Pazhassi Rajah.- First Indian War of Independence -1800-brief history;the final assault on his camp and his death

                                                              Pazhassi Raja.


                                                A brief history of the Pazhassi Raja.

A Nair grave monument showing one of these fierce warriors, and dated about 1700 AD. [1]

Part 1
When the Pazhassi Raja finally decided to break with his English allies during the spring of 1797, it followed many years of conflict and encroachment into his and his family’s lands and entitlements by the East India Company.
Before about 1680, the Kolattiri family had controlled an area running inland from a point on the coast situated about twelve miles north of Cannanore [Kannur] and then in a line across heading in an easterly direction towards the base of the Ghats. Their inland territorial boundary had then run south along the base of the Ghats down to a point just north of the Kotta River, and from there along the northern bank back towards the coast. 

Arab and Muslim traders had been visiting his ancestors coastal villages regularly for centuries, but these landings had tended to last for only a short duration whilst these overseas traders had bargained for pepper, cardoman and sandal wood.

The first European’s to arrive had been the Portuguese who were then followed by the Dutch. Although these traders had settled at Cannanore and had had posts at Calicut, they had not thought the Kottayam area important enough for carrying on these trades to have set up permanent trading posts or to have established permanent settlements in.

With the arrival of the French in the 1690’s this had all changed. 

The Raja’s grandparents and great grandparents had been part of a divided family. Nominally headed by a matriarch, the real power was however wielded by the five senior men in the family. The Kolattiri had been the most senior, with the Tekkalankar (or southern regent) controlling the Mahe area, and the Vadakkalankur (the northern regent). These petty rajahs behaved like many modern day politicians constantly jockeying for power with their fellow rulers. They each had their own gangs of thugs and supporters, with whom they enforced their will on the local villagers.

To add strength to their cause during these power struggles, they had each individually begun to invoke the support of the powerful new arrivals along the coast. The Tekkalankar was one of first to do so, agreeing to a French request to be allowed to establish trading posts in his area. 

The French built forts during the 1670 to 1685 period at Mahé, on Dharmapattanam Island, as well as a mud fort, sited on the beach located at a small fishing village that was later to become Tellicherry.

Due to lack of skilled staff, and because of its emphasis on building forts, they expended all of their trading capital, causing the French East India Company to be a poor trading partner. They had too high an overheads to be able to make a profit, and consequently the French company struggled to prosper and to extend its operations in India in the early years. Only the settlement at Mahé really succeeded to any great extent. This settlement was located in the Vadakkalankar’s territory, and he was the Tekkalankar biggest rival.

The English East India Company operated in a more commercial manner than the French in the early years, avoiding defended settlements with their expensive walls, whenever possible and garrisons that soon ate up any profits made.

The English had factories (warehouses linked to accommodation blocks) at Calicut, Cochin, and Anjengo, but faced with rapidly growing demand for pepper caused by the economic boom of the 1690’s to 1710 in northern Europe, they needed more and more supplies of pepper and spices, if they were to meet demand.

They could no longer afford to let the French gain unfettered control of the Kottayam pepper crop, and the valuable cardoman coming from the inland area of the Wyanad coming down the Periya Pass . Sandalwood from Mysore, was also reaching the coast from across the Wyanad.

The Tekkalankar had found the French poor allies, and needing a counter force to equal the Vadakkalankar’s French allies, he switched his allegiance to the English.

He reached agreement with the English and in about 1699 leased the site of the abandoned Tellicherry fort to the English. It was not however until about 1705 that the English started to built a fort on the site of the current fort.On the 20th of August 1708, the Tekkalankar formally made over the fort to the English.

Over the following years the demand for pepper and other goods grew exponentially. 

This caused huge tensions inside the existing Kolattiri family, as they fought amongst themselves over who should control the trade and the associated revenues.

The family’s retainers and attendant dependant castes were expected to adapt their cultivation to provide more and more cash crop pepper. This agrarian society with its strict caste system, and entrenched custom’s and practise based on subsidence farming, could not readily adapt to large scale agricultural practise required to meet demand. The trade and prosperity brought about by the protection of the English fort and ships increasingly attracted in large numbers of Muslim traders from the north.

The English East India Company officials received very low pay, and were expected to take part in their own country trade, to supplement their pay.

They were not allowed to ship directly to Europe, but the EIC did not mind them trading between different Indian and Asia ports.

Lacking the necessary capital and language skills to trade directly with Indian's, these officials allied themselves to Muslim’s from the north from Surat and Bombay.

In this way the Muslim’s benefited from English protection, as the Muslim merchants goods became “English”, thereby escaping many internal tolls.

The savings in tolls achieved were split with the English partner. In this way many EIC officials amassed a fortune far above their nominal salaries.

By about 1760, these Mopillas had become firmly established in Tellicherry as middlemen. They were establishing plantations and villages of their own.

They had discovered that there was an excellent way to force out the less well organised the Hindu farmers from their pepper gardens. These farmers would run short of cash for basic items like food in the run up to the pepper harvest.

The Mopilla merchants would lend these farmers cash based on the predicted forward price of the coming harvest’s pepper. If the money were not repaid, they would convert the outstanding amount into a mortgage on the Hindu’s land.

When that was in turn defaulted on, they would attempt to seize the lands.

In this way the Mopilla’s acquired more and more land beyond the boundary of the English settlement, and up towards the foothills of the Ghats.

The ousted destitute Hindu farmers would then appeal to their overlord or Rajah for support.

The Hindu’s lived in thinly scattered plantations, whilst the incoming Muslim’s built villages and especially Mosques. 

These incoming Muslims were often aggressive and militant in their own right, and soon began to demand extra territorial rights.

This led to a series of wars, the overt ones between the Raja’s Nairs against the EIC, and a far more vicious low intensity conflict between the Moppilas and the Hindu Tiyars and Nairs in the villages in the fringes of the Jungles and plantations a few miles inland of the European settlements.

The Dutch, French, Ali Raja of Cannanore and Canarese all intervened in these conflicts, sometimes aiding one side and then another, and often trying to stop the wars because it meant that the pepper supplies often dried up.

In 1761 the Mysore Government also became involved in the dispute that had broken out between their co-regionists, and the Kolattiri Regent over a mosque built with a golden spire. 

This golden roof was in contravention of a custom whereby only the Raja’s were allowed such roofs on pagodas. By 1766 the Kolattiri family’s possessions had been overrun.

Hyder Ali reduced them to vassals. 

The European’s became involved in these wars, as first the Dutch, then the French and finally the English became intervened. In 1782 Tipu Sultan succeeded Hyder Ali. 

Tipu was a very effective leader and a great reformer, and he intended to challenge the growing dominance of the English. He recognised that India had to reform many of its practises and industrial and agricultural methods if it were to develop to a point where it could beat off the European's.

As the French Revolutionary War’s commenced, the English were able to extinguish the other European powers factories one by one. 

The Indian commodity producers now only had one customer, and this enabled the EIC to force the price paid to producers lower and lower in the confident knowledge that the farmer’s had no where else to sell their crops to.

Tipu understood the seriousness of the situation and aimed to break the EIC stranglehold on the Indian overseas trading routes.

Like Hyder Ali, he also understood that he needed to establish a viable route to the sea, and to do so he needed technical assistance, and alternative markets.

He first tried to force a route down to the Coromandel Coast, but in this he was unsuccessful, so he turned his attention towards the Malabar Coast and it's ports.

These routes had however to be captured from both the local Rajah's whose lands sat across the tracks down the Ghats to the coast, as well as from the European's who controlled the ports themselves.

A series of campaigns followed with attacks on Mangalore proving successful after a fierce siege.

Tipu needed support if he was to remain successful so he sent emissaries to the French at Isle De France, and to the Ottoman and Egyptian courts. 

By doing this Tipu demonstrated to the British East Company that he represented a very real threat, and probably the only remaining credible threat to the EIC remaining in India.

This multinational company was expected by its shareholders to return a profit, but the constant wars were eating up any margin made on the trade. 

The prices paid on pepper etc. had to be forced down if they were maintain a sufficient margin to be able to pay for these wars. Prices had to be maintained in Europe as well, and most pepper in Europe by now was travelling through London.

Competition had to be stifled if dividends were to be maintained.

The Director’s in London knew they had to destroy Tipu’s country before it became powerful enough to challenge their growing monopoly position.

It was the misfortune of the Pazhassi Raja that he and his subjects lived on the only alternative trade route from Tipu's Seringapatam to a coast.

When Tipu invaded the Wayanad and then the Malabar Coast, the English initially lacked the power to fight Tipu directly, and therefore sort to fight him asymmetrically by using local allies and by relying on the traditional defence of the peoples of the Malabar coast against the Mysorean’s and the other largely Muslim dominated inland people’s.

This defence was the forests of the Wyanad, and the Western Ghats. The monsoon and the rain shadow effect produced dense forests, ill suited to the cavalry dominated Muslim led armies. The Pazhassi Raja and his Hindu allies were ideally placed to fight a guerilla war of stockades, ambushes and forest warfare.

For previous generations, this had worked, for even if the armies of Hyder Ali had reached the coast, they could not remain there indefinitely due to their long supply chain, and the insurgent attacks on their posts and supply convoys in the rear.

Where Tipu differed from previous Muslim rulers was in his determination and ability to innovate. Learning lessons from the failure of his and Hyder Ali's previous campaign’s and learning from European advisers and deserters, he set out to build supply and gun roads across the forests, supported by a series of fortified posts like that at Sultan Battery. (The Sultan’s gun position).

By 1790 the situation for both the English and the local Malabar rulers had become critical. Tipu’s troops were raiding right up to the bounds of the settlements. Reinforcements were shipped down the coast and General Medows was appointed commander in chief. 

Tipu’s rocketeers and cannon out gunned the Pazhassi Raja and the other Hindu’s.

Soon Tipu’s army, aided by intelligence from the indigenous and immigrant Moppila community was hanging Christian’s in Calicut, and slaughtering thousand’s of Hindu’s and brutally defiling many others. Hindu women were being gang raped and turned over as concubines to the Muslim troops. 

On the April 25th 1790 the English moved columns out of Tellicherry with cannon insupport of 3,000 Kottayam and Chirakkal Nairs. This force almost certainly included the Pazhassi Raja. Their target was the recovery of the stockade at Katirur and the Kottayam Raja’s Palace. 

This palace was liberated with the assistance of a hurriedly brought up 18 pounder cannon used to smash down the stockade, where the lighter guns had tried and failed.

Throughout the following months leading up to the monsoon, the local armies increasingly supported by the East India Company took back town after town.

Tipu’s fort at Palghat was besieged by Colonel Stuart commencing on the 21st of September.

With only two days provisions and an empty military chest, Stuart and his army was in a desperate condition. However the Nairs and others in the Malabar community realising that Stuart represented their best hope of ridding themselves of Tipu’s by now hated army brought in so much food that Stuart was able to capture the fort, and to leave its new garrison supplied for six months.

Tipu’s army was over stretched, and the East India Company was mobilising its Madras based forces, to the east of Seringapatam. He had to withdraw.

In February 1791 Lord Cornwallis led his army out from Vellore to Seringapatam.

Tipu was on the point of being defeated, when the EIC armies supply chain failed. 

Cornwallis had to retreat, destroying his guns as he went.

When however Cornwallis and the Madras Army made a further attempt on Seringapatam in February 1792. Tipu submitted, rather than face defeat; he agreed to sign a treaty.

At this point the Pazhassi Raja along with the other Malabar local rulers had assumed that the English would return to their coastal bases, and that the situation would return to it’s previous state. The Raja hoped as the dominant new leader would become the Kolattiri and reap the rewards of power.

What he had not understood was that the East India Company was a multinational company, albeit one with a powerful government shareholder. It had to yield a dividend, and it had just expended a huge sum on driving out Tipu.

The Raja was just one of many petty rulers whose territory they had liberated. 

The treaty with Tipu had handed over many of these rights to the East India Company. The EIC did not see why they should abandon these rights and lands that they believed they were entitled to by right of conquest.

Like a modern day oil company, whose oilfields have been the scene of war, and had to get oil back flowing again, the EIC had to get the pepper crop going again in this devastated land as fast as possible if it was going to recoup its wartime expenditure.

Due to the structure of the Raja’s community’s society, and the rigid caste system, it was impossible for the Raja to restore and re-develop the pepper plantations sufficiently fast, to meet demand. Only part of this Hindu population would consent to farming, whilst most would refuse for fear of losing their caste.

The EIC had obtained the rights to large areas of land in the treaty with Tipu including the Rangatarra district. This area had been the home territory of the Vadakkalankur (the northern regent). The Kurumbrand Raja was the Kolattiri, or most senior Raja. The Pazhassi Raja was his nephew, and under the complex traditions of the family, the person who was most likely to inherit the Kurumbrand lands.

The Pazhassi Raja may well have been trying to supersede the Kurumbrand Raja, who appears to have been disposed to pass the land on to his own children, in contravention of the customary practise. 

The Kurumbrand Raja on more than one occasion seems to have gone out of his way to create conflict between the Pazhassi Raja and the EIC. The East India Company determined to get production up and going again, decided that their Muslim partners, with their more egalitarian society, and greater available working population, and access to capital, should be the means of increasing production.

Soon traders like the Mousa family began to take on more and more of the farms. This caused the Rajah and his increasingly marginalised community to greatlyresent both the EIC and the Mopillas. Soon reprisals commenced.

The Rajah used increasingly brutal ways to try to collect taxes from the Moppillas, and many of the later took to the forests on the foothills of the Ghats operating as bandits. 

Kerala Varma Raja was by April 1793, Raja of the Padinyaru Kovilakam (or western palace).This was located at Palassi.

During this month he pulled down a Mopilla mosque recently built in Kottayam bazaar, and in September 1793, he went on to refuse the Mopillas of Kodolli permission to build a mosque. 

When they went ahead anyway, he sent men to arrest the leaders. A fight broke out in which several of the Raja’s men were killed. The Raja in turn ordered all of the Mopillas in Kodolli killed.

A Commission had been appointed by the East India Company to try to administer the newly occupied lands. At first it tolerated the Raja, probably because of the fear of alienating him and his community.

They were aware that Tipu was preparing for another round of fighting, and did not wish to alienate the Hindu’s. The Pazhassi Raja was also connected by marriage to the Wyanad families who controlled the best of the pepper production.

The Pazhassi Raja realised that his only viable means of resisting the English was by passive measures. He was worried that the English were trying to arrest him, and so he refused to go to Tellicherry for talks.

In November 1793 he threatened to cut down all of his pepper vines if the EIC officials persisted in trying to count them.

Because the Kurumbrand Raja was more tractable, than the Pazhassi Raja, the EIC entered into agreements with the Kurumbrand Raja and ignored the claims of the Pazhassi Raja.

This proved to be a mistake because the Pazhassi Raja was in fact the younger and more able of the two. He was the emerging leader. By 1795 the Raja was being increasingly supported by people like Narangoli, a Iruvalinad Nambiar of the priestly caste, whose men had killed three Mopillas is response to a killing by a Mopilla of one of his retainers.

In June 1795 the Raja caused two Mopillas who had robbed the house of a Chetty to be impaled alive in the village of Venkad. Later that month he also shot a Mopilla through the body as he left a meeting where he had given the Raja a gift. 

The EIC Commissioners finally felt that they had to act, and in August 1795, they issued orders for the Pazhassi Raja to be tried for murder.

Guarded by 500 Wyanad warriors, the Raja was too difficult to arrest, and despite troops sent to Kottayam and Manattana, he could not be seized. 

Meanwhile the revenues that the East India Company had expected to raise were not coming in. The Kurumbrand Raja who had undertaken to collect them in return for a percentage, was unable to do so.

Tipu’s original assessment, which was being used, had proved to be far too high. The collections themselves were further alienating important sections of the community like the warrior Nairs, who had not previously been expected to pay tax. 

The Pazhassi Raja acted as a focus to this opposition.

On April the 11th 1796 a plan was formed to arrest the Raja.

On the 19th of April this was put into effect when 300 men from the 3rd Battalion of Native Infantry under Lieutenant James Gordon marched out from Tellicherry to arrest him. By chance, or possibly because he had been forewarned, the Raja had left for Manattana four days earlier.

The Raja no longer felt safe on the coastal plain so he moved into the fastness of the Wyanad.

Thomas Baber's account of the death of the Pazhassi Rajah, Part 1.

Camp at Pulpelly, Sub-collector, Northern Divn., Malabar.
30th November 1805.

To the Principle Collector,
Malabar Province.

Sir, A severe sickness has till now prevented me from making to you my official report of the fall of the Rebel Chieftain Cotiote Kerula Werma Rajah alias the Pyche Rajah (Palassi Rajah). I have now the honour of doing this, as well as of detailing some few circumstances, to enable you to judge by what means so fortunate and important an event has been accomplished.

My letter to you of the 1st November last, though written at the commencement of my career in Wynad, would have raised your hopes to expect further success. The seizure of Tallakal Chundoo , though a Courchan was an event which excited the greatest consternation amongst those in rebellion, for such was the consequence of this person that Yadachana Cooggan is said to have declared, that he had lost his right arm. Your injunctions on this occasion were received, and accordingly in the course of a few days the orders were out for a general movement and alteration in the disposition of our military force in Wynad. Having obtained this so essential point, I deemed it advisable durng the interval that must unavoidably elapse before these arrangements could be carried into effect, to make a tour of the district, that I might be the better enabled to form some certain judgement of the real disposition of the community, and how far I could rely upon them for that co-operation which as liege subjects it was their duty to have afforded me. Throughout the northern and western parts of the district, I found the sentiment in our favour, at the same time a considerable disinclination to afford the smallest information of the Pyche Rajah or his partisans. This I attribute to the dread which the numerous examples of assassination by the rebels of those who had come forward could not fail of inspiring, which, not withstanding all our efforts to oppose, they constantly kept alive by small and numerous roving partisans, who had spread themselves all over the country. In many, however, I evidently saw a strong inclination to favour the rebel leaders, in particular Yadachan Coongan, who, with his rebel relations wisely had taken the opportunity, while the Wynad was in exclusive possession of the Pyche Rajah, to connect themselves with principal families in Wynad, who thereby became interested for them, but in all classes, I observed a decided interest for the Pyche Rajah, towards whom the inhabitants entertained a regard and respect bordering on veneration, which not even his death can efface. 

The conduct to be observed towards the most doubtful of those characters it was not difficult to determine on. Something decisive was absolutely necessary; there was no security while they were living on their estates, and I found no other alternative left me than that of sending out of the district such of those against whom my suspicions were strongest, a determination which, while it was calculated to cut off the rebels from deriving any further support from such able allies, also would have the effect of warning others against imitating their example.

Having fully conveyed to the inhabitants of the northern and western divisions a full idea of the line of conduct I intended to adopt towards them, I proceeded to fill up all the vacant revenue appointments in order to give due effect to my measures. Written instructions were drawn out for the conduct of these native servants, throughout which I enjoyed the most conciliatory conduct, and having concluded my arrangements I proceeded to the Southern Hobelies of Parameetil. 

In this division of the country, affairs wore a different aspect. Here was no security to be placed in the inhabitants, the most wealthy and numerous of whom were the Chetties and Goundas. – a vile servile race of mortals, who are strangers to every honest sentiment, and whom nothing but one uniform system of severity ever will prevent from the commission of every species of deceit and treachery.
Although the whole of these had presented themselves at the cutcherry, they had done so from no other impulse than a dread of the consequences of absenting themselves, nether did they thereby throw off their connections with the rebels, for it is notorious that the whole rebel confederacy, with the exception of Coongan’s party, were Parakametal and were being supported and secreted by these very Chetties , after they had received cowle . I am fully persuaded also from what transpired in the course of my investigation, that the majority of these Chetties did not present themselves to the cutcherry until they had previously obtained the permission of the Pyche Rajah and Palora Jamen, conduct that will be easily accounted for when it is recollected that the Rajah’s whole reliance for subsistence and information rested in these people. The Soodra or Nair part of the community were more to be depended upon; there was an honest frankness about them which you could not but admire, and which is a surety that in proportion to our increasing influence, these people will prove themselves worthy of the confidence of Government. The Kooramars, a numerous race of bowmen, by far the most rude of all the Wynadians, had to a man deserted their habitations and estates and betaken themselves to the strongest parts of the country, where they had removed their families and were dragging on a miserable existence, labouring under the dreadful impression that it was the intention of our Government to extirpate their whole race.

Thomas Baber's account of the death of the Pazhassi Rajah, Part 2

Nair warriors from a grave monument.

As these people were exclusively under the influence of Palora Jamen , it is not difficult to explain whence this unfortunate notion originated: it is only those who have had a personal opportunity of knowing the extensive abilities and artifices of this man who can justly calculate upon the mischief and dire consequence that must ensue where such qualifications are employed against us. This was unfortunately instanced in the Kooramars, who, from the time of Palora Jamen’s defection, had become in a manner desperate; they had been foremost amongst the rebel ranks, and there is no crime, no species of cruelty and outrage, which they have not committed.

After this unfavourable description of the southern inhabitants of Wynad, you will judge what were the difficulties to be overcome. I saw that the utmost firmness and vigilance was requisite, at the same time that I deemed the most open and public disclosure of my purposes was more likely to keep in awe those who wearing the appearance of fidelity as well as to counteract the designs of our open enemies. To the Chetties in particular I explained that there were no means I would leave untried to discover their real sentiments, and warned them against giving me the smallest shadow to suspect they were continuing in the rebel interest. For this purpose I employed emissaries in a variety of characters. I made frequent marches by day and night to the most unfrequented parts of the country, and by degrees obtained such a knowledge of the inhabitants that, fearful lest their shallow artifices would sooner or later be known, they began evidently to alter their conduct and on some instances they came forward with information. The rebels saw this change that was being effected, and suspecting a continuance in Parakameetil would expose them to danger, they by degrees emigrated towards the eastern extremities of Wynad, and one march I made after the Rajah while residing at Coorcheat and which would have succeeded but for the treachery of my guide, a Chetty, drove them entirely out of the southern division.

As the great engine of success against an enemy is depriving him of his means of subsistence, my thoughts were naturally directed to this point. As I before said, the Chetties were the media through whom these were principally drawn; these people, to further these their views, had removed their families into Mysore in the villages of Poonat, Pootoor, Kakanabetta, etc, whither they had free egress and regress; and from whence it was no difficult matter to draw such supplies as Wynad could not provide. They had established an intercourse by these means with the Mysorean’s, whom they supplied with ghee and grains of different sorts, and in return received coconuts, oil, salt and other articles necessary for subsistence; in removing their families from Waynad they had a variety of objects, one of which was to secure them against any of those consequences which they naturally apprehended from their own dishonest and perfidious pursuits; another was a safe asylum in the event of discovery. The rebels had now confined themselves to the Wynad Hobali and had entire possession of the eastern frontier, by which they were enabled to profit by this understanding between the Mysoreans and Wynad Chetties free of any molestation whatever. After this statement, it will not be extraordinary that I should have pursued the most effectual means to cut off the destructive commerce. I wrote, therefore to the Resident at Mysore fully on the subject, and requested his co-operation to that extent as should to him appear judicious and expedient; the result of this application was a perfect compliance with my wishes: all the inhabitants of Wynad then in Mysore were ordered to be seized and proclamation made prohibiting, under severe penalties, the passage of any articles whatever without a passport from the officers of the Honourable Company or of Mysore. Major Wilkes went further, so earnest was he in forwarding the public service that he offered to meet me on the frontier should I deem a personal conference as promising still further advantages.

Continues in Part 3 here.. 

Thomas Baber's account of the death of the Pazhassi Rajah, Part 3.

The final approach to the Pazhassi Raja's Camp, taken by Baber's force on 30th November 1805.

Thomas Baber in a report written in December 1805 set out the thinking behind his operations to defeat the Pazhassi Rajah.

From this time, the rebels began to experience the miseries of want, and their supporters, the Chetties, to be sensible that a perseverance in their conduct would only entail disgrace and ruin upon themselves and families. Still I found that they paid deaf ear to all our promises of protection and thundering declarations against the rebels, all of which the inhabitants considered and with great reason, as so many vauntings, for with all our means our forces, our resources, our reiterated offers of reward, we had not succeeded in apprehending any one rebel of consequence. It became, therefore, an object of the first importance to direct our views to this one subject, and which, now the rebels were confined to one part of the country, was become the more necessary, since matters were brought into that train as to afford every reasonable hope of success.

As the rebels had entirely fled into the Wynad Hobali, I deemed it necessary to go in quest of them without loss of time; having, therefore, made my arrangements at Ganapady Watton (Ganapativattam – Sultan’s Battery), I proceeded to Panarote Cotta (Panamaratta Kotta) and there solicited of Colonel Hill, a detachment lightly equipped to accompany me. A detachment of 200 men was in consequence held in readiness, and on the [blank] Lieutenant-Colonel Hill with 3 officers, accompanied by myself and 200 of the police, marched to Pulpally (Pulpalli). Nothing material happened on the road: not a single inhabitant was to be seen, although many of them had presented themselves some months previous to the officer of Government. But it was not to be surprised at; they were principally Chetties, conscious of the double part they were acting; they had fled to the mountains, and many of them with their families were followers of the Rajah and his leaders. A few movements of our troops soon brought the inhabitants to a sense of their own interest; they had been driven from mountain to mountain, their jungly huts were destroyed, their families were reduced to the greatest distress. They had seen with surprise that no injury was offered to their habitations or cultivations and they began now to conceive the idea that we were as ready to protect as we were powerful to punish them. I soon learned this their situation, and as they had been so situated as not to derive the smallest support from our Government, I conceived they merited our most favourable consideration as it was possible they might have been compelled to have espoused the rebel interest. I, therefore, sent them invitations to come in, by which I hoped not only to induce them to throw off all their connection with the rebels and become good subjects, but to obtain from them that information which I know they must possess of the rebel retreats. The invitations were accepted, and in the course of a few days most of the inhabitants within several miles of Pulpally had made their submission to me.

Continues in part 4.

Thomas Baber's account of the death of the Pazhassi Rajah, Part 4.

The final moments in the hunt for the Rajah are described in an account of events that Thomas Baber wrote at Cannanore on the 31st of December 1805.

Having said this much of the plan of operations that had been adopted, I now come to those which terminated the career of the Pyche (Palassi) chieftain.

I before said that one of my objects by getting in the inhabitants of Pulpilly (Pulpalli) was to obtain accurate information of the rebels. This I did not think prudent to commence upon too early lest they should take alarm. I preferred trying all my persuasive means to gain their confidence and to wean them from their connections. For this purpose I had them before me and took every opportunity of representing the folly of countenancing a body of men so truly contemptible, and who had no other end than to involve them in one common ruin. I pointed to them in the strongest colours the power and lenity of the British Government, and at last, what with exhortation and occasional presents, had succeeded in inducing several of these, who had been of most essential service to the Raja’s party, to send their Paniyars (Paniyar – agricultural labourers) out in quest of information. I took the precaution of swearing all whom I employed to secrecy.

With many agents, I could not fail of success in some of them. On the 30th ultimo, three of them at last brought me intelligence of the Pyche Raja and all the rebel leaders with the exception of Palora Jamen (Pallur Eman) being then in the opposite side of the Kangara river, a short distance in Mysore, and this so unequivocally that I determined to act upon it. I accordingly requested of Lieutenant-Colonel Hill to assist me with 50 Sepoys and an Officer, with which force and about 100 kolkars, half captain Watson’s Police, half my own locals, I marched at nine o’clock at night; and such was the secrecy in which we set off that our guides even did not know my intention until the moment we took our departure. Previous to this I had deemed it expedient to make a feint to divert the attention of the rebels (who I thought it probable might have their spies in camp) by detaching 70 of my kolkars, under the Sheristadar, under the pretext of going in pursuit of Palora Jamen who was reported to be in the Komanpany Mala in the South-eastern direction, while they had secret instructions after marching half-way to this mountain to strike off eastward to the Kallir Mountain and there lie in ambush near to paths to cut off the retreat of any fugitives who would, in most probability, go off in that direction in the event of our party coming up with the rebels.

The banks of the Kangara River

Such was the nature of the country that although we kept marching the whole night we did not reach the Kangara river until seven the following morning. Here we divided ourselves into two parties, and proceeding along the banks, observed a vast number of huts, all of them bearing every appearance of recent habitation: we continue marching until nine o’clock, when the detachment being fatigued, a halt was proposed. We accordingly halted, and having taken some refreshment, we again started, with the determination of tracing every jungly path: so fully persuaded was I, as well from the earnestness of our guides as the consideration that this was a part of Mysore that our troops had at no time penetrated or perhaps even thought of doing, that the rebels must be concealed in some parts of these jungles. After proceeding about a mile and a half through very high grass and thick teak forests into the Mysore country, Charen Subedar of Captain Watson’s armed police, who was leading the advanced party suddenly halted and beckoning to me, told me he heard voices. I immediately ran to the spot, and having advanced a few steps, I saw distinctly to the left about ten persons, unsuspecting of danger, on the banks of the Mavila Toda, or Nulla to our left. Although Captain Clapham and the sepoys as well as the greater part of the kolkars, were in the rear, I still deemed it prudent to proceed, apprehensive lest we should be discovered and all hopes of surprise thereby frustrated. I accordingly ordered the advance, which consisted of about thirty men, to dash on, which they accordingly did with great gallantry, with Charen Subedar at their head. In a moment the advance was in the midst of the enemy, fighting most bravely. The contest was but of short duration. Several of the rebels had fallen, whom the kolkars were despatching, and a running fight was kept up after the rest till we could see no more of them. Just at this time a firing was heard to the right; we accordingly returned, when we saw the sepoys and kolkars engaged with a fresh body of rebels, who proved to be of Coongan’s (Kungan’s) party, but who fled after a few shots had been fired at them and though pursued, were seen nothing more of. From one of the rebels of the first party to the left, whom I discovered concealed in the grass, I learnt that the Pyche Raja was amongst those whom we first observed on the banks of the Nulla, and it was only on my return from the pursuit that I learnt that the Raja was amongst the first who had fallen. 

The Mavila Toda, showing the jungily terrain the fight took place in.

It fell to the lot of one of my Cutcherry servants, Canara Menon, to arrest the flight of the Raja, which he did at the hazard of his life (the Raja having put his musket to his breast) and it is worthy of mention that this extraordinary personage, though in the moment of death, called out in the most dignified and commanding manner to the Menon, “Not to approach and defile his person.” Aralat Cootty Nambiar, the only one remaining of those rebels proscribed by Colonel Stevenson and a most faithful adherent of the Raja made a most desperate resistance, but at last fell overpowered by the superior skill of one of the parbutties (pravritti) in Wynad; four other followers of the Raja were also killed. Two taken prisoners together with the Raja’s lady and several female attendants. There was no other property discovered, but a gold Cuttaram (Katharam or Kattaram – dagger) or knife and a waist chain; the former I have now in my possession, the latter I presented to Captain Clapham. And from the accounts of the Raja’s lady, they had been reduced to the greatest distresses in particular for the last ten days. The Raja’s body was taken up and put in my palanquin, while the lady who was dreadfully reduced from sickness was put into Captain Clapham’s. Finding any further pursuit of the rebel useless, we made a disposition of our forces and returned to Chomady which we reached about six in the afternoon without having met with any further occurrence on the road. The following day the Raja’s body was despatched under a strong escort to Manantoddy, and the Sheristadar sent with it with orders to assemble all the Brahmins and to see that the customary honours were performed at his funeral. 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. If I have acted injudiciously, I hope some allowance will be made for my feelings on such an occasion.

Thus terminated the career of a man who had been enabled to persevere in hostilities against the Company for nearly nine years, during which many thousand valuable lives have been sacrificed and sums of money beyond all calculation expended.

Koli tree near Panamaram British fort site.Talakkal Chandu was executed some where near this tree.,Panamaram, Wayanad, Kerala

Not withstanding that every effort of moderation and lenity was pursued towards the Raja, nothing could get the better of his natural restlessness and ferocity of disposition, which, aided by evil counsels of his advisers, impelled him to the most desperate acts and produced an infatuation which rendered him insensible to the dictates of humanity or reason. His annihilation became necessary for the stability and security of the Government and its subjects. While this severe necessity existed, the recollection of the services he has performed during the infancy of our Government cannot but inspire us with a sentiment of regret that a man so formed should have pursued a conduct that should have thrown so insuperable a bar to all kinds of accommodations. To temporise further than was done would have been to yield, and to have yielded would have afforded a precedent which might have been fatal to the British Government in India.

But it will not be necessary for me to enlarge to you who are so well acquainted with this chieftain’s history, on the leading features of so extraordinary and singular a character. The records in England and India will convey to posterity a just idea of him” 

It is quite obvious from the above letter, and others written later that Thomas came to have a very high regard for the Pyche Raja. He later wrote: -

“ regard and respect bordering on veneration which not even his death can efface.”

As Gopalan Nair wrote in 1911…

“These words were prophetic; more than a century has passed and his name is still cherished by the people as the Saktan Raja.”

Saktan means powerful or great.

List of Raja's supporters

The most important of them are in bold letters.[2]
  • Vira Varma (Raja’s nephew)
  • Ravi Varma (Raja’s nephew)
  • Kaitheri Ambu (Raja’s brother in law, also directed Raja’s operations in Kottayam)
  • Kaitheri Kammaran
  • Kaitheri Eman
  • Pallur Rayrappan (Killed in 1806 while attempting to escape)
  • Edachena Kungan (Directed Raja’s operations in Wayanad/Hero of Panamaram)
  • Edachena Othenan
  • Edachena Komappan
  • Edachena Ammu (Killed in 1805—The British dreaded him) (Kungan, Othenan, Komappan and Ammu are brothers)
  • Aralat Kutty Nambiar (Died fighting along with Raja in 1805, termed a 'notorious rebel' by the British)
  • Neeli (Kurichia girl who served in Raja's bodyguard - famed in folklore as tough fighter).
  • Karverialli Kannan
  • Yogimulla Machan
  • Ittikombetta Kelappan Nambiar
  • Parappanad Raja
  • Elampullyan Kunjan
  • Puttamvittil Rairu
  • Kuran Menon
  • Velukutty Nair
  • Sekhara Variyar
  • Puttalat Nair
  • Melodam Kanachan Nambiar
  • Chattappan Nambiar
  • Chingot Chattu
  • Pulliyan Shanalu
  • Punattil Nambiar
  • Kampuratt Nambiar
  • Peruvayal Nambiar (Hanged)
Edachena Kungan, who was perhaps most important of Raja's followers, outlived his master only to commit suicide in 1806 to prevent capture by British.[2]
Thalakkal Chandu was arrested and hanged in 1805 shortly before Raja's death.[2]
Kannavath Sankaran Nambiar was hanged along with his son in 1801.[2]
Kaitheri Ambu was killed in action in 1805 shortly before Raja's death.[2]
Pallur Eman who once was close to Wellesley and leaked all his plans to Pazhassi Raja from 1800 to 1802 and in 1802 escaped to the forests to join Raja when his spying was discovered by British. It was Pallur Eman Nair who mobilized Kurumbas [with whom he had nice relations] to join Raja's army. Eman was arrested in 1806 and deported to Prince of Wales Isle, Australia.[2]
Raja's nephews, Vira Varma and Ravi Varma, however, were pardoned in 1806.[2]

Raja's death

The precise nature of Raja's death is controversial. Folklore insists that he committed suicide by swallowing a diamond ring to avoid capture after he was wounded.[21]
T. H. Baber's version was that it was a clerk named Canara Menon who killed Raja.[22] Raja is said to have shouted to Menon who approached his body as he lay dying, "Don't defile me, traitor!"[2]
W. J. Wilson, who wrote on the history of the Madras Regiment, credits Captain Clafam and his six sepoys for killing of Raja.[22] This third version of Raja's end is more likely as Baber was not on good terms with military authority throughout the Pazhassi War. He is alleged to have credited Menon so as to deny credit to Clafam and his superior Colonel Hill.[22]

Forest Forts of Pazhassi Raja

In his decades long war to oust invaders, Rajah developed a elaborate system of cantonments and forts in jungly and mountainous part of his country.
Four of them are most important - granite fort on Purali range [modern Muzhakunnu] which was built by his ancestor Harischandra Perumal over a thousand years ago. He had another granite fort at Manatana. In Wynad, he had a great fort in Mananthavady which was reported to have ability to house his whole army of 6000 men. He also had a stronghold in Todikulam near Kannavam which belonged to his supporter Kannavath Sankaran.[2][23]
Of all his strong-holds, none survive today. Only ruins of Purali fort survive today. It is today a heap of granite boulders. Only a tank still survive today. A nearby black-stone cave where Raja once lived can still be found.[24]

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.[25]
The 2009 Malayalam film Keralavarma Pazhassiraja depicts the life of the Raja. The film was directed by Hariharan and written by M. T. Vasudevan Nair. The political situation of the time is portrayed from different viewpoints, and the locals are treated sympathetically in this film.

Pazhassiraja Museum & Art Gallery

Location: About 5 km from Kozhikode town at East Hill, Kozhikode district, North Kerala. Open: 9 a.m. - 4.30 p.m. Break: 1 p.m. - 2 p.m. Closed on Mondays and other public holidays. Ph: +91 - 495 - 2384382


Years ago, when I first saw tomb of Pazhassi, it didn’t had these boundary walls. It only had a big tree and a floor. The tree that was planted on the grave had grown lofty with its roots covering the grave. But the tree had fallen in due course of time. It seems if our government had shown a bit more concern for the place, it could have been better protected.

Pazhassi Raja, who also known as Brave Lion of Kerala (Veerakeralasimham) had his glorious death on November 30th 1805, at a place called Mavilamthodu, while he was vehemently combating with the marauding forces using guerilla warfare. (Pazhassi Raja fought with British forces, records say that before the conflicts with British, he had confrontations with Tippu Sultan of Mysore). Many other possibilities are also popularly acclaimed as the cause of his death, such as Pazhassi Raja committed suicide to not to get caught by British forces by swallowing diamond or so. Who knows the fact! However, historical records says that Pazhassi raja was homicided by gunshots of British troops.

A film about Pazhassi Raja has to be released recently. Renowned Malayli crew is behind the venture, screenplay by M.T Vasudevan Nair, directed by Hariharan and Mammooty plays the role of Pazhassi Raja. M.T would have done an exhaustive research for writing the script. Even if the film may have all the typical commercial ingredients, let’s hope we would gain more information about Pazhassi Raja through M.T.

There is a small museum near to the Tomb of Pazhassi. It has exhibits of historical remainders genre such as stone sculptures, remnants of burial pots, rocks, hero stones,weapons etc.

The neighbourhood of the Tomb of Pazhassi Raja is abounded with wind as it is an elevated spot. One of the branches of Kabani River is in sight, on lookingdown.

The British Hegemony and Kerala's Opposition
Ralph Fitch was the first Englishman to visit India in 1583--of course, after the visit of King Alfred's Ambassadors to St. Thomas' Tomb in Mylapore in the ninth century.  After him came Captain Keeling in 1615 to Calicut and entered into a commercial and political treaty with the Zamorin.  The English built trade centers and factories at Vizhinjam in 1644, at Anchengo in 1684 along with a fort, and at Tellicherry. During the time of Mysore invasions (1766-1782) the English helped the Zamorin.  By 1801, Malabar became in its entirety part of the Madras Presidency.  By the end of the eighteenth century the British became the undisputed power in the whole of India.  In 1791 Cochin became a vassal of the British, paying an annual tribute.  By the treaties of 1795 and 4-805, the Travancore Raja also accepted British suzerainty. The British promised to help the state in the event of external aggression. The state agreed to pay the British 800,000 rupees a year in tribute.  Lord Cornwallis, formerly Governor of Britain in North America and at this time Governor General in India, negotiated a favorable settlement for Travancore; Velu Thampy Dalava represented Travancore in the negotiations for the treaty of 1805.  Because the Travancore government granted power to the British to intervene in the internal affairs of the state and because the state accepted to follow British advice in administration, the king and his subjects lost their political independence.
The British had to pay a great price in the loss of lives to bring Kerala under their power.  In North Kerala, Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja of the Kottayam royal family led two revolts (1793-97, 1800-05) against the British in North Malabar.  On March 18, 1797 a company of 1,100 men under Major Cameron was ambushed and many killed while they were making their way through the Periya Pass.  The East India Company needed the military leadership of the great Sir Arthur Wellesley, later Duke of Wellington and commander-in-chief of British forces in Malabar, to crush the revolt of Pazhassi Raja. 
General Wellesley came to Tellicherry to plan his strategy against the Raja's guerilla war tactics; We'llesleybuilt a network of roads to deploy troops, and set up military outposts in different parts of the coastal area and built forts in the hills.
In Travancore, Velu Thampi Dalawa led a rebellion against the British in 1808-09 because Colonel Macaulay' demanded that the state pay arrears of tribute promptly especially when the state was in serious financial difficulties and because the British Resident rejected the Dalawa's actions against Mathu Tharakan.  His lands were taken over illegally by the state in lieu of payment of taxes.  The Dalawa was assisted by Paliath Achan, the Chief Minister of Cochin, who was disappointed by the British settlements of pro-perty claims which were unfavorable to Cochin.
Velu Thampy unsuccessfully sought aid from the United States and the French against the British.  First, the joint forces of Achan and the Dalava stormed the British Resident's house in Cochin, but the Resident escaped in a ship to Malabar.  Second, the Dalava issued his famous Kundara Declaration of Independence on January 11, 1809 and exhorted the people to fight the British.  In a battle fought in Quilon, the British destroyed the rebel army and the Dalawa's house.  Col. St. Leger entered Travancore through the Aramboli Pass and encamped on the outskirts of Trivandrum with a strong army. Meanwhile Paliath Achan in Cochin defected to the British side.  The Raja of Travancore found himself in a no-win situation and sued for peace; he ordered the arrest of the Dalawa who sought asylum in the Bhagavati Temple at Mannadi. Before the king's men could arrest him, the Dalawa committed suicide.  His dead body was taken to Trivandrum and displayed on a gibbet.  The Dalawa's relatives were later exiled to the Maldive Islands.

This is the only known temple dedicated to Lava and Kusha, the sons of Lord Rama. Local legends connect this region with many important episodes from the Ramayana. As the favoured shrine of the Pazhassi Raja, this temple has traditionally permitted entry to devotees from all faiths. The temple is 50 Kms. away from Kalpetta, 25 Kms. away from Sulthan Bathery and 41 Kms. away from Mananthavady.

News of Major Cameron's Defeat reaches Britain.

Major Cameron played an unwitting part in the story of Thomas Baber and this may have given an edge to Thomas Baber's later hunt for the Pyche Rajah.  The Major was the husband of Helen, who once widowed went on to become Thomas Baber's wife and who stuck with him throughout all his later troubles.

News of the Major's death which had taken place on the 18th of March 1797 reached Britain shortly  before the 28th of August 1797. It is a measure of just how serious an incident this had been, that the news was thought to warrant overland post.

Usually the dispatches to Britain went by sea, and would have taken many more months to have arrived in London. An overland dispatch had to go via the Red Sea to Egypt and on to London by ship via the Mediterranean, and would have cost approximately £400, a very large sum in those days, the equivalent of  annual salary of a senior official or Colonel, per letter.

The following report was picked up by the Reading Mercury, most probably from a London Paper published a day or so before.

Reading Mercury - Monday 28 August 1797
Friday and Saturday’s Posts.
Yesterday a Court of Directors was held at the East-India house, for the purpose of reading dispatches received over-land from Bombay.

Their purport is understood to be of a disagreeable nature, but by no means so hostile to the peace of India as had been reported.

In consequence of some dispute between Tippoo Saib and the Rajah of Cotiote, respecting elephants, a detachment of our troops, consisting of a thousand men, headed by Colonel Dow, marched towards that province, for the sake of ending the dispute by treaty or arms; when, on passing Wynaad into Cotiote, they were attacked by the refractory Rajah Pyche.  On the early retreat of Colonel Dow, the command devolved on Major Cameron, who after a gallant resistance, fell at the head of his troops.  In this unfortunate action we lost 300 men. And great part of our ammunition.
The following is a list of the killed and wounded.

Killed.  Major Cameron, Lieutenant Nugent, Ensign Mudge, Ensign Ruddiman.
Wounded.  Captain Budden, Ensign Fallow.

In consequence of the above unhappy contest, Governor Duncan, attended by General Stewart, proceeded from Bombay to Tellicherry, in order to confer with the Ministers of Tippoo, leaving Sir Charles Malet and Mr. Page, in charge of Government.

The latest advices from Bombay state the agreeable news of Tippoo’s return to Seringapatam, from what had been termed a hunting party; and of every prospect of tranquillity being about to be restored to the Cotiote Province.[1]

A full report of the action in which these men were killed is given in my Blog of Wenesday 27th December 2006, The Death of Major Cameron. [2]

[1] From the British Library Newspaper Collection.
 My Photo

Pazhassi Raja –Pyche Rajah- and his times as chronicled by Lachlan Macquarie , a soldier

Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja
The Malayalam film Pazhassi Raja has been creating many headlines in the media, and apparently there is a revival of interest about the historical settings of the twilight years of the 18th century South India. A peep into some of the actual recordings of those days as history unfolded itself shall be quite appropriate and interesting.
One of the remarkable attributes of the Englishmen had been the habit of writing daily journals. This was especially true of the early travellers and adventurers of the empire. These journals have helped us in no small measure to understand history and to learn about the people and their lives of those far away times .While the writing of journals was rather a norm with the Englishman, the habit was more of an exception with the Indian. A classic exception is that of the journals of Anandaranga Pillai who was a translator- Dubash- in the service of the French East India Company and who was a confidante of the then French Governor, Dupleix. He wrote these private diaries during the period AD 1736-1761 which give exceptional information of those times.
Another such journal by a remarkable soldier-turned-statesman, Lachlan Macquarie (1761–1824) who participated in one of the battle against Pazhassi Raja gives interesting and informative accounts of the battle from the point of view of an eye witness.

Lachlan Macquarie(1761-1824)

Born in Scotland in 1761, Lachlan Macquarie joined the British army at the age of 15.In 1777 he went to America and got commissioned in 1781 with the 71st regiment. After a stint in New York and Jamaica he returned home.

In 1777, he again took up a commission as lieutenant in the 77th regiment which saw his long association with India. He was present at the siege of Cannanore in 1790 when Arakkal Beebi surrendered.( In 1790 Minicoy was surrendered to the English East India Company by the Ali Raja of Cannanore, Arakkal Beevi II. However, the Ali Raja was allowed to administer Minicoy in return for a tribute to the East India Company.) He was at Seringapatam in 1791 and later for the siege of 1799. In between he was at Cochin in 1795 and later joined the army that went after Pazhassi Raja in 1797.In 1788 he became a captain and by 1791 had been promoted a Major. The next year he was promoted as a Dy.Pay master general and made his riches during the battle of Seringapatam in which Tippoo was killed by receiving prize money of 1300 British pounds.

In 1801 he was the military secretary to Jonathan Duncan, Governor of Bombay. He was then appointed deputy-adjutant-general to the 8000-strong army, under the command of Major-General David Baird that was sent to Egypt to expel the French. In 1803 he returned to England and Scotland to enjoy the social life and to attend to financial matters in which time he had occasion to be presented to the Queen on two occasions.

Returning to India in 1805, he was promoted to Lt. Colonel of the 73rd regiment and served in north India.

He returned to England in 1807, and married Elizabeth Henrietta Campbell who was a distant cousin to whom he had proposed two yeas earlier. She was aged 29 while he was at a ripe age of 46.

In 1809 Macquarie was appointed Governor of New South Wales. His term of office coincided with an increase in the number of convicts sent to the colony. He found a solution to this by an ambitious programme of starting various public works of new buildings, towns, roads etc to help absorb these numbers. Faced with much opposition from the conservatives, and due to ill health he resigned and returned to his Jarvisfield estate on Mull in 1822 with his wife and son. He died in 1824 while on a trip to London to secure a pension which had been promised.

The Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia is named after him in honour of his development efforts while serving as the Governor of the colony of NSW from 1810 to 1821. The University has a rich source of records on Lachlan Macquarie and his family.

Journals of Lachlan Macquarie, May 1797:

Lachlan Macquarie laid his first wife Jane to rest in Bombay in January 1797 which was a most painful period of his life with its profound sense of loss. Immediately after, he joined the 77th regiment of foot at Cochin and proceeded to Calicut. While at Mahe, Macquarie learned that Governor Jonathan Duncan and Lieutenant General Stuart were in Tellicherry preparing for a military campaign against the Pyché Rajah in the Cottiote region of the Malabar Coast. He volunteered for active service and was given command of the Advance Guard of 700 men, made up of four companies of the 77th Regiment and a battalion of the 3rd Native Infantry Regiment.
Macquarie recorded his experiences during the campaign for the three-week period from 3rd to 22nd of May 1797. From a historic point of view these recordings are quite unique.

May 3 Wednesday!

— This morning at Day–break, the Four Companies of the 77th. Regiment, consisting of 2 Captains, 6 Lieutenants, 13 Serjts., 7 Drumrs. & Fifers, and 200 Rank & File, under my command, marched off from Tellicherry Fort, agreeably to the General orders of yesterday, to form part of the Field Army now assembling at Cottiangurry under the orders of Colonel Alexr. Dow of the Bbay Establishment, for the purpose of prosecuting the War in the Cottiote Country, against the Rebellious Pyché Rajah, now at the head of a large Body of Insurgents. —
The Detachment, after an easy and pleasant march, and crossing one River in Jangars; arrived at Cottiangurry at 8,O'Clock in the morning, and Encamped on the Right of the Line. — This Ground is about 9 miles in a due East direction from Tellicherry. —
Having posted the necessary Guards and dismissed the Detachment to their Tents, I waited on Colonel Dow to report to him my arrival in Camp with the 4 Companies of the 77th. Regiment, and to receive his further orders respecting them. — The Colonel was very glad to see me and expressed great satisfaction at having me thus placed under his command.
The two Brigades of Guns under Capt. Griffiths of the Bbay Artillery, and the Bbay Grenadier Battn. of Sepoys under the command of Major John McDonald, arrived in Camp in a few hours after the 77th. Detachment. —
Lieut. Colonel James Dunlop of the 77th. Regt. arrived also in Camp this afternoon from Tellicherry, being appointed to serve with Colonel Dow's Field Army as second in Command. —
On May 5th Macquarie mentions about commanding the native infantry of 700 men. On 8th, he tells about the amusing incident of the corps of Nairs and Moplahs declining to march, the day being inauspicious to move forward.

The next day, army moved Todicullum, the Capital of the Pyche Rajah, and where he was reported to be present. Six miles into the jungle, they met the enemy which attacked. Later, in an ensuing fight, Capt. Browne, ADC to Col. Dunlop, another sergeant and 16 privates were killed. Storming a mud fort in Mananderry, they lost another 5 men.

On 10th, the army reached Todicullum deserted by the Rajah on learning the arrival of the troupes. Macquarie describes this small jungle town and about Pazhassi’s abode or fortified pagoda. Also he writes about the “dastardly enemy seen sitting like monkeys in the tops of the thickest and highest trees in the jungle, from which they fired in perfect security to themselves “
Macquarie tells about Kannoth Nambiar’s deserted fort, its destruction and about “a very galling fire from along the banks of it from tops of Trees on our whole Line”. Much casualty was incurred with loss of lives of Major Bachelor, 8 NCO’s and many soldiers on the 12th of May.

The journal from 13th to 22nd of May further has interesting incidences and observations about the guerilla warfare and about the personnel.

Those interested can read the details from the following link of the Macquarie University site:

Dubai, 5th November 2009
Tellicherry Fanam 1805

Note: Pazhassi Raja died fighting the army on 30th November 1805. To commemorate the year of the fall of a thorn from the crown of the empire, a silver coin was issued by the East India Company (Bombay Presidency) with a denomination of 1/5th of a rupee. This silver coin weighing appx. 2.2 grams was minted at Calicut for Tellicherry and bears the letter T and 1805. This coin is also known as Tellicherry Fanam.
========================================================================= KERALA WAS DIVIDED INTO MANY SMALL KINGDOMS -1750            BELOW                                        

Nick Balmer