Travancore and kerala (from Hubert de Vries)


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Travancore State rose in eighteenth century Malabar dominated by Dutch and English trade powers. Marthanda Varma, who ruled 1729 -1758, is considered as its founder. He expanded the territory of theKingdom from Kanyakumari in the South to Kodungallur in the North. He signed a treaty with the British East India company and with their help destroyed the power of the eight feudal land lords. From then on the kingdom slowly came within the orbit of the British East India Company. On January 3, 1750 A.D., he dedicated his Kingdom to his tutelary deity Sri Padmanabha (Lord Vishnu) of Trivandrum (the Trippadidaanam) and from then on the rulers of Travancore ruled the Kingdom as the servants of Sri Padmanabha (Padmanabhadasan).

Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore attacked Travancore in A.D.1791 mainly because Dharma Raja (1758-1798) rejected his overtures and was moving for alliance with the English East India Company. The Travancore forces withstood the Sultan for less than 6 months and then the Maharajah appealed to the British East India Company for aid, starting a precedent which later led to the installation of a British resident in the country and a military alliance with the English East India Company. In 1795 the British resident, Colonel Macaulay, managed to engage the ruler in treaties which effectively made the state a protectorate of the East India Company and ended its autonomy. The protectorate was continued by the British Raj and ended on 1 July 1949 when the state of Travancore-Cochin was established.

Rulers of Travancore

Rama Varma


Aditya Varma


Umayamma Rani


Ravi Varma


Aditya Varma


Unni Kerala Varma


Rajah Rama Varma


Marthanda Varma


Dharma Raja


Balarama Varma


Gowri Lakshmi Bayi


Rani Parvathi Bai

Regent 1815-1829

Rama Varma III


Martanda Varma II


Rama Varma IV


Rama Varma V


Rama Varma VI


Bala Rama Varma II


From 1721 until 1949 Travancore has been ruled by princes from the House of Kulasekhara of which there have been thirteen maharaja’s. A landmark was reached when in 1888 a Legislative Council was founded, the very first of an Indian Princely State. The last maharaja, Chithira Thirunal Bala Rama Varma II (1924/’31-1949), was appointed the first rajapramukh of Travancore-Cochin State but was deposed when Kerala State came into existence on 1 November 1956. He was stripped of all his ranks and titles as a result of the 26th amendment of the Indian Constitution act of 31 July 1971


As a matter of course the emblem of the House of Kulasekhra was borrowed from the attributes of Vishnu, who was the household divinity from 1750 onwards. As we know, these emblems were the cakra(wheel), the śankha (conch), the padma (lotus) and the gada (club). From these the śankha sankhawas the special emblem of the Sri Padmanabha incarnation on Vishnu.

Sri Padmanabha; Vishnu, lying on a snake with his consort, Lakshmi.

The lying deity keeps a śankha in his left hand, identifying him as Sri Padmanabha [1]


A Śankha (conch-shell) is the special symbol of Vishnu. His conch is known as Pañ-chajanya, being made from the body of the demon Pañchajana. It is symbolic of the spoken word, a tradition originating in Vedic India. It is thought to make a frightening noise that terrifies the enemies of Vishnu. In sculptural representations, the conch appears plain or ornamental. In the latter case, its head is covered with a decorative metal cap, surmounted by a lion-head and having a cloth tied round it. Tassels of pearls may also hang from the sides.

Generally speaking the Śankha is the symbol of religious authority exercised by the word.

However, the first proof of an emblem of the House of Kulasekhra shows a trident which is the attribute of Shiva and a symbol of armed power. We may suppose that this has to do with the longlasting state of war at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. The trident is on Travancore coins struck by Rani Parvati Bai (1815-’29). The śankha only appears on coins struck in 1830. From then on the śankha is shown within a garland, together with the royal cypher RV, also within a garland on the reverse. Its definite form was achieved on coins struck in 1877 during the reign of Rama Varma IV (1860-’80).

This ruler was honoured with an achievement European style for the occasion of the Durbar in Delhi in 1877. It was:

Arms: Argent, on a fesse Azure three reversed conches Or

Crest: On a helmet guardant, lambrequined Argent and Azure a seahorse.

Supporters: Two elephants.

Motto: Dharmo Smat Kuladewatam (Dharmo is our Household Divinity).

The term dharma in this motto is an Indian spiritual and religious term, that means one’s righteous duty or any virtuous path in the common sense of the term. In Indian languages it can be equivalent simply to “religion”, depending on the context. The word dharma literally translates as that which upholds orsupports, and is generally translated into English as law.

Very shortly after, a new achievement appears, possibly because of the many mistakes the designer, Robert Taylor, has made in the Durbar achievement.

The new achievement shows:

Arms: The Royal Cypher RV, surrounded by a strap with the motto DHARMA IS OUR HOUSEHOLD DIVINITY

Crest: A śankha within a garland

Supporters: Two elephants passant, trunks erect.

Motto: Dharmo Smat Kuladewatam in devanagiri script

From about the same time an emblem is known consisting of a golden śankha on a red sixteen-pointed halo. Below is a motto on a yellow ribbon. It is on a painting showing a visit of the governor general of Madras to the maharaja in 1880 .

On this very interesting painting also the royal banner is seen. [3]

Royal seal as on a regulation dated 11th of May 1885:śankha between the royal cypher.

After 1888

One fanam coin struck 1919-’29,

showing the royal cypher and the national emblem

The next stage in the development of the heraldic emblems of Travancore is the separation of the royal emblem and the emblem of state. Maybe this.was a result of the foundation of the Travnacore Legislative Council in 1888. The royal emblem consisted of the royal cypher within a garland. This emblem was the nucleus of the royal achievement which consisted of the royal cypher crested by the śankha and two elephants passant, trunks erect.

Royal achievement on the letterhead of Rama Varma VI, 1893. [4]

This shows: The royal cypher RV, crowned with the royal crown of Travancore and crested with theśankha. Supported by two elephans rampant, standing on a ribbon with a motto. Below is the jewel of the Most Exalted Order of the Star of India of which he was a Grand Commander (1888). Behind the star are two crossed swords, a symbol of the army.

Royal achievement as on publications of the thirties of the 20th century

The arms of state consisted of the śankha, sometimes placed on a circular shield, within a garland.

For the achievement the version without the shield was supported by two elephants passant, trunks erect and with the motto on a ribbon below.

The description supplied from the government of Travancore is:

“The coat of arms of the Travancore State is represented by a conch, supported by two elephants, one on either side thereof, together with a motto in Sanskrit “Dharmosmatkuladaivatam”, which means “Dharma is our household divinity”. The conch is one of the prominent weapons of Sri Padmanabha (an aspect of Mahavishnu, the sustaining and protecting god of the Hindu Trinity), the family deity of the Maharajas of Travancore. It is believed to be an emblem of purity, auspiciousness, victory and prosperity. The conch is a product of the sea, and Travancore, which has the longest seaboard among the Indian States, is aptly symbolized by it. The elephants form a distinguishing feature of Travancore, being very common in its forests. They, too, are emblematic of auspiciousness and victory. The motto signifies that righteousness is the watchword of the rulers of Travancore.” [5]

This achievement appeared in colour at the end of the 19th century on the national flag which was red, the conch white, the garland green, the elephants turqoise, the compartment green and the ribbon white with black devanagiri script.

Royal cypher of Balai Rama Varma II .

National emblem as on coins struck 1938 -’41.



Enlightened princes ruled in Travancore and Cochin with legislative councils and able chief ministers until in 1949, following the accession of the two states to independent India, the union of Travancore-Cochin was formed as one of its component states. In 1956, with revised boundaries, the Malayalam-speaking areas were united in one state and the ancient name of Kerala restored. Anxieties were aroused by the return of a Communist ministry in the general elections in 1957. Following disturbances and a period during which state constitution was suspended by the central government, midterm elections in 1960 restored an anticommunist front that was led to power by the Congres party. Presidential rule was soon restored until 1967, when a Communist ministry was duly elected.


The actual achievement of the State of Kerala is derived from the achievement of the State of Travancore. Its first achievement, from the time of the union of Travancore and Cochin, showed the Indian chakra, crested with the conch-emblem of the former state of Travancore, supported by two elephants, the supporters of the state emblem of Travancore as well as of the state emblem of Cochin.

After the general elections of 1957 and the formation of a communist government, a new emblem was designed. This showed the traditional elephant as the emblem of Travancore and Cochin and two palm-trees for the malayalam speaking population of Malabar. The conch-shells can be found in the bordure whgich is crested by the Asoka-capital of India.

From this emblem the Kerala police emblem is derived.

After the restauration of 1960 a new achievement occurred. This showed a cog-wheel charged with the traditional conch-shell of Travancore, crested with the Indian Asoka-capital and supported by two black elephants. At the same time the sanskrit motto TMASOMA JYOTHIRGAMAYA was introduced, meaning “May Light dislodge Darkness”.

After the new elections the achievement was changed again. The traditional Travancore emblem, the conch-shell Sri Padmanhnabha Shanka, is surrounded by a garland now as in the times of ancient Travancore state. It is crested by the Indian Asoka-capital, common for all federal states of India. The motto disappeared, maybe because the resemblance with the achievement of Travancore State became to great. It was later replaced by the name of the government in malayalam and latin script. Below is the motto of the Republic of India.



A.: A chakra

C.: A sankha

S.: Two elephants trunk erect.


* no colours known


1956 - present

A.: A chakra

C.: A sankha

S.: Two elephants trunk erect.


* no colours known

Communist Government


A.: An elephant guardant between two palm-trees

C: The Asoka-capital

Garland: Two lines dancetty and two sankha’s in chief (Satyameva Jayate) in devanagiri.

M.: GOVERNMENT OF KERALA and Kerala Anchal” in malayalam.

* on a government publication, 1959.

Presidential Rule


Elected Government

1967 - present

Version A

A.: A cog-wheel proper charged with a disc Gules, a shanka proper.

Crest: The Asoka capital, being the emblem of India

Supportes: The elephants passant Sable with red covers

Motto: TMASOMA JYOTHIRGAMAYA (May Light dislodge Darkness) in devanagiri.

* no date known.

Version B

A.: A shanka Gules surrounded by a garland

Crest: The Asoka capital, being the emblem of India

Supportes: The elephants passant Sable with red covers

*no date known

Actual Version

A.: A shanka Gules, surrounded by a garland

Crest: The Asoka capital, being the emblem of India

Supportes: Two elephants passant Sable.

Motto: Kerala Anchal in malayalam and GOVERNMENT OF KERALA in latin script. Below the motto of India: Satyameva Jayate in devanagiri.

* no coloured version known, occurs soon after restoration of elected government (1971 or earlier).

Achievement of the Government of Kerala

above the entrance of the Kerala Legislative Assembly, Trivandrum.

ð See illustration in the head of this essay.

The achievement is for use by government services only.

Kerala Police

The coat of arms of Kerala Police is an elephant passant before a palm-tree. It is surrounded by a bordure radiant, crested with the Asoka capital, charged with two conches, two branches of laurel in chief and the title KERALA POLICE in base. Below is a ribbon with a motto in Maratha script.

Coat of arms of Kerala Police in the Sardar Vallabhai Patel Police Museum of Kerala, Kollam.

A modern 3-dimensional version

The cap-badge of Kerala Police consists of the initials KP crested with the Asoka capital and surrounded by a garland.

Kerala Police is composed of the Malabar Special Police, the Special Armed Police Battalion, fiveArmed Police Battalions and the State Rapid Special Force of which the coats of arms are given by the Kerala Police official website.

This site also gives the history of the Kerala Police.

Malabar Special Police, formed 1897

Special Armed Police, formed 1958

1st Bat. formed 1972

2nd Bat. formed 1977

3rd Bat. formed 1979

4th Bat. formed 1980

5th Bat. formed 1983

State Rapid Action Force, formed 1995