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Battle of Colachel

Battle of Colachel
Part of the Travancore-Dutch War

Eustachius De Lannoy's Surrender at the Battle of Colachel
Date August 10, 1741
Location Kolachel, India
Result Decisive victory for the Kingdom of Travancore
Kingdom of Travancore Dutch East India Company
Commanders and leaders
Marthanda Varma
Ramayyan Dalawa
Eustachius De Lannoy
Majority of Nadar fighters. Unknown number of Dutch East India company troops, equipped with artillery
Casualties and losses
Light Heavy, 24 officers including Eustachius De Lannoy captured

The Battle of Colachel (or Battle of Kulachal) was fought on 10 August 1741 [O.S. 31 July 1741][1] between the military, called the Nair Brigade, of the Indian kingdom of Travancore and the Dutch East India Company, during the Travancore-Dutch War. The Dutch never recovered from the defeat and no longer posed a large colonial threat to India, assisting the British East India Company's eventual rise to dominance on the Indian subcontinent.


  • Background 1
  • The Battle 2
  • Impact of the battle 3
  • Tributes 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Additional reading 7
  • External links 8


Almost all the pepper that the Dutch imported into their country came from the kingdom of Kayamkulam. When Marthanda Varma became king of the small kingdom of Venad, he started a policy of assimilating neighboring kingdoms into the new kingdom of Travancore. In a series of battles, Marthanda Varma annexed the kingdoms of Attingal and Quilon (now known as Kollam). On the pretext that the Rajah of Kayamkulam was involved in certain conspiracies against him, Marthanda Varma began a military campaign against Kayamkulam with the aim of incorporating the kingdom into Travancore.

This endangered the Dutch East India Company's interests since they feared that the British, who had already signed a treaty with Marthanda Varma, would gain the rights to the pepper trade in the Malabar area, thus ending the Dutch monopoly. With this threat to their commercial interests in view, the Dutch Governor of Ceylon Gustaaf Willem van Imhoff wrote to Marthanda Varma demanding that he should end the aggression against Kayamkulam. Marthanda Varma wrote back to Van Imhoff, ordering him not to interfere in matters that did not concern him.

In a subsequent meeting, Imhoff demanded that Marthanda Varma restore the annexed kingdom of Kayamkulam to its former ruling princess, threatening to invade Travancore should he refuse. Marthanda Varma countered that he would overcome any Dutch forces that were sent to his kingdom, going on to say that he was considering an invasion of Europe.[2] Thus, the interview ended in tension and subsequently led to the Travancore-Dutch War. In 1741, the Dutch installed a princess of the Elayadathu Swarupam as the ruler of Kottarakara in defiance of the demands of Marthanda Varma. The Travancore army inflicted a crushing defeat upon the combined Kottarakara-Dutch armies and assimilated Kottarakara into Travancore, forcing the Dutch to retreat to Cochin. Following this, Marthanda Varma captured all of the Dutch forts in the area.

The Battle

Following the losses that the Dutch and their allies had suffered in the war, a force of Dutch marines from Ceylon under the leadership of a Flemish commander, Captain Eustachius De Lannoy (also spelt D'lennoy) landed with artillery in Kulachal, then a small but important coastal town, to capture the capital of Travancore, Padmanabhapuram. They captured the territory up to Padmanabhapuram and laid siege to the Kalkulam (Padmanabhapuram) fort. Marthanda Varma promptly marched south with his army and his timely arrival prevented the capture of Kalkulam fort by the Dutch, who, in turn, were forced to retreat to defensive positions in Kulachal. On the 10th of August, 1741 both the armies met in battle and Marthanda Varma's army won a decisive victory over the Dutch, capturing a large number of Dutch soldiers; apart from the rank and file, 24 officers including Eustachius De Lannoy and his second in command, Donadi were taken prisoner.[3] The majority of the soldiers were from Nair community at that time.

Impact of the battle

In the words of the noted historian, Professor Sreedhara Menon, "A disaster of the first magnitude for the Dutch, the battle of Colachel shattered for all time their dream of the conquest of Kerala". Despite participating in favour of the enemies of Travancore in the subsequent battles, right up to the battle of Ambalapuzha (1756), the battle of Colachel was a death blow to the power the Dutch East India company in the Malabar coast. Subsequent peace treaties with Travancore saw the transfer of the remaining Dutch forts which were incorporated into the Nedumkotta lines.[4]

In addition to the destruction of the Dutch East India Company's designs in the Malabar coast, the capture of the leaders of the expedition, Eustachius De Lannoy and his second in command Donadi, were very beneficial to the kingdom of Travancore. When De Lannoy and Donadi were paroled, they took up service with Travancore and modernized the Travancore Army (which, till then, had been armed mainly with melee weapons) into an effective fighting force. De Lennoy modernized the existing firearms and introduced better artillery and, more importantly, trained the Travancore army in the European style of military drill and military tactics. He carried out his orders with such sincerity and devotion that he rapidly rose through the ranks, eventually becoming the "Valia Kapitaan" (Commander in Chief) of the Tranvancore military and was given the Udayagiri Fort, locally known as the "Dillanai kotta" (De Lennoy's fort), near Padmanabhapuram, to reside. He was one of the commanders of the Tranvancore army during the decisive battle of Ambalapuzha where his erstwhile employers were fighting on behalf of Cochin and her allies. Following Travancore's victory over Cochin and her allies, the Dutch signed a peace treaty with Travancore and later sold their forts which were incorporated by De Lannoy into the Northern Lines (the Nedumkotta) that guarded the northern border of Travancore. The Travancore military that De Lannoy was instrumental in modernizing, went on to conquer more than half of the modern state of Kerala, and the Nedumkotta forts De Lannoy had designed, held up the advance of Tipu Sultan's French trained army during the Third Anglo-Mysore War in 1791 AD till the British East India Company joined the war in support of Travancore.

A key element of the Raja's army during the battle of Colachel was his personal guard, known as the Travancore Nair Brigade or locally known as the Nair Pattalam. This unit was later integrated into the Indian Army as the 9th Battalion Madras Regiment and the 16th Battalion Madras Regiment in 1954.The Nair brigade or nair pattalam was formed only after AD 1800.Originally the majority of the wars marthanda varma's war were fought by nadars are armymen and also as chieftains.Can refer nagam ayya , travancore state manual , also "nadunarthiaya nadar porattangal" by Prof.Darwin . After the death of marthanda varma and during the times of dharma raja, nadars were expelled from bearing palanquin,whose descendants still live in kanyakumari district also from ootupuras of sripadmanabha swami temple.Since the "A" class official history books, circulated and propagated were written by from certain communities , the nadars sacrifice were forgotten and downplayed.

Another direct outcome of the event at Kulachal was the takeover of the black pepper trade by the state of Travancore. This development was to have serious repercussions on the Dutch and the trading world of Kerala at large. In 1753 the Dutch signed the Treaty of Mavelikkara with the Dutch agreeing not to obstruct the Raja's expansion, and in turn, to sell to him arms and ammunition. This marked the beginning of the end of Dutch influence in India. The VOC (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, or the Dutch East India Company) continued to sell Indonesian spices and sugar in Kerala until 1795, at which time the English conquest of the Kingdom of Kochi ended their rule in India.


  • The Indian government has built a pillar of victory in Kulachal to commemorate the event.
  • The Indian Post Department released a Rupee 5 stamp on April 1, 2004 to commemorate the tercentenary (300th anniversary) of the raising of the 9th Battalion of Madras Regiment.

See also


  1. ^ 9th Madras Regiment
  2. ^ Koshy, M. O. (1989). The Dutch Power in Kerala, 1729-1758. Mittal Publications. p. 61.  
  3. ^ A survey of Kerala History, by Prof A. Sreedhara Menon, published by Viswanathan publishers, Madras, 1996, pp287
  4. ^ "அனந்த பத்மநாப நாடார் - தமிழ் விக்கிப்பீடியா" (in தமிழ்). 2013-09-27. Retrieved 2013-10-20. 

Additional reading

  • Nagam ayya." Travancore state manual"
  • Iyer, Dr. S. Krishna. Travancore-Dutch Relations, Nagercoil: CBH Publications, 1994, 164 pgs. ISBN 81-85381-42-9
  • Menor, Sheela. Military History of Travancore with special reference to the Nayar Brigade, Ethiraj College for Women, 1995
  • Menon, Dr. Sreedhara. A survey of Kerala history, S. Viswanathan Printers and Publishers, 1996.

External links

  • [3]
  • TANAp-a National Archives of Netherlands project
  • [4]

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