Kalpitiya Fort

Kalpitiya Dutch Fort
Kalpitiya Fort is an old Dutch fort situated in Kalpitiya, Puttalam District, Sri Lanka.

The history of the Kalpitiya Fort runs back to the 17th century. The fort was built by the Dutch when they control most of the coastal areas of the island during the period 1658-1796. Designed in 1666, the construction work of the fort was completed in 1676. The fort is said to be built on the spot where the Portuguese had a stockade and a Jesuit chapel (Mandawala, 2012).

However, with the advent of the British,  the fort was lost to the Dutch. The British used the fort mainly for trading along with the fort in Mannar.

After the British, the fort was neglected for many years until it was turned into a Sri Lanka Navy base for training and operational activity during the period of the Sri Lanka Civil War [(1983-2009) Mandawala, 2012].

The fort
The fort has been constructed at the entry point to the Puttalam lagoon. It is nearly square in shape with four bastions on each corner.  Of them, the two bastions on the lagoon side are smaller than the other two on the island side. 

The walls of the fort are about 4 m high and have been constructed with coral & limestone from the sea and sand & soil from the land (Mandawala, 2012). There is only one entrance to the fort facing the lagoon side. The arch-shaped entrance has a pandol-like pediment with a belfry at the top. The yellow bricks that have been used in the arch of the entrance are said to be brought specially from Holland. Above the entrance is a VOC (Dutch East India Company) emblem along with two figures of elephants and a palm tree. The two elephant figures are facing each other and between them is the palm tree figure. It is said that the two elephant figures represent strength while the palm tree represents the fertility of the region. 

Inside the fort, there are remains of several buildings and structures including a Portuguese church, a prison, a commander's house, barrack rooms, two tunnels, and two wells (Mandawala, 2012). The gables of the buildings are similar to a church and that is said to be a tactic by the Dutch to dissuade enemies. Two hidden tunnels that could be used in case of withdrawal have been identified inside the fort. One tunnel was leading to the seaside while the other was running to the Dutch Reform Church which is located about 400 m distance. However, presently, these tunnels are blocked and inaccessible.

Kalpitiya Dutch Fort

1) Mandawala, P.B., 2012. Sri Lanka: Defending the military heritage; legal, administrative and financial challenges. Defending the military heritage; legal, financial and administrative issues. Reports from the Seminar 16 – 17 May, 2011, in Karlskrona, Sweden, organised by ICOMOS International Scientific Committee for Legal, Financial and Administrative Issues (ICLAFI) and the Swedish Fortifications Agency of Sweden. pp.98-105.

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This page was last updated on 30 April 2023
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