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Rare exhibits on Travancore’s association with Britain

Staff Reporter
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“The friendship between Travancore and paramount power was cemented by steadfast mutual adherence and mutual service” — Maharaja Sree Chithra Thirunal in his investiture speech on November 6, 1931. Thus reads a copy of a rare document put on display at the ongoing exhibition ‘Travancore –Britain Heritage’ here.
A close study of many such rare documents and photographs now on display at the Rangavilasm Palace reveals that the British rule in India was not all about suppression.
The exhibition, organised jointly by the Association of British Scholars (ABS), Thiruvananthapuram Chapter, and the British Council, throws light into Britain’s association with the erstwhile princely State of Travancore in the pre-Independence period and the beneficial side of such an association.
As many as 200 photographs and documents related to the British rule of the princely state since 1673 are on display at exhibition that was inaugurated by the head of the ruling family of erstwhile Travancore Uthradom Tirunal Marthanda Varma on Saturday
“The history of British rule in India is not about suppressions and killing alone. The British rulers have contributed to the growth and progress of the State. The exhibition throws light into the fact that the princely state of Travancore has been greatly benefitted by British connections,” said Uma Maheswari, a historian associated with the project.
Photographs such as those of ‘Sree Chithira Thirunal at Kowdiyar palace learning carpentry from Captain Harvey,’ a photo of Raja Ravi Varma in a pensive mood, and the staff notation and manuscripts in Cadjan leaves of a Swathi Thirunal Composition leave the viewers yearning for more of such captured moments. Various personal and administrative letters exchanged between the members of the royal family and British residents also reveal the British connections.
Though much has changed over the years, Lord Curzon’s observation of the then empire of Travancore is sure to evoke memories the bygone era. He observes thus. “Here nature has spent upon the land her richest bounties, the sun fails not by day, the rain falls in due season, drought is practically unknown and the eternal summer gilds the scene.”
The exhibition will conclude on Sunday.