View Full Version : European Forts in India
May 28th, 2006, 09:03 PM
Developing on from the excellent Maharastra Forts thread, I thought I would start another tread to cover some of the many other European Forts along the coast of India.
These include French, English, Danish, Dutch, and Portuguese sites.
I will start with a Portugese site near Goa.
May 28th, 2006, 09:54 PM
Fort Aguada is built on the top of a headland at the mouth of the River Mandovi, one of the two major rivers leading to Goa..
In the following Portugese map from the French library archive called Gallica, you can see Aguada at the bottom. The Portugese drew this map with the north at the southern end of the map.
On Google Earth it is possible to see the remains of the fort today quite clearly.
The fort was built between 1604 and 1627. and its gate carries an inscription from 1612. It had a system of walls running down to the sea to a battery next to the sea to repel attack from the sea, be it by Indian fleets or fellow Europeans.
The battery was built between 1629 and 1635 by Count of Linhares, the Viceroy "against the enemies from Europe."
The following line drawing taken from an article by Antony Brown, in Fort volume 25 1997, published by the Fortress Study Group shows the line of the fort and its walls down to the bastion.
The fort itself was not all that the Portugese built as fortifications at Aguada.
If you look at the following Google Earth image at the neck of the promentary you can see the remains of a huge rock cut ditch dug so that the area could be used as a refuge for the local people in time of war.
The refuge which had an underground cistern underground built to hold 2.37 million gallons of water was used against the Mahratta attack in 1667, and again in 1687, and against the Bhonsles in 1739 and 1741.
An Italian Filippi Catalini further improved these ditches between 1768 and 1774 when Jao Jose de Mello was governor. The fort had 79 guns.
There are photos of other Goan forts at the following website.
I do hope that some of you may have photos of this site that you can add to the thread.
May 29th, 2006, 09:27 AM
This is a good initiative; to showcase the European forts.
May 29th, 2006, 02:14 PM
I think you covered all of it, DeMorgan! And India had only british with the exception of portugese in goa, no?
May 29th, 2006, 06:50 PM
The following photograph and website demonstrates what I believe should be the future for many of these coastal sites, and indeed heritage sites in India.
The Danes have been working very well with the local community, to restore this magnificent building. This will in turn bring much needed prosperity to the community, through attracting visitors.
Image from the following website http://www.jacob-haafner.de/500874962c0f11702/
An absolutely excellent website has been set up which details the history and restoration of the Danish settlement. The restoration work is being done by local people who are being trained in the skills necessary during the project.
Sadly the area was badly hit in the tsunamis, as the following website which contains satellite photos shown. Over time the town appears to being eroded away into the sea at quite a high speed, so sadly within 200 or 300 hundred years much may have gone.
August 6th, 2006, 07:35 PM
The following fort is a particular favourite of mine as my great great great Grandfather James Barton appears to have lived there between about 1817 and 1820.
He drew two drawings of the fort which were sent to England and eventually engraved to make Lithoplates which were printed by Akermann in the late 1820's.
The first shows the exterior of the fort looking along the sea front.
This print comes from the Collect Britain site run by the British Library. This collection is really expanding very rapidly at present and now has 14,000 images of India from 1780 until about 1900, with thousands of Indian buildings and people illustrated.
The next print shows the interior of Basseen Fort with a temple and the ruined church in the distance.
Here's a modern overhead photo of the same church from the Mahrastra Forts thread. Thanks Jai.
Here's a slightly earlier probably during the British seige 1780's picture of the same fort by Charles Reynolds. I think it shows the same entrance to the same gate way that James Barton sat on top of as he did the first drawing.
The British Library says that it is a "Pen-and-ink and wash drawing of the Fort of Bassein in Maharashtra by Charles Reynolds (c.1756-1819) in 1780. Above the wall, breached in two places, are the roofs and towers of the Franciscan church of San Antonio, the Jesuit Church of the Holy Name, the church of N.S. da Vida and the church of the Dominicans. In the distance is the Cathedral of St. Joseph. The Dominican and Franciscan churches were already roofless by 1780. On the right is part of a wicker and bale construction probably connected with the siege operations. The union flag flies over the breached wall. This view is inscribed: 'View of the North Face of Basseen at the Surrender. Decemr. 11 1780. Charles Reynolds del'. In the operations against the Marathas by General Goddard in 1779-80 Bassein was besieged and taken by a small force under Captain James Hartley. It was restored to the Marathas in 1782 but incorporated into British India in 1818 on the overthrow of the Peshwa."
Another officer, who may have been at the fort at the same time as my ancestor drew the following picture which shows the same gate way and the sea shore.
It is a pencil drawing of Bassein by George Boyd (1800-1850) dated between 1821 and 1844. This is one of 95 drawings (90 folios), chiefly of landscapes and monuments in the Deccan, West India and Afghanistan made during that period. Boyd served in the Bombay Infantry from 1820 to 1850 and was mainly employed in survey work. From 1822 to 1831 he was in the Deccan and Satara; in 1835 he was on survey in Kathiawar; and in 1839 he was making road surveys in Sind. He was mentioned in dispatches during the war in Afghanistan in 1840 and in 1842 he worked on a survey between Quetta and Kalat.
Bassein or Vasai is situated at the mouth of the Ulhas River in the North Konkan district of Maharashtra, a narrow strip between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats. It was originally built by Bahadur Shah, Sultan of Gujarat, as a one of a chain of forts intended as a defensive measure against the Portuguese who acquired it in 1534 and renamed it Vasai. For the next two hundred years the town thrived largely due to shipbuilding and the export of Bassein stone. At the height of its prosperity the walls of the town contained a cathedral, five convents, 13 churches and the two- storey balconied residents of the Portuguese nobles known as 'hidalgos'. Along with members of the religious orders this European nobility were the only class of people allowed to live in the town. In 1739 the Marathas took Vasai following a siege in which almost the whole of the 800 strong Portuguese garrison was killed. The British expelled the Marathas in 1780 but returned the town to them by the treaty of Salbai three years later.
There is a very good website by Bill Lopes about the Portuguese history of the Fort and at the following URL are the men who originally built it at the following URL.
It is a major town on the coast north of Bombay, and originally controlled the area around what became Bombay for the Portugese until King Charles II of England received Bombay as part of Catherine of Braganza's dowry.
This is the same church as built by the Portuguese.
James must have been sitting on the bastion at the bottom right hand edge of the fort when he did the first of the two drawings.
As you can well imagine I cannot make sense of the bottom plan at all!
It comes from the excellent Trekshitz.com website.
The following comes from Google Earth. Are Mahratta maps orientated towards our south, or some other datum. On the Trekshitz map above the large building with four circular towers towards the centre and bottom of the map, would appear to be the big roofless building just below the main road that cuts from east to west across the fort towards the top of the photo.
I have been trying to see if I could pick out the circular building (temple?) in the second of my ancestors drawings on the Google Earth photo, in order to orient the drawing on the ground.
The Fort is at 19 degrees 19'47 85"N 72 degrees 48'51 20"E.
It is interesting how much the coast has receded from the walls since 1820 as a new town has sprung up.
I would like to thank the many people including Arvind Kolhatkar, Kiran Khavade and Ravi Vaidyanathan who have helped provide much information on Bassein, and the British Library for putting these prints on the web.
August 19th, 2006, 06:56 PM
Since my last post, I have received a series of very interesting emails from Mr Shridatta Raut who runs a conservation group at the fort. I have posted details of his activities in the Indian Monument and Protection Thread.
The accompanying photos show just how much of this interesting fort still survives.
This small temple is the one shown in the 1820's drawings.
My many thanks to Mr Shridatta Raut and to Ros who took many of these photos.
September 2nd, 2006, 06:04 PM
Former Dutch fortresses and factory-towns in India.
Burhanpur. Ahmadabad. (1617-1744)
Bharuch (of Brochia, Broach). Vengurla. (1637-1685)
(Southern part of Westcoast India)
Cranganore or Cranganor (Kodungallor) (1662) (taken from Portugal)
Cochin de Cima (Pallipuram) (1661) (taken from Portugal)
Cochin, Cochin de Baixo or Santa Cruz (1663) (taken from Portugal)
Quilon (Coylan) (1661) (taken from Portugal)
Cannanore (1663-1790) (taken from Portugal)
Kundapura (1667- ca.1682)
Kayankulam (ca. 1645)
Ponnani (ca. 1663)
(East coast of India)
Bimilipatnam,(1687-1795/ 1818-1825)to the English Jaggernaikpoeram (now Kakinada)(1734 �1795/ 1818-1825) to the English Daatzeram (now Drakshawarama)(1633-1730)
Nagelwanze(1669-1687) Palikol(1613-1781/ 1785-1795/ 1818-1825)to the English Masulipatnam(1605-1756)
Paliacatta (now Pulicat)(1610-1781/ 1785-1795/ 1805-1825) to the English Sadras(1654-1757/ 1785-1795/ 1818-1825) to the English
Tierepopelier (now Thiruppapuliyur)(1608-1625)
Tegenapatnam, Kudalur (now Cuddalore)(1647-1758)
Porto Novo(nowParangippettai)(1608-1825 (1 June)) to the English. Negapatnam(1658-1781) to the English.
Tuticorin or Tutucorim(1658) Travancore, nowadays part of India
September 3rd, 2006, 11:54 AM
This small island strategically placed [14o 45’ 24.69 N 74o 06’ 43.92 E] just a mile or so off the west coast of India to the south of Karwar [Kannada] was quite possibly the location of the first landfall of Vasco De Gama in India.
Ships travelling around the Indian Ocean were governed by the Monsoon’s, seasonal winds and storms. It appears that this island fell at the northern extent of some monsoons, and the south extent of others, providing a sheltered and relatively calm area, in much the same way as the Doldrums in the Atlantic, or the calms near Malacca. For this reason it was a natural landfall for Gujaratis and Arab ships trading from India to Africa, and in turn for the first Portuguese ships working their way along these same ancient trade routes from Southern Africa.
The island is virtually uninhabited and is consequently very little changed from two or three hundred years ago. The church remains as the only substantial building, but it is likely that the remains of the long low fortifications built by the Portuguese survive under the tree cover.
De Gama’s arrival in India is recorded by De Barros and Faria and later printed by Kerr as follows: -
“Having thus procured a pilot, and provided all things necessary for the voyage, De Gama departed from Melinda for Calicut, on Friday the 26th of April 1498, and immediately made sail directly across the gulf which separates Africa from India, which is 750 leagues. This golf runs a long way up into the land northwards; but our course for Calicut lay to the east. In following this voyage, our men saw the north star next Sunday, which they had not seen of a long while; and they saw the stars about the south pole at the same time. They gave thanks to God, that, whereas it had been represented to them, that in this season, which was the winter of the Indies, there were always great storms in this gulf, they now experienced fair weather. On Friday the 18th of May, twenty- three days after leaving Melinda, during all which time they had seen no land, they came in sight of India, at eight leagues distance, the land seeming very high. Canaca, the pilot, tried the lead and found forty-five fathoms, upon which he altered his course to the south-east, having fallen in with the land too far to the north. Upon the Saturday, he again drew near the land, but did not certainly know it, as the view was obscured by rain, which, always falls in India at this season, being their winter. On Sunday the 20th of May, the pilot got view of certain high hills which are directly behind the city of Calicut, and came so near the land that he was quite sure of the place; on which he came up with great joy to the general, demanding his albrycias, or reward, as this was the place at which he and his company were so desirous to arrive. The general was greatly rejoiced at this news, and immediately satisfied the pilot, after which, he summoned all the company to prayers, saying the salve, and giving hearty thanks to God, who had safely conducted them to the long wished-for place of his destination. When prayer was over, there was great festivity and joy in the ships, which came that same evening to anchor two leagues from Calicut.”
Having freshwater springs, and being off the coast the island had provided a shelter for traders and shipping to India for centuries. It is thought by Malayalim that the name añju-divu, means ‘Five Islands,’ The 19th century editors of Hobson Jobson thought that the island was the mentioned by Ptolemy.
It is thought that the famous Arab traveller Ibn Batuta visited the island in about 1345 A.D.—Ibn Batuta gives the island no name, but it is very likely that Anjediva is the island he describes: -
“We left behind us the island (of Sindabur or Goa), passing close to it, and cast anchor by a small island near the mainland, where there was a temple, with a grove and a reservoir of water. When we had landed on this little island we found there a Jogi leaning against the wall of a Budkhanah or house of idols.”—Ibn Batuta, iv. 63.
Roteiro account of da Gama’s voyage, describes the island, but having little experience of India temples Roteiro describes the building on the island as a “church”.
“So the Captain-Major ordered Nicolas Coello to go in an armed boat, and see where the water was; and he found in the same island a building, a church of great ashlar-work, which had been destroyed by the Moors, as the country people said, only the chapel had been covered with straw, and they used to make their prayers to three black stones in the midst of the body of the chapel. Moreover they found, just beyond the church, a tanque of wrought ashlar, in which we took as much water as we wanted; and at the top of the whole island stood a great tanque of the depth of 4 fathoms, and moreover we found in front of the church a beach where we careened the ship.”—Roteiro, 95.
In the autumn of 1505 Don Francisco de Almeida the Portuguese Viceroy of India arrived on the coast of India from Mozambique, and gave orders for a fort to be built.
”At this place Almeyda was joined by most of the remaining ships, and continuing his voyage for India, he stopped by the way at a bay called Angra de Santa Elena, where he found Juan Homem, who had been separated along with other ships, and had discovered some islands. Sailing from thence in continuation of his voyage, the first place he came to in India was the island of Anchediva, where according to orders from the king he constructed a fort in which he placed a garrison of 80 men, leaving two brigantines to protect the trade. While at this place he was visited by ambassadors from the king or rajah of Onore, a small kingdom of Malabar, who brought presents and a friendly message from their sovereign. Several considerable merchants also waited upon him, assuring him of the good will of their prince towards the Portuguese; and several Moors from Cincatora brought him considerable presents. All this however was the effect of fear, as they had heard of his successes at Quiloa and Mombaza. He was informed at this place that the prince Saboga had built a fort at no great distance on the banks of the river
Aliga on the borders of Onore, which was garrisoned by 800 men. Meaning to make himself master of this place, he sent his son Don Lorenzo under pretence of a friendly visit to take a view of the fort, which he effected and remained there some days. Having completed the fort at Anchediva, he sailed to the port of Onore, and being ill received, he determined to shew himself as terrible there as he had done at Quiloa and Mombaza.”
The islands usefulness to the Portuguese was reduced as soon as they were able to capture the towns along the coast like Goa, north of Anjediva so that the fort and island reverted to its previous status as a useful watering stop for coasting vessels.
1510.—“I quitted this place, and went to another island which is called Anzediva… There is an excellent port between the island and the mainland, and very good water is found in the said island.”—Varthema, 120.
c. 1552.—“Dom Francesco de Almeida arriving at the Island of Anchediva, the first thing he did was to send João Homem with letters to the factors of Cananor, Cochin, and Coulão.…”—Barros, I. viii. 9.
c. 1561.—“They went and put in at Angediva, where they enjoyed themselves much: there were good water springs, and there was in the upper part of the island a tank built with stone, with very good water, and much wood; … there were no inhabitants, only a beggar man whom they called Joguedes .…”—Correa, Hak. Soc. 239.
1727.—“In January, 1664, my Lord (Marlborough) went back to England.… and left Sir Abraham with the rest, to pass the westerly Monsoons, in some Port on the Coast, but being unacquainted, chose a desolate Island called Anjadwa, to winter at.… Here they stayed from April to October, in which time they buried above 200 of their Men.”—A. Hamilton, i. 182. At p. 274 the name is printed more correctly Anjediva.
The nearby port of Karwar was for much of the 17th and 18th century used as a naval base by the local Indian rulers, and features in many accounts of the period. With the development of the East India Company and British dominance these ports decayed.
In 1865 the island was mapped and the line of the fortifications set along the inland shoreline was clear to be seen.
However over the past decade a dramatic new development has taken place around Anjediva, which has become part of the Indian Navies new strategic base. The bay opposite Anjediva Island near the town of Binaga has become INS Kadamba part of Project Seabird.
In the light of the strategic importance of this site, visitors should not attempt to approach it without first getting permission from the Indian Navy.
Many Goan Catholics see the Portuguese church on the island as the “Mother Church” in India, because it was probably the first church built by the Portuguese in India. Pilgrimages were made every year on its saint’s day, but recently the Indian Navy has obstructed these trips.
For those who wish to know more about the history of this fascinating island, I would recommend Francisco S. d’Abreu web pages at
September 3rd, 2006, 02:01 PM
Dutch factory/fortress Chinsura/Houghly
Engraving of the plan of the Dutch factory at Hooghly-Chinsura by an unknown artist and engraver c.1721. Hooghly and Chinsura are situated within one mile of each other. While Hooghly was established by the Portuguese in the 16th century, Chinsura was established by the Dutch in the 17th century. The factory at Chinsura was the headquarters for all the Dutch agencies and factories in Bihar, Bengal, Orissa and Bangladesh. The complex included residential buildings, office quarters, warehouses and landscaped gardens. Chinsura was ceded to the British in exhange for the English-held Island of Sumatra in Indonesia and cash sum of £100,000 in 1824.
This is plate 28 from William Hodges' 'Select Views in India'. Hodges travelled past the Dutch settlement at Chinsura during his 1781/82 tour of Bengal. Located on the west bank of the river Bhagirathi in West Bengal, Chinsura had been settled by the Dutch in the previous century. Hodges wrote: "This is the residence of the Dutch Governor and his Council. There is a fort and within that the factories of the Dutch East-India Company in this part of India. Chiunsura is remarkable for the pleasantness of its situation and its healthiness."
Aquatint with etching of a south view of Chinsura by and after James Moffat (1775-1815) published in Calcutta 1809. This one of a set of views of Bengal and along the Ganges. James Moffat, a Scotsman, was based in Calcutta from the age of fourteen and is thought to have learnt his trade as an engraver in the city.
Chinsura is situated immediately south of Hooghly in West Bengal and was established by the Dutch in the early 17th century. Chinsura was ceded to the British in exhange for the English-held Island of Sumatra in Indonesia and cash sum of £100,000 in 1824.
September 3rd, 2006, 02:50 PM
Dutch church in Negapatnam, on the Coromandel coast of southern India
Lithograph of the Dutch Factory and Fort at Vengurla by William Spreat after an original sketch by Robert Pouget, one of a series of 'Views in India and in the vicinity of Bombay' published in London c.1850. Vengurla was a Dutch settlement from 1638 and they used the port to take on supplies during their eight month blockade of Goa. The town was often a retreat for pirates in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A small British factory was set up in the early 1770s and the town and port were ceded to the British in 1812.
Pen and ink drawing by Sir Charles D'Oyly (1781-1845), of the ruins of the Dutch Factory in the western suburbs of Patna City in Bihar, dated 17th November 1824, from an album of 80 drawings of views in Bengal and Bihar taken between January 1823 and May 1825. This image is one of a group of miscellaneous sketches which were made either at Patna, D'Oyly's headquarters, or at near-by Hajipur in March and October 1824 and May 1825. Patna, the ancient Pataliputra, was the centre of the opium trade in northern India. The Dutch, French, Danish and British East India Companies all had 'factories' there.
September 9th, 2006, 06:59 AM
hI NICK !
Superb collection............do u have any images/ info pertaining to fort gheria/geriah/geria/gheriah/vijaydurg (AD.1205- till date)......maritime activities at gheria('Byzantion' by Ptolmy),notes on village,culture,people,monuments,architecture,buildings(residential)by ptolmy(150 BC),Dom-joao-de-castro(AD 1538),Tavernier(AD 1660).,any other voyager,artist ........
September 9th, 2006, 09:13 PM
The above photo comes from a great new website at http://www.vijaydurga.org/
which I found today whilst looking for Charlie Pritchetts site, which has a really great set of old prints and maps of Gheria at: -