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Kalpitiya Fort

What the Dutch left behind

A trip in time to a bygone era...


The unique architecture of Dutch buildings is unmistakable with arches and massive doorways as one stands on the remnants of the Dutch Fort in Kalpitiya, designed in 1666, and completed in 1676. As the entry point to the Puttalam lagoon, the Kalpitiya fort was a strategic mainstay in the trade in cinnamon. The fort has a single entrance that faces the lagoon and is well fortified, an indication of the preparedness of the Dutch to face any attack. Although there was only one visible access point into the fort, there were two tunnels that could be used in case of a withdrawal. One led to the sea, while the other to the Dutch Reformed Church, about 400m away. Today, these tunnels are blocked and cannot be used.

The triangular pediment at the entrance has a belfry at the top. 

The large wall upon entering was a security mechanism to prevent intruders from gaining easy access to the fort. The yellow bricks that make the entrance arch is said to have been brought down especially from Holland.

The fort has four bastions with the two on the side of the lagoon, smaller than the two on the landside. Massive walls were built with coral and limestone from the sea and sand and soil from inland. The guard posts atop the bastions are quite small. It is believed that soldiers from India who were quite small in size yet fierce were shipped here to guard the fort.

Buildings at the periphery creating an empty space at the middle of the fort is another unique style. The gables of the buildings that remain are similar to a church, which again seem to have been a tactic by the Dutch to deter an attack. Remnants of an actual church, which had been built by the Portuguese can also be found. Furthermore, the large hall adjacent to the church is thought to have been the dining hall for the residents of the fort.

A ramp with an incline leads to the rampart. The slopes indicate a defence strategy, where the advancing enemy could be thwarted.

Walking along the rampart, especially early in the morning is breath-taking. The view of the sun rising in the East, above the remnants of the fort with the lagoon far away can take you back in time. Though the roofs of most of the buildings are not there, the unique architecture of Dutch buildings is evident with arches and massive doorways. It is assumed that these buildings were later converted to storerooms, where the windows had been sealed, to provide good storage not only for ammunition but also for spices, pearls, cinnamon and much more. Two wells within the fort parametres are thought to have been there during colonial times to provide water to the residents of the fort.


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