A Blessed Birthday

Today is November 1st, the day after the Halloween night. I usually try to come up with a Halloween night post, but as horror always exists in my life a lot better than anything else, I thought that I should come up with the Kerala Piravi post instead. Today is the birthday of the state of Kerala or the Kerala Piravi Dinam. It is believed that Parashurama, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu created Kerala as he threw his axe into the sea, and water gave way to bring the land which is now this state, A part of his creation also forms a very small part of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Most of the Keralites do know all these, but I will share this for the first time on my blog. A reminder will only help to keep the memory filled.

Parasurama, who is credited with bringing Kerala out of the sea :)

Lord Parashurama, who is credited with bringing the land of Kerala out of the sea

I have read a good amount history, but all that I have studied has not got much about Kerala; still, I will bring something here. Kerala history also forms only a smaller part of our history books except for the times of the Renaissance, if I remember correctly from my school days. Three big kingdoms of Kerala on May 27th 1498 when Vasco Da Gama landed at Kappad included Travancore in the South with its capital at Padmanabhapuram which later shifted to Thiruvananthapuram, Cochin at the centre with its capital at Kochi and the Kingdom of Calicut based on Kozhikode.

Once the most powerful among the Malayalam speaking kingdoms in the South, Calicut made good progress into Valluvanad and through Cochin, forcing the ruler to shift the capital to Thiruvanchikkulam and then to Kochi itself. Calicut was controlling most part of Cochin soon and later they were making tributaries out of the smaller kingdoms. After coming under Vijayanagara Empire, the ruler of Calicut under the title of Zamorin or Samoothiri could rise again only to face the Portuguese threat, changing the alliances and friends teaming up with the Dutch against the men from Portugal and their earlier nemesis Cochin.

The Mysorean invasion of Kerala led by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan began the end for Calicut with the ruler setting himself on fire as he faced certain defeat. Calicut would never really recover, and the kingdom would be part of Madras Presidency under British after the fall of Tipu. Once extending between Ponnani and Kochi, Cochin was restricted to a smaller state forcing it into alliance with Portuguese. The destruction of the city by the Zamorin of Calicut and Mysorean invasion would affect the kingdom, but would still rise to its best situation under Sakthan Thampuran, the most renowned king of the state.

Cochin also had its alliance with its former rival and the bigger Kingdom of Travancore in the South against Calicut. Covering most of central and southern Kerala along with the Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu, the rise of Travancore meant unity. The Battle of Colachel in 1741 had Travancore defeating the Dutch, becoming the first kingdom to win a battle against a European power. Led by the Flemish commander, Eustachius De Lannoy who surrendered in the battle, Travancore went on further North to conquer more. With the successful defence against a stronger army of Tipu in the Battle of the Nedumkotta and providing asylum to those who escaped the Mysorean onslaught, Travancore would rise to become the second most prosperous state in India with its kings of the people and a high level of religious tolerance.

The Dutch surrender to Travancore

The Dutch forces surrender to Marthanda Varma, King of Travancore

Travancore and Cochin would later join forces again to come up with the Travancore Rebellion against the British East India Company. The later history of Kerala goes back to three provinces named Malabar, Cochin and Travancore; as the first one was under the Madras Presidency directly controlled by the Empire, the second and the third being kingdoms allied to the British. After independence, the first state to be formed was that of Travancore-Cochin, which was created on 1st of July 1949 by combining two kingdoms of Travancore and Cochin. Parur T. K. Narayana Pillai, the Prime Minister of Travancore, then became the Chief Minister of Travancore-Cochin with the ruler of Travancore as the governor.

This arrangment existed for a few years until the situation had to change with Travancore Tamil Nadu Congress launching a campaign for joining Tamil-speaking regions of Travancore-Cochin with Madras State. Later, according to the States Reorganisation Act of 1956, the current state of Kerala was formed as the Travancore-Cochin state combined with the Malabar district of Madras State and the Kasaragod taluk of South Canara district while Kanyakumari district was added to the Madras state. This is the fifty nineth birthday of the state which is known as the God’s Own Country, as that day of its current existence began on November 1st, 1956.

Happy birthday, Kerala 😀 There will always be only one true home and there is no other place like home 🙂

***The images used in this blog post are from the Wikipedia pages of Kerala and the Battle of Colachel.

TeNy

The Kingdom of Travancore

There was the news about Kerala State Board Exam results for Tenth having published, and students given free pass marks – unlike the time when I had my tenth and we had to work hard to pass, now there are free passes to the Plus Two in Kerala – only to struggle to pass with degree and PG. So it will surely take the new generation some time to find Kerala on the map, and therefore, I will share two historical battles which happened here related to the Kingdom of Travancore which extended form Central Kerala to Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu. With those IIN advertisements continuing to make no sense, I am sure that the new generation will be searching on Google to study, and may be this blog post will help them a lot 😛

The red flag with silver conch shell

The red flag of the Kingdom of Travancore with silver conch shell at the centre

Battle of Colachel (1741): There are many battles that the Indian subcontinent has had against European powers, but among them, the most significant one is the Battle of Colachel and it is a case of huge and surprise victory. I am shocked that a lot of people don’t know about this which was part of the Travancore–Dutch War. But Battle of Colachel is more than just a battle, as it was decider. It was like the forces from Netherlands never really had the power to come up with another assault after this battle, and became no more threat to India almost completely disappearing from the scene.

The newly formed Kingdom of Travancore under Marthanda Varma defeated a superior Dutch force which had modern fire-arms, bringing the first complete defeat of a European power to an Indian kingdom. This was surely a twist of fate for the colonial powers in India. Eustachius De Lannoy who lead the Dutch, surrendered and served Travancore as “Valiya Kappithaan” and helped the king in later conquests, leading and modernizing the Travancore army. From here, Travancore would go on to become the best known and the most powerful kingdom of Kerala, and covered the half of Kerala along with Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari.

The Dutch surrender to Travancore

The Dutch forces surrender to the Kingdom of Travancore after the Battle of Colachel

Battle of the Nedumkotta (1789): It is interesting for a good number of people to avoid some battles and glorify only a few people of history. The case of Battle of the Nedumkotta is just the same. But nobody from Travancore can forget the great king Dharma Raja who might be one of the most likable king ever, and the man who is credited as “maker of modern Travancore” was that king who provided safety for everyone who fled for their lives during the attack of Tipu. Along with Dharma Raja’s respect for all religions, the efforts of his commanders, Raja Kesavadas and Vaikom Padmanabha Pillai to hold the fort despite being outnumbered by Tipu’s forces was an act of high valour.

Unfortunately, there is no monument for the former who was the minister, and the later who also lead rebellions against the British, and there happens to be no memorial for the valiant defence. It is a shame that we are forgetting our history and Kerala has given too less value for its heroes and its monuments – even the remains of the fort is lost. What happened at Nedumkotta was purely an effort of courage, as they managed to defend the lines and even strike a blow to the stronger and the more advanced opposition. The forces of Mysore were later denied by the monsoons and the river Periyar only to be forced to return without any gain except for spreading terror.

***The images used in this blog post are from the Wikipedia pages of the Battle of Colachel and the Kingdom of Travancore.

About two of the many great kings of the Kingdom of Travancore:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marthanda_Varma
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dharma_Raja

The rulers of Travancore were truly committed to their people, which is why they haven’t spent much money for building monuments, tombs or palaces. Building memories for them, their wives, parents, uncles, brothers-in-law, grand-parents and all those family members never became part of the plan. They did what the real kings were supposed to do – they ruled and they did that wisely. This is the reason why people will remember them a lot even after such a long time. They were not just kings of the territory, but kings of the people.

They were more committed to social reforms rather than luxuries. They have left marks on the hearts of the people with love rather than through the huge monuments. Spending state’s resources for personal use never really came to them and their religious and caste-related tolerance has left a mark on Kerala which has left their territories free of hatred towards “the other”. They were true devotees of Padmanabha, and were loved by all religions and castes of people in their kingdom alike.

***The Kings of Travancore give a free lesson to the intolerant new generation politicians and religious/spiritual leaders who find it impossible to live without the luxuries and can’t stop hating others. It is never about the size of a worship place, statue or monument, for it is about how good you are to others!

More on the Kingdom of Travancore: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travancore

TeNy