|Graveyards of the Portuguese Cemetery, Kollam. Travel Triangle|
Soon after the discovery of the sea route to India by the famous navigator Vasco de Gama in 1498, the Portuguese had begun to show their military muscle against the natives and expanded their trading activities slowly and founded their settlements in Goa and in Kerala initially. Later they were dominated by the Dutch and the British.
The City of Kollam, Kerala is believed to be one of the oldest Portuguese-Dutch-English settlements in Asia. Tangasseri was their hub during the heyday as it was an important trading outpost of the Portuguese, Europeans, Arabs, Chinese and Jews.
Tangasseri, an area, covering roughly 99 acres of land is close to Quilon that juts out into the sea.
The Portuguese Cemetery (after the invasion of Dutch in 1661, became Dutch Cemetery) of Tangasseri in Kollam city came up around 1519 as part of the Portuguese invasion in the city. The remains of St. Thomas Fort and Portuguese Cemetery still exist at Tangasseri. St. Thomas Fort was severely damaged due to sea erosion,and what remains now is a mound of rubble that includes lateritic stones; as for the church (apparently built by apostle St. Thomas), it was destroyed by the moors (1505) who were at loggerheads with the Portuguese. The main reason was competition in trades. During the wars with the moors in 1505 and later with the Dutch in 1661, countless Portuguese died and buried here. As for the Dutch finally they urrounded to the British -EIC in 1795.
The site is a protected monument and has been under the management of ASI - Archaeological Survey of India since 1920. The cemetery lies close to the old settlement at Tangassery and the lighthouse. The city of Kollam is about 3 km from here. As for details about the mortal remains, they are sketchy. The state government should get hold of the record on the Portuguese Cemetery and restore the graves of those who died here far away from their motherland.