The Heritage Light House Museum

Jul 01, 2016 | Vol.08 Issue 03
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The Heritage Lighthouse museum at Kannur, opened to the public on 28 Sept 2015, is the fourth among Lighthouse museums in India and it reminds us about the maritime history as well as many political and cultural invasions.

The Heritage Lighthouse museum at Kannur, opened to the public on 28 Sept 2015, is the fourth among Lighthouse museums in India.  The other three are in Alappuzha  (2012), Mahabalipuram and Chennai (the last two in Tamilnadu). The ancient light houses not only remind us about the maritime history, but also is a milestone to many political and cultural invasions.

Kannur Lighthouse

The first Light house in Kannur was established in 1843 at Mappila bay. Later seven more were constructed during the time of British but none are remaining.  The present Light house with a height of 23mtrs was constructed in 1976.  The spiral stairs with about 100 plus steps lead you to the top of the tower.  The characteristic of Kannur Lighthouse is marked as one flash light per ten seconds and can be seen at a distance of about 34km.  Kerala coast has 18 lighthouses out of the total 189 in India. The other Lighthouses in Kerala which are open to visitors are at Vyppeen (Ernakulam), Alappuzha, Thangassery(Kollam) and Vizhinjam (Thiruvananthapuram).

 The Lighthouse Museum

The branch of study of the light house is called Pharology, the name comes from the ancient lighthouse of Pharaoh, built in the third century BC. Pharos of Alexandria was the epitome of lighthouse in ancient time and the one among the then seven wonders of the world. During the last four centuries, transformation of light houses is mainly connected with the technological evolution of lights.

Bonfire was lit during ancient times; later in 16th century huge candles were used. Wick lamps using vegetable oils followed these candles.  Then silver plate reflectors and lenses were used to project light to greater distances. In 19th century they started making lighthouse optic with lenses and prisms.  By the end of 19th century kerosene replaced the vegetable oil in wick lamps.  The intensity the light of these lamps are improved by using kerosene –converted gas and burned inside silk cotton mantles. Later introduced sun valve light houses operate automatically by sensing the light.  Electric filament lamps and discharge lamps came into existence. Now LED lamps are in vogue.

This light house museum is an attempt to familiarize the new generation with old lamps and lighting apparatuses and history of lighthouses.  The main attraction in this museum is the huge lighthouse optic and accessories those were used in Minicoy light house from 1885 to1962.

Other attractions include a double wick lamp which was used in Kannur Lighthouse in 1890, collection of different lights, a large navigational buoy used in Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat and a huge fog bell which helped sailors by emitting sound signals, to keep away from dangers during fog. Some paintings depicting the history of the light houses are also displayed here.

The museum functions in a new building, constructed for this purpose. Ms. Sunitha is the museum Guide here. The Lighthouse and the museum are under the Directorate of Light houses & Lightships, Ministry of Shipping, Govt of India.

Timing: 10am-1pm & 2pm to 6pm (Monday holiday)

Entry fee: Rs.20/-(for Indians)

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