Fort Cornwallis was built in 1786 to commemorate the site of Sir Francis Light’s historical arrival in Penang. Sir Francis Light was a prominent captain in the British Imperial Navy. Erected between 1808 and 1810, Fort Conrwallis holds numerous cannons among which is Sri Rambai, a brass cannon with an intriguing history. The Dutch first presented Sri Rambai to the Sultan of Johor in 1606. Nevertheless, the Portuguese seized the cannon and it ended up in Jawa in 1613 and remained there until it was brought to Kuala Selangor in 1795.
The Sri Rambai cannon was shipped off to Penang in 1871. Before it could reach the shores of Penang, pirates stole it and threw it into the sea near the Esplanade. It is believed that the Sri Rambai possesses magical powers and many attempts to retrieve the cannon failed. However, in 1880, it was salvaged from the Straits of Malacca and placed in Fort Cornwallis.
Nearly two centuries old, Fort Cornwallis may be the only remaining fort built by the British in this part of the world. Restoration efforts were made in 1984 and now the fort stands as formidable as ever with its new ornamental wooden gate and observation tower.
Today, an open-air amphitheatre, a history gallery and a handicraft and souvenir centre occupy the interior of this fort that holds the Sri Rambai. Located near Padang Besar, Fort Cornwallis has become a fascinating tourist destination. It opens daily from 8.30 am to 6 pm.