an ex-Dutch naval officer, was the commander of the Travancore Army in the 18th century; Vattakottai was built under his supervision. After lying unattended for a long period, this fort has recently seen a face-lift. ASI now maintains it. Along with the beautifully landscaped lawns, there is a pond in the middle of the fort. There are also remains of a few chambers.
Location: Vattakottai is 7 km north of Kanyakumari.
Fort Dansborg, also called Danish Fort, dates back to the 17th century. Danish East India Company built this fort after receiving the permission from Raghunatha Nayak, the ruler of Thanjavur. It is situated in a village called Tharangambadi (also called Tranquebar) which was originally a fishing village. Danish turned it into a trading post and built this fort in the village. Dansborg went into oblivion under the rule of the British.
Location: Tharangambadi is 98 km east of Thanjavur.
Ramchandra Nayaka built this fort in the 17th-century. Straddling a hillock, this fort overlooks the Namakkal City of Salem District. It encloses a popular temple and a mosque. The walled area at the top has the remains of a treasury and a magazine. The stone ramparts of the fort have brick parapets over them. The British captured it in 1768 and lost it to Haider Ali in 1769. After the end of the third Anglo-Mysore war in 1792, British garrisoned their troops in this fort.
Location: Namakkal City is 57 km south of Salem, and 59 km east of Erode.
This hill fort is situated in the Salem District of Tamil Nadu. It is spread across a steep and crescent-shaped hill. Vijaynagar Rulers built this fort in the 15th century. After changing a few hands, the fort came under Tipu Sultan who lost it to the British in 1791. In fact this fort was hard to conquer for it can be accessed only from one side of the hill. The other sides were too steep. For further protection ten gates on the main path served as a barrier for the barging enemy. The remains of the old structures are scattered all over the fort. You will find the remnants of temples, a granary, a gunpowder magazine, mosques, and cemeteries.
Location: Sankagiri (Sankari) is 24 km northeast of Erode, and 40 km southwest of Salem.
Sadras Dutch Fort
Sadras Fort is situated near Kalpakkam. Originally there was a port and a weaver’s settlement here. The name of the place was Sadiravasagan Pattinam which was changed to Saduranga Pattinam. Sadras is the anglicized form. Dutch began a factory here in the middle of the 17th century, and then fortified it. Later on British bombardments destroyed the structures inside. Today a restored granary and a cemetery are present within the walls of the fort.
Location: Sadras is 16 km south of Mahabalipuram.
Fort St David
Fort St David survives in the form of a ruined mansion near Cuddalore. Once it was a British bastion with the surrounding villages under their control. British had bought it from Marathas in 1690. They lost it to the French in 1758 and regained it in 1785. The place where the Gadilam River merges into the sea is just a short distance from this fort.
Location: Cuddalore is 21 km south of Puducherry.
Just like other states, the dynasties that thrived in Tamil Nadu have left behind many palaces. Amongst them, there are a few splendid structures. The most significant ones are Maratha Palace in Thanjavur and Thirumalai Nayaka Palace in Madurai. With sheer coincidence the Padmanabhapuram Palace built by the Travancore kings is also a part of Tamil Nadu. Read More
While Kerala is popular for its natural beauty, it has no dearth of heritage monuments. Despite being a small state tucked away in the southern corner of India, it has witnessed a very dramatic past. It has endured territorial conflicts, foreign invasions, and colonization before it became a part of the independent India. So, just like any other region, the rulers and invaders created fortifications for their safety. While some of them could endure the test of time, many of them have crumbled. Read More
The palaces of Kerala are graceful reminders of its vibrant past. Most of the palaces here are defined by gabled roofs, colonnaded facades, and dark passageways. Many of them have turned into museums. By displaying a collection of the arts and objects of the past, they provide a good opportunity to delve into the traditional culture of Kerala. Majority of the palaces have been built by the Travancore Royals. Kochi Royals have also contributed a few palaces to the region. Read More