|Travancore (1102-1949)from the Wikipedia||Read original article|
|Kingdom of Travancore|
|Princely state of the British Indian Empire|
Vancheesamangalam (Hail the Lord of Vanchi)
Kingdom of Travancore in India
|Languages||Malayalam, Tamil, English|
|Religion||Hinduism, Christianity, Islam|
|-||1729–1758 (first)||Marthanda Varma|
|-||1829–1846 (peak)||Swathi Thirunal|
|-||1931–1949 (last)||Chithira Thirunal|
|Resident of Travancore|
|-||1788–1800 (first)||George Powney|
|-||1840–1860 (peak)||William Cullen|
|-||1947 (last)||Cosmo Grant Niven Edwards|
|Historical era||Age of Imperialism|
|-||1941||19,844 km² (7,662 sq mi)|
|Density||305.9 /km² (792.2 /sq mi)|
|Kingdom of Travancore|
|Part of History of Kerala|
|Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma||1729–1758|
|Gowri Lakshmi Bayi||1810–1815|
|Gowri Parvati Bayi‡||1815–1829|
|Sethu Lakshmi Bayi‡||1924–1931|
|Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma||1991–2013 (Titular)|
|Moolam Thirunal Rama VarmaVI||2013–Present (Titular)|
|‡ Regent Queens|
The Kingdom of Travancore (//; [t̪iɾuʋit̪aːmkuːr])(Malayalam:തിരുവിതാംകൂർ) was an Indian kingdom from 1729 to 1949. It was ruled by the Travancore Royal Family from Padmanabhapuram, and later Thiruvananthapuram. At its zenith, the kingdom covered most of modern-day central and southern Kerala, Kanyakumari district, and the southernmost parts of Tamil Nadu. The official flag of the state was red with a dextrally-coiled silver conch shell (Turbinella pyrum) at its centre. In the early 19th century, the kingdom became a princely state of the British Empire, and the king was accorded a 21 gun-salute locally and a 19-gun salute outside the kingdom. The Travancore Government took many progressive steps on the socio-economic front and during the reign of Maharajah Sri Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, Travancore became the second most prosperous princely state in British India, with reputed achievements in education, political administration, public work and social reforms.
When the region was once part of the Chera empire, it was known as Thiruvazhumkode (തിരുവാഴുംകോട്, tiruvāḻuṃkōṭŭ). It was contracted to Thiruvankode (തിരുവാങ്കോട്, tiruvāṅkōṭŭ), and anglicised by the English to Travancore.
In course of time, the Ay (or Aayi) kingdom, part of the Chera empire, which ruled the Thiruvazhumkode area, became independent, and the land was called Aayi desam or Aayi rajyam, meaning 'Aayi territory'. The Aayis controlled the land from present day Kollam district in the north, through Thiruvananthapuram district, all in Kerala, to the Kanyakumari district and part of Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu in the south. There were two capitals, the major one at Kollam (Venad Swaroopam or Desinganadu) and a subsidiary one at Thrippapur (Thrippapur Swaroopam or Nanjinad). The kingdom was thus also called Venad. Kings of Venad had, at various times, travelled from Kollam and built residential palaces in Thiruvithamcode and Kalkulam. Thiruvithamcode became the capital of the Thrippapur Swaroopam, and the country was referred to as Thiruvithamcode by Europeans even after the capital had been moved in 1601 to Padmanabhapuram, near Kalkulam. By the time of King Marthanda Varma, the southern half of the kingdom had become dominant. During his reign, it absorbed the north and Thiruvithamcode or Travancore became the official name.
Travancore (and Venad) was located at the extreme southern tip of the Indian subcontinent. Geographically, Travancore was divided into three climatically distinct regions: the eastern highlands (rugged and cool mountainous terrain), the central midlands (rolling hills), and the western lowlands (coastal plains).
The princely state was sub-divided into four divisions, each equivalent to a district of British India. Each of the divisions were administered by a Diwan Peishkar who corresponds to a District Collector of the British districts. The four divisions of Travancore were - Kottayam, Quilon, Padmanabhapuram and Trivandrum.
Venad was a former state at the tip of the Indian Subcontinent, traditionally ruled by rajas known as the Venattadis. Till the end of the 11th century AD, it was a small principality in the Ay Kingdom. The Ays were the earliest ruling dynasty in southern Kerala, who, at their zenith, ruled over a region from Nagercoil in the south to Thiruvalla in the north. Their capital during the first Sangam age was in Aykudi and later, towards the end of the 8th century AD, was at Kollam. Though a series of attacks by the resurgent Pandyas between the 7th and 8th centuries caused the decline of the Ays, the dynasty was powerful till the beginning of the 10th century.
When the Ay power diminished, Venad became the southernmost principality of the Second Chera Kingdom. An invasion of the Cholas into Venad caused the destruction of Kollam in 1096. However, the Chera capital, Mahodayapuram, also fell in the subsequent Chola attack, which compelled the Chera king, Rama varma Kulasekara, to shift his capital to Kollam. Thus, Rama Varma Kulasekara, the last emperor of the Chera dynasty, is probably the founder of the Venad royal house, and the title of the Chera kings, Kulasekara, was thenceforth kept by the rulers of Venad. Thus the end of the Second Chera dynasty in the 12th century marks the independence of Venad.
In the second half of the 12th century, two branches of the Ay Dynasty, Thrippappur and Chirava, merged in the Venad family, which set up the tradition of designating the ruler of Venad as Chirava Moopan and the heir-apparent as Thrippappur Moopan. While the Chrirava Moopan had his residence at Kollam, the Thrippappur Moopan resided at his palace in Thrippappur, 9 miles north of Thiruvananthapuram, and was vested with the authority over the temples of Venad kingdom, especially the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple.
A number of kings such as Kodai Kerala Varma, Udaya Martanda Varma (1175–1195), Vira Rama Kerala Varma, Ravi Kerala Varma, Ravivarma Kulasekhara (1299–1314), and Vira Marthanda Varma ruled over the kingdom. After the 14th century, the Venad rulers gradually intermarried with the Nairs, adopting the Nair custom of matrilineal descendency.
The history of Travancore began with Marthanda Varma, who inherited the kingdom of Venad (Thrippappur), and expanded it into Travancore during his reign (1729–1758). He expanded the kingdom of Venad through a series of military campaigns from Kanyakumari in the south to the borders of Kochi in the north during his 29-year rule. The Travancore-Dutch War (1739–1753) is the earliest example of an Asian state overcoming a European power in war. In 1741, Travancore won the Battle of Colachel against the Dutch East India Company, resulting in the complete eclipse of Dutch power in the region. In this battle, the admiral of the Dutch, Eustachius De Lannoy, was captured and defected to Travancore. Later on, De Lannoy was appointed as Senior Admiral ("Valiya kappittan") and he modernised the Travancore army by introducing firearms and artillery. Travancore became the most dominant state in the Kerala region by defeating the powerful Zamorin of Calicut in the battle of Purakkad. Ramayyan Dalawa, the Prime Minister (1737–1756) of Marthanda Varma, also played an important role in this consolidation and expansion.
On 3 January, 1750, (5 Makaram, 925 Kollavarsham), Marthanda Varma virtually "dedicated" Travancore to his tutelary deity Padmanabha, one of the aspects of the Hindu God Vishnu with a lotus issuing from his navel on which Brahma sits. From then on the rulers of Travancore ruled as the "servants of Padmanabha" (the Padmnabha-dasans).
At the Battle of Ambalapuzha, Marthanda Varma defeated the union of the kings who had been deposed and the king of the Cochin kingdom.
Marthanda Varma also organised the tax system and constructed many irrigation works in his kingdom.
Marthanda Varma's successor Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma (1758–1798), who was popularly known as Dharma Raja, shifted the capital in 1795 from Padmanabhapuram to Thiruvananthapuram. Dharma Raja's period is considered as a Golden Age in the history of Travancore. He not only retained the territorial gains of his predecessor Marthanda Varma, but also improved and encouraged social development. He was greatly assisted by a very efficient administrator, Raja Kesavadas, who was the Diwan of Travancore.
Travancore often allied with the English East India Company in military conflicts. During Dharma Raja's reign, Tipu Sultan, the de facto ruler of Mysore and the son of Hyder Ali, attacked Travancore in 1789 as a part of the Mysore invasion of Kerala. Dharma Raja had earlier refused to hand over the Hindu political refugees from the Mysore occupation of Malabar, who had been given asylum in Travancore. The Mysore army entered the Cochin kingdom from Coimbatore in November 1789 and reached Trichur in December. On 28 December 1789 Tipu Sultan attacked the Nedunkotta (Northern Lines) from the north, causing the Battle of the Nedumkotta (1789). The six thousand strong Travancore army, trained in the European mode of warfare by Eustachius De Lannoy, held up the French trained, war-hardened, fourteen thousand strong army of Tipu Sultan till April 1790, inflicting heavy casualties (local legends state that one of the Mysorean commanders, who happened to be Tipu's own cousin, was killed in the fighting and that, following an ambush, Tipu himself was wounded and his personal effects captured by the Nairs of the Travancore army). Tipu's army finally broke through the Nedumkottah and reached the banks of the Periyar river but floods in the Periyar river (according to the local legends, the Travancore commanders blew up a dam, causing flash floods, but historians have not provided any evidence for this) prevented the Mysorean army from marching further south. The English East India company now declared war on Mysore (the Third Anglo-Mysore War) in support of Travancore. Finding themselves unable to proceed further, on getting information that British forces were marching on his capital, Tippu and his army retreated back to Mysore. Though the battle of the Nedumkotta was tactically a Mysorean pyrrhic victory, strategically Travancore had won, since the Mysorean army could not hold on to their hard won conquests and had to retreat.
On Dharma Raja's death in 1798, Balarama Varma (1798–1810), the weakest ruler of the dynasty, took over crown at the age of sixteen. A treaty brought Travancore under East India Company protection in 1795.
The Prime Ministers (Dalawas or Dewans) started taking control of the kingdom beginning with Velu Thampi Dalawa (Velayudhan Chempakaraman Thampi) (1799–1809) who was appointed as the divan following the dismissal of Jayanthan Sankaran Nampoothiri (1798–1799). Initially, Velayudhan Chempakaraman Thampi and the English East India Company got along very well. When a section of the Travancore army mutinied in 1805 against Velu Thampi Dalawa, he sought refuge with the British Resident and later used English East India Company troops to crush the mutiny. Velu Thampi also played a key role in renegotiating a new treaty between Travancore and the English East India Company. However, the demands by the East India Company for the payment of compensation for their involvement in the Travancore-Mysore War (1791) on behalf of Travancore, led to tension between the Diwan and the East India Company Resident. Velu Thampi and the diwan of Cochin kingdom, Paliath Achan Govindan Menon, who was unhappy with the Resident for granting asylum to his enemy Kunhi Krishna Menon, declared "war" on the East India Company.
The kings of both kingdoms, Travancore and Cochin, did not support the Prime Ministers openly. Initially, the armies of Velu Thampi Dalawa and Paliath Achan Govindan Menon were successful and on 18 December 1808 they stormed the Resident's house in Cochin, though the Resident and his friend Kunhi Krishna Menon escaped. The situation changed when an assault on Cochin itself by the rebels on 19 January 1809 was defeated. Col. Leger led an army of the East India Company's soldiers through the Aramboli Ghat and occupied the forts of Udayagiri and Padmanabhapuram on 19 February 1809.
The East India Company army defeated Paliath Achan's army in Cochin on 27 February 1809. Paliath Achan surrendered to the East India Company and was exiled to Madras and later to Benaras. The Company defeated forces under Velu Thampi Dalawa at battles near Nagercoil and Kollam and inflicted heavy casualties on the rebels, following which many of his supporters deserted and went back to their homes. The allied East India Company army and the Travancore soldiers camped in Pappanamcode, just outside Trivandrum. Velu Thampi Dalawa now organised a guerrilla struggle against the Company, but committed suicide to avoid capture by the Travancore army. After the mutiny of 1805 against Velu Thampi Dalawa, most of the Nair battalions of Travancore had been disbanded, and after Velu Thampi Dalawa's uprising, almost all of the remaining Travancore forces were also disbanded, with the East India Company undertaking to serve the king in cases of external and internal aggression.
The kings of Travancore had been conditionally promoted to Kshatryahood with periodic performance of 16 mahādānams (great gifts in charity) such as Hiranya-garbhā, Hiranya-Kāmdhenu,and Hiranyāswaratā in which each of which thousands of Brahmins had been given costly gifts apart from each getting a minimum of 1 kazhanch (78.65 gm) of gold. In 1848 the Marquess of Dalhousie, then Governor-General of British India, was apprised that the depressed condition of the finances in Travancore was due to the mahādanams by the rulers. Lord Dalhousie instructed Lord Harris, Governor of the Madras Presidency, to warn the then King of Travancore, Martanda Varma (Uttram Tirunal 1847–60), that if he did not put a stop to this practice, the Madras Presidency would take over his Kingdom's administration. This led to the cessation of the practice of mahādanams.
All Travancore kings including Sree Moolam Thirunal conducted the Hiranyagarbham and Tulapurushadaanam ceremonies. Maharajah Chithira Thirunal was the only King of Travancore not to have conducted these rituals as he considered them extremely costly.
Balarama Varma was succeeded by Rani Gowri Lakshmi Bayi (1810–1815) on the throne of Travancore; she is the only female ruler to have ruled the Kingdom in her own right. When a boy was born to her in 1813, the infant was declared the King, but the Rani continued to rule as the regent. The British Colonel Munro served as her Diwan. On Rani Gowri Lakshmi Bayi's death in 1815, Maharani Gowri Parvati Bayi followed her as regent. Both of the regencies saw great progress in social issues and in education. Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma assumed the throne in 1829.
In Travancore the caste system was more rigorously enforced than in many other parts of India up to the mid-1800s. The rule of discriminative hierarchical caste order was deeply entrenched in the social system and was supported by the government, which had transformed this caste-based social system into a religious institution. In such a context, the belief in Ayyavazhi, apart from being a religious system, served also as a reform movement in uplifting the downtrodden section of the society, both socially and as well religiously. The rituals of Ayyavazhi constituted a social discourse. Its beliefs, mode of worship, and religious organisation seem to have enabled the Ayyavazhi group to negotiate and cope with, and resist the imposition of authority. The hard tone of Vaikundar towards this was perceived as a revolution against the government. So the King Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma initially imprisoned Vaikundar in the Singarathoppu jail, where the jailor Appaguru ended up as a disciple of Vaikundar. Vaikundar was later set at liberty by the King. Intrestingly immediately after the time of release of Vaikundar (in 1839–40), the caste-based discrimination by the Kingdom underwent a remarkable change.
The next ruler, Uthram Thirunal Marthanda Varma (AD 1847–1860), abolished slavery in the Kingdom in 1855 and restrictions on the dress codes of certain castes in 1859, following the recommendation of the Protestant clergy. His acts on these social issues won him praise and were copied by the neighbouring State of Cochin. The King started the postal system in 1857 and a school for girls in 1859. He was succeeded by Ayilyam Thirunal (1860–1880), during whose rule, agriculture, irrigation works, and road ways were promoted. Humane codes of law were enforced in 1861 and a college was established in 1866. He also built many charity hospitals including a lunatic asylum. The first systematic Census of Travancore was taken on 18 May 1875. Rama Varma Visakham Thirunal ruled from 1880 to 1885.
The long reign of Sri Moolam Thirunal Sir Rama Varma (1885–1924) saw the establishment of many colleges and schools. When Jawaharlal Nehru visited the area in the 1920s, he remarked that the education was superior to that in British India. The medical system was reorganised and a Legislative Council, the first of its kind in any Indian state, was established in 1888.
The last ruling king of Travancore was Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, who reigned from 1931 to 1949. "His reign marked revolutionary progress in the fields of education, defence, economy and society as a whole." He made the famous Temple Entry Proclamation on 12 November 1936, which opened all the Kshetrams (Hindu temples in Kerala) in Travancore to all Hindus, a privilege reserved to only upper caste Hindus till then. This act won him praise from across India, most notably from Mahatma Gandhi. The first public transport system (Thiruvananthapuram–Mavelikkara) and telecommunication system (Thiruvananthapuram Palace–Mavelikkara Palace) were launched during the reign of Sree Chithira Thirunal. He also started the industrialisation of the state, enhancing the role of the public sector. He introduced heavy industry in the State and established giant public sector undertakings. As many as twenty industries were established, mostly for utilizing the local raw materials such as rubber, ceramics, and minerals. A majority of the premier industries running in Kerala even today, were established by Sree Chithira Thirunal. He patronized musicians, artists, dancers, and Vedic scholars. Sree Chithira Thirunal appointed, for the first time, an Art Advisor to the Government, Dr. G. H. Cousins. He also established a new form of University Training Corps, viz. Labour Corps, preceding the N.C.C, in the educational institutions. The expenses of the University were to be met fully by the Government. Sree Chithira Thirunal also built a beautiful palace named Kowdiar Palace, finished in 1934, which was previously an old Naluektu, given by Sree Moolam Thirunal to his mother Sethu Parvathi Bayi in 1915.
However, his Prime Minister, Sir C.P. Ramaswami Iyer, was unpopular among the general public of Travancore. When the British decided to grant independence to India, the prime minister declared that Travancore would remain as an independent country, based on an "American model". The tension between the Communists and Sir C.P. Ramaswami Iyer led to revolts in various places of the country. In one such revolt in Punnapra-Vayalar in 1946, the Communists established their own government in the area. This was crushed by the Travancore Army and Navy at the cost of hundreds of deaths. The minister issued a statement in June 1947 that Travancore would remain as an independent country instead of joining the Indian Union; subsequently, an attempt was made on the life of Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer, following which he resigned and left for Madras, to be succeeded by Sri P.G.N. Unnithan. After several rounds of discussions and negotiations between Sree Chithira Thirunal and V.P. Menon, the King agreed that the Kingdom should accede to the Indian Union in 1949. On 1 July 1949 the Kingdom of Travancore was merged with the Kingdom of Cochin and the short lived state of Travancore-Kochi was formed.
On 11 July 1991, Sree Chithira Thirunal suffered a stroke and was admitted to Sree Chithira Thirunal hospital, aged seventy-nine; he died away early in the morning of 20 July. He had ruled Travancore for 67 years and at his death was one of the few surviving rulers of a first-class princely state in the old Indian Empire. He was also the last surviving Knight Grand Commander of both the Order of the Star of India and of the Order of the Indian Empire. He was succeeded as head of the Royal House as well as the Titular Maharajah of Travancore by his brother, Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma. The Government of India issued a stamp on Nov 6, 1991 commemorating the reforms that marked the reign of Maharajah Sree Chithira Thirunal in Travancore.
The movement for the unification of the lands where Malayalam was spoken as the mother tongue took concrete shape at the State People's Conference held in Ernakulam in April 1928, and a resolution was passed therein calling for Aikya Kerala ("United Kerala").
On 1 July 1949, the State of Travancore-Cochin was established, with the king of Travancore as the Rajapramukh of the new State. A number of popular ministries were elected and fell and in 1954, the Travancore Tamil Nadu Congress launched a campaign for the merger of the Tamil speaking regions of Southern Travancore with the neighbouring area of Madras. Under the State Reorganisation Act of 1956, the four southern taluks of Travancore, namely Thovalai, Agasteeswaram, Kalkulam, and Vilavancode, and a part of the Chencotta Taluk were merged with Madras state.
The State of Kerala came into existence on 1 November 1956, with a Governor appointed by the President of India as the head of the State instead of the King. The King was stripped of all his political powers and the right to receive privy purses, according to the twenty-sixth amendment of the Indian constitution act of 31 July 1971. He died on 20 July 1991.
Under the direct control of the king, Travancore's administration was headed by a Dewan assisted by the Neetezhutthu Pillay or secretary, Rayasom Pillay (assistant or under-secretary) and a number of Rayasoms or clerks along with Kanakku Pillamars (accountants). Individual districts were run by Sarvadhikaris under the supervision of the Diwan, while dealings with neighbouring states and Europeans was under the purview of the Valia Sarvahi, who signed treaties and agreements.
|Name||Portrait||Took office||Left office||Term|
|T. Madhava Rao||1857||1872||1|
|A. Seshayya Sastri||1872||1877||1|
|T. Rama Rao||1887||1892||1|
|K. Krishnaswamy Rao||1898||1904||1|
|V. P. Madhava Rao||1904||1906||1|
|M. Krishnan Nair||1914||1920||1|
|M. E. Watts||1925||1929||1|
|V. S. Subramanya Iyer||1929||1932||1|
|Sir C. P. Ramaswami Iyer||1936||1947||1|
Travancore was characterised by the popularity of its rulers among their subjects. The kings of Travancore, unlike their counterparts in the other princely states of India, spent only a small portion of their state's resources for personal use. This was in sharp contrast with some of the northern Indian kings. Since they spent most of the state's revenue for the benefit of the public, they were naturally much loved by their subjects. This was so even in the context of the high-handedness of some of their prime ministers. The trend of a popular ruler started with King Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma, who declared himself the "slave" of the Hindu deity Padmanabha, an aspect of Vishnu and the family deity of the Travancore royal family. Religious and social tolerance was another of notable feature of the rulers of Travancore. Unlike many British Indian states, violence rooted in religion or caste was very rare in Travancore, apart from a few incidents in 1821, 1829, 1858 and 1921, which themselves, when compared to similar riots elsewhere in India, were very mild. This tolerance of different religions was equally applicable when it came to social and ideological matters. Many political ideologies (such as communism) and social reforms were welcomed in Travancore. The universality of education and temple entry permission for those considered as 'untouchables' were unique to this part of India. Although the Travancore royal family were devout Hindus, they were tolerant rulers who donated land and material for the construction of Christian churches and Muslim mosques. This patronage was appreciated by local Christians who actively supported the devout Hindu Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma during the Travancore-Dutch battles, against a Christian power, and by the Muslims who joined his army. Unlike in the rest of India, in Travancore (and Kochi), the social status and freedom of women were high. In most communities, the daughters inherited the property (until 1925), were educated, and had the right to divorce and remarry.
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