History- Important places, persons in news

Dutch royal couple in Kerala


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Dutch connection of Kerala

Mains level : Read the attached story

  • The King of the Netherlands Willem-Alexander and his wife Queen Maxima has arrived in Kochi.

On a state visit

  • King Willem-Alexander, who ascended to the throne in 2013 after the abdication of his mother, and Queen Maxima are in India on their first-ever state visit to the country on the invitation of President Kovind.
  • As part of their five-day tour in India, the royals are flying down to Kerala, a state that has a long cultural relationship with the Dutch on account of European colonization.

The Dutch connection to Kerala

  • After gaining independence from Spain in the 16th century, the Dutch initiated attempts to establish colonies across the world and one of their main targets was southern India due to the presence of spices.
  • Seeking to get their share of the pie, ships carrying Dutch merchants and generals arrived on the shores of Malabar in the early 17th century.
  • They were bolstered by the Portuguese, who had by then set up extensive trade relationship with the local kings in Malabar, Cochin and Travancore.
  • Dutch generals were greeted warmly in Malabar by the king and the local people as the latter had begun to be frustrated with the Portuguese.

Quest with Portuguese

  • The first trade treaty between Dutch Admiral Van der Haghen and the Zamorin of Kozhikode was signed in 1604.
  • Over the next century and a half, the Dutch fought several wars with the Portuguese in a bid to annex territories such as Cochin (now Kochi) and Quilon (now Kollam) and establish their own fortresses and trading ports.
  • The most striking effects of the Dutch rule in Kerala can be seen in Kochi, which had emerged as an important hub for spice trade.
  • Dismantling the Portuguese-built structures, the Dutch established their own symbols, paving streets named after flowers and redesigning the town.

Popular culture

  • A marvellous palace in Mattancherry, gifted by the Portuguese to the Cochin Kings in 16th century but renovated by the Dutch, is now popularly known as the Dutch Palace.
  • It is built with ‘nalukettu’ in Kerala style of architecture and has a temple dedicated to a Goddess in the middle.
  • It underwent extensive renovation ten years ago and houses extensive murals and portraits of the Cochin Kings.
  • The Palace on Bolghatty island was built by the Dutch as a residence for its commander in 1744 and is considered to be one of the oldest existing palaces built by the Dutch outside the Netherlands.
  • Today, it is a heritage holiday resort run by the state tourism department. The Dutch cemetery in Fort Kochi, consecrated in 1724, is also a marker of the Dutch occupation of Kochi.
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