Nedumkotta: Travancore Defence Fortification
The Nedumkotta was a defence fortification constructed along the northern borders of the erstwhile Travancore State. It passed through the territories of the then Cochin State.
The Nedumkotta was built primarily to resist the invasion under Hyder Ali Khan against Travancore State. It was raised mainly with clay and mud, and reinforced with stones, laterite and granite at strategic places. It started from the Krishan Kotta on the west coast, above Kodungallur, and stretched upto the Annamalai Hills on the Western Ghats. It was about 48 km long, twenty feet wide and twelve feet high. Its alignment was along the Periyar river on the west coast upto Chalakudy from where it went along the Chalakudy river upto the Annamalai Hills in the east. There were underground cells to store gunpowder and other war materials, special chambers for soldiers to live, and look-outs and mounted field-guns all along the fortification. Besides, on the north side of the fortification, ditches were dug twenty feet wide and sixteen feet deep, and filled with thorny plants, poisonous snakes, and hidden weapons. On the south side as well as on the top of the fortification, wide roads were laid for the convenience of military movements.
The fortification was constructed during the regime of Rama Varma Raja, popularly known as Dharma Raja of Travancore, and under the direct guidance and supervision of the then Prime Minister, Ayyappan Marthanda Pillai, and the then Commander of the Travancore Army, the Portuguese Captain D’Lenoy. This historic defence line was comparable to the Great Wall of China except that the latter was more ancient and greater in length. It was under the protective cover of this Nedumkotta that a small army of Travancoreans under the command of Raja Keshavadas defeated and frustrated near Alwaye a formidable army of Islamic fanatics led by Tipu Sultan.
Today there is no physical evidence of the historic Nedumkotta in the form of even ruins anywhere in the Mukundapuram taluka - Chettuva, Parur, Kodakara, Chalakudy, Mullurkara, Enamanakhal and Karikodu - through which it passed. However, some place-names having a reference to the historic fortification are still popular in the northern borders of the erstwhile Cochin and Travancore States - Krishnan Kotta (meaning Krishnan Fort), Kottamukku (fort corner), Kottamuri (part of a fort), Kottaparampu (fort land), Kotta Vazhi (fort road), Kottalaparampu (magazine ground), Palayam (cantonment), etc.
Unfortunately, there are no memorials erected anywhere in Kodungallur, or Trichur, or Alwaye to honour Dharma Raja who gave shelter in his state to thousands of Hindus escaping from the Islamic brutalities of the fanatic Tipu Sultan; or Ayyappan Marthanda Pillai who was the architect of the historic Nedumkotta; or Raja Keshavadas under whose direct command a comparatively small army humbled and defeated the invading army of Tipu Sultan; or scores of valiant Hindu soldiers who laid down their lives to protect their country and faith.
The most despicable and shameful act of the anti-Hindu secularist government of Kerala since Independence was that instead of honouring the legendary heroes of the land, a memorial in the form of a flagstaff was erected near the historic Trichur Palace to perpetuate the memory of the Islamic bigot Tipu Sultan who was instrumental in the forcible mass circumcision and killing of Hindus, destruction of Hindu temples, and devastation of the Malabar, Trichur, Alwaye and Kodungallur regions.
Kerala Charitradharakal (Historical Documents) by Naduvattam Gopalakrishnan, pp. 84-89.
Thiruvithamkur Charitram (Travancore History) by P. Sankunni Menon, p. 161.
Kerala Charitram (Kerala History) by A. Sreedhara Menon, p. 55.
Malabar Manual by William Logan, p. 455.