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Kingdom of Travancore
Princely state of Pre-Colonial India

Princely state of the British Indian Empire

Conch in wreath, guarded by two elephants on either side
Flag Coat of arms
Vancheesamangalam (Hail the Lord of Vanchi)
Kingdom of Travancore in India
Capital Padmanabhapuram (1729–1795)
Thiruvananthapuram (1795–1949)
Languages Malayalam, Tamil, English
Religion Hinduism, Christianity, Islam
Government Monarchy
 •  1729–1758 (first) Marthanda Varma
 •  1829–1846 (peak) Swathi Thirunal
 •  1931–1949 (last) Chithira Thirunal
Resident of Travancore
 •  1788–1800 (first) George Powney
 •  1800–1810 Colin Macaulay
 •  1840–1860 (peak) William Cullen
 •  1947 (last) Cosmo Grant Niven Edwards
Historical era Age of Imperialism
 •  Established 1729
 •  British vassal 1795
 •  Indian vassal 1947
 •  Disestablished 1949
 •  1941 19,844 km² (7,662 sq mi)
 •  1941 est. 6,070,018 
     Density 305.9 /km²  (792.2 /sq mi)
Currency Travancore rupee
Today part of India

The Kingdom of Travancore (; )(Malayalam:തിരുവിതാംകൂർ) was an Indian kingdom from 1729 to 1949. It was ruled by the Travancore Royal Family from Padmanabhapuram, and later Thiruvananthapuram. At its zenith, the kingdom covered most of modern-day central and southern Kerala, Kanyakumari district. The official flag of the state was red with a dextrally-coiled silver conch shell (Turbinella pyrum) at its centre. In the early 19th century, the kingdom became a princely state of the British Empire, and the king was accorded a 21 gun-salute locally and a 19-gun salute outside the kingdom. The Travancore Government took many progressive steps on the socio-economic front and during the reign of Maharajah Sri Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, Travancore became the second most prosperous princely state in British India, with reputed achievements in education, political administration, public work and social reforms.[1][2]


  • Name 1
  • Geography 2
  • Administrative divisions 3
  • History of Travancore 4
    • Venad Swaroopam 4.1
    • Formation and Development of Travancore 4.2
    • The Mysore invasion 4.3
    • Velu Thampi Dalawa's rebellion 4.4
    • Cessation of mahādanams 4.5
    • 19th and early 20th centuries 4.6
    • Formation of Kerala 4.7
  • Politics 5
    • Rulers of Travancore 5.1
    • Prime Ministers of Travancore 5.2
      • Dalawas 5.2.1
      • Dewans 5.2.2
  • Demographics 6
  • Culture 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • Further reading 10
  • External links 11


When the region was once part of the Chera empire, it was known as Thiruvazhumkode (തിരുവാഴുംകോട്, tiruvāḻuṃkōṭŭ).[3] It was contracted to Thiruvankode (തിരുവാങ്കോട്, tiruvāṅkōṭŭ), and anglicised by the English to Travancore.[3][4]

In course of time, the Ay (or Aayi) kingdom, part of the Chera empire, which ruled the Thiruvazhumkode area, became independent, and the land was called Aayi desam or Aayi rajyam, meaning 'Aayi territory'. The Aayis controlled the land from present day Kollam district in the north, through Thiruvananthapuram district, all in Kerala, to the Kanyakumari district. There were two capitals, the major one at Kollam (Venad Swaroopam or Desinganadu) and a subsidiary one at Thrippapur (Thrippapur Swaroopam or Nanjinad). The kingdom was thus also called Venad. Kings of Venad had, at various times, travelled from Kollam and built residential palaces in Thiruvithamcode and Kalkulam. Thiruvithamcode became the capital of the Thrippapur Swaroopam, and the country was referred to as Thiruvithamcode by Europeans even after the capital had been moved in 1601 to Padmanabhapuram, near Kalkulam.[5] By the time of King Marthanda Varma, the southern half of the kingdom had become dominant. During his reign, it absorbed the north and Thiruvithamcode or Travancore became the official name.

Travancore, Victoria, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, is named after the state.


Map of Travancore in 1871

Travancore (and Venad) was located at the extreme southern tip of the Indian subcontinent. Geographically, Travancore was divided into three climatically distinct regions: the eastern highlands (rugged and cool mountainous terrain), the central midlands (rolling hills), and the western lowlands (coastal plains).

Canal scene, Travancore

Administrative divisions

The princely state was sub-divided into four divisions, each equivalent to a district of British India. Each of the divisions were administered by a Diwan Peishkar who corresponds to a District Collector of the British districts. The four divisions of Travancore were - Kottayam, Quilon, Padmanabhapuram and Trivandrum.

History of Travancore

Venad Swaroopam

Venad was a former state at the tip of the Indian Subcontinent, traditionally ruled by rajas known as the Venattadis. Till the end of the 11th century AD, it was a small principality in the Ay Kingdom. The Ays were the earliest ruling dynasty in southern Kerala, who, at their zenith, ruled over a region from Nagercoil in the south to Thiruvalla in the north. Their capital during the first Sangam age was in Aykudi and later, towards the end of the 8th century AD, was at Kollam. Though a series of attacks by the resurgent Pandyas between the 7th and 8th centuries caused the decline of the Ays, the dynasty was powerful till the beginning of the 10th century.[6]

When the Ay power diminished, Venad became the southernmost principality of the Second Chera Kingdom.[7] An invasion of the Cholas into Venad caused the destruction of Kollam in 1096. However, the Chera capital, Mahodayapuram, also fell in the subsequent Chola attack, which compelled the Chera king, Rama varma Kulasekara, to shift his capital to Kollam.[8] Thus, Rama Varma Kulasekara, the last emperor of the Chera dynasty, is probably the founder of the Venad royal house, and the title of the Chera kings, Kulasekara, was thenceforth kept by the rulers of Venad. Thus the end of the Second Chera dynasty in the 12th century marks the independence of Venad.[9]

In the second half of the 12th century, two branches of the Ay Dynasty, Thrippappur and Chirava, merged in the Venad family, which set up the tradition of designating the ruler of Venad as Chirava Moopan and the heir-apparent as Thrippappur Moopan. While the Chrirava Moopan had his residence at Kollam, the Thrippappur Moopan resided at his palace in Thrippappur, 9 miles north of Thiruvananthapuram, and was vested with the authority over the temples of Venad kingdom, especially the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple.[7] Though Venad had, on occasions, even fought with the Vijayanagar and Nayak kingdoms, towards the 1600s, the Nayaks had forced the kingdom to pay tribute. The feudal lords had then become too powerful and had a greater say in the running of the kingdom.

Formation and Development of Travancore

The history of Travancore began with Marthanda Varma, who inherited the kingdom of Venad (Thrippappur), and expanded it into Travancore during his reign (1729–1758). After defeating a union of feudal lords and establishing internal peace, he expanded the kingdom of Venad through a series of military campaigns from Kanyakumari in the south to the borders of Kochi in the north during his 29-year rule.[10] This led to war between the Dutch East India Company who had been allied to some of these kingdoms and Travancore. The Travancore-Dutch War (1739–1753) is the earliest example of an Asian state overcoming a European power in war.[11] In 1741, Travancore won the Battle of Colachel against the Dutch East India Company, resulting in the complete eclipse of Dutch power in the region. In this battle, the admiral of the Dutch, Eustachius De Lannoy, was captured and later defected to Travancore. De Lannoy was appointed as Senior Admiral ("Valiya kappittan") and he modernised the Travancore army by introducing firearms and artillery. Travancore became the most dominant state in the Kerala region by defeating the powerful Zamorin of Calicut in the battle of Purakkad. Ramayyan Dalawa, the Prime Minister (1737–1756) of Marthanda Varma, also played an important role in this consolidation and expansion.

On 3 January, 1750, (5 Makaram, 925 Kollavarsham), Marthanda Varma virtually "dedicated" Travancore to his tutelary deity Padmanabha, one of the aspects of the Hindu God Vishnu with a lotus issuing from his navel on which Brahma sits. From then on the rulers of Travancore ruled as the "servants of Padmanabha" (the Padmnabha-dasans).

At the Battle of Ambalapuzha, Marthanda Varma defeated the union of the kings who had been deposed and the king of the Cochin kingdom.

The Mysore invasion

Tipu Sultan at the lines of Travancore. Illustration from Cassell's Illustrated History of India by James Grant (c 1896).

Marthanda Varma's successor Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma (1758–1798), who was popularly known as Dharma Raja, shifted the capital in 1795 from Padmanabhapuram to Thiruvananthapuram. Dharma Raja's period is considered as a Golden Age in the history of Travancore. He not only retained the territorial gains of his predecessor Marthanda Varma, but also improved and encouraged social development. He was greatly assisted by a very efficient administrator, Raja Kesavadas, who was the Diwan of Travancore.

Travancore often allied with the English East India Company in military conflicts.[1] During Dharma Raja's reign, Tipu Sultan, the de facto ruler of Mysore and the son of Hyder Ali, attacked Travancore in 1789 as a part of the Mysore invasion of Kerala. Dharma Raja had earlier refused to hand over the Hindu political refugees from the Mysore occupation of Malabar, who had been given asylum in Travancore. The Mysore army entered the Cochin kingdom from Coimbatore in November 1789 and reached Trichur in December. On 28 December 1789 Tipu Sultan attacked the Nedunkotta (Northern Lines) from the north, causing the Battle of the Nedumkotta (1789). The six thousand strong Travancore army, trained in the European mode of warfare by Eustachius De Lannoy, held up the French trained, war-hardened, fourteen thousand strong army of Tipu Sultan till April 1790, inflicting heavy casualties (local legends state that one of the Mysorean commanders, who happened to be Tipu's own cousin, was killed in the fighting and that, following an ambush, Tipu himself was wounded and his personal effects captured by the Nairs of the Travancore army). Tipu's army finally broke through the Nedumkottah and reached the banks of the Periyar river but floods in the Periyar river (according to the local legends, the Travancore commanders blew up a dam, causing flash floods, but historians have not provided any evidence for this) prevented the Mysorean army from marching further south. The English East India company now declared war on Mysore (the Third Anglo-Mysore War) in support of Travancore. Finding themselves unable to proceed further, on getting information that British forces were marching on his capital, Tippu and his army retreated back to Mysore. Though the battle of the Nedumkotta was tactically a Mysorean pyrrhic victory, strategically Travancore had won, since the Mysorean army could not hold on to their hard won conquests and had to retreat.

Velu Thampi Dalawa's rebellion

On Dharma Raja's death in 1798, Balarama Varma (1798–1810), the weakest ruler of the dynasty, took over crown at the age of sixteen. A treaty brought Travancore under East India Company protection in 1795.[1]

The Prime Ministers (Dalawas or Dewans) started taking control of the kingdom beginning with Velu Thampi Dalawa (Velayudhan Chempakaraman Thampi) (1799–1809) who was appointed as the divan following the dismissal of Jayanthan Sankaran Nampoothiri (1798–1799). Initially, Velayudhan Chempakaraman Thampi and the English East India Company got along very well. When a section of the Travancore army mutinied in 1805 against Velu Thampi Dalawa, he sought refuge with the British Resident and later used English East India Company troops to crush the mutiny. Velu Thampi also played a key role in renegotiating a new treaty between Travancore and the English East India Company. However, the demands by the East India Company for the payment of compensation for their involvement in the Travancore-Mysore War (1791) on behalf of Travancore, led to tension between the Diwan and the East India Company Resident. Velu Thampi and the diwan of Cochin kingdom, Paliath Achan Govindan Menon, who was unhappy with the Resident for granting asylum to his enemy Kunhi Krishna Menon, declared "war" on the East India Company.

The kings of both kingdoms, Travancore and Cochin, did not support the Prime Ministers openly. Initially, the armies of Velu Thampi Dalawa and Paliath Achan Govindan Menon were successful and on 18 December 1808 they stormed the Resident's house in Cochin, though the Resident and his friend Kunhi Krishna Menon escaped. The situation changed when an assault on Cochin itself by the rebels on 19 January 1809 was defeated. Col. Leger led an army of the East India Company's soldiers through the Aramboli Ghat and occupied the forts of Udayagiri and Padmanabhapuram on 19 February 1809.

Adoption Durbar, Trivandrum

The East India Company army defeated Paliath Achan's army in Cochin on 27 February 1809. Paliath Achan surrendered to the East India Company and was exiled to

  • Travancore State Manual by T.K.Velu Pillai
  • History of Travancore by Christopher Buyers

External links

  • (a second revision was published in 1939)

Further reading

  1. ^ a b c "Travancore." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2011. Web. 11 November 2011.
  2. ^ Chandra Mallampalli, Christians and Public Life in Colonial South India, 1863–1937: Contending with Marginality, RoutledgeCurzon, 2004, p. 30
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ A Social History of India – (Ashish Publishing House: ISBN 81-7648-170-X / ISBN 81-7648-170-X, Jan 2000).
  13. ^ Sadasivan, S.N., 1988, Administration and social development in Kerala: A study in administrative sociology, New Delhi, Indian Institute of Public Administration
  14. ^ MATHRUBHUMI Paramparyam ഹിരണ്യഗര്‍ഭച്ചടങ്ങിന് ഡച്ചുകാരോട് ചോദിച്ചത് 10,000 കഴിഞ്ച് സ്വര്‍ണം - "ശ്രീമൂലംതിരുനാള്‍ വരെയുള്ള രാജാക്കന്മാര്‍ ഹിരണ്യഗര്‍ഭം നടത്തിയിട്ടുണ്ടെന്നാണ് അറിയുന്നത്. ഭാരിച്ച ചെലവ് കണക്കിലെടുത്ത് ശ്രീചിത്തിരതിരുനാള്‍ ബാലരാമവര്‍മ്മ മഹാരാജാവ് ഈ ചടങ്ങ് നടത്തിയില്ല."
  15. ^ Cf. Ward & Conner, Geographical and Statistical Memoir, page 133; V. Nagam Aiya, The Travancore State Manual, Volume-2, Madras:AES, 1989 (1906), page 72.
  16. ^ G.Patrick, Religion and Subaltern Agency, University of Madras, 2003, The Subaltern Agency in Ayyavali, Page 174.
  17. ^ [1]Towards Modern Kerala, 10th Standard Text Book, Chapter 9, Page 101. See this Pdf
  18. ^ C.f. Rev.Samuel Zechariah, The London Missionary Society in South Travancore, Page 201.
  19. ^ A survey of Kerala History, Prof. S. Menon, 1996, S. Viswanathan Publishers, madras, pp 396
  20. ^
  21. ^ "During his rule the revenues of the State were nearly quadrupled from a little over Rs 21/2 crore to over Rs 91/2 crore." - 'THE STORY OF THE INTEGRATION OF THE INDIAN STATES' by V. P. MENON
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ Dominique Lapierre, Pg 260
  26. ^ Dominique Lapierre, Pg 261
  27. ^
  28. ^ Sir C. P. Remembered, Pg 112
  29. ^ Sir C. P. Remembered, Pg 113
  30. ^
  31. ^
  33. ^ Aiya 1906, p. 329-30.
  34. ^
  35. ^ a b
  36. ^ The ordinal number of the term being served by the person specified in the row in the corresponding period
  37. ^
  38. ^ THE HINDU by STAFF REPORTER, May 14, 2013, ‘Simplicity hallmark of Travancore royal family’- National seminar on the last phase of monarchy in Travancore inaugurated: "History is replete with instances where the Travancore royal family functioned more as servants of the State than rulers who exploited the masses. The simplicity that the family consistently upheld in all aspects of governance distinguished it from other contemporary monarchies, said Governor of West Bengal M.K. Narayanan"
  39. ^ "Sree Chithira Thirunal, was a noble model of humility, simplicity, piety and total dedication to the welfare of the people. In the late 19th and early 20 th century when many native rulers were callously squandering the resources Of their, states, this young Maharaja was able to shine like a solitary star in the firmament, with his royal dignity, transparent sincerity, commendable intelligence and a strong sense of duty."- 'A Magna Carta of Religious Freedom' Speech By His Excellency V.Rachaiya, Governor of Kerala, delivered at Kanakakkunnu Palace on 25.10.1992
  40. ^
  41. ^ "Simplicity is the theme of this dynastic house, be it attire, habits and lifestyle- inspite of being very wealthy and figuring among the most important royal houses in the country. Everything in this royal house is done in subdued style. The State had a secular tradition and till Independence, Christmas carols were sung outside the palace every year." 'Royal vignettes: Travancore - Simplicity graces this House' By KAUSALYA SANTHANAM, THE HINDU
  42. ^


See also

Travancore was characterised by the popularity of its rulers among their subjects.[38] The kings of Travancore, unlike their counterparts in the other princely states of India, spent only a small portion of their state's resources for personal use. This was in sharp contrast with some of the northern Indian kings. Since they spent most of the state's revenue for the benefit of the public, they were naturally much loved by their subjects.[39] This was so even in the context of the high-handedness of some of their prime ministers. The trend of a popular ruler started with King Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma, who declared himself the "slave" of the Hindu deity Padmanabha, an aspect of Vishnu and the family deity of the Travancore royal family. Religious and social tolerance was another of notable feature of the rulers of Travancore. Unlike many British Indian states, violence rooted in religion or caste was very rare in Travancore, apart from a few incidents in 1821, 1829, 1858 and 1921, which themselves, when compared to similar riots elsewhere in India, were very mild. This tolerance of different religions was equally applicable when it came to social and ideological matters. Many political ideologies (such as communism) and social reforms were welcomed in Travancore. The universality of education and temple entry permission for those considered as 'untouchables' were unique to this part of India. Although the Travancore royal family were devout Hindus, they were tolerant rulers who donated land and material for the construction of Christian churches and Muslim mosques. This patronage was appreciated by local Christians who actively supported the devout Hindu Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma during the Travancore-Dutch battles, against a Christian power, and by the Muslims who joined his army. Unlike in the rest of India, in Travancore (and Kochi), the social status and freedom of women were high. In most communities, the daughters inherited the property (until 1925), were educated, and had the right to divorce and remarry.[40][41][42]

Raja of Travancore's elephants
Kowdiar Palace, Trivandrum
Aswathi Thirunal Rama Varma of the Travancore royal family


Travancore had a population of 6,070,018 at the time of the 1941 Census of India.[37]


Name Portrait Took office Left office Term[36]
T. Madhava Rao 1857 1872 1
A. Seshayya Sastri 1872 1877 1
Nanoo Pillai 1877 1880 1
V. Ramiengar 1880 1887 1
T. Rama Rao 1887 1892 1
S. Shungrasoobyer 1892 1898 1
K. Krishnaswamy Rao 1898 1904 1
V. P. Madhava Rao 1904 1906 1
S. Gopalachari 1906 1907 1
P. Rajagopalachari 1907 1914 1
M. Krishnan Nair 1914 1920 1
T. Raghavaiah 1920 1925 1
M. E. Watts 1925 1929 1
V. S. Subramanya Iyer 1929 1932 1
T. Austin 1932 1934 1
Muhammad Habibullah 1934 1936 1
Sir C. P. Ramaswami Iyer 1936 1947 1
P.G.N.Unnithan 1947 1947 1
  • Col. John Munro 1811–1814[35]
  • Devan Padmanabhan Menon 1814–1814
  • Bappu Rao (acting) 1814–1815
  • Sanku Annavi Pillai 1815–1815
  • Raman Menon 1815–1817
  • Reddy Rao 1817–1821
  • T. Venkata Rao 1821–1830
  • Thanjavur Subha Rao 1830–1837
  • Ranga Rao (acting) 1837–1838
  • T. Venkata Rao (Again) 1838–1839
  • Thanjavur Subha Rao (again) 1839–1842
  • Krishna Rao (acting) 1842–1843
  • Reddy Rao (again) 1843–1845
  • Srinivasa Rao (acting) 1845–1846
  • Krishna Rao 1846–1858
Dewan Rajah Sir T. Madhava Rao



Prime Ministers of Travancore

  1. Anizham Tirunal Marthanda Varma 1729–1758[34]
  2. Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma (Dharma Raja) 1758–1798
  3. Balarama Varma I 1798–1810
  4. Gowri Lakshmi Bayi 1810–1815 (Queen from 1810–1813 and Regent Queen from 1813–1815)
  5. Gowri Parvati Bayi (Regent) 1815–1829
  6. Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma II 1813–1846
  7. Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma II 1846–1860
  8. Ayilyam Thirunal Rama Varma III 1860–1880
  9. Visakham Thirunal Rama Varma IV 1880–1885
  10. Sree Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma V 1885–1924
  11. Sethu Lakshmi Bayi (Regent) 1924–1931
  12. Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma II 1924–1949

Rulers of Travancore

Under the direct control of the king, Travancore's administration was headed by a Dewan assisted by the Neetezhutthu Pillay or secretary, Rayasom Pillay (assistant or under-secretary) and a number of Rayasoms or clerks along with Kanakku Pillamars (accountants). Individual districts were run by Sarvadhikaris under the supervision of the Diwan, while dealings with neighbouring states and Europeans was under the purview of the Valia Sarvahi, who signed treaties and agreements.[33]


The State of Kerala came into existence on 1 November 1956, with a Governor appointed by the President of India as the head of the State instead of the King. The King was stripped of all his political powers and the right to receive privy purses, according to the twenty-sixth amendment of the Indian constitution act of 31 July 1971. He died on 20 July 1991.[32]

On 1 July 1949, the State of Thovalai, Agasteeswaram, Kalkulam, and Vilavancode, and a part of the Chencotta Taluk were merged with Madras state.

Travancore in the Madras Presidency in 1859

Formation of Kerala

On 11 July 1991, Sree Chithira Thirunal suffered a stroke and was admitted to Sree Chithira Thirunal hospital, aged seventy-nine; he died away early in the morning of 20 July. He had ruled Travancore for 67 years and at his death was one of the few surviving rulers of a first-class princely state in the old Indian Empire. He was also the last surviving Knight Grand Commander of both the Order of the Star of India and of the Order of the Indian Empire. He was succeeded as head of the Royal House as well as the Titular Maharajah of Travancore by his brother, Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma. The Government of India issued a stamp on Nov 6, 1991 commemorating the reforms that marked the reign of Maharajah Sree Chithira Thirunal in Travancore.[31]

However, his Prime Minister, Sir C.P. Ramaswami Iyer, was unpopular among the general public of Travancore. When the British were driven out of India, C.P. Ramaswami Iyer declared that Travancore would remain as an independent country, based on an "American model". The tension between the Communists and Sir C.P. Ramaswami Iyer led to revolts in various places of the country. In one such revolt in Punnapra-Vayalar in 1946, the Communists established their own government in the area. This was crushed by the Travancore Army and Navy at the cost of hundreds of deaths. The minister issued a statement in June 1947 that Travancore would remain as an independent country instead of joining the Indian Union; subsequently, an attempt was made on the life of Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer, following which he resigned and left for Madras, to be succeeded by Sri P.G.N. Unnithan. After several rounds of discussions and negotiations between Sree Chithira Thirunal and V.P. Menon, the King agreed that the Kingdom should accede to the Indian Union in 1949. On 1 July 1949 the Kingdom of Travancore was merged with the Kingdom of Cochin and the short lived state of Travancore-Kochi was formed.[25][26][27][28][29][30]

The last ruling king of Travancore was Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, who reigned from 1931 to 1949. "His reign marked revolutionary progress in the fields of education, defence, economy and society as a whole."[21] He made the famous Temple Entry Proclamation on 12 November 1936, which opened all the Kshetrams (Hindu temples in Kerala) in Travancore to all Hindus, a privilege reserved to only upper caste Hindus till then. This act won him praise from across India, most notably from Mahatma Gandhi. The first public transport system (Thiruvananthapuram–Mavelikkara) and telecommunication system (Thiruvananthapuram Palace–Mavelikkara Palace) were launched during the reign of Sree Chithira Thirunal. He also started the industrialisation of the state, enhancing the role of the public sector. He introduced heavy industry in the State and established giant public sector undertakings. As many as twenty industries were established, mostly for utilizing the local raw materials such as rubber, ceramics, and minerals. A majority of the premier industries running in Kerala even today, were established by Sree Chithira Thirunal. He patronized musicians, artists, dancers, and Vedic scholars. Sree Chithira Thirunal appointed, for the first time, an Art Advisor to the Government, Dr. G. H. Cousins. He also established a new form of University Training Corps, viz. Labour Corps, preceding the N.C.C, in the educational institutions. The expenses of the University were to be met fully by the Government. Sree Chithira Thirunal also built a beautiful palace named Kowdiar Palace, finished in 1934, which was previously an old Naluektu, given by Sree Moolam Thirunal to his mother Sethu Parvathi Bayi in 1915.[22][23][24]

Last King Of Travancore Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma
Ayilyam Thirunal of Travancore (centre) with the first prince (left) and Dewan Sit T. Madhava Rao (right)

After the death of Sree Moolam Thirunal in 1924, Sethu Lakshmi Bayi became the regent (1924–1931), as the Heir Apparent Sree Chithira Thirunal was then a minor (12 years old).[20]

The long reign of Sri Moolam Thirunal Sir Rama Varma (1885–1924) saw the establishment of many colleges and schools. When Jawaharlal Nehru visited the area in the 1920s, he remarked that the education was superior to that in British India. The medical system was reorganised and a Legislative Council, the first of its kind in any Indian state, was established in 1888.

The next ruler, Uthram Thirunal Marthanda Varma (AD 1847–1860), abolished slavery in the Kingdom in 1855 and restrictions on the dress codes of certain castes in 1859, following the recommendation of the Protestant clergy.[19] His acts on these social issues won him praise and were copied by the neighbouring State of Cochin. The King started the postal system in 1857 and a school for girls in 1859. He was succeeded by Ayilyam Thirunal (1860–1880), during whose rule, agriculture, irrigation works, and road ways were promoted. Humane codes of law were enforced in 1861 and a college was established in 1866. He also built many charity hospitals including a lunatic asylum. The first systematic Census of Travancore was taken on 18 May 1875. Rama Varma Visakham Thirunal ruled from 1880 to 1885.

Travancore's postal service adopted a standard cast iron pillar box, made by Massey & Co in Madras, and similar to the British Penfold model that was introduced in 1866. This example is in Perumbavoor.

Interestingly immediately after the time of release of Vaikundar (in 1839–40), the caste-based discrimination by the Kingdom underwent a remarkable change. [18] in the Singarathoppu jail, where the jailor Appaguru ended up as a disciple of Vaikundar. Vaikundar was later set at liberty by the King.Vaikundar initially imprisoned Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma So the King [17] The hard tone of Vaikundar towards this was perceived as a revolution against the government.[16] In such a context, the belief in [15] In Travancore the caste system was more rigorously enforced than in many other parts of India up to the mid-1800s. The rule of discriminative hierarchical caste order was deeply entrenched in the social system and was supported by the government, which had transformed this caste-based social system into a religious institution.

Balarama Varma was succeeded by Rani Gowri Lakshmi Bayi (1810–1815) on the throne of Travancore; she is the only female ruler to have ruled the Kingdom in her own right. When a boy was born to her in 1813, the infant was declared the King, but the Rani continued to rule as the regent. The British Colonel Munro served as her Diwan. On Rani Gowri Lakshmi Bayi's death in 1815, Maharani Gowri Parvati Bayi followed her as regent. Both of the regencies saw great progress in social issues and in education. Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma assumed the throne in 1829.

A block of 1887 Travancore revenues depicting Queen Victoria.

19th and early 20th centuries

All Travancore kings including Sree Moolam Thirunal conducted the Hiranyagarbham and Tulapurushadaanam ceremonies. Maharajah Chithira Thirunal was the only King of Travancore not to have conducted these rituals as he considered them extremely costly.[14]

The kings of Travancore had been conditionally promoted to Kshatryahood with periodic performance of 16 mahādānams (great gifts in charity) such as Hiranya-garbhā, Hiranya-Kāmdhenu,and Hiranyāswaratā in which each of which thousands of Lord Harris, Governor of the Madras Presidency, to warn the then King of Travancore, Martanda Varma (Uttram Tirunal 1847–60), that if he did not put a stop to this practice, the Madras Presidency would take over his Kingdom's administration. This led to the cessation of the practice of mahādanams.

Cessation of mahādanams

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