Travancore–Dutch War
The Travancore–Dutch War was a war between the Dutch East India Company(VOC) and the Indian state of Travancore (also known as Tiruvitamkur), culminating in the Battle of Colachel in 1741.


The seeds for the war were laid when the Raja of Travancore

The founder of the unified state of Thiruvithamkur in the 18th century. He conquered all the medium sized principalities upto Kochi and laid the foundations of a modern state. He employed people with known capabilities in the military, administration and education.
 began expanding his small kingdom by entering into territorial disputes with his neighbours, the Kingdoms of Kayamkulam and Kollam in 1731. These disputes began impacting the Dutch East India Company since they had factories for exporting pepper in these areas, collectively known as Dutch Malabar.

Map of the main forts on the Malabar Coast of India (Vengurla and Barselor not shown)

The destruction of crops in the war made it difficult for the Kollam merchants to fulfill their agreements with the Dutch. By 1733, VOC pepper exports dropped to less than half the quantities of 1730-31.
To help the three Kingdoms mediate the VOC deputed their emissaries, William Feling, Abraham Van De Welle, Ezechiel Rhabbi and Brouwer to Kayamkulam in May, 1734 to negotiate with the Raja, though they were unsuccessful.
The annexation of Eleyadathu Swarupam, the largest pepper producing area in southern Kerala, by the Raja during 1737 made a confrontation between him and the VOC inevitable. The advent of British traders in this market also made the price of pepper soar. All of this forced the VOC to engage the Raja and thus began, in 1739, the Travancore–Dutch war that led to the Battle of Colachel.

The shipyard of the Dutch East India Company in Amsterdam, circa 1750.


The cover of the Hortus Malabaricus by Hendrik Adriaan van Reede tot Drakenstein

Udayagiri fort

Dutch Malabar
Dutch colony
FlagCoat of arms
CapitalQuilon (1661-1663)
Cochin (1663-1795)
Political structureColony
 - 1663-1665Ludolph van Coulster
 - 1669-1676Hendrik van Rheede
 - 1793-1795Jan Lambertus van Spall
Historical eraImperialism
 - Dutch capture of QuilonDecember 1661
 - British annexation of Malabar
The Bolgatty Palace, built in 1744 for the commander of Dutch Malabar, is one of the oldest existing Dutch palaces outside of theNetherlands.
File:Quilon 1670 verbessert.jpg

Forts and trading posts

Map of the main forts of Malabar Coast of India
Map of the main forts on the Malabar Coast of India (Vengurla and Barselor not shown)

St. Angelo Fort inCannanore.

File:1756 Bellin Map of Kollam Fort, Kerala, India - Geographicus - Coylan-bellin-1756.jpg
                               QUILON (KOLLAM) FORT PLAN 1756


Marthanda Varma crushed the opposition to his rule in his State and then absorbed the kingdom of Attingal. His next target was Quilon whose ruler Unni Kerala Varma was an ally of Kayamkulam. The Kayamkulam Raja formed an alliance with the rulers of Cochin, Purakkad and Vadakkumkur against Marthanda Varma. In AD 1734, the ruler of Kayamkulam was killed in battle. Marthanda Varma moved against Kottarakara. In AD 1739, Marthanda Varma refused to recognise the claim of the senior princess of the Kottarakara family to the succession, following the death of the chief of the Elayadathu Swarupam. She in turn, appealed to the Dutch East India Company. The Dutch were unhappy with the annexation of the kingdoms of their allies and a meeting between Marthanda Varma and the Dutch factor Van Imhoff aggravated the situation with Van Imhoff threatening to attack Venad and Marthanda Varma threatening to carry war into Dutch territories. In 1741, the Dutch formally installed the princess as the ruler of Kottarakara. A combined Kottarakara-Dutch army was decisively defeated by Marthanda Varma's army and the state of Kottarakara was annexed.

File:Kerala in 12th century.jpg
Marthanda Varma then captured the Dutch forts in the vicinity. A Dutch force under the command of De Lennoy landed at Colachel from Cochin and captured the country up to Kottar. Marthanda Varma marched south and prevented the capture of Kalkulam by the Dutch. When the Dutch retreated to their base in Colachel, Marthanda Varma pursued them and caught up with them on the 10th of August, 1741. In thebattle of Colachel Marthanda Varma won a decisive victory over the Dutch and captured 24 officers including the commander De Lennoy

Travancore-Dutch War
De Lannoy Surrender.JPG
Eustachius De Lannoy's Surrender at the Battle of Colachel

Life at Udayagiri and later years

As a Christian, de Lannoy was prohibited from entering the king’s palace atPadmanabhapuram and he resided primarily at Udayagiri Fort, or De Lannoy Kotta (de Lannoy’s Fort) as it is locally called, where he also built a small chapel for his family and other Christians.
Captain de Lannoy’s military skills and loyalty were recognised not only by the king and the state officials, but also by the subjects of Travancore, who called him by the nom de guerre ‘Valiya Kappithaan’ meaning 'The Great Captain'.
At some point of his military career, de Lannoy got well acquainted with Neelakanta Pillai, a Nair palace official, who after learning of Christian traditions and beliefs through de Lannoy, converted to Christianity. Neelankanta Pillai took the baptised name of Devasahayam Pillai.
Maharaja Martanda Varma died in 1758, and de Lannoy served as military chief to his successor Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma till his death.
de Lannoy died a natural death in 1777 in the Udayagiri Fort

De Lannoy's Tomb at Udayagiri Fort on theKanyakumari-Trivandrum highway.

De Lannoy's burial site at the tomb atUdayagiri Fort, with inscriptions in Latin and Tamil.

View South India in a larger map

The Dutch then concentrated their attention on Quilon and the combined Quilon-Kayamkulam-Dutch army seized Vamanpuram. The Venad army under Ramayyan Dalawa chased them out of Vamanapuram and besieged them in the Quilon fort. The Kayamkulam minister Achutha Warrier led the successful defence, forcing the Venad army to retreat and even occupying Kilimanur in 1742. Marthanda Varma himself took charge and divided the Venad army in three squadrons, led by prince Rama Varma, Ramayyan Dalawa and De Lennoy. The allies were crushed in battle and forced to retreat to Quilon. The Venad army then moved toward Kayamkulam and the Raja of Kayamkulam sued for peace and signed the treaty of Mannar in 1742.

The Kayamkulam sword and shield

Krishnapuram palace was constructed during the reign of Marthanda Varma (1729-58), the king of erst while Travancore.After demolishing the original palace of Kayamkulam Raja (Odanadu King),
This palace is the best example for the Kerala style architectural buildings,

However, to extricate himself out of the situation, the raja of Kayamkulam allied himself with Vadakkumkur, Thekkukkur and Purakkad and violated the treaty obligations. The Venad army occupied Kayamkulam in 1746 and the alliance of the Kayamkulam raja gave Marthanda Varma a casus belli against the allies. The Ambalapuzha army led by Mathur Panikkar and Tekkedathu Bhattatiri deserted to the Venad army, and Marthanda Varma captured the State. In 1749 and 1750, Tkekkumkur and Varakkumkur were annexed. Following these developments, the Dutch signed the treaty of Mavelikkara in 1753 with Marthanda Varma whereby they undertook a strict policy of non-intervention and repudiated their alliances with other Kerala powers.

n 1753, the northern parts of the newly created state of Travancore rebelled under the influences of the exiled rajas of Ambalapuzha, Thekkumkur and Vadakkumkur. The rebels were aided by the maharaja of Cochin and the Dutch and their army was commanded by Palliyil Idikkela Menon, a courtier of the maharaja of Cochin. Toward the end of 1753, the Cochin army occupied Purakkad. On the 3rd of January 1754, the rebels backed by the armies of Cochin and the Dutch met the Travancore forces led by prince Rama Varma, Ramayyan Dalawa and De Lennoy in the battle of Anadeswaram. Even though the battle was tactically a stalemate, it was a strategic victory for Travancore, since the allies were forced to withdraw to Ambalapuzha. In the battle of Ambalapuzha, the allies were decisively defeated and a large number of Cochin nobility were killed or captured. The allied commander Idikkela Menon was captured and executed. The Travancore forces captured all of the Cochin territories up to Arukutti, Udayamperur in the south and Mamala in the east. The Cochin raja sued for peace and in 1757, under the auspices of the Dutch and the prime minister of Cochin, Paliath Komi Achan a peace treaty was signed.

The Travancore-Dutch relations improved after the Dutch sold the Cranganore

 and Pallipuram forts

 to Travancore, which were incorporated into the Travancore lines

Nedumkotta (Malayalam: നെടുംകോട്ട) or Travancore lines was a wall built as a protection against consistent invasion and threats from northern kingdoms mainly Zamorins of Kozhikode. It was built by the Dharma Raja Karthika Thirunal, King of Travancore with the support and permission of the Kingdom of Cochin. It passed through the territories of the then Cochin State, starting on the west coast, aboveKodungallur, and stretched up to 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, along the Chalakudy river up to the Annamalai Hills in the Thrissur district.

                                Fort at Anchu Thengu

COCHIN, 1755
"Ville de Cochin," a view by Bellin, in Prevost, c.1755, with what may be quite early hand coloring;

"The King of Cochin on his Elephant, accompanied by his Nairs," from *PREVOST*, c.1760