top of page
TSMAnchor
TRAVANCORE STATE MANUAL Volume One
V. NAGAM AIYA
Dewan Peishcar, Travancore kingdom
5. Archæology

Introductory Architecture

Sculpture Coins

Inscriptions

FORTS AND MILITARY WORKS

 

“And, when I am forgotten as I shall be,

And sleep in dull cold marble, where no mention

Of me more must be heard of, say, I taught thee

Say, Wolsey, that once trod the ways of glory,

And sounded all the depths and shoals of honour.

Found thee a way, out of his wreck, to rise in.

Shakespeare”


 

The prehistoric archaeological remains are mostly natural or artificial caves used by primitive men as dwelling places or for other purposes. Numbers of such caves have been recently discovered all over Southern India. But in Travancore owing to the paucity of archaeological researches in which only a beginning has been made, no definite information is available. Rude stone pillars, probably menhirs, indicating burial places and small cup-like stone hollows just large enough to hold a human body, have been discovered in parts of North Travancore. When the Varkala tunnel was bored, rude natural and artificial hollows were discovered here and there containing old pots, human skeletons and the like. These remains no doubt indicate that the tracts in which they were found were inhabited by the same race of men that constructed the ‘Pandu Kulies’ of the adjoining British tracts. The absence of any implements ordinarily associated with such burial places probably indicate their great antiquity; but the exact nature of the civilisation and the period at which such caves were constructed have not yet been ascertained.


Sepulchral urns have also been found in North and South Travancore one large pot discovered in one of the caves showed signs of rude ornamental work, thus testifying to some advance in civilisation. At Ilanji, near Courtallam on the borders of Travancore, on opening an urn some traces of the shape of a human skeleton were discovered by Dr. Fry, a former Residency Surgeon in Travancore. Who the people were who buried their dead in these urns is a problem yet unsolved. Dr. Caldwell, who saw personally some urns both in the Tinnevelly and Madura Districts and in North and South Travancore, i e., on both sides of the Western Ghauts, is of opinion that ‘the unknown people must have lived in villages. They were also a comparatively civilised people what seems to be most probable is that they were the ancestors of the people now living in the neighbourhood.’


The area within which these traces are found would, if accurately determined, throw considerable light on early history and civilisation, but this has not been done yet. No provision exists at present for making excavations, which is the chief method of discovering prehistoric remains; other improved appliances are also wanting to help the work. Little is therefore known definitely of the remains of the period usually termed pre-historic. A start will have to be made in this direction.


Regarding the historic period, however, more definite, though still far from satisfactorily utilised, information is available and this will be here dealt with under the following heads —


1. Architecture.

2. Sculpture.

3. Coins.

4. Inscriptions.

5. Forts and military works.

6. Tombs and monuments.


Architecture


The Dravidian style of building is the most prevalent, especially in South Travancore where examples of the indigenous style are not commonly met with. The northern limit of the Dravidian style is Trivandrum. This is probably due to the easy accessibility of the southern parts to the outside world and the intimate connection that has existed between them and the adjoining districts of Madura, Tinnevelly, Coimbatore &c., where the Dravidian races flourished and constructed some of their best architectural works. Some of the southern Taluqs were for a time under the sway of the Pandyan and other Kings and were wrested from their hands by the Rajahs of Travancore.


There are also a few remains of Jaina and Buddhistic architecture. The temples at Chitaral near Kuzhittura in the Vilavankod Taluq, and Madavur Parai in Kalakuttam, Trivandrum Taluq, are stated to be of Buddhistic origin. But examples of these styles are rare and have not been properly studied.


Besides these foreign styles, there is also an indigenous style. The temples and other buildings constructed in this style lack both the costliness and grandeur of the Dravidian structures, but they are neat and simple with provision for admitting plenty of light and fresh air, and in these respects are undoubtedly superior to the costly edifices of the Dravidian style. The indigenous style is peculiar to Malabar and indeed the like of it is not known to exist anywhere else in India. The chief characteristic of this style is that wood enters largely in its construction. This style recurs with all its peculiarities, in Nepal and Tibet and the resemblance between the two is so strong that from this fact, among others, Sir James Fergusson argues that ‘it cannot be doubted that an intimate connection once existed between Nepal and Tibet on the one side and Malabar coast on the other”, though it has not yet been possible to ascertain when.


The large employment of wood in the place of stone is, according to Mr. Fergusson, the chief peculiarity of the Jaina temple architecture and he would set down the style prevalent in Malabar, Nepal and Tibet, to the influence of Jaina example. But more definite and reliable evidence should be sought before laying it down finally that the Malabar style is a copy of the Jaina temple architecture. The large employment of wood is sufficiently accounted for by the abundant supply of building timber available in the forests of Malabar; the same conditions exist in the Himalayan valleys of Nepal and Tibet. The indigenous style combining with it the advantages of neatness, health and ventilation, fulfils the function of true architecture, which, according to Buskin, is the art “which so disposes and adorns the edifices raised by man, for whatsoever uses that the sight of them may contribute to his mental health, power and pleasure”. The peculiarities of the Dravidian and Malabar styles of architecture are dealt with at length elsewhere. The great temple of Sri Padmanabhaswami in Trivandrum is one of the best specimens of the Dravidian style of architecture in Travancore.


In my Report on the Census of Travancore (1891), I described it thus -


“This temple stands in the most elevated part of a vast plain about 20 square miles in extent. The site itself is only a few feet above the sea-level. The area covered by the temple enclosure is 570 x 510, or 290,700 square feet, equal to about 7 acres. The temple faces the east, and the view on that side through the large fort gate and along line of bazaars with paddy fields and cocoanut topes behind them is most charming. A handsome flight of stone-steps. on the eastern side shows the gentle eminence of the temple site, the first portion of which is covered by a huge gopuram or tower, pyramidal in shape and built of granite stone and brick. This tower is about 100 feet in height, and has seven stories with window-like openings in the centre of each of them. These openings, as well as the face of the tower, are lighted every evening, the illumination being visible at a great distance. The stone basement of the tower is covered with elaborate sculpturing, and the masonry above with ornamental work of Hindu figures. On the top are seven gold steeples or turrets known as Swarnastupis in the vernacular. These are seen at an immense distance from the town.


Underneath the gopuram is the main gateway leading to the temple, well protected by a number of massive doors all guarded day and night by faithful sentries. The gopuram and the lofty temple walls were in the olden times not merely an ornamental appendage to the pagoda, but a stronghold of the temple jewels and the king’s treasure, and under the simpler system of warfare and weapons then known, they yielded an effectual protection from foes. Between the gateway and the inner shrine, or holy of holies, there is a fine broad open corridor in the form of an oblong, supported by 324 stone pillars and covered with a terraced roof. This is a most beautiful and useful structure. It is called the Seevalimantapam meaning the walk of the god’s procession. On one side it is 450 feet long, on the shorter side 350 feet. It is 25 feet broad. The two rows of granite pillars and the stone ceiling above have been made the receptacle of the talents of the sculptor’s chisel. Every stone pillar has the figure of a Nair girl bearing a lamp in the palm of her hands joined together and raised above her waists. The niche of the lamp will hold four ounces of oil, and this quantity will keep the light burning for four hours of the night. The top of the pillar is surmounted by the head of a unicorn, in the mouth of which rolls a ball of stone in the manner of a Chinese puzzle. On each side of the pillar is suspended a pretty brass lamp at a height of ten feet from the floor. Between the pillars are also placed rows of iron lamps, like butties fixed to pieces of planks pressed in between the stone pillars, also of the same height as the hanging brass lamps.


When all these are lighted, as well as the numerous rows of cocoanut oil lamps on the outside walls of the inner shrine to which I shall presently refer, the effect on the visitor is most dazzling. The reader will not have seen anything like it in any other part of India. It is impossible to describe in words what beggars the imagination. This Seevalimantapam is also used as the dining hall on important occasions, and I counted so many as 2,500 leaves on one occasion, showing that so many people could sit down there simultaneously to breakfast. I do not think the wealthiest Duke or Marquis in Great Britain can ask so many guests to dinner at a time. And this, I believe, is a spectacle unrivalled in any part of the world. At the four points of this oblong corridor, but not connected with it, stand four stone- mantapoms or raised platforms, from which the women and children witness the god’s procession during the important festivals in the temple, when the Seevalimantapam and the courtyard are fully crammed with people. These are called Unchamantapoms. On ordinary days, these are used for the reading of the Puranas or the Chakkiyar’s entertainment or the Patakam recital. Sometimes Vedic scholars from distant parts of India here announce themselves to the sovereign, by reciting some of the hymns of the Veda. On the south of the southern Seevalimantapam is a house dedicated to the performance of the chief State ceremonies.


North of the oblong is the cooking apartments of the feeding house attached to the temple, commensurate in size and area to the needs of the thousands daily fed on important occasions. Here you have hearths of the height of a full-grown man, and spacious enough to hold tons of firewood at a time, large hell-metal caldrons, the hollow of which can contain condiments to feed 5,000 people at a meal, and so deep that a boy can swim in it if filled with water, large canoes made of wood capable of holding several hundred pots of curries or buttermilk, altogether presenting the appearance in every respect of Brobdingnagian arrangements.


Everything here is on a stupendous scale. Beyond this magnificent corridor or covered walk is the great flagstaff of gold or the Dhwajastambhom, the emblem of victory, a sine qua non to every Hindu temple, considered so by the immemorial usage of Hindus and by their sacred books. The staff itself is a fine teak log 80 feet in length without a flaw, and shaped circular, tapering towards the top. This log is covered with a series of copper-plate rings from the foot upwards, and surmounted on the top by a massive pewter image of Garuda said to the the god’s vahanom or favourite riding animal. The copper plates and the image are gilded thickly on the outside with fine gold in a fashion peculiar to the native artisans of Travancore. The gold used is of a very superior touch, which is beaten into thin plates of the thickness of ordinary paper, then cut into small pieces and ground down on a stone with sand and quicksilver into a fine pasty substance. This pasty substance is laid on the copper rings themselves highly polished, and well rubbed into them. The quicksilver disappears in the subsequent heating over the fire. This process is repeated seven times or more according to the quantity of gold available, when the rings assume a very pretty colour. This is the gilding process in vogue here. During the oolsavam or seasons of festival a flag of silk is hoisted high on the staff; the processes of hoisting and lowering are accompanied by long and detailed ceremonies in every temple. South of the flagstaff and connected with the ‘Seevalimantapam’ roof, is the famous ‘Kulasekhara mantapom’, sometimes called ‘Ayirakkal mantapom’. This place is entirely a work of the sculptor’s art. The best specimens of carving in stone of old Travancore are preserved here.


The former Maharajahs imported several families of talented masons and carpenters and artisans from all parts of India, and gave them special privileges and patronised them. The descendants of these families are still living in Travancore. I have not the patience to write here a full description of the excellent specimens of stone-work as displayed in the ‘Kulasekhara mantapom.’ It is enough to say that the obdurate granite has been made to bend and mould in obedience to the artist’s chisel in very remarkable and unlikely ways. Between the flagstaff and the temple door is the ‘Velikkapurai’ in which also specimens of stone workmanship known to native sculpture are profusely shown in the huge pillars and the ceiling above. Before the Hindu enters the temple door, he bows respectfully from the big Balipertom directly in front of the God in the inner shrine. A long pathway underneath a magnificent upstair hall is passed before the Jepamantapam is reached, from which a flight of steps leads you down to the yard of the inner shrine, also beautifully paved with fine slabs of granite stone, the interstices between being well closed by a solution of tin.


Another flight of stone-steps takes you up to the front of the inner shrine. No worshipper is allowed to enter the shrine itself. Only the specially privileged priests can enter. Even ‘Sankaracharya’ the ‘Loka Guru’ has certain restrictions placed on him in his pooja to the God. This shrine is a small room with three doors, and the votaries worship at all three of them. All the standing room for the worshippers is afforded by one large slab of stone* measuring 20 feet by 25 feet and 4 feet high, brought thither according to people’s belief not by human hands, but with the help of the local deity himself, and the simple folk still point to the deep ditch in the neighbouring mountains from which this huge stone was quarried.


NOTEs: * This is known as the 'Ottakal mantapom'.


I should not omit to mention that on this side of the Jepamantapam as well as of the inner shrine there are two open yards also nicely paved with granite stones. It is scarcely necessary to inform the Hindu reader that the inner shrine, the single-stone mantapom, the open yards, the Jepamantapam and all thereabouts are kept most scrupulously neat and sweet by perfumes, and cleaning and washing continually going on for several hours of the day. Outside the inner shrine, but within the enclosure itself, there are other small shrines, dedicated to Krishna, Kshetrapala, Sastha, Narasimha, Vyasa, Siva, Ganesa, Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman, Garuda &c. These are the minor deities, the chief deity being a favourite form of Vishnu or the Protector of the world. On the hind walls of the chief shrine are scenically represented in water colours the whole of the Puranas including such minute and complicated details as the wars of Rama and Ravana, the Pandavas and Kurus, the marriage of Sita, the ‘leelas’ of Krisha, and such like, too numerous to mention.


The devout worshipper passes by looking at them reverentially and touching his eyes with the fingers consecrated by the touch of the holy walls on which these scenes are painted. There are two or three wells within the sacred precincts in addition to a largo fine tank outside the temple itself. A collar underneath the shrine secures the temple jewels, and a massive offertory made of wood, covered with copper-plates, receives the daily offerings in cash of the worshippers. Half an hour’s perambulation m the temple is to the pious Hindu a supremely happy portion of his existence.”


Sculpture


The sculpture of Travancore is necessarily limited to the temples and pious of the Hindu religion, as the Mahomedan religion forbids representations either of men or animals in their buildings. The araptures to be found in Travancore may be divided into three classes,


(a Indigenous,

(b Buddhistic and Jaina and

(c Brahminical,


according to the religious belief which occasioned them.


The Indigenous sculptures consist of ‘Naga-kals’ or serpent figures, ‘Veera-kals’ or figures of heroes and representations of village goddesses, demons &c. The serpent figures are most common in Travancore and the ‘Kavu’ or abode of serpents, where images of serpents are set up and worshipped, is to be invariably seen in the garden of every Nayar house. The ‘Veera-kals’ are also to be largely met with here, most of them being the representations of Parasurama, the Brahmin hero and the reputed founder of Kerala, to whom however only a few temples are dedicated. Images of village gods and goddesses, demons &c, are also not uncommon, as idol worship in one form or other is the cult of the lower classes.


The Buddhistic sculpture consists of bas-reliefs and detached statues. A few of these are to be found here and there in Travancore. There is an image of Buddha standing on the roadside between Mavelikara and Kandiyur. In the Museum at Trivandrum are a few images distinctly Buddhistic in appearance.


The Jaina sculptures are for the most part restricted to a representation of their twenty-four hierarchs or Thirtankaras with their symbols. These are very rare in Travancore. Some of them are to be hardly distinguished from Buddhistic images so much so that a few which are considered Buddhistic are not infrequently styled Jaina images. The figure popularly known as Karumadi Kuttan in the canal near Karumadi is said to be of Jaina origin, while some put it down as a Buddhistic image. In the central compartment of the rock-cut hall in the Bhagavati temple on the summit of Chitaral near Kuzhittura is a figure which “would appear to be a Jaina image as it is said to be ‘quite naked’. It is in sitting posture on an elevated stone plinth and has three umbrellas over its head. There is another in the southern compartment. On the rock-face on the north of the temple are thirty-two figures, repetitions of the images in the pagoda. I take these also to be of Jaina origin”.


The Brahminical sculptures are countless. Hindu religion and mythology afford inexhaustible subjects for sculptural representation and ornamentation. A detailed account and a few examples of the Hindu sculptures found in Travancore are given under the head of “Sculpture” in the chapter “Arts and Industries”.


Coins.


A. Indigenous


The history of Travancore coins mounts up to remote antiquity. Sir Walter EUiot, the eminent numismatist, is of opinion that the Travancore mint “is the only Hindu tankasala still maintained in its original form”. A close examination of the old records relating to coinage should have disclosed very interesting and valuable information about the early history of Travancore, but the records in the mint were destroyed by an accidental fire and hence the difficulty of procuring information regarding the ancient coins of Travancore.


Gold Coins. Parasurama, the founder of Kerala, after crowning Bhanu Vikrama as its king, is stated to have minted gold coins called Rasi and made them over to the king for circulation as the currency of the country. Tradition says that Parasurama sowed the Rasi coins broadcast and buried some in cairns, which are seen here and there on the Travancore mountains. “On the high ranges there are three Parasurama cairns, where the mountain tribes still keep lamps burning one much dilapidated was called “Rasi hill of Parasurama”. Along the western coast the approaches to fords over large rivers... are especially prolific of them (Rasi coins); after heavy bursts of the monsoon people often regularly resort to and minutely scrutinise the tracts leading to the fords”+.


NOTEs: +Mr. Walhouse in the Indian Antiquary, Vol, III. Page 191.


According to the belief of the people, Rasi is the oldest coin in Kerala. The specimens sent to Sir W. Elliot were found to weigh (five and eight- tenths) 58/10 grains each, “with an obliterated form on the obverse, prob-ably a Shanka “. Though seldom seen in circulation, the Rasi was till very recently the denomination used in North Travancore for the valuation of lands.


The coin next in point of age was the Kaliyuga Rajan or Kaliyuga Rayan Panam. As its name implies, it was probably issued by the sovereign who reigned in the beginning of the Kaliyuga. It has a faint resemblance to the Rasi coin. According to Sir W. Elliot it was at one time current over the whole of Kerala. Inscriptions and Sasanams show that it was current in the 3rd century A.D.


Ananta Rayan Panam and Ananta Varahan were two gold coins issued subsequently. Ananta is the appellation of God Sri Padmanabha, the tutelary deity of the Travancore Royal family, and the coins derive their name from this Deity. Their values were Rs. 0-4-7 and Rs. 3-15-5 (British currency) respectively. The precise dates of their issue are not ascertainable as there have been many subsequent issues of the same coin. A large number of Ananta Rayan Panams full and half, and Ananta Varahans were coined during the reign of Rama Varma the Great (1758-1798 AD.)


Besides these, special gold coins were minted during the performance of the important ceremony known as “Tulabharam” which the Travancore Maharajahs celebrate once in their life-time. On these occasions the body of the king is weighed against an equal weight of gold coins, which are then distributed among the learned Brahmins. The gold, after purification, is coined in different sizes and weights. Originally these coins were circular pieces of gold with letters “Sri Padmanabha” in Malayalam on the obverse, the reverse being blank. But those coined in later times contained the letters within a floral wreath while on the reverse was the sankha or conch-shell (the State emblematic device of Travancore) encircled by a wreath. The coins struck in 1869 A.D. were of four denominations weighing approximately 78.65, 39.32, 19.66, and 9.83 grains respectively.


The old Venetian Sequins were also used for Pagoda offerings and to meet the difficulty of securing them in large numbers, Dewan Ramiengar suggested the coinage of token gold coins which were not to be part of the currency. But instead of being modelled after the sequins, the new token coins were minted of two sizes, one equal to the English Sovereign in weight and purity and the other to the English Half-sovereign. 1,000 full and 2,000 half Sovereigns were accordingly minted in the British Indian mint at Bombay in 1882 A.D.


In 1052 M.E (1877 AD) two gold coins called Travancore Varahan and Half Varahans were struck and declared legal tender by state legislation. The obverse contained the inscriptions “E. V.” (the initials of the Maharajah) and the words “Travancore Varahan” or “Half Varahan’’, as the case may be, in Malayalam, with the years of issue both English and Malayalam; the reverse contained a sankha and a flag.


The two coins weighed 784/10 and 392/10 grains and their values were 7½ Rs. and 3¾ Rs. respectively. But the new currency failed in its object as there was hardly any circulation, and was discontinued.


Gold Chuckrams are stated to have been minted at one time* but nothing is now known of these coins and no specimens are to be found.


NOTEs: Vide Shungoonny Menon's History of Travancore Page 83


Silver Coins. Silver Chuckrams were issued from the earliest period and they were stated to have been current even in the Pandyan kingdom. This by repute is the earliest silver coin of Travancore.


Later coinages were of three different sizes —


Double chuckram weight 11 6/10 grains.

Single chuckram , , 5 7/10 “

Small or Chinna chuckram , , 2 8/10 “


The exact date of their coinage is not known but all accounts agree in assigning to them a period of more than 200 years. In the year 985 M. E. (1809 A.D.), Double and Half chuckrams were coined by the order of the then Dewan Oomminy Tampi and it is said that their coinage was immediately afterwards discontinued. From some specimens now available, it is found that on the obverse of the double chuckram was a sankha or shell and on the reverse was the chuckram resembling what is called a Solomon’s seal with the inscription “Padmanabha” in Malayalam. The impression on the chuckram represents on the obverse a head ornament of Siva, a curved line representing the moon with a star above it. The moon appears also on the reverse with the twelve signs of the Zodiac above, marked by dots and an ear of corn below. The representation is of course primitive and rude. The Chinna-chuckram resembled the chuckram in all respects and it was perhaps the smallest silver coin in the world.


In 1035 M.E (1860 A.D) a new silver coin of the value of 4 chuckrams and known as the Fanam was introduced. These coins were minted in Trivandrum with the aid of stamping presses got down from Madras.


In 1065 M.E (1889) Quarter Rupees and Half Rupees equal in value to 7 and 14 chuckrams respectively were coined, and by a Royal Proclamation dated 31st October 1889 they were declared part of the currency of the State. These coins bore the device of the sankha and the name of the coin in Malayalam on one side and the inscription “Rama Varma-Travancore” with the year and name of the coin in English on the other side. It was also then under contemplation to issue full Rupees valued 28 chuckrams or 7 fanams each, but the idea was given up subsequently. The Travancore Rupee by which the Sircar accounts are calculated is only an imaginary coin.


In 1076 M.E (1900 A.D.) when the silver chuckrams were discontinued, an improved silver coin of the value of 2 chuckrams was minted instead and declared part of the currency of the State.


Copper Coins. The coin known as Kasu or Cash is the earliest copper coin minted in Travancore. It is valued 1/1456 of a British Rupee and is undoubtedly the smallest copper coin in the world. It was first minted in 991 M.E (1815 A.D). The cash issued in 1006 M.E. bore a different stamp, which was again changed in the coinage of copper cash made in 1014 M.E. The dies &c. are not preserved and it is not possible to ascertain what the early copper cashes were like, as specimens are not to be found. But later issues resembled the silver chuckram with its rude and primitive device.


In 1024 M.E (1848 A.D.), three varieties of copper coins were minted


viz —


cash 1/16 of a chuckram

double cash 1/8 do.

four-cash coins ¼ do.


On the obverse of all these was the figure of Krishna and on the reverse the chuckram. The double cash contained in addition the numeral ‘2’ in Malayalam below the figure of Krishna. In the four-cash piece the numeral “2” was replaced by “4” also in Malayalam, and there were two floral sprigs in addition. The last two coins were however subsequently given up.


In 1076 M.E (1900 AD.), owing to the facilities which silver coins of the value of one chuckram afforded for counterfeiting, it was resolved to discontinue the minting thereof and the Government issued instead copper coins of the value of one, half and quarter chuckrams for the convenience of the public. At the same time an improved copper cash was also struck with the inscription ‘ഒരു കാശ്’ (one cash on one side and the sankha in an ornamented circle on the other side. These coins form the present copper currency of the state.


Zinc Coins. In 988 M.E (1812 AD.) zinc coins of the value of one cash were issued from the Travancore mint. This was the first ‘cash’ coined but it was soon replaced by copper coinage Specimens of the zinc cash are not available. It is not therefore possible to give any description of the coin.


B. FOREIGN COINS


A large number of foreign coins appear to have been current in early times and numbers of them have been subsequently unearthed in different parts of the State.


EARLY BUDDHISTIC — The earliest of such coins were the punch-marked coins current at the time of Buddha. So late as January 1900 A.D., 306 old silver and 2 old copper coins were found in an old earthen vessel in a cutting near Angamali Station on the Shoranore-Cochin Railway. They were sent to Mr. Edgar Thurston of the Madras Government Museum and he identified them as the punch-marked coins referred to above, “which are found all over India from Kabul to Cape Comorin”. According to Sir A. Cunningham, “they were certainly current in the time of Buddha i.e., in the 5th century BC. But I have no difficulty in thinking that they might mount to as high as 1,000 BC”*


NOTEs:* Coins of Ancient India from the earliest times to the 7th century (1891) Page 43


EUROPEAN. The extensive commercial relations that had existed in early times between the Malabar coast and the maritime nations of the west introduced a large number of European coins into the country. Of the European nations the Romans were the first to come in contact with the west coast and accordingly a large number of their coins of dates ranging from 30 B.C. to 547 A.D. have been found in several parts of Travancore. Mr. Cunningham asserts that these coins were current in Southern India in the early years of the Christian era.


The Venetian Sequins popularly known as Shanar Kasu are also to be met with in large numbers and are in great demand for jewellery. They appear to have been current in the State once. Until lately the sequins found in the country were purchased by the Government and distributed to learned Brahmins during the temple offerings.


SOUTH INDIAN. Portions of the country now included in the State of Travancore were at various times under the sway of the foreign powers viz. the Bellalas, Kadambas, Chalukyas, Cholas, Pandyas, Mahomedan rulers (who overran the Pandyan territory), the Zamorin of Calicut and the Rajah of Cochin.


The coins of all these powers were current in the tracts under their respective sway and when the several parts were conquered and consolidated into the kingdom of Travancore, there were large numbers of foreign coins in circulation. Specimens of several of these foreign coins are to be found in His Highness the Maharajah’s Palace at the Capital. The following names of the coins in the Palace collection are sufficiently expressive and clearly indicate the source or authority to which they own their origin.


Sultan Varahan.

Sultan cash.

Kumbakonam Varahan.

Tharangambady Varahan.

Parangy Varahan.

Calicut Fanam.

Ramnad Chuti Panam.

Madura Velli Panam.

Cochin Puthen.


CEYLON. There are evidences of an intimate connection, commercial and even political, between Ceylon and the south of India — not excluding Travancore — in early times. This is fully borne out by the occurrence of Ceylon coins in several parts of South India, Madura, Tinnevelly &c. Even in Travancore they are found though only rarely. The Elavas, Tiyas and some of the Shanars in Travancore are asserted to have come from the north of Ceylon. From a South Travancore inscription dated 98 M.E (922 A.D), it is found that Ceylon gold coins were once current in that part of the country.




Inscriptions


For some years past, an attempt has been made to collect and decipher inscriptions found in temples, mantapams, forts, palaces and isolated landmarks all over Travancore. No regular department has been organised, but the late Mr. P. Sundaram Pillay MA., F.R.H.S a very talented Professor of His Highness the Maharajah’s College, Trivandrum, was appointed Honorary Archaeologist and a small staff was given him to start the researches. His Field Assistant, Mr. T. S. Ganesa Pillay, still continues to do some work, but since the Professor’s untimely death seven years ago, the work has made but little progress. As archaeological work is of an extremely important nature and Travancore abounds with material of that kind for constructing authentic history, it behoves His Highness’ Government to organise a regular establishment and work it on more methodical lines. There must be a large number of inscriptions and plates available for research all over the country. Whatever work has been done by Professor Sundaram Pillay and Ganesa Pillay up to date is here presented to the general reader in a brief compass.


The following statements disclose some interesting particulars regarding the nature of Travancore inscriptions: —
















It will be seen from the statements given above that the Talaq of Agastisvaram in South Travancore claims the largest number of inscriptions. The reasons for this are not far to seek. The Pandyan Empire extended up to the Taluq of Tovala. The victorious Pandya or Chola always wished to commemorate his successes in the conquered territories more than in his own.


Kottar was for a long time the most important city in Venad and its capture was therefore more important for the enemy than the possession of several miles of land outside. The country east of Kottar was known in the olden days as “Purattayanad “ or the country outside Venad. Another reason is probably the existence of important Hindu shrines in this Taluq. Suchindram, the divine court of justice in the olden days, has nearly 100 inscriptions and Cape Comorin has more than 50. The expression ‘Suchindram Satyam’ is still remembered and acted upon by the more orthodox, though its ‘ghee-ordeal’ is now a thing of the part. The persons condemned on oath at this temple had generally to undergo a course of expiatory ceremonies, part of which was the making of some gift to the temple. Most of the inscriptions in this temple record such small gifts as atonement for various sins. The other three Taluqs viz., Tovala, Kalkulam and Eraniel, contain a smaller number of temples and were apparently not considered as very valuable possessions by the invaders.


Tovala was for a long time either forest or waste land with a sparse population. Kalkulam was called ‘Padappanad’ indicating the jungly nature of the gardens of which it was composed. Eraniel was known as ‘Kurunad’ showing the small revenue realised therefrom.


Regarding the character of the inscriptions, it is only the Vattezhuttu, Kolezhuttu and Old Tamil that call for any remarks as their use ceased long ago while the other characters are still current.


VATTEZHUTTU. Vattezhuthu is the oldest in Malabar and the earliest Vattezhuttu inscription known to scholars is the one on the pillar in front of the Napier Museum at Trivandrum. (Vide Plate A. herewith annexed). It is in the well-known Chera-Pandya characters with the exception of the first letter ‘Sri’ which is in Grantha. All the letters of this inscription are more arrow-headed than round and are peculiarly ornamented and every consonant has a dot on the top according to the rules of ancient Tamil Grammar texts — Tolkappiyam and Nannul. The language of the inscription is the old classical Tamil, and contains certain words which have gone out of use at the present day, such as




The date of the inscription has been mentioned as the twenty-seventh year of the reign of Sri Ko-Maran Chadayan, and Professor Sundaram Pillay roughly estimated its age to be at least a thousand years. It records the death of a Malabar Chief at Vizhinjam.


The characters of the inscriptions of Ko-Raja Rajakesari Varman alias the great Raja Raja I on the rock at Periyakulam, Eraniel Talug (Vide Plate B). are also in Vattezhuttu character, but the letters are slightly different from those of the preceding one and less ornamental.


KOLEZHUTTU. The Kolezhuttu is only a variety of the Vattezhuttu. Kolezhuttu inscriptions are to be seen in Central and North Travancore and it appears from the epigraphical records that Kolezhuttu was in use m Travancore from the commencement of the sixth to the tenth century of the Malabar era. It is also known as Malayazhma and until the beginning of the last century this character was in use for ‘’all grants, patents, decrees and in general all papers that can be considered records of Government”.


The inscription in the temple of Manambur in the Taluq of Chirayinkil (Vide Plate C.) contains five lines of well-preserved characters.


There is another inscription in the same character but of an earlier date in the temple of Chengavanadu. It contains two lines of Kolezhuttu characters intermingled with Grantha letters. (Vide Plate D


OLD TAMIL. Old Tamil was the Court character of the Cholas and all the old Tamil inscriptions found in Travancore are due to their influence, as is evidenced by the fact that no inscriptions in old Tamil are met with to the north of Vizhinjam which marked the limit of Chola conquest in Travancore territory. They are mostly to be found in the Taluqs of Agastisvaram, Tovala, Eraniel and only a few in Kalkulam. Old Tamil appears to have been current in those parts from the second to the eighth century of the Malabar era. The inscription dated the 154th day in the fourth year of the reign of the Chola king, Parakesari Varman alias Rajendra Deva, on the walls of the inner temple of the goddess Bhagavati at Cape Comorin (Vide Plate E.), may be taken as a type of this character.





































































































Another fact disclosed by the statements already given is that the language of most of the inscriptions is Tamil. The reason here is equally simple. Malayalam as a national language is not very old. Its resemblance to old Tamil is so patent that one could hardly help concluding that Malayalam is nothing more than old Tamil with a good admixture of Sanskrit words. There are some very old works in Tamil composed in Travancore and by Travancore kings. Besides, the invading Pandyas and Cholas were themselves Tamilians and their inscriptions form more than 70 per cent of the total in South Travancore. The Sanskrit inscriptions are very few and record ‘Dwaja Pratishtas’ and other ceremonies specially connected with Brahminical worship.


With regard to the date of the inscriptions, the Chola inscriptions are the most common ones till the 3rd century M.E (12th century A.D). Subsequently we meet with Pandya inscriptions interspersed with those of the native kings. The later inscriptions are generally those of the sovereigns of Travancore with a small sprinkling of Pandya inscriptions. Later still, we have several Neets and Proclamations issued by the dynasty of the Nayak chiefs.


It will also be observed that most of these inscriptions are found in temples and other sacred places. Charity, according to the Sanskrit texts, loses its merit when the donor boasts of it or advertises it. This is the reason why so little is known of private charities of Hindus, though they are extremely liberal and cosmopolitan. What the right hand giveth the left hand should not know. Such is the Hindu belief. An exception is however made in cases of gift to the temples, the object being that a publication of such gifts acts as an incentive to other endowments by men of wealth, livery success attained by a Hindu results in a religious or charitable endowment. The foreign kings that entered Travancore either as enemies or as friends made their gifts to most of these temples chiefly as thanksgiving for the success given to them by the gods of the different temples, but also as a policy of conciliation of the conquered people.


Stress need not be laid here on the value of these inscriptions. Nobody will deny it. They are often the only records that contain the true history of Travancore. The late Mr. Sundaram Pillay wrote;— “That the Travancore inscriptions are fully worthy of that honour, I can now confidently assure the Government. They are sure to prove useful in every branch of archaeology. They offer the only reliable basis for the ancient history of Travancore and are sure to render substantial service in placing beyond doubt certain leading facts connected with the fluctuating fortunes of the Pandyan kingdom and the Chola empire, not to speak of the steady light they throw on Dravidian philology and ancient history.


Of the 450 inscriptions that have been transcribed up to date, about 70 have been carefully and critically examined by the Archaeological Department. The historical incidents of value disclosed by them have been incorporated in the Early History section of the next chapter.


Regarding the remaining inscriptions, which still await careful study, nothing but the bare outlines are available. Even as they are, they bring to light much useful information about the social and political condition of early Travancore. What is here attempted is to give a few interesting particulars which a casual examination of these inscriptions brings to light.


As is only natural to expect, nearly two-thirds of the inscriptions relate to gifts of lands and other valuables to the several temples in the State or for charitable purposes. Gifts to temples relate to construction, repairs and additions, consecration, nanda lamps, special pujas and offerings; and among charitable purposes are included the construction of wells, water-sheds, rest-houses and ‘Chumadu-tangi’ stones*, and the feeding of Brahmins and other castes. It is interesting to note that the sovereigns of Travancore have not been unmmindful of the needs of other religionists. It is found from two inscriptions on pillars in the temple of Nagaraja at Nagercoil, dated 21st Alpasi 681 M.E., and 29th Purattasi 692 M.E, that grants of lands were made at the requests of two Jaina priests, Guru Vira Panditan and Kamala Vahana Panditan. There is an inscription dated 15th Chitrai 669 M.E, in one of the granite pillars at Kumari-muttam, which records the assignment by the sovereign of the harbour dues of Kumari-muttam and Covalam to the Roman Catholic church at Kumari-muttam.


NOTEs: Literally stones on which the passengers who carry loads on their heads place them and take respite while travelling long distances of 5 and 10 miles with heavy burdens. All over Travancore such Chumadu-tangis exist on the roadsides, often 7 or 8 for every mile.


There are six inscriptions which refer to caste and religious disputes and the Royal writs issued in settlement thereof.


1. On a granite pillar to the south of the temple at Quilon.

2. On a granite pillar near the temple of Adimula Vinayakar at Nagercoil dated 15th Ani 682 M.E.

3. On a granite pillar at Parasuraman Perunteru, Idalakkudi, dated 1st Chitrai 661 M.E

4. On a granite pillar found in Kumarasamudram Pudukkalam Murungur, dated 12th Thye 670 M.E

5. On a granite pillar in front of the temple of Karutha Vinayakar, Saliyar Pudutheru, Vatasseri, dated 4th Ani 911 M.E

6. On a granite pillar at Kumari-muttam dated 20th Panguni 701 M. E.


In the first of these it is mentioned that the sovereign redressed the grievances of 18 castes at Quilon then known as Kurakkenikollam by assigning to them separate localities to live in.


The second remitted the following taxes, which were exacted from them by the higher classes without the knowledge of Government viz., Karamukattalai, Panam, Padavaram, Padippanam, and Anaivari, to the Nadars of Edanadu between the hills of Parali and Tovala.


The third granted certain privileges to the professional people called Sayakars of Idalakkudi viz.,


(1. They were allowed to appear before the sovereign during the Royal processions.

(2. They were exempted from the payment of all dues with the exception of Padaipanam and Kappalvagai panam.

(3. They were freed from persecution at the hands of Brahmins, Pillaimars and others who were in the habit of obstructing their passage to take water from tanks and wells, by putting up fences of thorns &c., assaulting and exacting unreasonable dues from them and interfering with and interrupting them in their public religious performances. Their residence was also prescribed within certain limits.


The fourth prohibited the lower castes of Valankai and Edankai from making religious gifts to the temple of Sakalakalai Martanda Vinayakar.


The fifth declared that the temple of Karutha Vinayakar belonged to the Saliars and not to the Chetties and the sixth refers to the persecution of the Christian converts of Kumari-muttam by their Hindu kinsmen. The Royal writ assigned to them a separate locality to live in.


The next interesting point has reference to the village assemblies which appear to have been self-governing bodies. There were such associations in Suchindram, Trivandrum, Kadainallur, Nirankarai, Tirunandikara, Cheramangalam, Parthivasekharapuram and Nanjanad. It appears that these village assemblies had the charge and management of the village temples, power to appoint temple accountants and priests and to regulate the system of worship. They levied fines and imposts on the villagers and an inscription on a granite pillar at Santhur in Toduvatti in Vilavankod Taluq, dated 20th Avani 819 M.E., records that a Royal writ was issued prohibiting the village assemblies to punish villagers without the knowledge of Government. There were large assemblies of Six Hundred and Three Hundred for Venad who met and deliberated on all questions of administration. The country was divided into Divisions, Districts and Desams, the last being apparently the limit or the smallest administrative division.


There are a number of inscriptions relating to taxation. A very important one on a pillar standing outside the temple of Manalikarai Alwar in Kalkulam Taluq, dated 27th Medom 410 M.E., (1235 AD.), records a Royal Proclamation issued after a consultation held among the loyal chieftains of Sri Vira Ravi Kerala Varma ruling Venad, the members of the Kodalinallur assembly and the people of that village as well as the individual entrusted with the right of realising the Government dues. The chief points of interest in this inscription are that the whole village was responsible for the tax so that when any portion of the crops failed, the villagers and the village assembly should inspect and if satisfied of the drought, the sufferers had to pay only one-fifth of the normal dues, while the balance fell on those whose lands did not fail.


If there was a general failure, then the village had to pay only one-fifth of the whole demand due from it; if the villagers should however desire that the collections should be postponed, it was done accordingly, the unpaid amounts being adjusted in the years of plenty. From another inscription on a granite pillar in Kandiripandi Vilai Vadaseri, Agastisvaram Taluq, dated 4th Kartikai 873 M.E. (1697 A.D.), we gather that a Royal writ was issued to the people of Nanjanad remitting the taxes on their lands for 13 years on account of the invasion of the Nayakkars into Nanjanad which evidently caused much loss and damage. Besides the land and other taxes noted in the inscriptions already referred to, there were a number of others also as revealed by the inscription on the southern wall of the temple at Keralapuram dated 21st Kumbham 491 M.E (1316 A.D). They were: —


Othirai tax.

Bamboo grain.

Alageruthu.

Tax on palmyras.

Karaipattu.

Kadumakattalai.

Panam.

Padavaram.

Anaivari


What these taxes were is not clear and further particulars regarding them are wanting.


There are references in some inscriptions to measures of land in vogue and to coins current in the country. In two granite pillars in Vatasseri, there are inscriptions dated 28th Thye 849 M.E (1674 A.D.) and 1st Chitrai 793 M.E. (1618 A.D), from which it is found that the measurement known in Tanjore and Trichinopoly as Veli was in use in Travancore also in early times. The different kinds of coins referred to are, Kaliyugarayan Panam, Erattarasi, Salakkai, Kalanji etc. It is not known what a Salakkai is. Kaliyuga Rayan Panam has already been referred under coins. Erattarasi is apparently a single coin of the value of two Rasi fanams. No reference has hitherto been found about the existence of- a double coin and further researches should throw light on this point.


An inscription on the northern wall of the Bhagavati Temple at Cape Comorin, dated the 27th year of Sri Vikrama Pandya Devar, shows that a gold coin was granted to the temple. Ii is not clear what that coin was.


Some inscriptions refer to the troubles from external foes. The invasion of Nanjanad by the Nayakkars has been already referred to. An inscription on the granite pillar in the temple at Tirunandikara, Kalkulam Taluq, records the destruction of the Talakkulam Salai by the adversary of the Cheras and the destruction by Chola King Raja Raja Kesari Varma of the Kandalur Salai is inscribed on the Kailasanathapparai at Suchindram dated the tenth year of the victor’s reign, wherein he is stated to have conquered Ganjaipadi, Nulambappadi, Tadukaipadi and Vengai Nadu.


Travancore inscriptions offer a remarkably rich and varied field for archaeological study and research. There is scarcely a temple in South Travancore whose walls and pillars are not covered with old inscriptions. The same must be the case more or less with North Travancore though that part of the country on account of its inaccessibility in the olden days was not the scene of successive invasions as the more open and flat tracts of South Travancore; but no archaeological researches have been made there worth the name. The Travancore inscriptions apart from their historical importance are also valuable as evidence of their age. A dated inscription is a rarity in other parts of India but in Travancore nearly all inscriptions bear the years, months and sometimes even dates, days of the week and the position of Jupiter or other constellations to enable the student to trace their exact dates. There can be no doubt that when these are fully studied they will throw considerable light on the early history of Travancore.


We owe it to the genius and energy of His Excellency the late Viceroy (Lord Curzon) that these relics arc being actively resuscitated in other parts of India. He said: —


‘“India is covered with the visible records of vanished dynasties, of forgotten monarchs, of persecuted and sometimes dishonoured creeds... If there be any one who says to me that there is no duty devolving upon a Christian Government to preserve the monuments of a pagan art, or the sanctuaries of an alien faith, I cannot pause to argue with such a man. Art and beauty, and the reverence that is owing to all that has evoked human genius, or has inspired human faith, are independent of creeds, and, in so far as they touch the sphere of religion, are embraced by the common religion of all mankind. Viewed from this standpoint, the rock temple of the Brahmans stands on precisely the same footing as the Buddhist Vihara, the Mahomedan Musjid and the Christian Cathedral.


“There is no principle of artistic discrimination between the mausoleum of the despot and the sepulchre of the saint. What is beautiful, what is historic, what tears the mask off the face of the past, and helps us to read its riddles, and to look it in the eyes — these, and not the dogmas of a combative theology, are the principal criteria to which we must look. Much of ancient history, even in an age of great discoveries, still remains mere guess work. It is only being slowly pieced together by the efforts of scholars and by the outcome of research. But the clues are lying everywhere at our hand, in buried cities, in undeciphered inscriptions, in casual coins, in crumbling pillars and pencilled slabs of stone. They supply the data by which we may reconstruct the annals of the past, and recall to life the morality, the literature, the politics, the art of a perished age...


“To us the relics of Hindu, and Mahomedan, of Buddhist, Brahmin, and Jain are, from the antiquarian, the historical, and the artistic point of view, equally interesting and equally sacred. One does not excite a more vivid, and the other a weaker, emotion. Each represents the glories or the faith of a branch of the human family. Each fills a chapter in Indian history. Each is a part of the heritage which Providence has committed to the custody of the ruling power”.*


NOTEs: * Speech on the ‘Ancient monuments in India delivered at the annual meeting of the Asiatic Society of Bengal on the 7th February 1900.


It appears to me that we could well follow the lead of the Government of India in this respect, for as Lord Curzon remarked,


“For my part I feel far from clear that Government might not do a good deal more than it is now doing, or than it has hitherto consented to do. I certainly cannot look forward to a time at which either the obligations of the State will have become exhausted, or at which archaeological research and conservation in this country can dispense with Government direction and control. I see fruitful fields of labour still unexplored, bad blunders still to be corrected, gaping omissions to be supplied, plentiful opportunities for patient renovation and scholarly research. In my opinion, the tax-payers of this country are in the last degree unlikely to resent a somewhat higher expenditure — and, after all, a few thousand rupees go a long way in archaeological work, and the total outlay is exceedingly small — upon objects in which I believe them to be as keenly interested as we are ourselves. I hope to assert more definitely during my time the Imperial responsibility of Government in respect of Indian antiquities, to inaugurate or to persuade a more liberal attitude on the part of those with whom it rests to provide the means, and to be a faithful guardian of the priceless treasure-house of art and learning that has, for a few years at any rate, been committed to my charge”.




Forts and military works

The following account* of the character of the country from a military point of view, written a few years after the demolition of the fortifications, may be quoted with advantage: —


NOTEs: Memoir of the Survey of the Travancore and Cochin States—Lieuts. Ward and Conner.Vol I. Page 122.


“We do not observe here that multitude of small forts so common in other parts of the peninsula, and which convey such an idea of the insecurity of the times. There is nothing in Travancore that deserves the name of a fortress; its aspect may supersede the necessity, at least render it less urgent of such defences. The lines at Arahmuhni commonly called Arambooly, (measuring 17 miles), that guard the entrance of the country by the champaign tract bordering Cape Comorin, though raised with such immense labour were passed with a facility that proved their weakness. Those on the north terminating at Pullypuram and stretching the hazardous length of twenty-four miles, still further show the futility of attempting to fortify any large extent of the country. If Tippu was once foiled in his attempt to surmount them, the defeat is not chargeable to their strength. They now present only a high bank and narrow half-choked ditch, the whole overgrown with forest, but in point of structure they are greatly inferior to the southern lines, and could at no time have offered any difficulties the most ordinary enterprise would not readily overcome.


“The fort of Kodungaloor (forming a point upon those lines) which arrested Tippu’s advance experienced his vengeance, and is now scarcely to be traced. The two lines of fortifications intersecting the country and passing Yaithumanoor and Muattupully are quite of similar character, only of a somewhat ruder structure; a strong fence of bamboos following the crests of the banks serve now to point out the course they pursued. In the obscure feuds of the petty chiefs whose boundary they marked or guarded, they may doubtless, however feeble the barrier, have answered the purposes of defence, but it is only for such warfare they are calculated, and it is impossible not to regret that the labour dedicated lo their erection had not been better applied. The walls encompassing a few towns in the southern parts have but a weak profile. Palpanaveram and Oodagherry are among the most remarkable, but are places of no strength; their fortifications planned on an extensive scale yet remain unfinished. The latter presents however many facilities for the improvement of its defence. The coast is entirely devoid of fortified places; the little fort of Chunganacherry, built by that warlike prelate Menezes, probably, to check the levity of his converts, is now dismantled. Its situation was valuable as a depot and its strength, sufficient to secure it against any attempts of the natives, rendered it in some measure a place of retreat against the accidents of war.


The country is particularly strong and generally woody. The multitude of streams that intersect while they aid the agriculture guard the possessions of the people the inequality of its surface renders cavalry almost useless and impedes the movements of regular troops, at least the exercise in some degree of that discipline which renders them formidable. The ghauts, that grand natural barrier which constitutes a no less striking physical than moral limit, at once defines and defends the eastern confines; the mass of hills descending from them are only traversed by narrow passes, which run into rugged defiles as they proceed eastward, but though opposing a strong and defensible frontier, its great extent would demand the exertions of an enterprising people to guard all its previous points — an undertaking rendered the more difficult from the bad climate common to those parts during a period of the year and the vast extent of hills intervening between the populated tracts and eastern confines. The northern frontier is for the greater part mountainous, and where not covered by hills, lines have been thrown up to defend it. The inefficacy of those works as a barrier has already been mentioned; they are crossed by a variety of roads, which running through a comparatively open and level country, present no material impediment. In fact, there is a considerable choice of entrances, but it is only the most northern and southern ones that admit the passage of artillery; light bodies of infantry unencumbered by heavy baggage might enter by all the smaller ghauts.


“It is said that Hyder or Tippu had it in contemplation to penetrate by the Goodaloor or Cumbum ghaut, and the choice would have been judicious, as enabling him by a few forced marches to reach the central parts of the country. The monsoon would necessarily affect the efficiency of any military equipment to a degree that would perhaps render it necessary to suspend operations during its violence: the period however that can be so considered is not of long continuance. This part of Malayalam eluded rather than opposed Mussulman and Mahratta dominions; its weakness almost courted aggressions, but to its remote situation and mountainous aspect may possibly be attributed its escape from the grasp of those conquerors, whose armies composed in a great measure of hordes of cavalry, have not ventured to pass the mountainous line that equally opposed their entrance as escape.”


The following is a brief description of the three most important forts of Travancore.


1. The UDAYAGIRI FORT* is situated alongside the main southern road (33 miles from Trivandrum), running south-east and leading to Tinnevelly.


NOTEs: * The description of this and that of the Padmanabhapuram Fort is taken from a Report submitted to Government by the Chief Engineer in June 1878.


The area of the ground enclosed within the walls of the fort is 84¾ acres. Within this area there is a small tank and a number of ruined buildings amongst which is a church. In the centre of a large square of fort, there is a hill 260 feet high which commands the whole of the fort.


The walls enclosing the fort are, on an average, 15 feet thick and 18 feet high including the parapet. They are lined within and without with stone; the outside lining or fencing is of laterite imbedded in chunam. The facing is on an average 4 feet thick up to the foot of parapets. The parapets are 3 feet thick and on an average 4 feet high. The inner lining is of rough stone 2 feet thick and on an average 6 feet high. The space between the inner and outer lining consists of earth which goes to form the ramparts. The fort has in all ten bastions, five of which are intended for cannon, the others being pierced for musketry only. The main entrance into the fort is a gateway near one of the bastions which is 10 x 6. Besides the gateway, there are smaller inlets near three other bastions. The fort walls are in a fair state of preservation. The entire area is overgrown with jungle.


2. THE PAMANABHAPURAM FORT. This lies about half a mile north-west of Udayagiri fort, on the southern road 33 miles from Trivandrum, and is overlooked by a hill to the north on which there is a redoubt built. The distance of the redoubt from the nearest bastion of the fort is 2,540 feet bearing 12° W of N. The height of the redoubt as observed by the aneroid is 220 feet above ramparts of fort. This was at one time the capital of Travancore and is still an important place being the headquarters of the Southern Division.


The area of the ground enclosed within the fort walls is 186¼ acres. The space is for the most part filled up with houses (amongst the most noteworthy of which are the palaces of the former Maharajahs and two large and famous temples. There is also wet cultivation within, irrigated by a large tank situated at the north-east comer of the fort.





The walls comprising the fort are 3 feet thick and built with granite up to within 8 feet of the parapets, the remaining portion being laterite. At the four corners of the fort there are four main bastions more or less of one size and shape. One of these was evidently in- tended as a sort of watch-tower since it runs out to the summit of a detached hill. The fort has ramparts only for half the length of the wall, the walls alone being defences for the remaining length. Even there the ramparts are not complete throughout, as in certain places the earth filling is wanted. The height of the walls varies according to the inclination of the ground, the highest elevation being 24 feet and the lowest 15 feet, including the parapets which are all 3 feet high throughout. The principal entrances into the fort are four gateways situated one on each wall and there are also other smaller gateways near three of the bastions.


The fort is not overgrown with jungle. Its walls to all appearance are generally sound. Over one of the gateways however there is an unfilled breach in the wall of 8 feet, and at another point it is observed that the wall for a length of 27 feet consists of nothing but laterite from top to bottom.


3. VATTAKOTTA FORT. The South Travancore lines or Vattakotta are worthy of notice extending as they do across the country. They are built of stone cemented with chunam, but are now in ruins having been demolished soon after the entrance of the British troops in 1809. The new lines, as they are called, commence on the coast ¾ of a mile west of the point of Cape Comorin, with bastions at 165 yards distant from each other; they run north 1½ miles to Chevery Kotta, a redoubt built on reeks which is conspicuous from thence, then W. N. W. 3 miles in a direct line where they are connected with the old lines about 500 yards S. S. E. of the village of Thanumalayan Putur, at which spot there are two gateways the old hues from thence run at an obtuse angle with the new which still continue to the Pinnewaram gate and from thence in the same direction to the steps for the Nedumalai hill and appear again on the steep on the opposite side and run 5 furlongs to the Rameswar gate; from thence to the slopes of Kattadi hill, a distance of 2 miles, a granary and powder magazine are built a short distance north of the Rameswar gate, and thence rather waving to Vattakotta, a strong irregular redoubt on the coast, which is the only part connected with the lines that has not been demolished.*


NOTEs: * Memoris of the Travancore Survey, Vol II. Page 5.








Tombs and Monuments

The writer of the voluminous book, Church History of Travancore* says that in point of ancient monuments the Christian church in Travancore is perhaps the poorest church in the world. It is strange, he says, that when there are monuments and epitaphs belonging to the Portuguese, Dutch and English periods, there are none belonging to the earlier period when the Christians were under the entire sway of Native Rulers. Excepting the tombs in the numerous Christian cemeteries in the State, there are no other kinds of monuments of any importance. The old tombs in the cemeteries are mostly of Portuguese, Dutch and English origin, all belonging to a comparatively recent period. The oldest tombstones yet found do not take us beyond the 17th century. These are mostly to be found in the following places: —


NOTEs: * By C.M. Agur B.A


The Anjengo cemetery; the Cape Comorin Church; St. Francis Xavier’s Church at Kottar; L. M. S. cemetery, Nagercoil; in the ruins of the old Church at Fort Udayagiri; Tiruvitankode Church; Kolachel L. M. S. cemetery at Parassala; L. M. S. cemetery at Neyyur; Valiatora Church near Trivandrum; L. M. S. compound at Kannamoola, Trivandrum; Christ Church cemetery, Trivandrum; L. M. S. cemetery at Pattathanam, Quilon; Tuet Church, Quilon; Modakara Church, Quilon; St. Thomas’ Church, Quilon; Shencottah; C. M. S. Church, Mavelikara; C. M. S. cemetery at Alleppey; C. M. S. cemetery, Kottayam; Verapoly Church; Puthenchera Church; Manjummel Church; and Tangasseri.


Mr. Agur believes that the utter absence of Christian monuments in the country belonging to the purely Hindu period does not much speak for the toleration afforded. Another reason urged by him is the absence of systematic archaeological researches. It is unsafe to hazard any opinions on such matters without sufficient data. The tolerance of the ancient governments of Travancore under Hindu kings is established beyond a doubt. It is not an open question. It is handed down to us as an undisputed tradition. I should think that the absence of Christian monuments is due mostly to the apathy of the Native Christians themselves, an apathy natural to the community as in the case of their Hindu brethren with whom they are one in race and sentiment.


The real reason for the absence of such tombs and epitaphs is that, as admitted by the writer himself, “the mass of Native Christians for centuries seem to have never cared to erect tombs over the graves of their friends and relations. What a contrast these Malabar Christians are to their contemporaries, the early Christians of Rome and the West, who carefully deposited the remains of their dear departed ones in well-prepared chambers sealed and inscribed.