Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Big Captain of Colachel


Colachel, the fishing hamlet near Kanyakumari in Southern India witnessed a historical milestone of continental proportions in 1741 AD.
The Battle of Colachel was won by Travancore here in these shores a few centuries ago

It was the first time ever that an Indian princely state defeated a European naval force when Travancore King Marthanda Varma 's army defeated the Dutch East India company forces under the command of Captain Eustachius De Lannoy  in the 'Battle of Colachel'.

A commemorative pillar with the Travancore insignia stands tall in Colachel reminding us of the glorious event. Illustrations , which are mostly reproductions from those in the Padhmanabhapuram Palace visualises the sequence of events.

Captain De Lannoy and his crew were captured and their ship was sunk by the native forces. De Lannoy pledged his allegiance to the Maharaja of Travancore and was later appointed general of the Travancore Army.
Colachel memorial

Travancore Army under De Lannoy achieved greater laurels and the Maharaja was able to stretch the boundaries of his kingdom to more adventurous limits.

De Lannoy was adored by all as 'valiya kapithaan' (Big Captain). De Lannoy outlived King Marthanda Varma to serve his successor Dharma Rajah. De Lannoy died in 1777 at an age of 62.

De Lannoy was buried in Udayagiri Fort, nearby Padhmanabhapuram Palace, off Thuckalay along the Trivandrum - Kanyakumari highway.
Tomb of De Lannoy

The latin inscription on his tomb reads:

"Stand Traveller! Here lies Eustachius Benedictus De Lannoy who was Commander of the Travancore Army and for nearly thirty seven years with the greatest faithfulness served the King, to whom by the strength and fear of his armies he subjugated all kingdoms from Kayamkulam to Cochin. He lived 62 years and 5 months and died first day of June 1777. May he rest in peace"

 Udayagiri fort iscurrently being maintaines by Tamil Nadu government as an eco park. The tomb and history of Captain Eustachius De Lannoy lies hidden away from the tourist track in the shadow of a more popular  Padmanabhapuram Palace, which is hardly a mile away. 

De Lannoy Memorial, Udayagiri Fort
 And meanwhile, the fishing village of Colachel itself is getting ready to be developed as a major sea port of Arabian Sea.
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