Further to the South

I have written a number of posts related to the places in Kerala and did share a number of photos taken during my visits there too. Among the places outside Kerala, I have visited a lot of places in Tamil Nadu, and the list is longer than the rest. It has been quite some time since I last visited my neighboring state, but I have been there a lot. I have visited Chennai more than any other city outside Kerala, and right from my childhood, the one place which has always been on our list, should be Kanyakumari which was earlier known as Cape Comorin, even though the one memorable journey to the destination came much later. It happens to be one of my favourite journeys of the time, and that was also an extended one.

It has felt good to travel in those local buses around. As almost everyone knows about Kanyakumari as the southernmost point of peninsular India and the sunsets as well as sunrise being very popular, there is not much of information needed to be provided about the town which is often added to a journey which is included with the Trivandrum visit. It used to be a part of the Kingdom of Travancore, and later of the state of Travancore-Cochin, and this district of Tamil Nadu with the same name as the town, was one place which I visited in detail and spent my time in peace with such amazing view. Thiruvalluvar Statue, Vivekananda Rock Memorial, Gandhi Memorial, temples, churches and everything else will stay with you. These photos shared here were taken by me on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310 during my last visit.

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Meanwhile, feel free to read about the movie of the week, Paavada.

TeNy

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

Airtel 4G at Trivandrum

Lets back to #Airtel4G again. No, I am not done with it, not yet! The immortality of the Vampire Bat has been brought to test many times, but he has survived, and so he is here to live another day, and that too with Airtel 4G at Trivandrum. He was there when it had launched at Cochin, attending the special blogger preview, and he was also invited to Trivandrum for the launch there as the Vampire Bat became a temporary Trivandrum blogger for a very short period of time.

Actually, my last few posts were written and posted from Trivandrum itself, and I managed to meet a few bloggers out there too during the launch and preview. I have been wandering around Trivandrum since morning that day, and the trip to a place which I had never really visited that much was going to be a lot more interesting with the 4G. I was caught in the web of 3G just before that, and so getting to 4G like in Cochin was something which would speed up a lot of things, not just the data.

Artists pay homage to the deeply saddening incident at Shankumugham Beach

Here at this beach, the artists pay homage to the deeply saddening incident

I have been using Airtel 4G since August twenty fifth, and it seems that I will be testing the same for more time, and I am also hoping to keep it recharged with the 2G and 3G until the 4G comes to my town. Back to Trivandrum, it surely seemed faster here as the speed suggested. But there was something lacking in the continuity as it didn’t remain as consistent as it was at Cochin. The highest speed was seen in the speed test at Pattom, and even with those seconds of loss of connection, things remained real quick.

There was the trip to Kovalam which was pending for a long time, and it was done with a double-decker bus which was faster around here than at Cochin. From Karamana to Kizhakkekkota (East Fort) and to Kovalam, the 4G maintained its power, and I would expect the same at Vizhinjam too – but wandering through the three beaches, there was some nice 4G experience which ensured that it was easy to post higher quality pictures taken by me on Samsung Galaxy A5 – even the photos taken on lesser quality Asus Zenfone 5 camera used to take more time to upload on usual 3G.

Shankumugham Beach has its own Jalakanyaka a.k.a the mermaid

Shankumugham Beach has its own Jalakanyaka a.k.a the mermaid

The most interesting area of Kovalam was indeed the Lighthouse Beach which has the lighthouse as the name suggests. It feels good to have some Cardamom Tea on the beach here along with high speed browsing with #Airtel4G. The internet had returned to consistency at that time unlike the previous day. The rocks at the Hawah Beach area also formed nice place to look at and rest while working with some 4G. Varkala Beach, also known as Papanasam Beach still remains my favourite beach in the Southern part of Kerala.

There were plans to visit a few other places including the Kowdiar Palace, Napier Museum, Thiruvananthapuram Zoo, Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Palayam Saint Joseph’s Metropolitan Church and even Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary, but none of them really happened, and I adjusted with the Saint Mary’s Cathedral at Pattom which was closed, but provided a nice look from outside along with a white coloured church on the other side seemingly belonging to another Christian denomination; there was also the visit to Madre De Deus Church at Vettucad earlier.

And then there was the Lighthouse Beach at Kovalam.

And then there was the Lighthouse Beach at Kovalam, the best of the three there.

Airtel 4G surely has the advantage of launching first here along with being at Cochin and Calicut; it remains the biggest advantage of the network provider. I have also never heard about any mobile phone network provider giving a chance to the bloggers to experience the same when launching at this part of India, not at Cochin, Trivandrum or Kerala as a whole. May be I am not in touch with enough Keralite bloggers to know about such happenings, but as of now, it seems that along with that advertisement with a challenge, Airtel has gone ahead. Rakul Preet Singh of the earlier Airtel advertisements will be missed though 😀

Saint Mary's Cathedral at Pattom is an interesting structure at the centre of the city.

Saint Mary’s Cathedral at Pattom is an interesting structure at the centre of the city.

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me on my Samsung Galaxy A5 during my visit to Trivandrum this week.

TeNy

Kings of Travancore

I had recently written about two of the biggest battles of Kerala, the Battle of Colachel (1741) and the Battle of Nedumkotta (1789), and also mentioned a few of the great kings of Travancore. After a few posts about the Renaissance in Kerala, I plan to write something about those rulers who had control of the biggest kingdom based in Kerala, the Kingdom of Travancore which consisted of about half of the state along with the Tamil district of Kanyakumari. I have just chosen four of them, but you might also want to read about Ayilyam Thirunnal and Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma and a few incidents.

1. Marthanda Varma: Credited as the only king from India to beat any European army, which happened at the Battle of Colachel against the Dutch in 1741, he is also known to have been the maker of Travancore. The Dutch commander Eustachius De Lannoy had even chosen to join the great king. The Treaty of Mavelikkara made sure that the Dutch was no longer a threat to the Indian subcontinent. The unification of the southern part of Kerala is his biggest achievement as he lead the formation of the greatest kingdom based in Kerala. After establishing a strong kingdom with the capital at Padmanabhapuram, he made sure that it is properly defended with a more modernized army and enough fortifications, and also formed an alliance with the Kingdom of Cochin which ensured the latter’s extended existence.

This creation of modern Travancore was well aided by his minister, Ramayyan Dalawa who was the Chanakya figure during his time – his role in the success of the kingdom was more than one could imagine. Ramapurathu Warrier (Vanchipattu) and Kunchan Nambiar (Thullal) were known to be his court poets. The movie based on his life was just the second ever Malayalam movie after Vigathakumaran. You can also choose to read the novel by C. V. Raman Pillai which is a historical romance and the first historical novel to be published in Malayalam. Do check out for the pillar of victory at Colachel if you manage to travel near the place.

The Dutch surrender to Travancore

The Dutch surrender to Travancore

2. Dharma Raja: Succeeding his uncle Marthanda Varma, Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma was given this name as he gave asylum to a good number of Hindus and Christians who fled from the north during the invasion of Tipu Sultan. He was already known to assist his uncle in his conquests. The defence of Travancore from Tipu with the Battle of the Nedumkotta happened during his time, and Raja Kesavadas was the man behind the military success along with Vaikom Padmanabha Pillai. It was a battle against all odds in which Travancore succeeded in defending their kingdom.

Known for his religious tolerance and continuing the policy of his uncle, he remains one of the best known adherants of Dharma Sastra, and the success against a many times bigger and more modernized army of Sultan remains a great achievement of Travancore under him. Development of Alappuzha port, Construction of Main Central Road (Currently SH1 from Trivandrum to Angamaly) and establishment of Chalai Market also happened during his period. He was a much loved king, and serving the people was a priority for him, as infrastructure managed to find even more life.

3. Swathi Thirunal: This reign is often referred to as the golden age of arts in Travancore. He himself was a skilled music composer, and the golden age was not restricted to arts, to be exact. English education in Travancore started during his time, and the first Government printing press along with a better code of laws came into existence during his reign. Irayimman Thampi who wrote the famous lullaby “Omanathinkalkidaavo” when the king was born, remained part of his court. He was a huge patron of music and continued to support the same in his court. Swathi Sangeetha Puraskaram, the highest honour for musicians from Kerala government is under his name. A music festival, Swathi Sangeethotsavam is also conducted in his memory.

The red flag with silver conch shell

The red flag with silver conch shell

4. Sree Moolam Thirunal: He established the Travancore Legislative Council in 1888 is said to be the first Legislative Council for any state in India. It later went on to become the Sri Mulam Praja Sabha. The fields including education, transportation, medicine, law and order and others got major attention. He would continue to lead Travancore as the successful state that it has always been. The path of reforms would be followed by Sethu Lakshmi Bayi (grand daughter of the renowned painter Raja Ravi Varma) who would be the next one to be on the throne, and she abolished Devadasi system and animal sacrifice.

***The images used in this blog post are from the Wikipedia pages of the Battle of Colachel and the Kingdom of Travancore meant to support this post. I do not claim to be an expert in this, but I read Kerala History for the information and has graduated in History.

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