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Malabar Manual Vol 2
William Logan

The French settlement of Mahe is situated in Lat, 11° 41' 50" N., and Long. 75° 34' 25" E. to the south of the mouth of the river Mahe with a roomy harbour whose rocky bar admits vessels up to 70 tons. Vessels may anchor off Mahe in 5 fathoms, with the flag-staff east-north-east and 2 miles from shore.

Mahe consists of two portions, the one lying on the left bank of the river at its junction with the sea, the other lies inland on the opposite side of the river, and is a narrow strip of land touching at one point the small river which debouches at Tellicherry.

The population in 1871 was 8,492. The present population is 8,383, of whom 191 are Christians, 6,340 Hindus, and 1,852 Mappillas, The superficial area of Mahe proper restored to the French on the 23rd February 1817 was 1,445 acres, being 1,329 acres of lands under cultivation and 116 acres of public lands. It is about 4 miles to the south of Tellicherry. The restitution of the outlying aldees (villages) of (1) Chalakkara, ( (2) Pallur, (3) Chembra and (4) Pandakkal, or what is collectively called Nalutara, on 14th November 1853, enlarged the possession to 5 square miles in extent.

The desams constituting the settlement are –

Mahe was at first a place of considerable importance and trade, but after wards, having fallen so frequently into the hands of the English, the settlement and its trade suffered ; and in 1782 its fortifications were not only razed to the ground, but the town was almost entirely burnt.

Most of the chief buildings in Mahe are picturesquely situated on the bank close to the river mouth. The site is hilly, but densely covered with coconut trees. Mahe is celebrated for the fertility of its soil and the salubrity of its climate. It is in charge of a Chief de Service subordinate to Pondicherry.

There is a Roman Catholic chapel to which a large number of devotees are annually attracted from different and distant parts on the occasion of a festival on the 15th of October every year.

There are three boys’ schools and one girls’ school. There is also a British Post office and a long wooden bridge maintained by the Malabar District Board across the Mahe river. The coast road from Beypore to Tellicherry and Cannanore passes through Mahe.

There is a temple called Kilakke Puttalatt Bhagavati temple of note in Mahe. Here a festival takes place every year in Kumbham (February- March), when more than 5,000 people assemble from different places on North Malabar.

Close to Mahe, at Kallayi in British territory, there is a British Sea Customs Superintendent. Round Mahe there are four land customs chowkies with a preventive police establishment for guarding the frontier against the smuggling of dutiable goods, such as liquor, arms, ammunition, and military stores, opium and salt.

Of the four outlying aldees or villages restored to the French, Chalakkara, Pallur and Chembra formed the demesne of the Nambiyar's of Iruvalinad and Pandakkal of Kurungott Nayar, and the four villages together constituted the amsam of Nalutara in Kottayam taluk.

In obedience to Extract from Minutes of Consultation, the Board of Revenue, in their Proceedings, dated 28th September 1846, directed the delivery to the French Government of the villages of Chalakkara, Pallur, Chembra, Pandakkal, as also the three detached points called Fort St. George and the great and small Kallayi. These were accordingly handed over by Mr. J.D. Robinson, Head Assistant Collector, to Monsieur Hayes, Chief of Mahe, on the 14th November 1853. The boundaries of the four villages were —

East.—Part of Panniyanur, Peringalam, Olavilam and Kallayi amsams.

West.—Tiruvangad and Kallayi amsams.

North.—-Poniyam river and part of Panniyanur amsam.

South.—Part of Olavilam and Kallayi amsams.

Of the three detached points which communicate with each other—

North.—The strip of Kallayi lying between them and Vera Kunnu.

South and south-west.— A strip of Kallayi amsam intervening between them and Mahe river, and a portion of Tellicherry.

East.—A mosque and precipice.

West.—A portion of Tellicherry road and a strip of Kallayi amsam intervening between them and Kanien Kunnu.

Commentary                MMVol 1               MMVol 2

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