TRAVANCORE STATE MANUAL Volume One
V. NAGAM AIYA
Dewan Peishcar, Travancore kingdom
6. History - Section B — Early History - Part II (1100— 1400 A.D.)
In the beginning of the 12th century A.D., a battle was fought between the king of Kupakas (Travancore sovereign) and Rajasimha, the Pandyan king, at the dam of the river Parali, alias ‘Pandian Anai’, during which the dam was demolished by the forces of the king of Kupakas. He defeated Rajasimha and conquered the country of Kottar together with the whole of Nanjanad on the 11th Chingam 292 M.E (1106 A.D.). It does not appear that this king of Venad, whose name we do not know, ruled long over Nanjanad, for we find that at the end of the 1st quarter of the 12th century A.D., Vadasseri was the eastern limit of his territory and Kottar and other portions of Nanjanad were under the sovereignty of Kulottunga Chola Deva who was one of the Mummudi Chola kings, named Rajakesarivarman alais Rajendra Chola Deva, and who reigned for a long period of forty and odd years with Kanchipuram as his capital. He changed the name of Kottar to Mummudi Cholanallur, approximately in the 39th year of his reign. Rajendra is then said to have come to Vizhinjam. “He with his army commencing his march towards the west on an auspicious day, caused the mountains to bend their back, the rivers to forsake their beds and the Vilinjam seas to be stirred and agitated”.* In confirmation of the above fact we find that until recently the town of Vizhinjam was called in deeds and documents Vilinjamana Rajendra Cholapattanam.
NOTEs: Mr. V. Kanakasabhai Pillai's Tamil Historical Manuscripts. The Indian Antiquary Vol. XXI
Shungoonny Menon gives the following events for the period: — It was about this period that the combined army of Travancore and Kolathunad drove out the Bellalas from Kerala and enjoyed their respective territories as originally assigned to them by Parasurama — the former from Korampuzhay to the south and the latter from that river to the north. Again the Travancore territories were reduced to small dimensions, the Raja of Cochin taking possession of the northern Districts of Travancore and the Pandyan kings assuming Nanjanad and other possessions. The petty chiefs of Changanachery, Thekkamkur, Vadakkamkur, and other places asserted their independence and consequently the vast kingdom which once extended to 800 miles in length was reduced to a length of 70 miles and a breadth of 20 miles, that is, from Edawa near Varkala in the north to Erattamalai (eastern side of Udayagiri) in the south. Two members of the Royal family of Travancore were adopted to the Madathinkur Swarupam at Mavelikara, which was originally related to the Travancore Royal family and thus the two territories became united.
During the Mahomedan rule of Pandya which continued for half a century, one Nanja Koravan, a feudatory chief of Travancore, obtained possession of Nanjanad and established himself as a petty ruler. But subsequent to the release of the Madura kingdom from the Mahomedan sway, Nanja Koravan and his confederacy were driven away by the king of Travancore in the year 292 M.E (1117 A.D.)
In 301 M.E (1125 A.D.), Sri Vira Kerala Varma I flourished in Venad and his loyal chieftains made over the tax in paddy and money due from Vadasseri as a gift to the temple of Rajendra Cholesvara for the daily performance of Tirumadura-Panakam. Travancore or Venad, as it was then called, was under him a well-organised principality with loyal feudal chieftains to transact public business and to levy taxes, as it is done now, both in kind and in cash; the Government dues were then moderate and fair.
The circumstances under which Sri Vira Kerala of Venad was prompted to dedicate so piously a portion of his revenue to a temple founded by a foreign monarch are difficult to determine. The grant was, however, meant in all probability as a political peace-offering to the representatives of the Mummudi Chola power in the land.*
NOTEs: * Early Sovereigns of Travancore - By the late Prof. P. Sundaram Pillai M.A.
We do not know how long this king ruled. We find his successor Sri Kodai Kerala Varma ruling in Venad between 320 and 325 M.E (1145—1150 A. D.) This king recovered possession of Suchindram and other portions of Nanjanad and made to the temple of Suchindram a gift of lands in the following villages, namely Suchindram, Karkadu, Tenvalanallur (or Kakkumudur) as it is now called and Tenkanpudur. During his reign, the measurements of land and grains were the same as they were in the Chola country. Kodai was an epithet applied to the kings of Travancore.
The successor of this king was Sri Vira Ravi Varma who ruled over Venad from 336 to 339 M.E. (1161—1164 A.D.). The remaining northern portion of Nanjanad was added by him to his kingdom. The gift of the lands in Tazhakudi Puduvurarmulai to the temple of Puravavi Vinnavar Alvar was made by his loyal chieftains Singan Rangan of Pasunkulam (Painkulam) Tennadu, and three others on the 6th of Edavam 336 M.E. There was no uniform standard for measures and weights anywhere in Southern India; each temple used its own under the name of the local deity. The village governments that existed received the support and sympathy of this sovereign. One of his documents confirms the inference that has already been drawn with respect to the eastern boundary of the Venad principality at that time. Since the executive officers referred to in the deed are styled “officers in charge of the affairs of Nanjanad”
the Chola power must have been by this time altogether extinct there. Vira Ravi Varma ruled peacefully over all South Travancore, his affairs in Nanjanad being administered by a triumvirate composed of Kerala Santosha Pallavaraiyan, probably the chief of the local officers, Govindan Vikraman and Anandan Chakrapani who were in charge of the civil administration. The Rajah’s ministers of State at the capital were the loyal chieftains, Pullalan Aiyan, Singan Rangan, Narayanan Shungaran and Kodai Devan.
The immediate successor of Ravi Varma was Sri Vira Kerala Varma II, who reigned over Venad from 339 to 342 M.E (1164 to 1167 A D.). His experienced Prime-minister was Singan Rangan of Pasunkulam, who made gifts to the temple of Puravari Chaturvedimangalam in 336 M.E His officers in charge of the civil administration at Nanjanad were Kali Kunra Peralan, and Nayinan Kunra Peralan. During this reign the Pandya king Maravarman Sri Vallabha, who ascended the throne in 333 M.E, married the daughter of Vira Kerala’s younger brother, Sri Vira Udaya Martanda. Sri Vallabha belonged to the family of the Canarese Rajahs whose capital was Attur before he intermingled with the Pandyas. For, he subscribed to one of his edicts as “the lord of Vali-Attur”
to show his patriotism. The channel of the Tamrapumi river known as ’Kannadiyan Caul’ in the Tinnevelly district commemorates the original tribe of Canarese people to which he belonged.
Sri Vallabha Pandya ruled over Eastern and Western Vembanad (i.e Tinnevelly and North Travancore) until the year 364 — 365 M.E, (1190 A.D.) with Valiiyur (ancient name Alliyur) for his capital. It was somewhere between 337 and 339 M.E., that Sri Vallabha married the daughter of Sri Vira Udaya Martanda, the date of whose accession was about 348 M.E. His wife assumed the name of Tribhuvana Devi after one of his surnames, viz., Tribhuvana chakravarti (i.e., the emperor of three worlds). The king Sri Vira Kerala II gave the village of Vira-Keralamangalam in Valliyur, as dowry to the princess Tribhuvana Devi at her wedding.
In 841 M.E, the queen Tribhuvana Devi was delivered of a son. In 349 M.E (1174 A.D.), the Sri Vaishnavas and the temple authorities of Puravari Chaturvedimangalam in South Travancore petitioned to Sri Vallabha for the gift of certain lands free of tax to the temple of Puravari Alvar. The gift was duly made by him in 351 M. B., (1176 A.D.) with the knowledge of his wife, and the implied consent of his son Kulasekhara, who was then ten years old, as the property was a portion of his wife’s dowry granted by Vira Kerala II. Consequently one niyogam (order) was issued by the minor son to the assembly of Vira-Keralamangalam with a
certificate of his guardian
directing them to place the property under the management of the temple of Puravari Alvar. To symbolise the minor’s right over this donation an emblematic style
was engraved on the boundary stone, besides the disc of the divine donee. Meanwhile Tribhuvana Devi gave birth to a second son Elaya Perumal and died. Elaya Perumal erected the Udayamartanda mantapam, and deified his mother therein as a common tutelary deity
to protect the two families
of Cheravarasam and Srivallabhavamsam
The first son of Maravarman Sri Vallabha was Jatavarman Kulasekhara Perumal who ascended the throne in 365 M.E, the last year of the reign of Sri Vallabha.
Sri Vira Udaya Martanda Varma, the brother of Vira Kerala II, and the father of Tribhuvana Devi, succeeded to the throne in 348 M.E., (1173 A.D.). His capital was Kolidaikuru, now the insignificant village of Kulikod near Padmanabhapuram. He built the front mantapam in the temple of Tiruvattar, and named it after him. According to Shungoonny Menon, the Pantalam Royal family which had already settled in Travancore in 904 A.D., received some territorial grants from the Travancore king in 345 M.E. (1170 A.D) so also did the Punjar Rajah who emigrated to Travancore at the time. Evidently the Rajas of Travancore with their diminished dominion and power were not then in a position to make large grants to the chiefs of Pantalam and Punjar.
The next sovereign we have to note is Sri Devadaram Kerala Varma (Sri Vira Kerala III), who flourished in Venad in Kanni 368 M.E. He founded a village (with a temple) called after his name Virakeralapuram or Viralam, as it is now called, near Attungal in Chirayinkil Taluq. The country about Attungal was known in early times as Kupadesam - a province altogether distinct from Venad. Jatavarman Kulasekhara, who ascended the throne in 365 M.E., and reigned over North Travancore for a period of thirty years, was the contemporary of Sri Vira Kerala III and of his successors Sri Vira Rama Varma and Sri Vira Raman Kerala.
In 371 M.E (1196 A.D.), the ancient throne of Venad was occupied by SRI VIRA RAMA VARMA TIRUVADI. From the inscription in which this king is mentioned, we are able to trace two or three striking features of the social economy of the times.
“Besides the village associations already noticed, Venad, it would appear, had an important public body under the name of the ‘Six Hundred’
to supervise the working of temples and charities connected therewith. What other powers and privileges this remarkable corporation of “Six Hundred” was in possession of, future investigation can alone determine. But a number so large, nearly as large as the British House of Commons, could not have been meant, in so small a state as Venad was in the 12th Century, for the single function of temple supervision. There is an allusion again in this record to the Valanjiyars of the eighteen districts. The ‘eighteen districts’ were no doubt eighteen administrative divisions of Venad ................We may reasonably presume that the eighteen Valanjiyars were eighteen local magnates, or feudal barons of the realm.......... It looks probable that the loyal chieftains transacting business in the name of the king and forming, as it were his government or cabinet ministry came from this class of Valanjiyars or feudal barons”. *
NOTEs. * Early Sovereigns of Travancore. Indian Antiquary, Vol XXIV Page 285
There were also slaves attached to the land and there were two important kinds of land tenure, Ural or Uranmai subject to the control of the village associations, and Karanmai or freeholds, directly under the control of the state.
The successor of this Rama Varma was probably Sri Vira Raman Kerala Varma who ruled over Venad from 384 to 389 M.E (1209— 1214 A.D.). His daughter Sri Vira Umaiyammai, constructed the temple of Mahadeva at Kadinangulam on the 18th day of the month of Minam in 389 M.E. Raman Kerala Varma’s inscription at Trivandrum clearly shows, according to Prof. Sundaram Pillay, “that in 384 M.E, Trivandrum like so many other villages, had a sabha or assembly, with a sabhajnita, chairman or secretary of its own, and that it used to meet on occasions of importance in the old temple at Mitranandapuram about a furlong to the west of the present shrine of Sri Padmanabha. The south-western comer of the courtyard of this temple is still pointed out as the sacred spot where sabhas used to meet of old, and the word tek or ‘south’ serves as no dubious guide to that spot. The raised floor of this hall still remains but the roof which must have resounded with the voice of many a wise counsel, is no more. The other inscription of Sri Vira Raman Kerala Varma taken from the temple of Kadinangulam proves beyond all doubt that on the morning about 8 A.M. of Thursday the 18th Minam 389 M.E (1214 A.D), that sovereign occupied the throne of Venad. How long ago he ascended it, and when exactly it passed away to his successor are points yet to be determined by further researches.
Next in order comes Sri Vira Ravi Kerala Varma, as may be inferred from a Vattezhuttu inscription at Manalikarai, a petty village near Padmanabhapuram in South Travancore. The purport of the inscription is that on the 27th Medam 410 M.E, when Jupiter was in Vrischigam, was issued the following Proclamation: —
“Agreeably to the understanding arrived at in a consultation duly held among the loyal chieftains of Sri Vira Iravi Kerala Varma Tiruvadi, graciously ruling over Venad, the members of the sabha (or assembly) of Kodainalloor, and the people of that village as well as Kandan Tiruvikraman of Marugatacheri, entrusted with the right of realising the government dues: We command and direct that the tax due from government lands be taken as amounting in paddy to ..........................and 24, in arakkal crop (Kanni crop), and 725 and 24, in charal crop (Kumbham), and making up per year a total of ................and the same, due from tax -paying village lands, be taken as amounting in paddy to ................and 24, in arakkal crop; and 728 ..............and 24, in charal crop, and making up per year a total of.................. 709 2/10; ....................and that when the due quantity is measured out, a receipt be granted, discharging the liability; the fact being duly noted also in the rent roll, and we command moreover that the order of permanent lease (now in force) be surrendered into the hands of the clerks who write or issue such deeds .................From the Tuvami, (Swami), too, no more lease be taken. When part of the tax is paid, and part is still due, a list shall be prepared showing the arrears for the whole year; and an anchail (or authorisation) taken in writing to realise the same from the sabha and the inhabitants; and the arrears then recovered accordingly.
“In seasons of drought and consequent failure of crops, the members of the sabha and the people of the village shall inspect the lands, and ascertain which have failed and which have not. The lands that have failed shall be assessed at one-fifth of the normal dues, but this one-fifth shall be levied as an additional charge on the remaining lands bearing a crop. If all the taxable lands appear to have equally failed, the sabha and the villagers shall report the matter to the Swami and, after the Swami has inspected the lands and ascertained the fact, one-fifth (of the entire dues) shall be levied. This one-fifth shall be taken to include pattavritti and, onachelavu amounting in paddy to................ If the members of the sabha and the inhabitants agree among themselves, and pray in common for a postponement of payment, as the only course open to a majority among them, this demand (one-fifth drought rate) shall be apportioned over all the lands paying tax to government (to be levied in the subsequent harvest) but without interest and pattari rent roll of the current year being scored out. Should anything whatever be done contrary to these rules, the deviation shall be visited with fine .................and the strict procedure again adopted. This Our regulation shall continue in force as long as the moon and the stars endure.”
This is a true stone-inscribed copy of the Royal writ. According to the late Prof. Sundaram Piilay, the Travancore Honorary Archaeologist,
“This grants not a perpetual lamp or ‘a mountain-like drum’ to the Gods above, but peace and protection to toiling humanity here below. One of the most momentous questions in all human communities has been, and will always be, the price each individual in it has to pay for the advantages of organized social life. In proportion to the fixity and definiteness characterizing this price, in all its aspects, is the government of the community said to be civilised, stable and constitutional. An important item in the price to be thus paid is the pecuniary contribution given by each individual for the maintenance of the State. In all agricultural countries, the bulk of the contribution must assume the form of land tax. In Travancore, then, which is little else than agricultural, where in fact there is no individual but has his taravad his plot of land, the plot in which he is born in which he lives and works and in which he dies and is cremated too, so that his very ashes stick to it even after his soul departs from this world, in a country so entirely agricultural, there can be no question of more vital interest, or of more universal concern, than the nature and amount of land tax, the manner and time of paying it, and the machinery through which it is realized for the State. It appears to have been the practice with several governments in by-gone days to farm out the land revenue to the highest bidders, with a view to save themselves the trouble and expense of collecting it in dribblets.
“The iniquity of the system may be better imagined than described. It seems, nevertheless, to have been current in the neighbouring districts of Tinnevely and Madura to the very days of the Honourable East India Company. But in Travancore, thanks to the village associations and the magnanimity and political sagacity that seem to have uniformly characterized the Venad sovereigns, the system, if it was ever largely introduced, was nipped in the bud, and the disasters of the fable of the goose with the golden eggs were early averted.
“For, observe how the royal writ before us deals that system a death blow. It quietly takes away, in the first place, its sting by fixing the government dues exactly and unalterably per year and per harvest. The lease again is not to be a tira taracu, an enduring one, but to be renewed from time to time so that the government farmer would have no chance of abusing his power on the strength of the hold he might otherwise have of the people. The writ provides further, for the reduction of the government demand to one-fifth in times of drought and failure. Why, when some lands alone fail in a village, this one-fifth should be given up on those lands, but levied as an additional charge upon the remaining, might demand a word of explanation. In seasons of partial failure, and in tracts of land not fully opened out by easy lines of communication, the price of corn goes easily high; and the Kodainallur council seems to have thought it just, or at all events conducive to fellow-feeling, that those that are benefited by such an adventitious rise of prices should forego a portion of their profits for the sake of their suffering fellow-villagers. At any rate, the measure must have acted as a check upon false complaints of failure, since the duty of determining what lands had failed, and what not, was left to the villagers themselves under the supervision of the sabha.
“It would be interesting to know who the Swami was, to whom the edict assigns the duty of ascertaining and certifying the fact, in case the whole village fails. He was, no doubt, some high ecclesiastical functionary, with a considerable portion of the land revenue of the village probably assigned to him for his own support and the support of the temple he was in charge of. The prohibition to take out leases from the Swami would then mean prohibition to farm out to the highest bidder the land revenue so assigned to him. Anyhow, when the Swami certifies a complete failure of crops in the whole village, the government reduces its total demand to one-fifth, and, forgoes in addition, its right to levy two minor charges, under the name of pattavritti (probably a present on the anniversary of the Sovereign’s accession to the throne), and onachelavu, a special contribution to keep up the annual national festival of that name (Onam).”
Further he writes; —
“It is said that the edict is issued in terms of the understanding come to, in a council composed of the loyal chieftains or ministers of the king, the assembly of Kodaniallur, the people of the village, and Kandan Tiruvikraman, the local revenue farmer or collector. I call him the collector, for, however oppressive a lessee or farmer he might have been before the date of this document, he and his successors in office could have been nothing more than simple collectors of revenue after the exact definition of the government dues given in the edict itself. No doubt he must have been a terrible man in his day with an appointed function in the evolution of history, not unlike perhaps the one played by those who went forth to demand ‘ship money’ in the days of Hampden. The good people of Kodainallur seem to have been also equal to the occasion.
“Here is proof, if need be, of the independent nature and constitution of the old village assemblies of Travancore................ The sabha appear as permanent and well constituted public bodies that acted as a buffer between the people and the government.... The whole procedure reflects the greatest credit on all the parties concerned, their conjoint action resulting in so precious a charter to the people, and so unmistakable a monument of the sovereign’s unbounded love of his subjects. Though the wording of the document makes the enactment applicable primarily only to the village of Kodainallur, I have no doubt it was sooner or later extended to the whole of Venad. A just principle needs but once to be recognised to be applied on all hands. I hesitate not, therefore, to call this Manalikarai Proclamation, one of the great charters of Travancore.
“But the immediate purpose for which the Manalikarai charter is here introduced, is to prove the rule of Sri Vira Ravi Kerala Varma on the 28th Medam 410 M.E or about April 1235 A.D. Having met Sri Vira Rama Kerala Varma only 21 years prior, we may take the two reigns as having been conterminous with one another’ *
NOTEs: * Early Sovereigns of Travancore. Indian Antiquary Vol XXIV Page 311
From a Vattezhuttu inscription at Varkala, it is inferred that seventeen years later still, another monarch ruled over Venad, Sri VlRA PADMANABHA MARTANDA VARMA TIRUVADI, whose loyal chieftains in 427 M. E (1252 A.D) repaired the temple of Vadaserikkarai at Udayamartandapurum in Varkala. The sacred spot where the temple of Janardanaswami now stands was then called Udayamartandapuram, no doubt, in commemoration of an earlier sovereign at whose instance it was built.
According to the mention in the inscription of the temple of Arulala Perumal at Kanchipuram (Conjeevaram) published by Prof. Kielhorn, there was a queen of the Kupaka family named UMA Devi who was ruling over Venad in 1252 A. D She was married by Jayasimha Deva, a king belonging to the Yadu family of the Lunar race. JAYASIMHA DEVA ruled over Kerala with his wife Uma Devi who brought forth a son Ravi Varma Kulasekhara Perumal in the Saka Samvat 1188 (1266-7 A.D). This Jayasimha seems to have been a good warrior, for he brought the whole of Kerala under his sway. Quilon was his capital, and the country round about was till recently called ‘Jayasimhanad’ after his name.
The date of Jayasimha’s death cannot now be definitely ascertained. He probably lived to the last years of the 13th century. His son, the great Ravi Varma Kulasekhara Perumal was ruling over Kerala in 1299 A.D., with Quilon as his capital. He had already defeated the Pandyan king and married his daughter. He made the Pandyas subject to the Keralas. He was famed as a great warrior at the time of the invasion of South India by Malik Kafar in 1310 A.D. Within a few years of his accession to the throne of Quilon, he seems to have made large conquests in South India. He conquered the Cholas and the Pandyas and at the age of 46, i.e. in 1312 or 1313 A.D., he was crowned on the banks of the Vegavati at Conjeevaram.
The king of Venad at the time was Sri Vira Udaya Martanda Varma Tiruvadiyar alias Vira Pandya Devar. Ravi Varma Kulasekhara had evidently already subjugated him. ‘He apparently again made war against Vira Pandya, defeated him and drove him into Konkana and from there into the forests and conquered the Northern Country’. This war against Vira Pandya took place in 1316 A.D.
To return to Venad. Sri Vira Udaya Martanda Varma Tiruvadiyar occupied the throne of Venad in 1316 A.D. The inscription at Keralapuram two miles from Padmanabhapuram, which mentions his name, also calls him Vira Pandya Deva. It may be interesting to know the circumstances that led to the assumption of this new and foreign title. Prof. Sundaram Pillay surmises: —
“May it be that when the Pandya power shrunk back to its original condition, after having been blown out into dangerous and meddlesome greatness by the breath of a Kochchadaiyan or a Komaran, the Venad kings not only regained their lost ground, but also retaliated by invading and conquering a portion of the dominion of their recent conquerors and assumed, too, their style and manners to legitimise their hold upon the territories so added to their own? Agreeably to this foreign title, we find also the no less foreign method of dating the inscription in the year of the sovereign’s reign”
From one of the grants of Martanda Varma, we learn that bamboo-grain and hill produce were the staple products on which hill men subsisted. To the known tax on handlooms we find here attached a tax on the palmyra, and it looks probable that what is meant is a tax for tapping and not for otherwise using that palm. Besides fines, the government of those days appropriated certain payments under the name of ko-muraipadu literally ‘royal-justice-income’. It could be taken to represent the court fees and judicial revenue of modern times. Karaippattu means ‘adhering to’ or ‘reaching land’, and it might be taken to include treasure-troves, mines, jetsams and floatsams, and all such royalties known to law.
According to Shungoonny Menon, in the year 480 M.E (1305 A.D.), two females from Kolathunad family were adopted by Aditya Varma who then reigned and they were installed as Attungal Moothatampuran (Senior Rani) and Attungal Elayatampuran (Junior Rani). Palaces were constructed at Attungal for their residence, and country around was assigned to them, the revenue derived therefrom being placed at their disposal.
The accounts of the Vaikam temple show that in 505 M.E. (1330 A.D., the king assumed authority over the affairs of that temple, which proves that the king of Travancore extended his sovereignty over some of the northern Devaswams at this period. It has to be noted that this information is not corroborated by any inscriptions.
A short digression is necessary here to view in brief the history of Nanjanad, the tract of land lying between the Kerala and Pandyan kingdoms. In the palmy days of the ancient Pandyan Empire, this district, along with the rest of South India belonged to it. When the Cholas conquered the Pandyas, Nanjanad passed to them by right of conquest. The kings of Kupaka seem very early to have claimed the district, for we saw the king of the Kupakas defeating the Pandyan king at Parali in 1100 A.D. The country thus conquered remained with the Venad king Sri Koda Kerala in 1145 A.D. In 1166 A.D., Suchindram and the country adjoining were again under the Pandyan king, Maravarman Sri Vallabha. About the close of the century the country seems again to have been reconquered by the Venad kings. Three dated inscriptions of the temple of Rajendracholesvaram Udaya Nayanar clearly show that the foreign adversaries again transformed Kottar into Cholakeralapuram from 1217 to 1265 A.D.
It appears from some of the inscriptions of Rajendracholesvaram and Suchindram that one — Kochchadaiya Varma alias Sundara Chola Pandya Deva ruled over the whole of Nanjanad in South Travancore up to the 11th year of his reign, 1262 A.D. Sundara Chola Pandya Deva succeeded at least in subjugating the whole of the district of which Kottar was the centre. He seems to have also established his authority so widely and well as to leave private parties to reckon their grants by the year of his reign, and to call an ancient hamlet like Suchindram by a new-fangled name Sundarachola Chaturvedimangalam coined specially to flatter his vanity.
Sundara Chola Pandya Kochchadaiya Varma was by no means the last of the revived dynasty of the Pandyas to molest Travancore. This Sundara Pandya is identified by some scholars with the Pandya sovereign Jatila Varma who about 1275 A.D., is said to have “unsheathed the victorious weapon in order to destroy the town of Vilinjam which has the three waters of the sea for its ditch, whose strong and high walls which rub against the inner part of the receding sky rise so high that the sun has to retire in his course, which is as strong as the fort in the beautiful town of Ilankai (Ceylon), and whose lofty halls and walls are resplendent in jewels, conquered and destroyed the king of Venad who had a victorious army and took possession of numerous elephants resembling hills, horses with manes, the family treasures and the fertile country along with its magnificent treasures.” * This certainly speaks for the prosperity of the country of Venad in the thirteenth century.
NOTEs: * Mr. Venkayya's Translation of the Madras Museum plates of Jatila Varma - Indian Antiquary, Vol XXII.
About the close of the century, Jayasimha conquered part of Nanjanad and this partial conquest was completed by his son, the great Ravi Varma who was crowned at Conjeevaram. It was probably after the death of this Ravi Varma that the district came under the sway of Nanji Koravan, the traditionary account of whose life may be thus briefly given.
The country of Nanjanad comprised twelve pidagais or small divisions belonging to the two Taluqs of Tovala and Agastisvaram. After the downfall of the government of the Chera, Chola and Pandya kings, there were many petty States, each independent in itself, ruled by petty chiefs. At that time there was one Konangi Koravan leading the life of a hunter. He made his livelihood by making baskets &c., from the fibre of the date and other palms. He had two wives, the elder of whom had a son about eighteen years of age. He was wandering with his son and wives in the woods in search of date palms for making baskets and one day he came near Bhutapandi and saw a large bush of palm on what is called the Taduga Malai, a little hill to the east of it. While he was tearing the stem of the date leaves with his scythe, all at once the scythe was turned to a golden hue. He was very much surprised and called his wives and son to his side and they all began to examine the place. A well was seen there. All the weapons they had were dipped into it and they at once turned gold. They then concealed the well from view. Konangi Koravan soon became very rich.
He built a house and a small hamlet around it and the inhabitants were all brought under his control. He increased his influence and power gradually and made himself king of the Koravas. The probable date of his rule may be taken to be after 455 M. E. (1280 A.D.). The villages of Cape Comorin, Suchindram &c., came gradually under his sway. He ruled over his subjects very kindly, the tribute paid to him by his subjects being only iron implements; they were thus left in the undisturbed enjoyment of the whole produce of their lands. The Korava chief collected all iron implements from his subjects and converted them all into gold by immersing them in the well. This Konangi Koravan is said to have ruled over the two Taluqs for about thirty-five years.
His son, Bommayya Koravan, also followed his father’s example in ruling over his subjects kindly and considerately. He amassed immense wealth by turning all iron vessels and implements into gold. He had under his command an army of 10,000 foot and 100 elephants. He also gave all the produce of the fields to his subjects and looked after their welfare. He is said to have ruled for about thirty-two years. Nanji Koravan was the son of Bonnnayya Koravan. He was a very intelligent and capable ruler. He equipped himself with all the necessary weapons and acquired influence over the neighbouring Poligars. He looked after the welfare of his subjects and gained their respect and good-will. While thus ruling, the want of a son to succeed him made him miserable. He married seven wives and at last had a son by the seventh wife. He was very much gratified, invited all his subjects to his palace, gave them liberal charities and entertained them sumptuously. He caused sandal and betel to be distributed among those present enquiring of each to what caste he belonged.
He came to know that there were several castes of people under his sway, of whom the Vellalas occupied the highest social position. The ceremony of Annaprashnam or the first giving of rice to the child was performed with great mirth and festivity. All the subjects of the kingdom were invited and sumptuously fed according to their respective ranks and social position. The Vellalas he treated with especial respect and after dismissing all the other caste people he addressed the Vellalas as follows: — ‘You have already promised to co-operate with me in satisfying my eager longing at the time of the birth of my child. I now ask you to give one of your daughters in marriage to my son”.
The Vellalas were horrified at this strange request and remained speechless being unable to express their opinion boldly. At that juncture one of them by name Periaveettu Mudali said that he had a female child of three months and that he would willingly give that child in marriage to the son of the ruler. All the Vellalas were then sent away with suitable presents and the Periaveettu Mudali was made his minister. The Vellalas joined together and concerted a plan to get rid of the odious Korava chief and his family. The Mudaliar as minister told the chief that the marriage of his child should not be performed like that of ordinary persons in a thatched pandal, but a huge mantapam of stone should be constructed for the marriage. Accordingly the stone mantapam work was begun in earnest on a huge scale and it is said that the Periaveettu Mudali contrived a mechanism by which the stone fabric might tumble down any moment he wanted. Preparations for the marriage went on a grand scale as soon as the boy completed his fifth year. All the inhabitants of the country were invited and everything was ready for the marriage. Certain ceremonies were gone through inside the mantapam with the bride and the bridegroom seated on a raised dais.
Then the Koravas were informed that it was the custom among the Vellalas that the bridegroom and his relations should be seated inside the pandal, while the bride and her mother followed by all the relations of the bride with music and the beating of tomtoms &c., should go round the pandal three times and then enter it when the Tali-tying ceremony should be gone through. This was of course agreed to and while all the Koravas were seated inside the mantapam the Vellalas went round it with the bride taken by the mother. At that nick of time the stone roof collapsed and crushed to death all the Koravas seated inside it. So ended it is said, the Korava dynasty of Nanjanad. After the Koravas, the land was ruled by the Vellalas belonging to the family of Periaveettu Mudali for a very long time.
Resuming our historical narrative, we find that according to the fragmentary inscription at Krishnan Koil, Vatasseri, there was a sovereign named Aditya Varma Tiruvadi who ruled over Venad on the 23rd Dhanu 508 M.E (January 1333 A.D.). It was probably this king that transformed Krishnan Koil into Adityavarma Chaturvedhimangalam. It is possible that he was the immediate successor of Ravi Varma Kulasekhara Perumal of Jayasimhanad.
The next sovereign was Sri Vira Rama Udava Martanda Varma, the senior Tiruvadi of Siraivoy, who reigned in Venad from the 7th Makaram 511 M.E., to 21st Mithunam 518 M.E, (1336 — 1342 A.D). It could be traced from the inscription of Kurandi that on the 23rd Mithunam 518 M.E., a chief of Kothukulam (Dyuta caste), named Suryan, constructed a temple and a well under the command of the Kothukula assembly of Rajakanneri alias Srivallabhamangalam of Kilakkalakkuru in Pandinad, to commemorate the name of this sovereign. Hence it seems that Udaya Martanda Varma was very kind towards foreign settlers and encouraged them very much.
The Kothukula assembly of Rajakkaneri was in affluent circumstances at the time and was very skilful in winning royal favour; and they were also very charitable. This sovereign might have been identical with the king of whom Shungoonny Menon writes, ‘Sri Vira Rama Marthanda Varma, who was then in his 28th year was installed on the musnud in 510 M.E., (1335 A.D)”. But Shungoonny Menon makes this king rule forty years, while according to the inscription he could not have ruled more than nine years.
At the end of the year 520 M.E. (1344 A.D), there was a sovereign who was known by the name of Sri Vira Kerala Varma Tiruvadi, as mentioned in the temple chronicles of Sri Padmanabhaswamy. The chronicle reveals that on the 32nd Mithunam 520 M.E, Sri Vira Kerala Varma Tiruvadi made, as atonement for the sin of having murdered Desikal (the Brahmin) emigrants in Nilaimelkunnu, a hilly tract in the Taluq of Chirayinkil, certain grants of lands to the aggrieved survivors in Vellanad and Kurakkodu, and also 157 kottas of land in Munaraichuttu and also 30,000 fanams to the temple of Sri Padmanabhaswamy as garvakkattu (an amercement) for overbearing conduct. But the actual transfer of lands to the aggrieved Desis, and the remittance of the sum specified in the gift to Sri Padmanabhaswamy were made by one of his successors named Bala Martanda, according to the resolution passed at the sabha of Mahabharata-Konam, when he was in urgent need of Desis for the celebration of the local festival on the 2nd Alpasi 911 M.E. But the circumstances under which the Brahman emigrants at Nilaimelkunnu were then murdered by this sovereign are yet unknown, and they are to be determined only on further researches.
The inscriptions of the temple of Udaya Martanda. Vinnavar Emperuman at Putugramam alias Raja Narayana Chaturvedimangalam go to prove that from the 13th Tulam 538 M.E, to 14th Chingam 541 M.E., Sri Vira Martanda Varma III ruled over Venad and made gifts of lands in Teranalakya Cholanallur to the village temple. The first writ was executed by him when he halted in the new quarters at Kottar and the second writ when he was at Amaravati. The transformation of the village Putugramam into Raja Narayana Chaturvedimangalam was probably made either by Raja Narayana, the descendant of Nanji Koravan, or by Kulottunga I alias Rajakesari Varman, whose reign commenced according to Prof. Kielhorn, between the 14th March and the 8th October 1070 A.D.
The temple chronicle states that in the year 557 M.E., this Martanda Varma having put to death several men during the war that took place in several places especially in Manur (Kilimanur in Chirayinkil Taluq), made a gift of four silver pots and five thousand fanams as garvakkattu to the temple of Sri Padmanabhaswamy, similar to the gifts of Sri Virakerala IV. During this period Kottar and other portions of Nanjanad in South Travancore were probably under foreign sway; for one Kochchadaiya Varman alias Tribhuvana Chakravartigal Sri Parakrama Pandya, reconstructed the temple of Rajendra Cholesvaram at Kottar and granted some lands in Chengalakurichi to the temple of Suchindram according to the inscriptions of Kottar and Suchindram. The inscriptions of Rajendra Cholesvaram state that in the Saka Samvat 1295 (1373 A.D), the temple of Rajendra Cholesvaram Udaya Nayanar at Kottar, alias Mummudicholanallur, in Nanjanad, was reconstructed by Sri Kochchadaiya alias Tribhuvana Chakravarti Sri Parakrama Pandya Deva during the fifth after the tenth year of his reign, when the sun was in Makaram on the third day after the new moon which was Friday, the star being Sathayam.
From this it could be traced that this Pandya king is certainly Jatavarman Parakrama Pandya whose reign commenced between the tenth of July 1357 A.D., and the ninth of January 1358 A.D. His other document at Suchindram records that in the 28th year of his reign Jatavarman Parakrama Pandya granted lands in Chengalakurichi (Tinnevelly) District to the temple of Mahadeva at Suchindram for the performance of Parakramapandya Sandhipuja. As this royal writ was executed by him in the 28th year of his reign, its date must be 1385 or 1386 A.D. (560 or 561 M.E.). It seems from this edict that the birthday of this Pandya king was the star of Mrigasiram in the month of Medam. It is therefore clear that Parakrama Pandya ruled over Nanjanad in South Travancore for a period of 12 or 13 years from the 15th to the 20th year of his reign i. e., about 548 — 561 M.E Hence it is reasonable to think that one of the wars in which several individuals were killed by Sri Vira Udaya Martanda Varma in the year 550 M.E., was made against Parakrama Pandya in South Travancore.
Mr. P. Sundaram Pillay mentions also a king Sarvanganatha Aditya Varma II who built the temple of Gopalakrishnaswamy at Trivandrum in 1372 A.D. He was probably a governor or sub-king under this Martanda Varma.
An inscription at Tiruvitancode in the Taluq of Kalkulam, shows that Sri Vira Ravi Varma, the Senior Tiruvadi of Tiruppapur (Kilapperur), ruled over Venad in the year 558 M.E (1383 A.D.). He seems to have been the immediate successor of Sri Vira Udaya Martanda Varma.
Sri Vira Ravi Varma might have conquered Kottar and other portions of Nanjanad in South Travancore from Jatavarman Parakrama Pandya. Sri Vira Kerala Martanda Varma of Kilapperur and Martanda Varma who was the Senior Tiruvadi of Tiruppapur in Tulam 587 M.E (1412 A.D.), were the successors of this Ravi Varma. The chronicle reveals that in Malabar year 592 (the end of 1416 A.D.), Sri Vira Ravi Varma, the Senior Tiruvadi of Tiruppapur, granted six silver pots and an elephant together with a lump sum of 5,000 fanams as garvukkattu to Sri Padmanabhaswamy as an atonement for sin committed during the wars that took place at Karuvelankulam, Nityanadai and its adjoining countries.
At the same time he made also some other gifts as an atonement for wrongly appropriating properties belonging to the Kurvai lllam. All the properties were restored to the owner and the Illam as well as all other estates belonging to the aggrieved were exempted from the usual land-tax. The war at Karuvelankulam that was made by this sovereign might have been against Jatavarman Parakrama Pandya as the battlefield was apparently in the District of Tinnevelly which was then under the sway of this Pandyan king.
From an inscription at Alvar, about three miles to the south of Padmanabhapuram in South Travancore, we learn that Martanda Varma “of boundless fame and mild disposition” was the chief among the kings of Kerala in 578 M.E. (1403 A.D.). This would imply that there were at this period several kings in Kerala. From this inscription we learn also that as late as 578 M.E., the measure used was kalam and not kottai marakal or parah. The word ‘perai’ occurs as part of the name of a particular piece of land. This may be traced to ‘pirai ‘ and therefore to ‘peru’ meaning ‘to contain,’ ‘to be worth’ or ‘ to multiply.’ The use of the expression ‘home measure’ implies that some foreign measure was also then current in the country. Reference is made to the village councils of those days which, it would appear, had influence and independence enough to obstruct the provisions of a Royal Chapter. In cases of such obstruction, however, provision was made for an appeal to be taken to the door of the temple, and therefore, to the government authorities connected with the temple. The caste name, Varian, occurs in this inscription. A temple in South Travancore too had then Varians who were bound to do all duties in accordance with the daily pujas of the temple and supply a garland of flowers as in the temples of North Travancore.
From a fragmentary inscription Suchindram, we find that Martanda Varma continued to rule in Saka 1332 (1410 A.D). According to Shungoonny Menon the king that died in 1382 A.D, was not Martanda Varma, but Ravi Varma. His successor was Kerala Varma who performed the coronation ceremonies and assumed the title of Kulasekhara Perumal. He died after a very short reign of three months. His twin-brother Chera Udaya Martanda Varma succeeded him. The reign of this Sovereign appears to have been the longest on record in the history of Travancore. He regained all the southern possessions on the Tinnevelly side, and often resided at Valliyur and Cheramahadevi (Shermadevi) which once belonged to Travancore. In consequence of the mild and unwarlike disposition of this king, some of the subordinate chiefs in the East became refractory, and there was constant fighting and latterly, while this sovereign was residing at Trivandrum, the chief of Rettiapuram invaded Valliyur, and the king’s nephew, being defeated in battle committed suicide. Chera Udaya Martanda Varma died in 619 M.E (1444 A.D.) at the ripe age of seventy-eight.
It should be noted here that this account of Shungoonny Menon differs from the information gathered from inscriptions. The differences here, as well as elsewhere, are difficult to reconcile, but Mr. Menon had no epigraphical data to guide him. The following surmise may however be safely made. I have already adverted to the fact that Travancore was divided into a number of small chieftainships. We see from the archaeological accounts that a certain king of Jayasimhanad (Ravi Varma who was crowned at Kanchi) was a contemporary of Chera Udaya Martanda Varma, king of Venad, who was also called Vira Pandya Devar. Thus there were at least two kingdoms one at Quilon and the other further south. It has already been noted that the inscription at Alvar calls Martanda Varma ‘chief among the kings of Kerala’. Is it not therefore probable that all these were really independent chiefs who ruled over small portions of territory? In his own kingdom each Rajah was a great king; but the poor gifts to temples which the inscriptions record, indicates the smallness of their possessions.
Al Idrisi, the greatest of Arab geographers, who flourished in the twelth century, and who lived for some time at the court of the enlightened Roger II of Sicily, gives some interesting information regarding Malabar. But as he obtained it chiefly from books and from travellers and had no personal knowledge of the countries he wrote about, his account is much confused.
“From Bana (Tanna) to Fandarina is four days’ journey. Fandarina is a town built at the mouth of a river which comes from Manibar (Malabar) where vessels from India and Sind cast anchor. The inhabitants are rich, the markets well supplied, and trade flourishing. North of this town there is a very high mountain covered with trees, villages and flocks. The cardmon grows here and forms the staple of a considerable trade. It grows like the grains of hemp, and the grains are enclosed in pods. From Fandarina to Jirbatan, a populous town on a little river, is five days. It is fertile in rice and gram, and supplies provisions to the markets of Sarandib. Pepper grows in the neighbouring mountains.”
This was the person who wrote that the pepper vine grows nowhere else but in Fandarina (Northern QuiIon), Jirbatan ( Srikandapuram) and the large and pretty island of Mali, and asserted that the pepper vine leaves curl over the bunches of grapes to protect them from rain and return to their natural position afterwards — ‘a surprising fact’!
Al Kazwini (1263-1275 A.D.) is another Mahomedan geographer who compiled his account of India from the works of others. Among other places, he mentions ‘Kulam, a large city in India. Mis’arbin Muhalhil who visited the place, says that he did not see either a temple or an idol there. When their king dies, the people of the place choose another from China.* There is no physician in India except in this city. The buildings are curious, for the pillars are covered with shells from the backs of fishes. The inhabitants do not eat fish, nor do they slaughter animals, but they eat carrion”; and he goes on to describe the pottery made there and contrasts it with Chinaware.” There are places here where the teak tree grows to a very great height exceeding even one hundred cubits.”
NOTEs: * Probably a mis-statement for Chera.
Marco Polo, the great Venetian traveller, had in 1275 A.D., gone to the court of Kublai Khan, had risen high in Chinese service, and visited Quilon and other places when he was a Chinese mandarin under him. Kublai must have had a good deal of diplomatic intercourse with Quilon. From the Chinese Annals, we learn that in 1282 A.D., some envoys from the king of Quilon landed at Zayton (T’swan-chau), the chief port of China at that time, with presents of various rarities, and that the king of Quilon was called Pinate (or Benate which represents the lord of Venad). The royal residence was called Apu’hota.
Marco Polo on his way home to Venice in the suite of the Princess Kokachin visited Quilon in 1293 A.D. He spent a long time in Malabar. He has given interesting descriptions of Quilon, Comorin and Malabar.
Of the kingdom of Quilon (Coilum) he says —
“When you quit Maabar* and go 500 miles towards the south-west you come to the kingdom of Coilum. The people are Idolaters, but there are also some Christians and some Jews. The natives have a language of their own, and a king of their own, and are tributary to no one. A great deal of brazil is got here, which is called brazil Coilumin from the country which produces it; it is of very fine quality. Good ginger also grows here, and it is known by the same name of Coilumin after the country. Pepper too grows in great abundance throughout this country, and I will tell you how. You must know that the pepper-trees are (not wild but) cultivated, being regularly planted and watered; and the pepper is gathered in the months of May, June and July. They have also abundance of very fine indigo**. This is made of a certain herb which is gathered, and (after the roots have been removed) is put into great vessels upon which they pour water and then leave it till the whole of the plant is decomposed.
NOTEs: * * 'Maabar was the name given by the Mahomedans in the 13th and 14th centuries to a tract corresponding in a general way to what we call the Coromandel Coast. The word in Arabic signifies the passage or ferry, and may have referred either to the communication with Ceylon, or, as is more probable, to its being in that age, the coast most frequented by travellers from Arabia and the Gulf". Yule's Marco Polo, Vol II Page 332. According to Abulfeda whose geography was completed about 1321 A.D. Cape Comerin was the point where Malabar ended and Maabar began. But Wassaf, an earlier writer, says that Maabar extended in length from Kaulam (Quilon) to Nilwar (Nellor).
** No indigo is made or exported at Quilon now, but still there is the export of sappan-wood, ginger and pepper.
They then put this liquid in the sun, which is tremendously hot here, so that it boils and coagulates, and becomes such as we see it. The merchants from Manzi (China), and from Arabia, and from the Levant come thither with their ships and their merchandise and make great profits both by what they import and by what they export. There are in this country many and diverse beasts quite different from those of other parts of the world. Thus there are lions black all over, with no mixture of any other colour; and there are parrots of many sorts, for some are white as snow with red beak and feet, and some are red, and some are blue, forming the most charming sight in the world; there are green ones too. There are also some parrots of exceeding small size, beautiful creatures. They have also very beautiful peacocks larger than ours, and different; and they have cocks and hens quite different from ours; and what more shall I say? In short, everything they have is different from ours, and finer and better.......
“Corn they have none but rice. So also their wine they make from (palm) sugar; capital drink it is and very speedily it makes a man drunk. All other necessaries of man’s life they have in great plenty and cheapness. They have very good astrologers and physicians. Man and woman — they are all black and go naked, all save a fine cloth worn about the middle. They look not on any sin of the flesh as a sin. They marry their cousins german, and a man takes his brother’s wife after the brother’s death; and all the people of India have this custom.”
This is his account of Comari or Comorin —
‘Comari is a country belonging to India, and there you can see something of the North Star which we had not been able to see from the Lesser Java thus far. In order to see it you must go some 30 miles out to sea, and then you see it about a cubit above the water. This is a very wild country, and there are beasts of all kinds there, especially monkeys of such peculiar fashion, that you would take them for men! There are also galpants (a kind of ape?) in wonderful diversity, with bears, lions, and leopards in abundance.’’
Of Melibar he says.
‘Melibar is a great kingdom lying towards the west. The people are idolaters; they have a language of their own and a king of their own and pay tribute to nobody.’
He then proceeds to describe the pirates of Melibar and of Gozurat, and their tactics in forming sea cordons with a large number of vessels each five or six miles apart, communicating news to each other by means of fire or smoke, thereby enabling all the corsairs to concentrate on the point where a prize was to be found. Then he goes on to describe the commerce:—
“There is in this kingdom a great quantity of pepper, and ginger, and cinnamon, and turbit, and of nuts of India. They also manufacture very delicate and beautiful buckrams. The ships that come from the east bring copper in ballast; They also bring hither cloths of silk and gold and sandels; also gold and silver, cloves and spikenard and other fine spices, for which there is a demand here, and exchange these for the products of these countries. Ships come hither from many quarters, but especially from the great province of Manzi. Coarse spices are exported hence both to Manzi and to the west and that which is carried by the merchants to Aden goes on to Alexandria, but the ships that go in the latter direction are not one to ten of those that go to the eastward; a very notable fact that I have mentioned before.”*
NOTEs: * Yule's Travels of Marco Polo Vol II Page 390
FRIAR JORDANUS OF SEVERAC. In 1324 A.D., Friar Jordanus of Severac came to Quilon and spent some years in mission work among the Nestorians. He was subsequently nominated Bishop of the See of Kaulam, latinised as Kolumbum. He is the first writer who gives an account of the Marumakkattayam law. The king of Quilon was a Nayar Lingayet and the commercial wealth of the port had made the kingdom powerful. Jordanus built St. George’s Church and established Christians at Quilon and other towns on the coast. In his Mirabilia Descriptia, Jordanus pays a noble tribute to the ruler of Malabar for their toleration and mildness and gives a favourable account of the character of the people. ‘The people’ he says, ‘are clean in their feeding, true in speech and eminent in justice, maintaining carefully the privileges of every man according to his degree, as they have come down from old times.’ He also speaks highly of the astrologers and physicians of Malabar. *
NOTEs: * Gasper Correa, the historian of Portuguese India, gives a story of a Kanian or astrologer living at Cannanore about three hundred or four hundred years before the arrival of the Portuguese "who had such a great reputation for astrology that his predictions were committed to writings, one of which related to the arrival of Europeans from the west, who would attain supermacy of India."
FRIAR ODORIC. Almost at the same time. Friar Odoric of Podrenore, a native of Bohemia, visited Malabar on his way to China. He reached Pandarani near Calicut, touched at Chaliat, Kodungalur and Quilon; in the last two places, he met several Jews. He mentions the great respect paid to the cow by the Hindus, as does Friar Jordanus too.
IBN BATUTA. A few years later, Quilon was visited by the great traveller Abu Abdulla Mahomed, better known as Ibn Batuta, the greatest traveller of the Arabian race. He left his native country Tangiers for a pilgrimage in the 725th year of the Hejira (1324-1325 A.D.). His coming to Quilon forms an interesting episode in the history of the time.
After passing through various parts of the world in 1332, he passed over from Afghanistan to the Court of Mahomed Tughlak at Delhi where he was made chief judge. About 1347 A.D an embassy came from China seeking permission to rebuild a Buddha temple in the Himalayas, much frequented by the Chinese pilgrims. Ibn Batuta was selected to answer the embassy and he with a large retinue started from Delhi. The party embarked in country ships in the Gulf of Cambay and landed at Calicut where he was the guest of the Zamorin. When they were about to start, a sudden storm arose, the ships were obliged to put out to sea and Ibn Batuta who was on shore was thus cut off from his ship. He then travelled by backwater to Quilon to reach the ships, but the storm destroyed them. Batuta was not willing to go to Delhi, so he stayed three years wandering in the Malabar cities. His account of Malabar covers 100 pages in a French translation. What was a loss to the Emperor’s embassy turned out to be a gain to the early history of Malabar, for he was a prolific writer of the places and things he visited. He describes Quilon as ‘one of the finest cities in Malabar with magnificent markets and very wealthy merchants’. The king was a person called Attrewery (Tiruvadi or Royal feet), ‘eminent for his strict and terrible justice’. Here is an interesting picture of criminal justice of the times. He writes —
“During my stay at Kaulam, a Persian archer, who was wealthy and influential, killed one of his comrades and then took refuge in the house of one Alawedji. The Mussulmans wanted to bury the dead body, but the officers of the king would not allow them to do so, until the murderer was seized and punished. The officers of the king took the dead body in a bier to the gate of Alawedji and left it there to rot. The smell soon compelled Alawedji to hand over the murderer to the officers of the king, who refused a large bribe offered by the Persian, and had him forthwith tried and executed. The body of the victim was then buried.”
This barbarous custom might perhaps have been introduced into Quilon from China where it appears to prevail even now, Quilon being then the port most frequented by Chinese ships. Calicut had already become a great rival of Quilon. The trade with the West, Arabia, Egypt, and Venice was absorbed by Calicut, while the trade with the East, Bengal and Malaccas remained with Quilon. The following is his description of Malabar:
“We next came into the country of Malabar which is the country of black pepper. Its length is a journey of two months along the shore from Sindabur to Kawlam. The whole of the way by land lies under the shade of trees and at the distance of every half mile there is a house made of wood in which there are chambers fitted up for the reception of comers and goers whether they be Moslems or infidels. To each of these there is a well, out of which they drink: and over each is an infidel appointed to give drink. To the infidels he supplies this in vessels; to the Moslems he pours it in their hands.
“They do not allow the Moslems to touch their vessels, or to enter into their apartments; but if any one should happen to eat out of one of their vessels, they break it to pieces. But in most of their districts the Mussalman merchants have houses and are greatly respected. So that Moslems who are strangers, whether they are merchants or poor may lodge among them. But at any town in which no Moslem resides, upon any one’s arriving they cook, and pour out drink for him, upon the leaf of the banana; and whatever he happens to leave is given to the dogs. And in all this space of two months’ journey, there is not a span free from cultivation. For everybody has here a garden, and his house is placed in the middle of it; and round the whole of this there is a fence of wood, up to which the ground of each inhabitant comes. No one travels in these parts upon beasts of burden; nor is there any horse found, except with the king who is therefore the only person who rides. When, however, any merchant has to sell or buy goods, they are carried upon the backs of men, who are always ready to do so (for hire).
“Every one of these men has a long staff, which is shod with iron at its extremity and at the top has a hook. When, therefore, he is tired with his burden, he sets up his staff in the earth like a pillar and places the burden upon it; and when he has rested, he again takes up his burden without the assistance of another. With one merchant you will see one or two hundred of these carriers, the merchant himself walking. But when the nobles pass from place to place, they ride in a dula made of wood, something like a box, and which is carried upon the shoulders of slaves and hirelings. They put a thief to death for stealing a single nut, or even a grain of seed of any fruit, hence thieves are unknown among them; and should anything fall from a tree, none except its proper owner, would attempt to touch it.
“In the country of Malabar are twelve kings, the greatest of whom has fifty thousand troops at his command; the least five thousand or thereabouts. That which separates the district of one king from that of another is a wooden gate upon which is written: ‘The gate of safety of such an one’. For, when any criminal escapes from the district of one king and gets safely into that of another, he is quite safe; so that no one has the least desire to take him so long as he remains there.
“Each of their kings succeeds to rule, as being sister’s son, not the son to the last. Their country is that from which black pepper is brought; and this is the far greater part of their produce and culture. The pepper tree resembles that of the dark grape. They plant it near that of the cocoanut, and make frame-work for it, just as they do for the grape tree. It has however, no tendrils, and the tree itself resembles a bunch of grapes. The leaves are like the ears of a horse; but some of them resemble the leaves of a bramble. When the autumn arrives, it is ripe; they then cut it, and spread it just as they do grapes, and thus it is dried by the sun. As to what some have said that they boil it in order to dry it, it is without foundation. I also saw in their country and on the sea-shores aloes, like the seed-aloe, sold by measure, just as meal and millet is.”
MARIGNOLLI OF FLORENCE, the Papal Legate, visited Quilon in 1347 A.D., on his way to Europe from China — Quilon which he called ‘the very noble city of Columbum where the whole world’s pepper is produced’. He lived for over a year at Quilon and preached in the Latin Church of St. George founded by Jordanus and got one hundred gold fanams every month as his tithe. There is still a Syrian Church of St. George at Quilon and a mosque. A vague tradition of extensive trade with China still survives. He gives a ravishing account of Malabar. Being an ambitious man, he wished that the people of Quilon should never forget his name. According to his own account,
“And after I had been there sometime, I went beyond the glory of Alexander the Great, when he set up his column. For I erected a stone as my landmark and memorial and anointed it with oil. In sooth, it was a marble pillar with a stone-cross on it, intended to last till the world’s end. And it had the Pope’s arms and my own engraved on it with inscriptions both in Indian and in Latin characters. I consecrated and blessed it in the presence of an infinite multitude of people and I was carried on the shoulders of the chiefs in a litter or palanquin like Solomon’s. So after a year and four months I took leave of the brethren.’
But though the monument lasted for several centuries being washed away by the sea only a few years ago, it did not serve to keep fresh the name of Marignolli. The inscriptions were destroyed by the climate and the sea-air. The pious Christians of Quilon, however, attributed the pillar to St. Thomas, the founder of their Church and revered it as a proof of the visit of the great Apostle of the Indies to the shores of Malabar.