At the entrance of Fort Cornwallis, a statue of Captain Francis Light beckons visitors to the late 18th century star-shaped structure (complete with a chapel, a gunpowder magazine, cell rooms, flagstaff, harbour light and several cannons) which is the biggest well preserved fort in the country.
One of the cannons – Sri Rambai, is believed to possess magical powers. Women place flowers on the barrel in the hope of improving their fertility.
It is at this historical site that Light landed on Aug 11, 1786. Built by the good captain to protect British royal artillery troops from possible French attacks (Anglo-French rivalry was at its peak at the time), the fort was christened “Cornwallis” after the late 18th century Governor-General of Bengal, India, Charles Marquis Cornwallis. Originally built with a nibong (palm trunk) stockade, the fort was completed in 1810. The fort later became administrative base for British troops in Penang.
Although the 9m moat surrounding the fort was filled up in the early 1920s (a malaria epidemic had hit the island), there are many other features that make the fort a must visit for any traveller. Some of the cell rooms have been converted into galleries displaying historical facts, artifacts and conservation efforts. Outside the entrance of the fort, local artworks as well as stalls welling handicraft, batik and souvenir items are available. There were proposals to convert the fort into a living museum allowing visitors to experience how soldiers had lived inside the fort back to the 18th century.
Location of Fort Cornwallis
George Town, Penang Island.