Kingdom of Travancore: The Empire that was Founded by King Marthanda Varma

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Kingdom of Travancore

Kingdom of Travancore


The Kingdom of Travancore is one of the famous dynasties that ruled over India. The empire ruled till 1858 and was an erstwhile Hindu kingdom which depended on feudal lords and vassals. The empire of Travancore was a Princely State in India. It was governed by the Royal Family of Travancore.

At the pinnacle of its rule, the Empire of Travancore covered the majority of the contemporary provinces of Kanyakumari district, southern Kerala, and the southernmost areas of the state of Tamil Nadu.

The ensign of the Kingdom of Travancore was red in color and there was a silver, clockwise-curved, holy conch shell which is also known as Turbinella pyrum. The monarch of this kingdom was allowed a 19-gun military greeting by the British Administration. Despite the fact that Travancore was a Princely State in India, the entire territory was famous for its comparatively significant rate of literacy and its reformist regime. Famous palaces and mansions built during the reign of the rulers of Travancore include Kilimanoor Palace, Padmanabhapuram Palace, Kowdiar Palace, and Kuthira Malika.

Origin and Regime of Kingdom of Travancore

The contemporary empire of Travancore was established by the monarch Marthanda Varma who ruled from 1729–1758. The king was also known as Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma. The monarchy of Thrippappur was his place of birth and this was one of the divisions of the erstwhile empire of Venad.

The monarchs of the Venad Empire link their origin to the Ay Empire and also the subsequent Chera Empire.

Marthanda Varma rose to the throne when he was a young man of 22 years. He fruitfully subdued the vassals, conquered the regional monarchies of Kollam (Desinganad), Attingal, Ilayidathu Swaroopam (Kottarakara), Kayamkulam, Ambalapuzha, Pandalam, Changanassery, Kottayam, Karappuram, Meenachil, and Alangad. He also took part in a many fierce conflicts with the colonizers from the Netherlands and the Empire of Cochin where he got assistance from the East India Company of Great Britain. When the legendary conflict of Colachel took place in 1741, the military regiment of Marthanda Varma overwhelmed the Dutch East India Company. This led to the total downfall of Dutch authority in the Malabar region.

In the conflict of Colachel, Marthanda Varma was successful in detaining Eustachius De Lannoy, the Flemish supreme commander of the VOC who would subsequently develop the military regiment of Travancore by bringing into use better firearms and artillery.

This conflict in the Travancore-Dutch War which continued from 1739 to 1753 is regarded as the oldest instance of an orchestrated Asian force defeating the army strategy and equipments of Europe. This also marked the downfall of Dutch authority in the country.

Marthanda Varma was triumphant over the Zamorin of Calicut (contemporary Kozhikode) in a conflict which took place in Purakkad as well.

The Premier under Marthanda Varma (1737–1756), Ramayyan Dalawa, had a key role to perform in this integration and extension of the Travancore Kingdom. One notable feature of this kingdom was that the monarchs frequently joined hands with the British East India Company in the matter of army warfare.

Throughout the ruling period of Dharma Raja, who was the heir of Marthanda Varma, Tipu Sultan, the actual monarch of the Empire of Mysore and Hyder Ali’s son, raided the kingdom of Travancore as a strategy of attacking Mysore in Karnataka. This raid was the incident which resulted in the notable 3rd Anglo-Mysore conflict. During the reign of the monarch Balarama Varma, the Premier of Travancore, Velu Thampi Dalawa, began a mutiny, but his effort proved to be futile. The final ruler of the Travancore Dynasty was Chithira Thirunal who ruled from 1931–1947. He became famous all over India for doing away with the prohibition on population belonging to the lower castes from getting into Hindu shrines.

Capital of Kingdom of Travancore

The rulers of the Kingdom of Travancore reigned over their territory from the capital of Padmanabhapuram from 1729 to 1795 and contemporary Trivandrum from 1795 to 1947.

Major rulers of Travancore Dynasty

Given below is a list of the major rulers of the Kingdom of Travancore:

 Ravi Varma 1678 – 1705
 Rani Umayamma (Regent) 1678 – 1684
 Aditya Varma 1718 – 1721
 Unni Kerala Varma III 1705 – 1718
 Anizham Tirunal Marthanda Varma 1729–1758
 Rama Varma I 1721 – January 27, 1729
 Balarama Varma 1798–1810
 Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma (Dharma Raja) 1758–1798
 Gowri Parvati Bayi (Regent) 1815–1829
 Gowri Lakshmi Bayi 1810–1815 (Queen from 1810–1813 and Regent Queen from 1813–1815)
 Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma 1846–1860
 Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma 1829–1846
 Visakham Thirunal Rama Varma 1880–1885
 Ayilyam Thirunal Rama Varma 1860–1880
 Sethu Lakshmi Bayi (Regent) 1924–1931
 Sree Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma 1885–1924
 Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma 1931–1947

Diwans and Prime Ministers of Kingdom of Travancore

The names of the Diwans and Prime Ministers of the Kingdom of Travancore are given below:


 Thanu Pillai 1736–1737
 Arumukham Pillai 1729–1736
 Martanda Pillai 1756–1763
 Ramayyan Dalawa 1737–1756
 Krishna Gopalayyan 1768–1776
 Warkala Subbayyan 1763–1768
 Mullen Chempakaraman Pillai 1780–1782
 Vadiswaran Subbrahmanya Iyer 1776–1780
 Krishnan Chempakaraman 1788–1789
 Nagercoil Ramayyan 1782–1788
 Odiery Jayanthan Sankaran Nampoothiri 1798–1799
 Raja Kesavadas 1789–1798
 Oommini Thampi 1809–1811
 Velu Thampi Dalawa 1799–1809


 Devan Padmanabhan Menon 1814–1814
 Sanku Annavi Pillai 1815–1815
 Colonel John Munro 1811–1814
 Reddy Rao 1817–1821
 Bappu Rao (temporary) 1814–1815
 T. Venkata Rao 1821–1830
 Raman Menon 1815–1817
 Ranga Rao (temporary) 1837–1838
 Dewan Rajah Sir T. Madhava Rao
 Thanjavur Subha Rao (once more) 1839–1842
 Thanjavur Subha Rao 1830–1837
 T. Venkata Rao (once more) 1838–1839
 Reddy Rao (once more) 1843–1845
 Krishna Rao (temporary) 1842–1843
 Krishna Rao 1846–1858
 Srinivasa Rao (temporary) 1845–1846
 A. Seshayya Sastri 1872 -1877
 T. Madhava Rao 1857 -1872
 V. Ramiengar 1880-1887
 Nanoo Pillai 1877 -1880
 S. Shungrasoobyer 1892 -1898
 T. Rama Rao 1887 -1892
 V. P. Madhava Rao 1904 -1906
 K. Krishnaswamy Rao 1898-1904
 P. Rajagopalachari 1907 -1914
 S. Gopalachari 1906-1907
 T. Raghavaiya 1920 -1925
 M. Krishnan Nair 1914 -1920
 M. E. Watts 1925 -1929
 T. Austin 1932 -1934
 V. S. Subramanya Iyer 1929 -1932
 C. P. Ramaswami Iyer 1936 – 1947
 Muhammad Habibullah 1934 -1936
 P.G.N. Unnithan 1947

Geographical Territory of Travancore Kingdom

Venad and Travancore were situated on the Malabar Coast which formed a part of the contemporary districts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala in the country. The monarchs of the Travancore Kingdom received the honorary titles of Sri Padmanabha-dasan which stood for the person who served Padmanabha who is an incarnation of Vishnu, the Hindu Deity. The erstwhile Empire’s topography is delineated by three natural territories – the interior in the middle, the shoreline regions in the west or Arabian Sea, and summits and crests of the Western Ghats mountain range with elevations as tall as 9,000 feet towards the east.

Religion of Travancore Dynasty

The religions primarily followed by the people of this empire included Syrian Christianity, Hindu, and Islam.

Languages of Travancore Dynasty

The languages used for communication during the Travancore Kingdom’s rule were Tamil, Malayalam, and English.

Titles and Trends of Kingdom of Travancore

 The Heir Apparent: The heir apparent or inheritor was known as Eliya Raja of Travancore or Maharajkumar Varma (individual name).
 The reigning prince: The reigning prince was known as Kulasekhara Kiritapati Manney Sultan Bahadur, Maharaja Raja Ramaraja Sri Patmanabha Dasa Vanchi Pala (individual name) Varma, Maharaja of Travancore, Shamsher Jang, with the title of His Highness.
 The 2nd female heir, if she is mother of the reigning prince: Junior Maharani of Travancore, Sri Patmanabha Sevini Vanchipala Dyumani Raj Rajeshwari Maharani Maharani (personal name) Bai, with the title of Her Highness.
 The female heir: Senior Maharani of Travancore, Sri Patmanabha Sevini Vanchi Dharma Vardhini Raja Rajeshwari Maharani (individual name) Bai, with the title of Her Highness.
 The sons of the reigning prince: Sri (house name of mother) (individual name) Tampi.
 The spouse of the reigning prince: Pilla Kochamma (individual name) Ammachi Panapilla Amma Srimathi (house name of mother).
 The female children of the reigning prince: Pilla Kochamma (individual name) Ammaveetil Srimathi (house name of mother).

It is noteworthy that all members of the reigning clan had two names. One name was formal and used on the individual basis and another name was related to the star beneath which they took birth and the latter normally concluded with the suffix Thirunal.

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