Kingdom of Travancore Part-1 of History of Kerala

Travancore Kings
Rama Varma 1663-1672
Aditya Varma 1672-1677
Umayamma Rani‡ 1677-1684
Ravi Varma 1684-1718
Aditya Varma 1718-1719
Unni Kerala Varma 1719-1724
Rajah Rama Varma 1724-1729
Marthanda Varma 1729-1758
Dharma Raja 1758-1798
Balarama Varma 1798-1810
Gowri Lakshmi Bayi‡ 1810-1815
Gowri Parvati Bayi‡ 1815-1829
Swathi Thirunal 1829-1846
Uthram Thirunal 1846-1860
Ayilyam Thirunal 1860-1880
Visakham Thirunal 1880-1885
Moolam Thirunal 1885-1924
Sethu Lakshmi Bayi‡ 1924-1931
Chithira Thirunal 1931-1949
‡ Regent Queens
Padmanabhapuram 1721-1795
Thiruvananthapuram 1795-1949
Padmanabhapuram Palace
Kilimanoor palace
Kuthira Malika
Kowdiar Palace

Attingal palace
1810-53 Junior Rani H.H. Sri Patmanabha Sevini Vanchi Dharma Dyumani Raja Rajeshwari Rani Gouri Parvati Bai of Attingal in Travancore (India)1815-29 Regent of TravancoreWhen her elder sister Regent Maharani Gowri Lakshmi Bayi died after childbirth in 1815 she was only thirteen years of age and being the only female left in the family, besides her deceased sister's little daughter, she became Regent Maharani

AyilyamTh irunal
Rani Gouri Lakshmi bai
Uthrittathi Thirunal
Rani Gouri Parvathi

on behalf of her nephew, the heir, Maharajah Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma

. She was on her accession actively counselled by her brother in law, Raja Raja Varma of the Changanssery Royal family as well as her husband, Raghava Varma, who belonged to the Royal family of Kilimanoor. Her first act was to appoint a new Dewan, and she continued the reforms of her older sister. Christians got more freedom and some of the restrictions put on some of the lower castes were removed, she also introduced health reforms. her mother, Princes Atham of the Travancore, was the Senior Rani of Attingal. Her first husband was Raghava Varma of the Kilimanoor Royal family and after his death she married his brother After his death in 1824, she married again, but did not have any children. She lived (1802-53).1815-? Senior Rani Gowri Rukmini Bayi of Attingal in Travancore (India)succeeded to the title of Senior Rani of Attingal after the death of her mother, the Queen Regent, Rani Gouri Lakshmi Bai. Apart from her aunt, who was regent 1815-29, she only female in the matriarchal Travancore Royal Family, she married Rama Varma Koil Thampuran of Thiruvalla Royal Family in 1819 and had seven children, five sons and two daughters. One of these daughters died soon while the other married and had two sons, including Moolam Thirunal Sir Rama Varma.

A PORTRAIT OF SREE MOOLAM TIRUNAAL, was the ruler of the Indian state of Travancore between 1885 and 1924, succeeding his uncle Maharajah Visakham Thirunal (1880-1885).

In 1888 two princesses were adopted from the Mavelikara Royal family into Travancore. (b. 1809-?).
On the night of April 11, 1721 150 Britishers were done to death at the Attingal Palace near Thiruvananthapuram. What perhaps was the first major attack on the British in India though rarely mentioned in Indian history . It was a clever plot laid by Kodumon Pillai, Minister of the queen of Attingal, Umayamma Rani,

Johan Nieuhof's audience with the Queen of Quilon-umayamma rani

who out smarted the shrewd British who had superior weapons. The Nair Pada(nair soldiers) and the local Muslims took part in the operation and the British met with the biggest debacle in the region.

The immediate provocation was about the building of a Fort at Anchu Thengu, Anjengo in British records. The scheming British had entered in to a series of maneuvers to make trade in spices their monopoly. Greed for huge profits drove them wild, capturing the spice country itself later. Those were the early days of the English East India Company in India, the Dutch and the British on Indian shores were engaged in a series of conflicts to stake control of the sea trade.

Muslims, traditionally intermediaries in spice trade, were severely affected with the curbs in trade. Equipped with their guns and cannons, what the local soldiers were not yet having, they became menacing. Orders of the Rani to stop the building of the Fort were disobeyed.

Initial attacks launched by the Nair Pada(nair soldiers) was rebuffed with severe casualties. It was after a wait that the clever trap was laid and almost everyone in the Fort was executed. Cannons and gunfire of the British came to naught.Attingal was the seat of the sovereign of Venad during this period and there were only queens, Ranis, in power. Apart from Attingal proper the principalities of Elayidam or Kottarakkara, Perakam or Nedumangad, Thiruvithamkode or Travancore, Kollam, Kaymkulam, Karunagappalli and Karthikappalli were all under the Attingal Rani.

The sovereigns were ceremonial rulers and the actual power remained with the feudal lords titled Pillais,

Ettuveedan Nairfeudal chie
Ettuveedan Nair feudal chief

Nairs, who kept their own armies and administration. Feuds between the Pillais used to lead to intermittent clashes at the time.
This was a turning point in the history of Kerala, also India.
Travancore stood the side of the British after this episode and emerged as a major power during the reign of King Marthanda Varma. It was Marthanda Varma, who with the support of the British, annexed most of these principalities later and created the unified Travancore. The others were mostly allied with the Dutch, except the extreme north like Kolathu Nadu, modern Kannur. Marthanda Varma was also instrumental in neutralizing the powerful Pillais, Nayars, the story of his avenging the ‘Ettuveettil Pillamar’ is a figurative story of the event. From traders the British soon became sovereigns in India. The famous Kalari culture of the feudal lords, Pillais, stood liquidated during the British period that ensued

.The sequence of events that lead to the massacre were rooted primarily in the English attempts to monopolise trade. The Dutch and the English East India Companies were active in spice trade and both had factories on Indian soil, godowns for merchandise initially, which later were made army barracks.
The Dutch had a factory at Thenga Pattinam, now in Kanyakumari district, and the English in Vizhinjam. The negotiations were all with the Pillais who had the authority to deal with the traders. Due to the internecine conflicts and overtures to monopolise trade the factory in Thenga Pattinam was destroyed by the Pillais and the factory chief was executed in the year 1684. Two ships belonging to the Dutch were also set on fire. When complained Attingal Rani agreed to compensate the loss, but this was not possible as the Pillais were adamant. A request from the English that they be permitted to build a big wall around the Vizhinjam factory was also opposed by the Pillais. They fore saw the implications

. Kottayam Kerala Varma, the ruling king in Thiruvithamkode, adopted from Kolathunadu in the north, was not in very good terms with these powerful feudal lords. It was during this time that the Attingal Rani gave permission to the English to build a factory at Anchu Thengu in the year 1694.Vanchimuttom Pillai and Kodumon Pillai were the ministers to the queen, prominent among the Council of Ministers, who advised the Rani that it will eventually prove disastrous.

Accordingly the Rani asked the Company to stop building the Fort,

Anchuthengu is an old fort, built by the English East India Company for their use. It is situated 40 kms north of Thiruvananthapuram

this the English refused to heed. And Kodumon Pillai with the help of the Nair Pada in Chirayinkeezh attacked the Fort. The English now equipped with their cannons and guns retaliated and the attempt to stop the British ended in vain.

Now, Vanchimuttom Pillai and Kodumon Pillai had a tussle going between them and Kodumon Pillai was the favourite of the Rani. How Vanchimuttom, it is believed, secretly helped the English in building the Fort. In 1690 the Rani passed away and the English completed building the Fort in the very next year taking advantage of the confusion. Soon the sea trade was under the control of the British who with their superior arms started dictating terms, in who can trade and at what price, also refused to pay taxes.

The queens that followed Umayamma Rani were all adopted from Kolathunadu and they were too weak to manage the scene and the Pillais were restive. Feuds between the two Pillais also became a matter of concern, which gave the English a golden opportunity. The old feudal system was having its own problems.The English now stationed comfortably at the heavily armed Fort at Anchu Thengu

refused to permit anyone else to trade in Attingal principality. Except the Dutch who were very powerful at the time, though the English used to give information about the Dutch vessels to the Muslims who had taken to warfare and were pirates in the seas by now. The English men in the Fort went around trading at their will and started looting the local people who had no choice but obey them.

Corruption among the British officers became rampant. The local traders and common people came to hate the English. Each one in the Fort started minting money and

one Coifing, who was in charge at the time, was discharged by the Company for misappropriation of money.

Next it was the tenure of one Gilford, who made the situation worse from bad. Two incidents at the time became crucial. One was the purchase by one Ignacio, an interpreter of the company, a plot of land belonging to the Devi temple. The one who sold this had no legal rights to sell it and the English forcibly occupied the land despite objections from the local people.

Another episode was the maltreatment to some traders who went to the Fort. A merchant Brahmin who went there was anointed with some ritual powder by a woman, as part of a Christian ceremony, and the insulted man injured the woman taking out his sword. Gilford coming to know about it inflicted severe punishments on the merchants. In fact it was a plot by Gilford who wanted to take revenge on those who refused to help him in his private trade.

The matter reached Kodumon Pillai who attacked the Fort with a big force, lost many lives due to gunfire and the English took refuge inside. The Nair Pada burned a ship of the Company and laid a siege on the Fort, but soon after a ship from Mumbai with soldiers arrived and they were saved.

The impasse that followed after the cold war between the two Pillais, as to who should be accepted as the Rani in Attingal, was a matter of concern during this period. Eventually in the year 1721 they came to a truce and the sister of the sovereign of Kollam was accepted as queen in Attingal.

The British, who had to pay arrears, were contacted and Gilford, facing troubles due to the opposition of the people, decided to meet the queen and also compromise with the Pillais. He sent emissaries to the Palace.Extensive talks were held through intermediaries and the English agreed to pay up the tax arrears for the period they made default and make relations smooth.

To settle the matters they were invited by the Pillais, Gilford and the other Englishmen did not sense the pent up anger and thought it an old story, to the Attingal Palace.

Everyone in the Fort were invited for a big party. On 11 th of April almost everyone in the English factory at Anchu Thengu thus came in a procession, as discussed and agreed to. Taking the river route they reached the Palace in great ceremony. The entourage was 150 strong.

As the boats landed messengers of the Pillais persuaded the English to leave their guns in the boat as these were not permitted in the Palace. This was complied. Later the English and the Pillais went in to marathon discussions regarding the arrears in taxes and it was dark by then.

The English had brought the new currency of the East India Company which the Pillais refused to accept. They demanded that the traditional Venetian currency be paid, what was the dollar of those days, this was not available with the English.

Pillais were buying time. They wanted to meet the queen but as it was already dark the Pillais asked the English men to stay for the night and meet her in the morning.Casey, the second in charge of the Fort, smelt a rat and told Gilford that it was risky to stay there at night but Gilford was not willing to listen.

As it was getting pitch dark Gilford heard the unusual movement of people in the Palace and was alarmed. Now sensing danger he sent a messenger to the Fort at Anchu Thengu several kilometers away in the night itself. Soon a huge party of the Nair Pada and the Muslims ran over the English men and every one of the 150 odd people were killed. It was a clean operation where the superior arms did not help.

Gilford, crafty and corrupt, to whom they had a long standing grudge, having killed many comrades, was beheaded and the body pinned on a wooden board, then floated in the river. The only one who escaped was the messenger sent by Gilford at night, who reached the Fort the next day.

The horrifying revenge was known only at the time. It was mostly women and children at the Fort and the only competent gun man left there, one Samuel, evacuated the women and children to safety by sea. Expecting that the Nair Pada is to attack the Fort soon he sealed the doors. He also burned the large quantity of surplus gun powder stored in the premises.

As expected the attack of the Nair Pada came on April 14 . It was more to capture the Fort and the weaponry. But they could not enter the huge Fort walls and the cannons kept spitting fire, after sporadic attacks repulsed by the gun men they gave up. They returned back after setting fire to the houses in the vicinity of the Fort.

On hearing about the tragedy that befell the Englishmen the Rani send a message expressing sorrow about what happened. Trade had become too attractive to lose. The King of Kollam also send a similar message.

Taking advantage of the situation the King of Thiruvithamkode, Travancore, Rama Varma, who had assumed the throne only a few days back, made swift moves. Competition between the spice kingdoms was common, for better trading. Originally belonging to Kolathunadu, Rama Varma, brother Aditya Varma and his sisters were adopted in 1696. This adoption had the support of Adams, chief of the Tellicherry factory of the British, under which the Fort at Anchu Thengue also came.

After the massacre the Rani and Vanchimuttom Pillai had left to Kollam allied with the Dutch.

Rama Varma saw this an opportunity and also wanted to make his sister queen of Attingal. The British interfering in selection of kings and queens was common in this era, using terms in trade as the bait, offering luxuries and various other means.In 1722 Alexander, a cousin of Adams, was appointed chief of Anchu Thengu.

In the same year two more adoptions were made from Kolathunadu, a prince and a princess, at the behest of Adams and one of them was crowned the prince of Travancore.

Rama Varma meanwhile gave permission to the English, by now his friends, to build a fort at Colachel and permission to mint coins for Travancore in 1723.

He made an agreement with the English giving them monopoly for trade in Travancore and gave permission for yet another fort in Idava in 1726.

From the two nephews of Rama Varma one was the Prince of Iraniel, who was to become famous later as Marthanda Varma, and the other Prince of Neyyattinkara.

In 1728 the Prince of Neyyattinkara taking the help of the Naiks of Madurai hired a battalion of Vaduka Pada and marched on Attingal.

The British all along did not directly confront the Nair Pada but made one to fight another. Fifteen of the leading Pillais in Attingal were executed and the remaining surrendered.

Karthika Thirunal, a princess and his own relative, was made the queen of Attingal.In 1729 after Rama Varma passed away the Neyyattinkara prince and another in Karunagappalli became kings of Travancore and both died in the same year one after other.

Prince of Iraniel, Marthanda Varma, became the king of Travancore.

He helped the British to contain the Dutch presence in the region and was instrumental in a major expansion drive. Soon Marthanda Varma captured all the remaining Pillais of Attingal involved in the massacre and handed them over to the English.

From a small principality that remained south of the river Karamana, Travancore, with the help of the British got extended up to river Periyar in the north. With the help of a Brahmin minister Ramayyan all the principalities were subdued, many of these allied with the Dutch.

The traditional social structure with the Nair warriors in charge were razed to the ground. Marthanda Varma raised new armies and this left the traditional warriors jobless. Nair chieftains’ powers of tax collection and legal duties stood removed and those who opposed were mercilessly persecuted, even the women and children not spared. Those favourable were promoted. The state was surrendered to the Padmanabha Swamy temple by Marthanda Varma, under Tulu Brahmin priests, as a clever move to neutralize revolt. But it was an actual surrender to the British that resulted, completed by his heir Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma who consolidated the British connection and Travancore came under the British in 1795.

After the war with Mysore, where Tippu Sultan was defeated, Travancore was forced to accept the sovereignty of a Company, the English East India Company, traders became rulers.The Travancore royalty, as also many other royal families, remained friends of the British, the British crown taking over control from the Company later, till India attained independence.
The popular revolts that immediately followed this phase, by Pazhassi Raja in the north and Velu Thambi in the south (1790 – 1810), against the British, were contained.

And those who revolted were pauperized and their powers gradually neutralised. Whether the human sacrifice at Attingal taught the British in India a lesson or it helped the chain of events leading to British occupation is a question that remains unanswered.

Monopoly trade, what triggered the massacre, later took over the world and remains the most oppressive regime controlling mankind is a valid observation. Resource poor North exploiting the resource rich South using the game of trade continues to operate without any hindrance. The same urge to monopolise trade is what underlies the modern rhetoric of globalisation, only it is now much more subtle and sophisticated. It has become far too well entrenched, have governments as allies and it has become difficult to question the silent war killing millions in poverty.


It is beleived that Attingal town was built 800 years ago. During ancient times Attingal was known to be "Chittattinkara" as it is encircled on three sides by the rivers "Vamana puram river" and "Mamom river". Historically, Attingal has been the residence of the women of the Venad royal family. The Attingal Palace dates to 1305 C.E. Attingal and the surrounding areas were a principality within the Travancore kingdom, and were ruled by their queens. By the colonial period, trade flourished with Portuguese and Dutch traders. In 1735, Marthanda Varma, the king of Travancore, took Attingal.

Feudal status

The mother of the Maharaja of Travancore and her sister received the principality of Attingal in joint . They were consequently styled the Senior and Junior Rani (the female form of Raja or Rana) of Attingal, respectively. Their husbands, known as Koil Tampurans, came from one of four or five princely houses who were closely related to the Royal House. Attingal was the seat of the sovereign of Venad during this period and there were only queens, Ranis, in power. Apart from Attingal proper the principalities of Elayidam or Kottarakkara, Perakam or Nedumangad, Thiruvithamkode or Travancore, Kollam, Kaymkulam, Karunagappalli and Karthikappalli were all under the Attingal Rani.

Attingal Revolution-(Attingal Mutiny) was the first ever rebellion againt the British in India.

Similarly the grant of Talassery was resented by Kurangoth Nair who claimed the territory to be under his control. He in alliance with one of the dissident Kolathiri princes, raided the Company's warehouse and inflicted heavy damage to property in 1704-05.

Attingal Palace

The Attingal palaces (Manomohanavilasom and Koyikkal), which are mentioned in literature dating from 1305 A.D., and many temples are in the Municipality. Chirayinkil, a town famous for its Sarkara Temple,

is close by. It is also a major road junction.Until 1837 Senior Rani Gouri Rukmani Bai of Attingal in Travancore (India)The younger daughter of the Queen Regent Rani Gouri Lakshmi Bai (1810-15), she succeeded her sister, Gouri Lakshmi Bai, as Senior Rani of Attingal. Two of her sons became Maharajas, she was mother of a total of eight children, and lived (1809-37).1837-53 Senior Rani Parvati Bai of Attingal in Travancore (India)Also known as Chathayam Tirunal, she succeeded Gouri Rukmani Bai as joint administrator of the principality of Attingal, which were given as appanage to the two senior Princesses of the Travancore royal family, which follows matrilineal inheritance, according to male primogeniture. She was unmarried and (d. 1853).

SECOND CHAPTER OF BRITISH RULE IN KERALA(TRAVANCORE)-----------------------------------------------------------------


Rama Varma (AD 1758-1795), successor of Martanda Varma signed a treaty of perpetual friendship with the British in 1795.
Dharma Raja
Karthika Thirunal Dharma Rajah
This costly treaty was also perhaps partly responsible for the numerous taxes on the poorer segments of the society. The administration of Rama Varma’s successor namely Balarama Varma led to a people’s rebellion led by Velu Thampi who eventually became the Diwan and was partly responsible for the

‘subsidiary treaty’.

This draconian treaty (1805) not only committed to an annual payment of Rs 8 Lakhs equal to about 3 million $ mandatory but also permitted the British to interfere in the internal affairs / decisions of the administration.

For example, when Balarama Varma passed away in 1810, the British Resident overlooked the claim of Ilaya Raja Kerala Varma, who had been groomed to succeed Balarama Varma all
along, and who was a confirmed anti-British, for the throne. The British not only banished him from Travancore but also kept him as a prisoner. In his place Rani Laxmi Bai was appointed as the queen; and the resident(english man) assumed the office of the Diwan as well! Further she was succeeded by Rani Parvati Bai at the age of 13. Thus the period after 1795 was indeed a period of turmoil for Travancore.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------THIRD PART OF ANTI BRITISH STRUGGLE IN TRAVANCORE[KERALA] 19TH CENTURY-------------------------------------------------------------


Kerala in 15th century

As an administrator of Travancore state:-
As a reformer, he attempted reclamation of the fallow land, the opening of the kollam –shenkotta road, construction of canals, and roads, improved trade and commerce. He felt the need for a Huzur Cutchery. The palaces near the eastern entrance of the Padmanabha temple were built by him. The streets around the Fort area, and an open ground (now KSRTC garage and the iron villa park) where people assembled to express their grievances, the survey of the land, and assessment of tax based on the yield, (kandezhuthu) were his innovations. He made primary education compulsory. While his predecessors enjoyed the privilege of drawing money from the treasury, Thampi fixed monthly salary.

Velu Thampi's Insurrection
Velu Thampi Dalawa

and the Paliath Achan,
Paliath Achanaliath Govindan Achan (Paliath Achan from 1779-1825)The Paliath Achans were hereditary prime ministers to the Rajah of Kingdom of Cochin from 1632 to 1809 Historical records show that the Paliath Achans became major players in Kerala history with the arrival of thePortuguese. In recognition of the Paliath Achan's services, the Kochi Rajah granted him Vypin Island. At about the period, the land of Villarvattom came into his possession as well. In 1681, the Kochi Raja conferred upon him, the title of Sarvadhyakshan (literally translated, "Supreme presider over all affairs"), and in 1731, the Paliath Komi Achan was appointed to the post of Prime Minister of the Kochi Raja. Around 1775, the position of the Paliath Achan was recorded by the Dutch as follows:

Govindan Menon, met and decided on the extirpation of the British Resident and end of British supremacy in their respective states. Velu Thampi organised recruits, strengthened forts and stored up ammunition while similar preparations was made by the Paliath Achan in Cochin. Velu Thampi applied to the Zamorin of Calicut

Zamorins of Calicut

c. 12th century–1766
Extent of the kingdom of Samoothiris, at the end of 15th century
Capital Nediyiruppu
Language(s) Malayalam, Sanskrit
Government Feudal state
- Established c. 12th century
- Disestablished 1766

and to the French for assistance, but both did not acknowledge the request

The plan of the Paliath Achan and Velu Thampi was to unitedly attack the Fort of Cochin

*View of the fort of Cochin , from across the backwater, with the union flag flying from the warehouse, formerly the Portuguese cathedral of Santa Cruz; watercolor, c.1800

*Cochin, on the coast of Malabar; by James Forbes, 1813

"The Chinese fishing nets of Fort Cochin," from 'Das Buch der Welt', Stuttgart, 1842-48

COCHIN, 1755
"Ville de Cochin," a view by Bellin, in Prevost, c.1755, with what may be quite early hand coloring; CLICK ON THE IMAGE FOR A VERY LARGE SCAN

*'Kochin, of Kouchin, een oude en beroemde Stadt in het lantschap. Malabar in Indie, onder het gebiet der Nederlanders'; by Peter Schenk, 1702[fort cochin painting 1720]

"Plan of the City of Cochin," from 'The Universal Traveller', by Thomas Salmon, London, 1729

"The King of Cochin on his Elephant, accompanied by his Nairs," from *PREVOST*, c.1760
The King of Cochin -1506-IN PROCESSION
and murder the British Resident Major Macaulay

and Kunju Krishna Menon. Another force was appointed to attack the British garrison at Quilon.

Kollam fort in 1756 after it had passed from Portuguese rule to the Dutch

This was in the year 1807.
The Resident realised the object of the simultaneous preparations on Travancore and Cochin and immediately wrote of the Madras government for reinforcements
. His Majesty's 12th Regiment

and two native battalions

were ordered to aid the Resident.

Velu Thampi pretended great alarm at these preparations and begged permission to resign his office and retire to Malabar in the English territories. The same was agreed upon and on 28 December 1808 Velu Thampi was to be escorted to Malabar.

The intention of Velu Thampi however was to divert the Resident's forces away from Cochin in which he succeeded. That night a body of armed men led by the Paliath Achan, surrounded the Residency at Bolghatty Palace and surprised the Resident, who was under the impression that the menace of Velu Thampi was finally over. The Resident and Kunju Krishna Menon however succeeded in escaping and reached Quilon. The disappointed Velu Thampi asked his troops to attack them at Quilon.

The Nair troops

meanwhile attacked the Subsidiary force of the British at Quilon


. In spite of greater numbers, the troops were not organised and lacked a leader and hence for the night on 30 December 1808 the British under Colonel Chalmers held their ground. The Dalawa did not lose heart. He collected a force of thirty thousand men and again attacked the British on 15 January 1809. The British organised their armies strategically and the Nair sepoys were finally repulsed. The British regiments in Cochin were attacked by the Paliath Achan but here too he was defeated.

--CLICK AND READ :--Velu Thampi Dalawa:-

Velu Thampi then went to Kundara where he made his famous proclamation in January 1809 urging the people to fight the British. The proclamation had its effect and the whole country rose like one man against the British. This was now a desperate game being played by Velu Thampi. He exploited the religious orthodoxy of the people by making them believe the British were Christian missionaries. The proclamation even influenced the Maharajah at Trivandrum who felt now that Velu Thampi was his only true friend. Wholesale butchery of foreigners took place in Travancore, thereby disgracing the cause of the rebellion. The British realised that the Dalawa was now desperate.

Rebellion Quelled

Colonel Leger came from Madras on 6 February 1809 and camped on the Aramboly[AARUVA MOZHY ] pass.

He entered Travancore the next morning and attacked the lines of the Nair troops near the Palamcottah fort. The Nair troops were defeated and the Dalawa himself fled to Trivandrum.

Having secured entry into
Travancore the British now moved into the interior and within a few days the two important forts of Padmanabhapuram

Padmanabhapuram Fort...

All India-Nagercoil Kanyakumari district Padmanabhapuram fort

and Udayagiri fort

also fell into their hands.
Meanwhile at
Quilon where the Nair troops were planning yet another final attack heard of the fall of these forts and losing heart dispersed, the cause of overthrowing the British yoke, being forgotten. Velu Thampi himself fled from Trivandrum touching at Kilimanoor where he called on the Royal family there. After staying there for the night he proceeded northwards but was overtaken in the Bhagawati Temple at Mannadi where he was surrounded by the British.

Bhagvawati Temple at Mannadi

velu thambi memorial at Mannadi
Mannadi, Mannadi historical, Mannadi travel, Mannadi tourism, Mannadi Historical Place, travel to Mannadi Monument

The Maharajah had joined hands with the British for his capture under the influence of Ummini Thampi,
a government official. However the Dalawa was not taken alive. In the Temple he asked his brother to cut his throat, which on being refused, he did it himself. Velu Thampi thus passed away in the Mannadi Temple. His brother surrendered and was taken to
Quilon and executed there. Velu Thampi's body was taken to Trivandrum and exposed on a gibbet. The man who informed the British of the Dalawa's whereabouts received an award of Rs. 50,000 from the British.
Velu Thampi's ancestral home was razed to the ground and his relatives after being flogged and banished, were taken to the Maldives when, while touching at Tuticorin many of them committed suicide.
To the valiant memory of the Great Dalawa,The Kerala State Governmnent instituted a n apt memorial at Mannadi.That including a research center,a museum, a park and a grand statue in bronze.
The Paliath Achan

Following the end of Velu Thampi Dalawa, the Paliath Achan without any support left surrendered to the British. He lost all support from the Rajah of Cochin, who wished to get rid of the Paliath Achan who was the actual ruler of Cochin and recover his position under subordination of the British. Govindan Menon, the then Paliath Achan was first deported to Madras, where he was kept prisoner at Fort St. George for 12 years. He was then taken to Bombay and remained a prisoner there for 13 years, finally passing away at Benares.



Pazhassi Raja Prince of Pazhassi Kottayam VeeraPazhassi.JPG Veera Pazhassi Raja - an artist's view on a laterite wall Full name Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja Titles Lion of Kerala Born January 3, 1753 Birthplace Karnataka, India Died November 30, 1805

Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja (January 3, 1753 - November 30, 1805), popularly known as the Lion of Kerala was a prince from the royal dynasty of Pazhassi Kottayam which now belongs to Kannur District of Kerala, in India. He had three senior Rajas above him for his claim to the throne. However, when the Mysore army occupied Malabar for a second time (1773–1790) all the senior members of the Kottayam Royal family fled to Travancore.
Pazhassi Raja led a well organized guerrilla struggle against the Mysorean invaders, who were far stronger than the Kottayam army. He emerged in the course of time as the most powerful man in Kottayam as people stood firmly behind their beloved prince who had not abandoned them in their hour of misfortune. His troops were drawn from ranks of warrior Nairs as well as tribal Kurichias and Mullukurumbas.

TIPPU Tipu Sultan (1749 - 4 May 1799), known as the Tiger of Mysore. He was the son of Hyder Ali, and his second wife, Fatima. His full name was Bahadur Khan Tipu Sultan. Tipu took over rule of the kingdom upon his father's death. In the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War (1799) by the combined forces of the British East India Company, the Nizam of Hyderabad defeated Tipu and he was killed on 4 May 1799, defending the fort of Srirangapattana.

File:Kerala in 15th century.jpg



Kingdom of Pazhassi Raja

The kingdom of Kottayam covers what is today the Thalassery taluk (1000 km2) of the Kannur District and Wayanad district along with Gudalur and Panthalur taluks of Nilgiris District.Originally the headquarters of this kingdom was based at Muzhakunnu near Peravoor;headquarters of this kingdom later moved to Kottayampoil or Kottayam, a small town, 7 k.m. east of Thalassery
War against Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan:-

invaded Malabar for a second time in 1773 on the pretext that the Rajas of Malabar had not paid him tribute as agreed in 1768. All Malabar Rajahs along with many Naduvazhis fled to Travancore in terror of Hyder's ferocious troops. But princes and younger noblemen refused to flee and resistance sprang up all over Malabar in response to the bigotry, plunder and atrocities perpetuated by Mysorean troops, this resistance grew into a full blown guerrilla warfare where Malabari partisans made excellent use of wooded hills that covered most of Malabar

Of all these rebel leaders, ablest was Pazhassi Raja. In 1774, at age of 21, he took over reins of government as his uncle had fled away. He openly announced that he will resist Mysore troops and condemned cowardice of Rajahs who fled away-

-and left their countries to fate. He stayed on in Kottayam where he gathered a force and engaged in guerrilla warfare as he had neither guns or troops enough to face the Mysoreans in open battle. Raja set up a large number of bases in the nearly impenetrable forested mountains of Puralimala (a mountain range
During his long and bitter warfare with Hyder Ali, Tippu Sultan and then British, Pazhassi Raja increased his sphere of influence significantly eastwards as far as outskirts of Mysore. His men regularly looted enemy treasuries and sandalwood, from Southern Karnataka and his enemy troops could do little to check these daring raids. This enabled him to lay claim to a great chunk of Mysore district

Siege of Talassery:

1778, Hyder’s vassal, Raja of Chirakkal besieged Talassery and enforced an economic blockade-under order from Hyder himself. British factors at Talassery armed Pazhassi Raja’s men to enable them to recover Kottayam from Mysorean occupation army. This move by the British ensured that the Chirakkal army was now at risk of being struck in the rear by Pazhassi’s force. The Chirakkal troops began to retreat. But Pazhassi chased and devastated the Chirakkal army, and then marched to Kottayam where he obliterated the Mysorean occupation and over-ran all of Western Kottayam. But at this critical moment when the Mysorean army in Malabar could have been destroyed by a joint action on the part of British and the Rajas, the British factors at Talassery were instructed by the Governor not to upset the nominal peace with Hyde
Thus the British decision not to exploit the victory at Thalassery was exploited by Mysore
. The Chirakkal army reinforced by a Mysorean contingent under Balwant Rao marched into Kottayam. Pazhassi’s men, though secretly supplied with arms and ammunition by the British, could not hold or defeat this huge host and soon the Kottayam army was forced to disperse after a fight. Then the Mysore-Chirakkal army captured Kadathanad and installed a puppet Raja who joined hand with Mysore. In 1779, a huge Mysore-Chirakkal-Kadathanad army besieged Talassery. Pazhassi Raja sent a force of 1300 Nairs to aid British defence of Talassery-and this enabled factors to hold on successfully.
By end of 1779, Sardar Khan, the Mysorean general was sent to Talassery to bring the siege speedily to a successful conclusion. Sardar Khan knew that it was Pazhassi’s help that enabled the British to resist him and so he opened negotiations with Pazhassi - his offer was the restoration of Mysore occupied territories of Kottayam if Pazhassi would ally himself with Mysore and pay an immediate tribute of 5 lac rupees. It was well beyond the capacity of Kottayam to raise so huge a sum in so short a time. But Pazhassi did his best to pay Sardar Khan [probably in hope that latter would make concessions] and 60,000 rupees was paid to the latter. But Khan was not satisfied and rejected Pazhassi’s request that his possessions in Malabar be restored. This greedy and tactless approach of Sardar Khan's made sure that there was little chance for Mysore to capture Talassery

British intervention

In 1780, Pazhassi Raja proposed a plan to the British to break the Mysorean siege of Talassery: he and his men would strike the enemy in the rear from the east as the British came out of the fort and struck the Mysorean line in front. Both armies would effect a junction that would split the enemy into two. The Mysorean and allied troops could then be routed easily. But it was only in 1781 that the British understood the value of this plan and their Bombay authorities agreed to it. An operation was carried out as per Pazhassi's plan; it ended with the destruction of the Mysorean forces. Sardar Khan himself was killed. What followed was a rebellion in Kottayam by the Nair militia led by Pazhassi Raja. Soon, the Mysoreans were ousted
By 1782, Kottayam was once more a free land. But by the Treaty of Mangalore [1784] after the Second Anglo-Mysore War, the British recognized Tipu Sultan's sphere of authority in Malabar. Thus with its only valuable ally lost, Kottayam was ready to become a vassal state of Mysore. Once more, as Sardar Khan did in 1779, Mysore exacted an exorbitant rate of tribute. Although Ravi Varma, the elder brother of Pazhassi Raja agreed to pay 65,000 rupees per year, Mysore demanded 81,000 rupees. The hiked rate of tribute meant greater hardship for the peasantry [largely Tiyar/Izhava] who had suffered from years of foreign occupation. So Pazhassi Raja took up this issue and decided to launch a mass resistance struggle once more

Second Invasion

By the end of 1788, Pazhassi’s hatred of Tipu had shot up on account of the latter’s policy of forcible conversion. So he strengthened his ties with British on one hand and with fellow rebel chiefs and princes in Malabar on other hand. Not surprisingly, Tipu sent an army under a French general named Lally with a genocidal mission—the extermination of the Nair caste from Kottayam to Palakkad - as Tipu was determined to end the menance of Nair rebels in Malabar who had foiled all attempts of him and his late father Hyder Ali to subjugate and exploit Malabar

But in 1790, Tipu abandoned the war in Malabar as the war in Deccan drew his attention. Pazhassi Raja joined the British with a force of 1500 Nairs to capture the Mysorean stronghold in Katirur (near Talassery). After Katirur, Pazhassi Raja and his troops moved south-east and captured the Kuttiyadi fort from Tipu’s men. Thus once more the whole of Kottayam was in the control of Pazhassi Raja. In 1790, the British recognized Pazhassi Raja as the head of Kottayam instead of the original Raja who was in refuge at Travancore. Raja agreed to pay 25,000 rupees as tribute to the British

But by the Treaty of Seringapatam (1792) signed between the British and Tipu after the latter failed in Third Anglo-Mysore War, Malabar was ceded to the British. The British then began to work for establishment of their supremacy in Malabar. This was where the British and Pazhassi Raja had opposite opinions - Pazhassi Raja helped the British not because he was ready to accept British sovereignty but because he wanted his country Kottayam to be a free land

Pazhassi was disturbed when he read the terms which British put forward to Rajas of Malabar in 1792. Though he was unsure in the beginning, he made up his mind and agreed to the British terms. The summary of the terms were as follows:
  • The Raja to be able to rule as before but British to control him “in case of oppressing inhabitants”.
  • A resident to be appointed to enquire about “complaints of oppression”.
  • Two persons on the part of the British and two persons on the part of the Raja to make valuation of land revenue of Kottayam.
  • The Tax to be paid by each subject to be ascertained.
  • The Raja’s tribute to be settled in October of 1792 according to the appearance of crop.
  • The British share of the pepper to be delivered at a price fixed by the British in December of 1792.
  • The remainder of the pepper to be bought only by merchants appointed by the British.
These terms converted monarchs to mere agents of the British. Rajas were now stripped of their right to rule as they willed; they also lost control over their economies.


Like many insurgencies the war against the Pazhassi Raja was a brutal one, with both sides on occasion taking heavy losses.

Later accounts published in the 19th Century tend to picture the British winning battles over the various Indian forces with comparative ease.

This was often not in fact the case, and as the following news paper account makes clear the insurgents were often able to inflict heavy casualties onto the East India Company forces.

From the Whitehall Evening Post
Saturday, July 20, to Tuesday, July 23, 1799.

Authentic Particulars respecting the primary Rupture with the COTIOTE RAJAH, recently received from India. Captain Bowman and Lieutenant Bond were sent with a detachment to take possession of a stronghold near Cootungarry, and were decoyed by a Hircarrah,[1] employed on the occasion, into a narrow defile, where a strong party of Nairs in ambuscade, availing themselves of the disadvantageous situation of the detachment, and their mode of attack, beset the party with a ferocity peculiarly their own, when Captain Bowman and Lieutenant Bond were almost immediately over powered and killed. Several Sepoys were also killed and wounded on the spot. Captain Lawrence, on hearing the report of the musquetry, proceeded, with all possible expedition, at the head of a body of grenadiers, towards the succour and support of Captain Bowman’s detachment: but having experienced a similar breach of faith in his guide, was also attacked in the same defile: but, after a warm and fortunate resistance, effected his retreat, and took post in a pagoda the whole night and part of the next day, hemmed in by upwards of a thousand of the Rajah’s troops.

Captain Troy, who had been employed in mustering the Native troops, and Captain Shean, on his return from a visit, fell in with a party of these sanguinary savages, who, having surrounded them, coolly and unprovokedly put the first to death, and wounded the latter in a shocking and barbarous manner. It would appear, from the foregoing circumstances that the inhuman wretches chiefly aimed at the destruction of the Officers: but particularly from their subsequent barbarity, the bodies of Capt. Troy and Lieutenant Bond having been since found decapitated; their heads, as it is supposed, having been sent to the Rajah – the copse of Captain Bowman was snatched from a similar fate of so many Officers, in being cut off from their relations and friends in this cruel and insidious manner, cannot be too much lamented, and furnishes a melancholy example of the inherent ferocity which has ever been characteristic of the cast of Nairs.

Perhaps Pazhassi Raja would have thought that the British would not interfere in the domestic administration of Kottayam as autonomy was practised by tributary Rajas even during the Mysore days. If this was how Pazhassi Raja had thought the future would look like, then he was to be disillusioned with the British in the near future.

War between Pazhassi Raja and the British

Pazhassi Raja resisted British imperialism from 1793 onwards till his death in 1805. He fought two wars to resist British intervention in the domestic affairs of his kingdom. From 1793-1797 he fought over the question of the management of Kottayam and from 1800-1805 over the issue of who was to be master of Wynad.

First Revolt (1793-1797)

Pazhassi Raja was not on good terms with his uncle Vira Varma, Raja of Kurumbranad. In 1793, this foxy uncle Raja convinced British Commissioners to let him collect tax in Kottayam. He calculated that a good collection might please the British and that that would let him seize all of Kottayam. Needless to say, Pazhassi Raja was angry at this British move. He felt betrayed. After all he was the only Raja in Northern Malabar to have helped the British consistently in the war with Mysore.
Vira Varma Raja was a real crook - on the one hand he undertook to collect tax in Kottayam directly and on the other hand he instigated Pazhassi Raja to oppose the British. Moreover, the British assessment was harsh and beyond the peasants' capacity to pay. They resisted its forcible collection by the agents of the British, and Pazhassi Raja took up their cause. As seen before, Raja was deadly opposed to extortion of the peasantry
In 1793, Pazhassi Raja made sure that no tax was collected in Kottayam by the British - as a mark of his protest. He also threatened that if British officials did not give up their enumeration of pepper vines, he would have the vines destroyed. Local British authorities, however, debated with Raja and soon both discovered Vira Varma’s dirty games. So the British put forward a solution acceptable to the Raja by which 20 percent of gross revenue would go to Raja and another 20 percent would go for the temples’ expense. No tax would be imposed on temple property in the immediate future

In 1793, Tipu’s Vakils protested to the British that Pazhassi Raja, who was a British tributary, had overrun most of Wayanad, still under Mysore. Soon the Raja was supreme in the Wayanad Plateau.
But the Governor General unwisely revoked the agreement in 1794 and gave Kottayam to Kurumbranad Raja on a five year lease. The Raja was truly angry at this decision and decided to retaliate by ruling his country as per customary law. The year before the lease was concluded the Raja had provided asylum to a Nayar noble, Narangoli Nambiar of Iruvazinad, who had been declared an outlaw by British for the murder of three men who had killed his kinsman. The Raja’s kind treatment of Nambiar irritated the British. The British also became angry that the Raja impaled two robbers as per customary law. British planned to arrest Raja for ‘murder’, but gave up the idea as the Raja had a bodyguard of 500 well armed Wayanad Nayars

In 1795, even after a year Vira Varma Raja got Kottayam on lease, he was not able to collect tax in Kottayam-thanks to his nephew Raja’s determination. So British troops arrived in Kottayam to help Vira Varma’s tax collectors, but Pazhassi Raja’s men resisted them with success.[4]
In 1796, orders were issued from Bombay to collect tax arrears for 2 years in Kottayam. For British no more pretexts were needed to arrest Raja. 300 men under Lieutenant James Gordon marched from Talassery and seized Raja’s fortified house at Pazhassi-but Raja fled four days earlier to Manattana [near Kottiyur]. Gordon plundered the palace where traditional treasure of Raja was kept. Raja was angry at this loot and sent a letter to Supervisor at Talassery

Raja was also angry that one of his former general named Pazayamviden Chandu had become an agent of Kurumbranad Raja and what angered him even more than that was that this turn-coat had the audacity to boss him with Vira Varma’s and British blessings. Chandu was later killed by a follower of Kaitheri Ambu when latter was about to be killed by Pazayamviden. Raja shifted his HQ to Purali Range and then into Wayanad. Raja then blocked all British communications between Wayanad and Low Malabar through Kuttiyadi Pass. The British retaliated by cutting all communications between Raja and Low Malabar. But as they did not have enough troops to chase him they waited for reinforcements

The British commandant was Colonel Dow, whom Raja knew well during Siege of Thalassery. So Raja thought that this old friend might help him mediate with the British government. Raja offered to give up the struggle provided he was pardoned and his treasure and house restored. The Colonel and Raja being old soldiers hated needless bloodshed and so he forwarded Raja’s request to Commissioners, who though they were bitterly opposed to Raja’s independent style, agreed to the Colonel’s suggestion as there was a risk that Raja might ally with Tipu.

So Northern Superintendent ordered the restoration of the Raja's house [but not treasure],[LOOTING OF INDIA ] and the Raja's pardon was confirmed by the Bombay and Supreme Governments. But the orders of government were communicated to the Raja via Vira Varma - which meant that uncle Raja took care not to report to his nephew that the British had agreed to his requests. Uncle Raja had a vested interest in war between the Company and his nephew Pazhassi Raja.

Vira Varma also removed Kaitheri Ambu, a favourite noble and general of Raja, from home administration of Kottayam. Ambu along with followers went to Kannavam [also spelled Kannavath and Kannoth], where he planned and executed a mass resistance with people’s support, which made sure that Vira Varma could make no tax collection in Kottayam. But Ambu acted clearly on guidance of Raja, who felt expulsion of Ambu was another of his uncle’s conspiracies to undermine him

Raja feared that British planned to seize him [not knowing that their truce terms were kept blocked from him by his uncle] and retreated into depths of Wayanad. British troop build up in Wayanad also accelerated his doubts. However Raja was still eager to avoid a war and came to meet Northern Superintendent with a bodyguard of 1500 armed men. Vira Varma Raja was also ordered to be present. Pazhassi Raja’s main demand was that Kottayam must be under his rule-a demand his uncle was not ready to accede.[4] British Commissioners’ attitude also was arrogant-they were already prejudiced towards Raja and so were blind towards Raja’s logical argument that Vira Varma had no business in Kottayam. As talks broke down, Commissioners’ issued a threat proclamation in Kottayam that if those Kottayam men in service of Raja does not desert him and come home, they would be declare enemies and their properties would be confiscated. But this proclamation had little effect in Kottayam where resistance to British-Kurumbranad rule became stronge

British, to their horror, found out that a large number of Vira Varma’s troops had deserted to join ranks of resisters and Vira Varma himself was not much interested to help British-after all his aim was to create a flare up between his nephew and British for sake of pure self-interest

Raja then visited to Mysorean commandant at Karkankotta in 1796 and in 1797 held an audience with old enemy Tipu in Mysore who posted 6000 men at Karkankotta to aid Raja in case of war and also to supply ammunition to rebels. He also began to collect troops and armament. War was imminent. 1200 troops and artillery under Major General was sent by Bombay Government to deal with Pazhassi. British also began to set up outposts in Kottayam and sent more troops to Wayanad

In early 1797, Nayar militia rose all over Kottayam and British outposts were trapped in a true state of siege. Partisan bands became active all over Kottayam and harassed reinforcements and supply convoys. Same was the case in Wayanad where British troops that moved out of safety of block-houses risked being way-laid by Kurichia bowmen. British suffered good loss in terms of men, ammunitions and stores in these ambuscades

This event was the most important in the whole war. In 1797, Colonel Dow & force marches into Wayanad. His plan was to block Periya Pass and then crush a large rebel force in Kannoth once their retreat is blocked.
Reinforcements under Lieutenant Mealy were to reach Dow at Periya, but on way they were severely harassed by a force of Nayars and Kurichias and suffered a casualty of 105 men. So instead of Periya they retreated to their original base.
Dow’s troops suffered chronic shortage of supplies and so Dow applied for reinforcements and re-supplies to be sent under Major Anderson of Bowles’ regiment. But as Mappila guides of Anderson deserted at last moment. That caused a delay in journey of Anderson-a delay that had fatal consequence for British.
Dow then received news that Tipu had sent sepoys to aid Raja as Tipu considered British entry into Wayanad a violation of Seringapatam Pact. Dow decided that he will go to Talassery to consult authorities there and to plan a greater operation to deal with troops of Raja and Tipu simultaneously in Wayanad. He left with a small band of men but was ambushed on way by Raja’s men aided by Mysorean sepoys but Dow escaped unhurt.
Day after he left, British force of 1100 under Major Cameroon in Periya decided to descend into Kottayam via Periya Pass as their supplies have exhausted.
But what they did not know was that Raja who learnt of true state of British army laid a trap for them-he ordered troops lay concealed in camouflaged stockades built on both sides of pass. Once the whole British force entered the narrow pass, hidden troops were to pounce on their enemy who must be caught unawares.
Plan worked well and what followed was great slaughter of British. Had it not been for arrival of Major Anderson’s force the following day, hardly any would have survived due to lack of medical care. Most of enemy were killed and all their guns, ammunition, baggage and cattle were plundered along with Union colours. Senior British officers like Major Cameroon, Lieutenant Nugent, Lieutenant Madge and Lieutenant Rudderman were killed in action
Around this time, Commissioners took a decision on advice of Swaminatha Pattar, a Tamil Brahmin who was minister of Zamorin that sowed the eventual downfall of Pazhassi Raja. They decided to raise an irregular force of local traitors to harass Pazhassi Raja. This force was a fore-runner of the infamous Kolkar, who became infamous for their sycophancy to British and cruelty to resisters and people

A brief introduction to Swaminatha Pattar-He is an arch rogue who helped to consolidate British rule in Calicut. Though he was Zamorin's representative to British, he betrayed his master and worked secretly to deliver kingdom of Calicut to British. Ravi Varma who led resistance to Hyder Ali and Tippu Sultan became so furious at this betrayal that he along with his nephews tried to assassinate him in 1793. But the attempt failed and British arrested Ravi Varma who had fled to Wayanad to join hands with Pazhassi Raja. Ravi Varma and his nephews were imprisoned and died in mysterious circumstances - believed to be poisoned by authorities. What impact would death of Ravi Varma of Calicut made of Pazhassi Raja is anyone's guess, but it is likely that his fear and suspicion of British only shot up after these events in Calicut in 1793.

But for time being, Raja was in a strong position. On account of British disasters, Bombay Government sent a Committee of Government composed of men of highest ranks-Commander-In-Chief Lieutenant General Stuart and Governor Jonathan Duncan. They decided to make peace as they were anxious that guerrilla warfare in a mountainous and forested terrain could last long and that Raja might join forces with Tipu or French. They also decided that Kurumbranad Raja Vira Varma should be ousted form administration of Kottayam. Rajas of Chirakkal and Parappanad acted as mediators in negotiation between Raja and British and a peace pact was signed between Pazhassi and British in 1797
The Treaty of 1797 agreed on following points:
  • Pazhassi Raja was to be ‘pardoned’.
  • He will be returned his treasure.
  • He will be provided an annual allowance of 8000 rupees.
  • He will be given back his confiscated house at Pazhassi.
  • Ravi Varma, elder brother of Pazhassi Raja will be head of Kottayam.
A pardon and restoration of property was also extended to Narangoli Nambiar of Iruvazinad.
Thus Raja’s efforts of four years ended in a political victory. Peace dawned after four years of antagonism and war

Second revolt & death (1800-1805)

After fall of Tipu, Wayanad fell to British. They sent a Mysore Commission to seize Wayanad and planned to annex it to either Canara or Coimbatore. But as Wayanad was a traditional possession of Kottayam Raja and that Pazhassi is in control of this region since 1793, Pazhassi correctly saw move was an encroachment on his country’s ancient provinces. Raja retaliated by collecting a large force of Nayars which was now supplemented by Mappilas and Pathans, latter being ex-soldiers of Tipu who became unemployed after Tipu’s death

British Government at Madras appointed Major General Arthur Wellesley as British army commandant of Mysore, Canara & Malabar- He planned a double pronged move from Malabar Coast and Mysore into Wayanad and began preparations for that end. Raja observed Major General-latter had brought reinforcements and building roads in Wayanad and outposts across rebel country. In response, Raja also recruited numerous men which so alarmed Wellesley that latter even wanted to kidnap kith and kin of rebels so as to check Raja’s recruitment

Raja learnt that Wellesley had left to Deccan on a military mission-Raja who understood that Major General’s absence is a great chance swiftly made his move. He marched across Kuttiyadi Pass and below he made a junction with Unni Mootha Mooppan, a Walluvanad Mappila leader & his men and soon several great nobles of Iruvazinad like Kampuratt Nambiar, Peruvayal Nambiar and Kannavath Nambiar also joined Raja with their men

By monsoon of 1800, rebels who controlled all of country-side of Kottayam threatened to overwhelm British outposts in Kottayam. Wellesley sent a large force under Colonel Sartorius to recapture rebel held Kottayam. But the plan could not be carried out as there were not enough troops in Malabar. Wellesley advised Commissioners to stop all communications with Wayanad so as to starve Raja of supplies. But shortage of troops also meant this plan too remained on paper. By the time, Wellesley decided to smash Raja by a double drive from Malabar Coast and Mysore into Wayanad, Manjeri Athan Gurikkal an Ernad Mappila leader along with his followers agreed to support of Raja

By 1801, a large British force of over 10,000 men swarmed all over Kottayam and Wayanad and they blocked all passes that linked Wayanad with Malabar. Before so large numbers, rebels thought wise to go under-ground for time being. Raja also found that he could no longer contact his supporters in Southern Wayanad and Southern Malabar. Raja became a wanderer in forests but even then, to surprise of British, he ruled out compromise -it seems he understood that there was no alternative to full freedom.
Raja had six close aides and 25 musketeers in his wanderings. First he went north via Payyavur along montane forests of eastern Chirakkal to rally support. But British were on his trail but failed to catch him. Raja then visited his secret bases in Kottayam and then moved into Kadathanad and into jungles of Kurumbranad. British were angered that where ever he went, nobles supported him in secret and decided to punish them for their help to rebel Raja

As a part of terrorization, Peruvayal Nambiar who was arrested was hanged. British also threatened brutal penalty and confiscation of property for all those rebels who failed to surrender in six weeks time. But a pardon was also issued for surrendered rebels. But none of these threats and temptations worked and Raja was still at large. But some of his chief supporters were arrested of whom Kannavath Sankaran Nambiar was most famous. Kannavath Sankaran Nambiar and his son were hanged too and their property was confiscated.
[The tree on which Nambiar and his son was hanged was preserved until recent past. But then the tree fell away.It stood at Chittaripparamba junction near Koothuparamba]

Following murder of Kannavath Nambiar, a deceptive calm descended on North Malabar-calm before storm. Collector Major MacLeod believed that war was over and went ahead with exploitation program. He immediately declared a total disarmament of Malabar and threatened those who kept arms with death penalty. He also doubled the rate of tax and ordered a reassessment of tax of whole Malabar in a mere forty days.
All these ‘reforms’ paid back in 1803 when Malabar was on verge of revolt as people were pushed to wall. MacLeod tried to calm this with corrective measure-He cancelled all his ‘reforms’ and old system was reinstated. But it was too late for Wayanad where Raja’s men were prepared for a rebellion

Capture of Panamaram Fort

The first major event was the capture of Panamaram Fort. Edachena Kungan Nair planned the operation and was helped by 150 Kurichia bowmen under Talakkal Chandu. Fort had 70 men under Captain Dickenson and there was a large force of 360 men under Major Drummond only a few miles away in Pulinjali. So if Major came to help Captain in time Kurichia force would be overwhelmed by gun-fire and numbers. But Kungan and Chandu decided to take risk.
Whole garrison was slaughtered in the surprise attack led by the two generals and they lost only 5 dead and 10 wounded. Dickenson himself was killed. Rebels got 112 muskets, six boxes of ammunitions and 6000 rupees. They also destroyed the whole fort.(The remains of the fort can be seen now near Panamaram High School)
Wellesley was enraged at this rebel audacity and dispatched 500 men to retaliate. But by then rebel victory had roused all of Wayanad and Kottayam. Edachena Kungan, hero of Panamaram success, went to Pulpally shrine and issued a proclamation to people to join Raja’s war. 3000 men volunteered. They were posted at Valliyurkav at Mananthavadi, Motimjarra [?], and Edappally and 100 of them under brother of Kungan posted themselves at Periya Pass and 25 men were posted at Kottiyur Pass. Rebel outposts were set up en route from Dindimal to Valliyurkav. The rebel army was mostly composed of archers and sword men, but some had muskets.
Edachena Kungan Nambiar led an attack on a British detachment headed from Mysore to Mananthavadi. Harassment began once this force entered Wayanad till it reached a stream between Manathavadi and Bhavully river. There they were blocked by a rebel force entrenched on opposite side of stream. But to ill luck of rebels a reinforcement which had caught up with blocked British army outflanked the rebel entrenchment and took a large number of prisoners. All these prisoners were disarmed and marched to a road where they were murdered. [Logan]
Besides, British reinforcements arrived in Wayanad from all directions. But British could find rebels nowhere.
The rebels now concentrated in Kottayam. In 1802, they raided a supplies convoy near Kottiyur. British were frustrated by Kottayam people’s total lack of cooperation. To add to their trouble, in 1803, a rebel force took to field in Kurumbranad* & Payyormala* and people were sympathetic to rebels. Kungan marched towards Pazhassi to wipe out the British outpost there but had to retreat, though British suffered serious losses. Soon rebellion spread into Chirakkal where armed bands of partisans launched operations and often fought British openly. Raja’s army by end of 1803 was ranging as far as Kannur and Talassery.
[*Both in northern and eastern parts of modern Calicut District]
In March 1803, a rebel force marched as far as Calicut and captured Sub-Jail where they killed all guards and seized their firearms and ammunition. They also released prisoners, many of whom joined ranks of rebel army. This was too much for MacLeod and he resigned immediately after this event.
In 1803, Wellesley left for Europe, after three years of inconclusive war with Pazhassi Raja, later destined to become Duke of Wellington, vanquisher of Napoleon at Waterloo.
In 1804, a large British army arrived and 1200 Kolkar were also ready for action. Most importantly Thomas Hervey Baber, a cunning man was appointed as Sub-Collector It was he who crushed Pazhassi's Revolt forever. It is indeed ironic that what a military genius like Wellesley could not attain, was achieved by Baber - said to be just a 'civil servant.' Baber had both a personal motive - to avenge the death of his friend Major Cameron, the first husband of his wife Helen Somerville Fearon at the hand of Pazhassi Raja on 9 January 1797 at Periya Pass. Baber became a civil servant to protect the interests of a small but influential group of merchants that included his in-laws - the Inglis and Money families of Bombay. It is noteworthy that Baber's son Henry Fearon Baber married the Granddaughter of George Harris, 1st Baron Srirangapattam and the nemesis of Tipu Sultan.
In 1804, a huge rising led by Kalyat Nambiar [a powerful Chirakkal noble but Raja’s sympathiser] and Raja’s men in largely forested eastern Chirakkal was crushed by British. If there was large and long revolt warfare in Chirakkal, it would have immensely profited Raja. Though there was a lot of supporters of Raja in Chirakkal, as revolt collapsed fast as rebels opted for open confrontation instead of time honoured guerrilla warfare. Another cause for failure of revolt was treacherous Kolkar also served their White pay-masters well.
So once more rebel force had retreat to Wayanad. They were hotly chased by British who had 2000 Sepoys and 1000 Kolkar. A reward of 3000 pagodas was offered for Raja along with 1000 Pagodas for Edachena Kungan and bounties were put on heads of 10 other associates of Raja.
But rebels, mostly Kurumbas, struck at Churikunji [?] in Wayanad. Though they had to withdraw, they had devastated their enemy. That year, a party of Kolkar nearly caught Raja but he escaped thanks to timely warning of a Kurumba guard.
But monsoon and brutal climate of Wayanad soon aided Raja. Of 1300 Kolkar only 170 were not sick by October. Raja and Edachena Kungan organized a large force of Kurichias and Kurumbas at Pulpally shrine and positioned them to as far as Kurichiyat. Also effort of Kungan to rally Nayar nobles of Wayanad to support Raja’s war-effort had also succeeded.
British for past couple of years did not have to suffer loss on a scale of Periya in 1797, but matters were not easy for British at all. Even in Kottayam which had become quiet might explode once more and a large rebel force with Raja as head was still at large. But one must remember that the whole revolt is a one man show as Wellesley himself remarked once-“We are not fighting 1000 men [Raja’s army]...but one man...Kerala Varma.” Raja’s end would mean end of revolt.
T.H Baber went to Mysore to direct operations himself and began a large search for informants and traitors. True, British themselves admit that they did not get lot of informants as locals were devoted to Raja, but some of those few informants proved devastating to revolt-one of them a Chetti, found out where Raja had camped and informed Baber who took to field with 100 Kolkar and 50 Sepoys.
[But it must be added in this context that had Pazhayamviden Chandu not given British a full and clear picture about inner workings of Pazhassi military force, British could not have destroyed Pazhassi Raja. Pazhassi war machine was an enigma for British before 1800. But since recruitment of turncoat Pazhayamviden to British imperial service in 1800, British fully understood their elusive enemy - and consequences were fatal for Pazhassi Raja and his cause. But to his credit and to credit of his followers and subjects, he gave a bloody five year fight to British across Northern Malabar.
On 1805, November 30, Raja and retainers were camped near close to Karnataka on shore of a stream named Mavila or Mavila Tod [not far from Pulpally]. Raja and party were caught by surprise and an intense but short fight followed. Six rebels were killed. One of the earliest rebels to be killed was Pazhassi Raja.
Evidently, wounded Raja did live long enough for a few more minutes to raise his loaded gun and then tell Canara Menon, an East India Company minor official, not to come too close to his dying body and pollute it. Raja's contempt and sarcasm for a man who chose to serve unclean foreigner is evident. But it also showed his uncompromising stand towards collaborators and foreign invaders.
Aralat Kutty Nambiar, another outlawed noble, who accompanied Raja fought a desperate duel with enemy and met a hero's death. Four other followers of Raja also were killed in action and his sickly wife and her maids were taken prisoner. Sick wife of Raja along with her maids too were arrested but T.H. Baber took care to ensure treatment for the sickly widow of Raja.
To the credit of T. H. Baber, he treated Raja’s body with due respect and arranged for cremation with full traditional honours. Baber justified his respectful treatment in following words:
I was induced to this conduct from the consideration that, although a rebel, he was one of the natural chieftains of the country, and might be considered on that account rather as a fallen enemy.”
Baber also added:
Thus terminated the career of a man who has been enabled persevere in hostilities against the Company for near nine years, during which many thousand valuable lives have been sacrificed and sums of all money beyond all calculation expended.

Pazhassi Kudeeram-a memorial for Pazhassi Raja at his burial spot in Mananthavadi, Wayanad, Kerala

In popular culture

A 1964 Malayalam film titled Pazhassi Raja was based on his life. It was directed by Kunchako and starred Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair as Pazhassi Raja. Prem Nazir, Sathyan etc. played other major roles. The film was a failure in the box office. The movie is memorable for the many beautiful songs composed by the late R. K. Shekhar, father of A R Rahman.
In 2009, Hariharan directed a Malayalam film, Pazhassi Raja, in which Mammootty appears in the title role and Sarath Kumar, Manoj K. Jayan etc. plays the other major roles. The film was released on October 16, 2009 and became the biggest grosser ever produced in the history of Malayalam Cinema. The film has collected around Rs.49 Crores from the releasing centres across the world

Thomas Baber's account of the death of the Pazhassi Rajah,:-

Pazhassi Raja: Pazhassi Raja

Pazhassi Raja: Pazhassi Raja (Paperback)

List Price: Rs. 36
Our Price: Rs. 36



The Quilon Mutiny Of 1812-[FROM G'S BLOG]

In 1812, a full seven years after the Pazhassi Raja’s death in the jungles of Wayanad, a conspiracy was uncovered in Quilon to overthrow the British subsidiary forces in Travancore and to confer the sovereignty of Travancore to the Pazhassi Raja’s nephew ([1], [2]). Here’s an account of the events [1]:
“On the night of the 24th May 1812 the existence of a conspiracy at Quilon having for its object the destruction of the European officers and men of the subsidiary force in Travancore was brought to the knowledge of Lieutenant and Adjutant Cox 2nd battalion 14th regiment by Jemadar Iyaloo of the same battalion to whom it had been revealed by a private of his company”
“On the morning of the 25th Colonel Hall and the officers in command of battalions met at the Residency and it was there arranged that a general parade of the troops should be ordered for that afternoon and that the principal conspirators should then be seized while the Resident Lieutenant Colonel John Munro took steps for the apprehension of such inhabitants of the town and vicinity as were believed to be implicated.
These measures were successfully carried out. Jemadar Shaik Hoossain of the 14th together with 2 havildars and 22 men of that battalion were called out of the ranks and placed in confinement the troops behaving with perfect steadiness.
Womanah Tumby ex-Dewan of Travancore, an individual claiming to be the nephew and representative of the late Pychy Rajah and several religious mendicants were seized at the same time by the Resident’s people as being the chief instigators.”
“The result of the enquiries made by the Resident which occupied some time led him to the conclusion that Womanah Tumby, the pseudo-Pychy Rajah, and Jemadar Shaik Hoossain of the 14th, had been the originators of the conspiracy.
The design was to confer the sovereignty of Travancore upon the Pychy Rajah. The Jemadar was promised the office of Dewan, but this in all probability, was really intended for Womanah Tumby. The pay of all sepoys as might join in the plot was to be raised to Rs 10 per mensem.
The chief body of conspirators consisted of discharged sepoys fakeers and disaffected natives of the province. The European officers were to have been attacked while at dinner, and the barracks set on fire at the same time in order to distract attention, after which the public treasury was to have been given up to plunder.”
Did one of the nephews of the late king actually go to Travancore to start a revolt? Or could it have been one of the distant relatives of the Pazhassi Kovilakam (the kings of Mavellikkara had close relationships to the royal houses of north Malabar)? Or did the British accounts get it completely wrong, with the memories of the “Pyche Rajah” still so strong that a local revolt was ascribed to him?
Notably, an Indian account of the same incident (P. Shungoonny Menon’s A History of Travancore from the Earliest Times) makes no mention of any Pazhassi prince [3]:
“During the interval, the ex-Dewan Ummany Thamby incurred lasting disgrace by plotting certain measures against the life of the Colonel. The treachery having been discovered, Ummany Thamby was banished the country and was taken to Chingleput and detained there as a State prisoner.”
What happened to the rebels next was not surprising [1].
“Jemadar Shaik Hoossain and Private Salabut Khan of the 14th were tried in a summary manner by a board of officers, of which Major Fraser 2nd battalion 9th was President. Both were convicted, and sentenced to be blown from a gun, which sentence was carried into execution on the evening of the 28th May at a general parade of the whole force.
Two havildars, one naigue, and twenty six privates of 14th, of whom 19 were Mahomedans, and 10 Hindoos, tried by ordinary court martial, and sentenced to death. Of these two privates were pardoned, the rest were either shot or hanged, the sentences being carried into execution at Quilon, Cannanore, Seringapatam, Trichinopoly, Vellore and St Thomas Mount respectively.”
“Womanah Tumby and the Pychy Rajah were tried by the Court of the Travancore Government. The former was sentenced to death but this sentence was commuted to banishment and he was removed to Nellore. The Pychy Rajah was banished to Chingleput, but he was released from confinement in 1815.”

And as for the loyalists,
“On the 16th February, 1813, Jemadar lyaloo of the 14th was promoted to be Subadar and presented with a palankeen and an allowance for bearers. He also received a gold medal and a donation of 1,000 rupees. On his decease, his nearest heir was to be allowed a pension of 35 rupees per mensem.
Vencatram, the sepoy who had informed the Jemadar of the plot was pensioned on the pay of a Jemadar a received a donation of 600 rupees.
Private Hoossain Khan who had given information to Captain Ives of the same battalion on the 24th May but in rather an incoherent manner was pensioned on the pay of a Havildar”