TRAVANCORE STATE MANUAL Volume One
V. NAGAM AIYA
Dewan Peishcar, Travancore kingdom
6. History - SECTION B - PART III (1400-1600 A.D)
State of South India
Before passing on to the history of the next century, it will be necessary to note the great events in South Indian history at this period. Reference has already been made to the supremacy of the Cholas, Pallavas, Western Chalukyas and the Rashtrakutas of South India. About the end of the tenth century the Rashtrakutas were superseded by the Western Chalukyas under Tailappa II. The Hoysala Ballalas appeared in 1080 A.D., and took possession of the Kongu territoiies. How the Cholas revived under Kolottunga Chola and how the Pandyan capital was incorporated into its dominion in 1070 A.D, has already been stated.
In the first half of the twelfth century A.D., the Hoysala Ballalas of Halabid were the rising power in the south. Their king Vishnuvardhana took Talakad, the Ganga or Kongu capital, and brought that dynasty to a close.
“A few years later (A.D. 1182 or 1189) the suzerains of the Kongus — the Western Chalukya dynasty, came to an end in the reign of Somesvara Deva, the last king of that branch of the family, that territory being swallowed up by the Yadavas of Devagiri coming from the north, and by the Bijjala of Kulabhuriya Kula who was in turn supplanted by the Ballalas advancing from the south.”*
NOTEs: * The Malabar Manual, Vol. 1. Page no. 282.
It was about this time that the Chola territories were invaded by the king of Ceylon on the south, apparently in aid of the Pandyas, and by the Warrangal dynasty in the north. The Ballalas took Canara in their movement southward and they called this country Kerala; but it does not appear that they had anything to do with Kerala Proper or Malabar.
In the beginning of the fourteenth century, Southern India was convulsed by a Mahomedan invasion from the north under Malik Kafur (1310 A.D.). Mr. Logan says, “It has sometimes been supposed that the Malabar Coast fell in common with the rest of the Peninsula before the Mahomedans at this time; but there is nothing to show that this was the case and the name applied at this time by Marco Polo (1293 A.D.) and by Ibn Batuta (1342 — 1347 A.D.) to the eastern portion of the peninsula — namely, Maabar, probably gave rise to the idea.” Both Chola and Pandya kingdoms, however, succumbed to the Mahomedans, but Kerala escaped probably owing its immunity from invasion to its dense forests and mountain fastnesses.
With the founding of the Vijayanagar dynasty in 1336 A.D., a new political influence appeared in the south. Before the century expired, the kingdom of Vijayangar had extended itself to the whole of the Peninsula. The establishment of the Bahmani kingdom and its contests with Vijayanagar and the final supremacy of the latter do not concern us here. It may be noted here that “the Mahomedans continued their raids into Southern India during the fourteenth century, and in 1374, in one of these under Mujabid Shah of the Bahmani dynasty, they came as far south as Ramesvaram, but the rapid rise and extension of the Vijayanagar Raj in the last half of the century put an end for a time to these Mahomedan raids into the south.”
Even in Malabar, which was free from such expeditions, Mahomedan influence was on the increase and it is not improbable that owing to this circumstance the influence of the Zamorin was in the ascendant at the end of the fourteenth century as he was in close touch with the Mahomedan merchants of Calicut, a port which attracted considerable trade by the safety and facility it gave.
According to Mr. Logan,
“One of the first effects of this Mahomedan alliance seems to have been that the trading rivals of the Mahomedans, the Chinese merchants whose fleets Ibn Batuta so graphically describes, received some bad usage at the Zamorin’s hands, and deserted Calicut and the Malabar coast generally after undertaking an expedition of revenge in which they inflicted no small slaughter on the people of Calicut. This happened, Colonel Yule thinks, about the beginning of the fifteenth century.”*
NOTEs: * The Malabar Manual, Vol. 1. Page no. 294.
From 1444 to 1680 A.D, all that we have in the shape of history is but a list of names of kings and their dates.
The inscriptions no doubt give some more information but of a meagre kind. But there is a difficulty about the names of some of the kings. Two or more kings of the same dynasty are mentioned as ruling at the same time. It may be that both were independent chiefs ruling over small tracts. Or it may be that the senior associated the junior with him in governmental affairs e. g., we find the Mogul Emperors appointing their sons governors of provinces. Or again it may be that one of them is the reigning sovereign while the other is only a member of the family making certain gifts under his sanction.
Mention has already been made of Sri Vira Ravi Ravi Varma, the Senior Tiruvadi of Tiruppapur,* who ruled in Venad in 592 M. B. (1416— 1417 A.D.).
NOTEs: * Tiruppapur is a village ten miles north of Trivandrum from which the Travancore kings take their title 'Tiruppapur Swarupam'. From a religious point of view this is an importent place as the Travancore Maharajahs have to go there and worship at the temple at the time of their coronation ceremonies.
The next ruler we meet with is SRI VIRA RAMA MARTANDA VARMA KULASEKHARA. A Vattezhuttu inscription at Tirunavaykulam in the Taluk of Chirayinkil records that in 614 M.E (1439 A.D), Sri Vira Rama Martanda Varma Kulasekhara of Kilapperur, the Senior Tiruvadi of Venad, constructed a granite temple of fine workmanship with the mantapam and the inner shrine roofed with copper plates. In connection with this, the temple chronicles of Sri Padmanabhaswamy state that Sri Vira Rama Martanda ruled over Venad till the 21st Kanni 644 M.E (1468 A.D), and two writs were issued by him concerning the temple arrangements, one on the 19th Dhanu 634 M. E. (1459 A. D) and the other on the 20th Makaram 636 M.E (1461 A.D). On the 21st Kanni 644 M.E (1468 A.D.), this Rama Martanda Varma Kulasekhara Perumal of Jayasimhanad made a gift of 13,000 fanams to cover the cost of making a golden elephant and 360 fanams for four silver pots for Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple in order to expiate the sin committed by him during the war against Jayasimhanad. The chief against whom this war was made cannot now be identified.
Another Prince CHEMPAKA ADITYA VARMA, the Senior Tiruvadi of Siraivoy, is also mentioned as a ruling king of the period. On the 20th Edavam 630 M.E (1455 A.D.), he consecrated an image of Gangadhara in the Krishnancoil at Vatasseri. It looks strange that a Siva image should be put into a Vaishnava temple. This Aditya Varma and Rama Martanda Varma Kulasekhara Perumal might have been co-kings, i e,, members of the same family in charge of different portions of the country, ruling on behalf of the head of the family and under his authority. It is equally probable that Venad and Jayasimhanad which became one kingdom in the reigns of Ravi Varma Kulasekhara and his successors were again separated into two kingdoms ruled respectively by Martanda Varma and Aditya Varma who according to the inscriptions belong to the Tiruppapur (Jayasimhanad) and Siraivoy (Attungal) or Venad dynasties respectively.
At that period there was also one queen of the Kupaka family who was known by the name of Kulasekhara Nambirattiyar. The temple of Kariyamanikka Vinnavar Emperumal at the village of Idaraikudi in the Taluq of Agastisvaram was constructed by this queen with an additional sopanam and mantapam. This work was completed and consecrated by her on the 30th Medam 643 M.E (May 1468 A.D.). This temple was probably founded by a Pandyan or other foreign king Kariyamanikka and named after himself.
The next Prince of whom the epigraphical records give some information is Sri Vira Rama Varma alias Chempaka Rama Varma of Jayasimhanad, the Senior Tiruvadi of Tiruppapur. An inscription in the temple of Suchindram records certain gifts made by this king for the performance of daily pujas in that temple. From this inscription we learn that the reign of Sri Vira Rama Varma commenced even before 1468 A.D. , that the market rates of the goods and aromatics mentioned in it were only one-seventh of the present rates and that the measurements of the lands and grains were then the same as they were at the time of his predecessors.
There was on the 1st of Kumbhom 647 M.E, (1472 A.D). a king by the name of Sri Vira Kodai Aditya Varma of Kilapperur, Jayasimhanad, the Senior Tiruvadi of Siraivoy according to the temple chronicles of Sri Padmanabhaswamy. But beyond this bare fact nothing could be ascertained except that he might have been one of the co-regents at the time. There is an inscription to prove that Aditya Varma, the Senior Tiruvadi of Jayasimhanad, as well as his younger brother named Rama Varma, the Senior Tiruvadi of Siraivoy, reigned on the 14th Kumbhom 659 M.E (1484 A.D.). This latter may be identical with Sri Vira Kodai Aditya Varma who flourished in Venad in 1472 A.D. But he is mentioned in the temple chronicles as the Senior Tiruvadi of Siraivoy while Aditya Varma of 1484 A.D., is clearly referred to in the inscription as the Senior Tiruvadi of Jayasimhanad, Kilapperur. On this basis the reign of Sri Vira Kodai Aditya Varma may be taken as having lasted up to the year 1484 A.D. His younger brother Rama Varma was probably his co-regent under the title of the Senior Tiruvadi of Siraivoy.
SRI VIRA RAVI RAVI VARMA, the Senior Tiruvadi of Tiruppapur, ruled over Venad for a period of thirty-two years from 654 to 686 M.E (1479-1512 A.D.) for the first five years of which he ruled probably as co-regent. The temple chronicle records that on the 3rd Karkadagam 673 M.E (1498 A.D.), Sri Vira Ravi Ravi Varma made a gift of twelve silver pots and granite images as an atonement for sin committed in a fight which took place at the northern entrance of Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple, and that he granted some lands adjoining the tank of Viranarayanaseri to the aggrieved parties. It states also that on the 24th Medam 675 M.E (1500 A.D.), he gave 5,000 fanams as garvakkattu together with a silver vessel to the temple of Sri Padmanabhaswamy to expiate the sin of having destroyed several villages at that time. Ravi Varma having killed several people during the fights that took place in the year 682 M.E, (1507 A.D.) made another gift of twenty-seven silver vessels to the same temple together with the grant of lands at Vembanur, Kaladi and Kappukal. It appears from these gifts that at this period several small battles were fought between the years 673 and 682 M.E (1498-1507 A.D.) during which many people were killed. The inscriptions also make mention of several princes at the time. Of these Aditya Varma and Udaya Martanda Varma were reigning sovereigns. Jayasimha Deva (afterwards Jaya-simha II )and Sakalakalai (Sarvanganatha) Martanda Varma were probably their co-regents.
There is also evidence to show that at this lime some other princes also ruled over small bits of territories showing divided authority and internal dissensions in the ruling family.
Of the above-mentioned co-regents, Jayasimha Deva II reigned in Venad in the year 661 M.E (1486 A.D.), and Sakalakalai Martanda Varma about 670 M.E (1495 A.D.). The latter established a temple of Vinayakar at the village of Marungur in Agastisvaram Taluq after his own name. His coat of arms consisted of three swords, a drum, a bow and an arrow, all of which formed his escutcheon; that of Jayasimha II consisted of the divine thunderbolt after the manner of Indra’s Vajrayudham, an umbrella, a chowri, a flag and one Purnakumbham. The same ensigns, were used by the kings of Jayasimhanad even at the commencement of the second quarter of the sixteenth century A.D. Of Jayasimha II, we gather the following information from the pillar inscription of Parasurama Perunteru in Kottar. On the 1st Chittrai 661 M.E, (1486 A.D.) the crowned king of the Chera family by name Jayasimha Devar came on tour to Vatasseri in South Travancore.
The Brahmins, the Pillamars and the other superior sections of the community looked down upon the inhabitants of Parasurama Perunteru who earned their bread by dyeing clothes and who had come from distant lands and colonised the said Perunteru. They further kept them aloof saying that they were of low origin and that they belonged to the left hand caste of the community.
They were subjected to further hardships by being prevented from paying their respects to the king except through themselves, and that they should not worship the village gods as the high class people did, that they should readily submit to pay any kind of tax levied upon them and that, if any of these rules were infringed, they would be subjected to corporal punishment and forbidden from living even in their own village or from using the village wells. The poor people took advantage of the Royal presence in their midst and prayed for redress of their grievances. The king Jayasimha Deva was pleased to grant them audience and after hearing them issued orders to the following effect: —
(1) That if they had any grievances to be redressed they might appear before the king and acquaint him of the same whenever he came in procession on his elephant;
(2) That they need pay no other tax than that for the maintenance of the navy, viz. Kappalvari
and that of the army, viz., padai panam .
(3)That the superior classes (including the right hand castes) should not interfere with their religious worship, with the celebration of their festivals, nor with the use of the necessary flags and other appendages within certain limits exclusively set apart for their use;
(4) That no injustice should be done to them;
(5) That they should be allowed free use of the public wells and tanks;
(6) And that any interference on the part of the Brahmins, Pillamars and other superior sections of the community with the affairs of the left hand caste would meet with Royal displeasure and be punished accordingly.
It may be pointed out here that the king’s order to allow these low born subjects of the left hand castes to approach him whenever he came in procession on an elephant is based on the old orthodox belief that the presence of an elephant purifies a crowd and no pollution ensues by the approach of low castes then. We may add that this feeling of tolerance is characteristic of the Maharajahs of Travancore though sufficient credit was not always given them for it in later times. Needless to state that this humane order allowing full privileges to the people of low castes for using public wells and tanks, and dispensing justice to them all impartially and prohibiting the Brahmins, Pillamars and other high castes from molesting them under pains and penalties, reflects great credit on the early sovereigns of Travancore who ruled five centuries before our time and shows in them possession of rare tact and talent for conciliating conflicting interests.
It may be of some interest to refer to the accounts given by the various travellers who visited the coast in the fifteenth century, which give a general idea of some of the sea-coast towns, their rulers and population.
MAHUAN visited the coast in 1409 A.D. He writes of Cochin thus: —
‘The king or ruler is of the solar race and is a sincere believer of Buddhism and has the greatest reverence for elephants and oxen and every morning at daylight presents himself before an image of Buddha. The king wears no clothing on the upper part of his person; he has simply a square of silk wound round his loins kept in place by a cloured waist band of the same material and on his head a turban of yellow or white cotton cloth. The houses are built of the wood of the cocoanut tree and are thatched with its leaves. There are five classes of men. The Nayars rank with the king. In the first class are those who shave their beards and have a thread or string over their shoulders. These are looked upon as belonging to the noblest families.* ‘In the second are Mahomedans, the third the Chetties who are the capitalists; in the fourth Kolings who act as commission agents, the fifth the Mukuvas#, the lowest and poorest of all. The merchants of the country carry on their business as pedlars do in China. All trading transactions are carried on by the Chetties who buy and sell pepper to foreign ships and buy and collect precious stones and other costly wares.
NOTEs: * This probably refers to the Brahmins
# The fishermen on the sea-coast
The coinage of the country is a gold piece called a fanam; there is also a little silver coin called a taurha (worth half a penny) — fifteen taurha make one fanam. There are no asses or geese in the country, neither wheat nor barley; rice, maize, hemp and millet abound.”*
NOTEs: * Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society for April 1896
NICOLO CONTI, a Venetian noble, also visited Malabar in the earlier part of the fifteenth century. He says that after having quitted Java he bent his course westward to a maritime city called Ciampa which journey occupied him one month, and departing thence he in a like space of time reached Coleon (Quilon), ‘a noble city the circumference of which is twelve miles”. The province he calls Melibaria (Malabar), where ginger, pepper, brazil wood and cinnamon are collected. He accurately describes the jack tree, which he calls cachi. ‘’A tree grows here in great abundance, the trunk of which produces fruit resembling the pine-apple, but so large as to be lifted with difficulty by one man; the rind is green and hard, but yields nevertheless to the pressure of the finger. Within are from two hundred to three hundred apples resembling figs, very sweet to the taste, and which are separated from each other by follicles The fruit of this tree is sometimes found under the earth in its root; these excel the others in flavour and for this reason it is the custom to set these apart for royal use”. He also describes the mango under the name of amba (Sans. Amra).
ABD-ER-RAZZAK visited Malabar in 1442 A.D. From him we learn that the Chinese influence on the Malabar Coast had then declined completely and that the whole trade was in the hands of the Mahomedans from the west. He gives a very interesting account of his sojourn at Calicut, which he describes as a “perfectly safe harbour’. He bears testimony also to the excellence of the Zamorin’s rule which may be taken as the type of administration then in vogue on the coast generally.
“Security and justice are so firmly established in this city that the most wealthy merchants bring thither from maritime countries considerable cargoes, which they unload, and unhesitatingly send into the markets and the bazaars, without thinking in the meantime of any necessity of checking the accounts or of keeping watch over the goods. The officers of the custom-house take upon themselves the charge of looking after the merchandise, over which they keep watch day and night. When a sale is effected, they levy a duty on the goods of one-fortieth part; if they are not sold, they make no charge on them whatever.”
Of the people he says: —
“The blacks of this country have the body nearly naked. In one hand they hold an Indian poignard which has the brilliance of a drop of water, and in the other a buckle of ox hide, which might be taken for a piece of mist. This custom is common to the king and to the beggar. As to the Mussalmans, they dress themselves in magnificent apparel after the manner of the Arabs, and manifest luxury in every particular. The sovereign of this city bears the title of Sameri. When he dies, it is his sister’s son who succeeds him, and his inheritance does not belong to his son, or his brother, or any other of his relations. No one reaches the throne by means of the strong hand.”*
NOTEs: * Major's India in the Fifteenth Century, - Journey of Abd-er-Razzak, Page 17
It was in 1497 A.D., that King Emmanuel of Portugal fitted out three vessels on an expedition to find a route for India. The little fleet left Lisbon harbour under Da Gama on the 8th July. After various vicissitudes of fortune the vessels reached Calicut on the 28th May 1498. Gama soon after sent a message to the Zamorin announcing his arrival as an Ambassador from the king of Portugal with a letter and presents.
The traders from Egypt and Arabia who till this time completely monopolised the commerce of the coast viewed the advent of the interlopers with extreme jealousy. They were able to convince the Zamorin, his ministers and chief men of the place that the Portuguese were pirates and not the peaceful merchants they appeared to be. The result was that though Gama had landed his goods and the Zamorin gave him a house, the factor placed in charge of the house could neither sell nor buy and was soon treated as a prisoner. Gama in return seized some fishermen. The king’s officers when they heard of this released the factor. But Gama did not free all the fishermen as he wanted to carry some of them to Portugal.
This proceeding confirmed the natives in their suspicion that the foreigners were pirates and slave traders. The alarm spread along the whole coast and Vasco da Gama found that the country was against him. He left Calicut with his ships and returned to Portugal after an absence of twenty-six months, on the 29th August 1499. The king of Portugal immediately sent another expedition under Cabral with thirteen ships and twelve hundred men.
Cabral reached Calicut on the 13th of September 1500 A.D., with six ships. The Zamorin now became more friendly to the Portuguese and gave them a house at Calicut, where a factor was placed with goods and money under the protection of sixty chosen Portuguese.
But the Portuguese were not successful in trade, as their old enemies the Moors had persuaded the people not to sell them any goods. The Portuguese admiral was in a rage and in a fit of passion ordered the capture of a Moorish vessel and transferred the cargo to his own ship and set the enemy’s ship on fire. The Moors were not prepared to put up with such violence and an attack was immediately made on the factory which was plundered, fifty men being killed. The Portuguese burned fifty native ships that were lying in the harbour and cannonaded the city of Calicut for two days. They then returned southward to Cochin whose Rajah had a special feud against the Zamorin and was therefore anxious for the friendship of the powerful strangers. The Rajah concluded a treaty with the Portuguese, supplied them with cargoes and permitted them to build a fort within his territory.
The ruler of Quilon in 1501 A.D, sent a deputation to Cabral at Cochin inviting him to visit Quilon, and promising to supply him with pepper and spices at a cheaper rate than he could obtain at Cochin. But the offer was politely declined. Soon after, Cabral returned to Lisbon.
The disasters of Cabral did not in the least discourage the King of Portugal. He was ambitious of founding an oriental empire and, having obtained a bull from the Pope conferring on him the sovereignty of all the countries visited by his fleets in the East, he assumed the title of “Lord of the Navigation, Conquest and Commerce of Ethiopia, Persia, Arabia and India”, and fitted out a third expedition under Gama with fifteen vessels. Gama arrived at Calicut and demanded reparation for the insult offered to Cabral, which being refused, he set the town on fire. He then proceeded to the friendly port of Cochin.
The King of Cochin realised much profit by his trade with the Portuguese. Gama treated him with much liberality. When the Queen of Quilon heard of these, she sent a message to Gama, as she had pepper enough to load twenty ships each year, requesting him to send two of his largest ships to her port which she promised to load with pepper on the same terms as he had already established at Cochin. Vasco da Gama replied that as he had promised the King of Cochin not to do anything in that country in the matter of trade without his leave and good pleasure, she could better inform the King of Cochin of the matter. The Queen immediately sent a message to the King who, thinking that as the Portuguese could obtain all the pepper they required from Cochin, they would not trouble to send ships to Quilon, gave his assent and communicated it also to Gama.
‘’Two ships were sent to Quilon and they were taken to a river called Callecoulam (Kayangulam) which was five leagues south from the port (Cochin), were filled up in ten days and returned to Cochin loaded with pepper and spices. Besides, the Queen sent a present to Vasco da Gama (Captain Major) of several silk stuffs of various colours which were made in the country, and very fine white stuffs of very great worth”.
Gama left Pacheco at Cochin with a handful of men to protect the Portuguese factories and unaccountably set sail for Europe.
On the departure of Gama the Zamorin of Calicut invaded Cochin for having harboured the Portuguese, but Pacheco with his comrades was able to defeat him severely thus demonstrating for the first time the superiority of European over Asiatic soldiers. Da Gama was succeeded by Albuquerque (Afonso Dalboquerque) who arrived at Calicut in September 1508. The first European fort in India was built at Cochin and christened Emmanuel after the name of the sovereign of Portugal.
Albuquerque lands at Quilon
The trade in Quilon at that time was even more extensive than that of Cannanore and Cochin, and vessels laden with rich merchandise daily came from Ceylon, Bengal and Malacca. The state of Quilon at this time is thus described:—
‘At the time when Afonso Dalboquerque arrived at Coulao, it was a very large city, peopled with heathens, with not a single moor in it, nor any foreigner except the brother of Cherinamercar of Cochin, who had gone thither just lately to reside. This city was a great seaport of merchants, and anciently had in it many merchants stopping there from all parts of India, principally from Malacca. And as it was a port sheltered from the wind on every side, the ships which go to India, as well as those which passed the island of Ceilao (Ceylon) and Chale (Kayal?) made their entrepot there. In those days the island of Ceilao was subject to it, and paid tribute to it, and it possessed all the land from Coulao to Chale, which is about sixty leagues, and the distance from Caulao to the island of Ceilao is eighty leagues. The King of Coulao was a very honest man, and very gallant, and in the war which he carried on with the King of Narasinga, who had many soldiers, both horse and foot, he attacked him with sixty thousand archers and overcame him. Besides the Nambeadarim, who was the chief governor of the land, there were in the city thirty-six principal men who governed it, so that it was the best ruled city at that time in those parts.” *
NOTEs: * Commentaries of Alfonso Alburquerque, Vol. 1, Page 11
Albuquerque soon after started from Cochin and arrived near Quilon, and when the sea became calm he ordered a few of his crew to go ashore to see what they could discover. On landing they were received by about four hundred men on the beach lost in admiration of the boat in which they arrived and its contents. The following account as told by Eupoli, one of the crew thus sent, of their doings at Quilon is interesting and may be quoted here —
“As soon as we were near enough, we gave them to understand by means of our interpreter that we were Christians, the which they sooner heard than they gave evident signs of the greatest satisfaction; at the same time intimating that they also were Christians, having been so from the time of St. Thomas; they were in number near three thousand souls. They showed us a church, which they had built after our form, but of an indifferent architecture, ornamented with saints and a cross and called Santa Maria; and in the neighbourhood of the church dwelt these people, who call themselves Nazarenes.
“We were then presented to the king, Nambiadora, who received us with great kindness and urbanity; and having asked him if we could be supplied with spices, he answered that in twenty days he would engage to load us with every kind of spice we could wish. We returned on board with the agreeable information, and immediately set about careening ships; as soon as that was finished, we took in our lading complete, of most excellent spices, which were in such abundance, that we could not take the whole of what was offered us.
“As we now began to think of departing, a meeting betwixt the king and the captain was resolved on, and upon the day fixed, the captain ordered out six boats armed and elegantly decorated with velvet at the stern, Jack and flags flying, himself dressed in gold brocade, with gold-chains and other ornaments in honour of his sovereign; the crews were dressed also in form. The whole being arranged, were ordered to lay close in with the beach and wait the coming of the king. In an hour the king came down, attended by an innumerable concourse of people, all marshalled in procession, according to their several degrees; the whole closing with the king, seated cross-legged on an ivory chair, and carried by four Brahmins. The king was dressed in silk embroidered, with an upper robe of gold muslin; he wore rings of a considerable value, and had on his head a crimson velvet cap highly ornamented with jewels, and long chains of pearls and brilliants hanging from the top of the cap, with his hair flowing loose upon his shoulders. There were a number of elephants, and Persian horses followed in the train, which made an elegant appearance.
“A number of various war-like instruments joined in the procession, playing as they passed. Soon as they arrived opposite to where the boats lay, they made a halt; immediately the captain made the signal for a salute from the ships, the band playing all the time: he then was rowed to the shore, to have the honour of kissing the king’s hand. The king perceiving this, ordered all his people to retire some distance in order to convince the Portuguese of the confidence he had in the captain by meeting him alone. Compliments being paid and the ceremony being gone through, the following compact was mutually entered into by each party: that the king should annually grant to the Portuguese all the spices which his territory produced, which we agreed to take at prices stipulated, paying for the same in goods at regulated prices. We also requested that whoever was left as agent for the king of Portugal, should have the right of punishing or trying any of his Portuguese Majesty’s subjects who should remain on the land. This the king granted, though with reluctance, considering it as an interference with his juridical right. The whole being transcribed in silver letters, was properly signed and sealed; and thus the matter was concluded. The natives being desirous of seeing our priests, we landed the two friars, and had mass solemnly performed in their church, with a sermon preached afterwards and explained to the people by the interpreter”.*
NOTEs: * Collection of Early Voyages, Vol 1, Book iii - Voyages of Albuquerque
Albuquerque, after establishing a commercial depot and factory at Quilon with a small staff and after loading his ships with pepper, sailed for Cochin on the 12th January 1504 A.D. It has to be mentioned here that the Moorish merchants of the land were greatly averse to this new friendship between the Portuguese and the king of Quilon they spread all sorts of rumours about the Portuguese and strongly dissuaded the people from having any dealings with them. The Zamorin of Calicut also as soon as he heard of this, sent his ambassadors to the king of Quilon saying that “he must beware of what he was about, for the Portuguese were a very bad race, and if he admitted them into his land, they would rise up against him,” and added that this was the chief reason which had induced him to insist so strongly upon driving them out of India. He also sent large presents to the governors of the land begging them to influence the king against giving cargo to the Portuguese or receiving them in his port.
But all these availed nothing, “for the king of Coulao was a man of such truthfulness that in spite of all these arguments which the Camorim advanced, he kept his word and established his friendship with Afonao Dalboquerque. And he answered the Camorim that he had received no injury or insult from the Portuguese, but rather was convinced that they were men of their word and unless it was their own fault, he would not withdraw from what he had agreed upon.” # Evidently the Zamorin was not pleased with this reply and was very much annoyed at his inability to destroy the king of Quilon and hinder the Portuguese from carrying on the pepper trade.
NOTEs: # Commentaries of Alfonso Alburquerque Vol 1, Page 10
In 1505 A. D., Albuquerque was recalled and Almeyda was sent out to India with the grand title of “Viceroy of India” though the king of Portugal did not possess a foot of land in it; Almeyda had special instructions for the erection of forts at Anjediva, Cannanore, Cochin and Quilon. The fleet of Francisco D’almeyda reached Anjediva about September 1505.
Almeyda deputed captain Homem to go to Quilon on behalf of the Portuguese company to fetch cargo. When he met the foreign agent at Quilon, the latter told him that he was not sure if he could get pepper that time, for certain Arab merchants had already filled their boats with pepper. Captain Homem emboldened by the previous order of the king giving him permission to load his ships with cargo, at once sent his veterans to seize the masts and rudders of the Arab vessels. They did so and the rudders etc. were taken to the Portuguese house and lodged there.
The Arab merchants of Quilon smarting under the wanton insult offered to them by the Portuguese captain, combined together and went in a body to the ministers of the Rajah and represented their grievances. The chief ministers of the State at once went to the Portuguese house and asked Antonio De Sa, the keeper of the house, to return the things the captain had wrested from the Arabs. De Sa, though naturally of a modest and quiet temperament, had now become emboldened after the arrival of Almeyda. He insulted the ministers and refused to return the goods.
Thence a fight ensued between De Sa supported by a few of his followers and the Nayars and Jonakas of the place. Each party used swords and other weapons, and at last the Portuguese escaped to a Bhagavati temple which was surrounded on all sides by the Nayars and set fire to. Thirteen were burnt alive that day. When the Viceroy who had just then reached Cochin with large force heard of the disaster, he at once deprived Homem of his command and appointed his son Lorenzo in his place. Lorenzo landed at Quilon and destroyed twenty-seven boats in the harbour and went straight to seize the Arab vessels. But on account of the force of the current his ships were driven to the shores of Ceylon. Lorenzo spent the winter there and started to Portugal. He then heard that there were some of the Jonakas who joined the Quilon revolt at Vizhinjam. On landing there he destroyed their vessels and blocked the Moplah trade from Cape Comorin to Cannanore. The town itself was sacked and mercilessly burnt.
Almeyda was in his turn superseded by Albuquerque who on his arrival in India attacked his old enemy the Zamorin of Calicut but lost a fourth of his force in the attempt. He came to the conclusion that instead of these desultory wars in which the Portuguese had been hitherto engaged it would be more profitable to get a permanent footing on the coast in some place which would afford a safe shelter for their ships and become the centre of their influence. He pitched upon Goa on the coast of Canara for this purpose. In the midst of his triumphs he was in 1515 A. D, superseded by the intrigues at the court, and he died broken-hearted in December 1519, at the age of sixty-three just when he was leaving the port of Goa to his native land.
The Portuguese Viceroy Soarez concluded a treaty of peace dated 25th September 1516 A.D., with the Queen of Quilon and with the governors of the land under which the latter agreed to rebuild at their own expense, in the same style and in the same place as before, the church of St. Thomas which had been destroyed when the factor was killed. They also agreed to favour and protect the Christians as formerly, to pay five hundred bahars (candies) of pepper in three yearly instalments commencing with the then current year 1516 A.D., to let the Portuguese have all the pepper and other spices they might require at the same prices as they could obtain them at Cochin, and not to export any drugs or spices without the knowledge of the Portuguese. In case of war with common enemies each party agreed to assist the other; no ships from Quilon were to enter the Straits of Aden beyond Cape Guardafui, unless in the service of the Portuguese, and any of the Queen’s subjects whether native or Moor who might desire to become Christians were to be at full liberty to do so. *
NOTEs: * The Portuguese in India - Danvers. Vol. 1. Page 336.
The special mention of the ‘Governors of the land’ as parties to the treaty by the Portuguese with the Queen of Quilon, probably refers to the semi-independent chiefs of the neighbourhood under the nominal suzerainty of the Queen of Quilon, or the Ettuvittil Pillamars who acquired such enormous power and influence in the next century.
Heytor Rodriguez was then appointed captain and he landed at Quilon on the 1st February 1517 A.D. He paid a visit to the Queen and the ministers with suitable presents, and asked them for the balance of pepper due to the Portuguese. The Queen and the ministers promised to supply the same. But there was great delay.
The Queen addressed him by his name and spoke to him as follows: — “We are going to invade our neighbouring kingdom of Travancore for which we start to-morrow. As we are now greatly pressed for money, please do not ask us about the church endowments now. As the clerks and Nayars are all accompanying me everything has to be settled in my presence only after our return from victory. Please therefore do not ask me about them before I return.”
The captain was satisfied and requested that he might be allowed to build a house to give them safe shelter. This request was a take-in on his part made at the instance of his master, Soarez, who had ordered him to pitch upon a convenient spot for building a small fortress. After fixing upon a suitable place he at once commenced work. On hearing of this the Jonaka Moplahs became very apprehensive and complained to the Queen that the place had been selected not for building a house but for building a fortress. The captain bought over the Queen’s ministers to his side who helped the Portuguese in the selection of a site with abundance of good water, and a small building was soon completed. The Moplahs spread all sorts of rumours to the effect that the Governor Soarez was killed in an encounter near Humes (Gogala, called by the Portuguese Villa dos Rumes), that the Mahomedans had started for the capture of Goa and so on. The captain hearing of this, gave strict orders to his men not to get involved in any quarrel, or fight. News, however, soon arrived that Soarez was returning victorious and that the attempt of the Mahomedans to capture Goa proved futile. The captain was much gratified, and by his tact and care was able to conduct himself to the Queen’s entire satisfaction.
Soarez thought that a factory alone at Quilon was insufficient and that a fort was indispensable. Ho deputed Rodriguez to go to the Queen and the chief minister with presents to the value of four thousand Cochin fanams. The Queen was delighted and accepted the money and presents. Rodriguez interviewed the three great officers of the country, namely Ummini Pillay, Bala Pillay and Kuruppu, and having made himself sure of their friendship broached to them the idea of the fort and they promised to assist him. The work was soon begun. But this enraged not only the Moplahs, but also the junior Princes and Princesses. These latter tried to prevent the fortification work, but they were soon pacified and an open revolt was averted. Yet the Princes were not satisfied on the day when Rodriguez with twenty-seven of his people laid the foundation stone, about two thousand Nayars collected there and tried to oppose them. But Rodriguez not minding raised one wall and apprehending a fight the next day mounted two of his big guns. The sight of these guns frightened the Nayars and they retreated; the Moplahs too lost courage and looked on. The work of building the fort was vigorously pushed on even in the rainy season, and the whole fortress was completed by September 1519 A.D., and christened Fort Thomas.
“The Queen indifferent to the feelings of her own people, encouraged Rodriguez in the building of the fort and rendered him all possible assistance. As a Portuguese author quoted by Elphinstone in a foot note to his Rise of the British Power in India observed — “The fort of Quilon was afterwards razed by the same hand that built it, after having cost many lives, all the effect of the ill usage of the Portuguese towards the natives from their unlimited pride and boundless avarice.”
Siege of the Quilon Fort
The captain never asked for the balance of pepper due while the fortress work was in progress, but as soon as it was completed, he reminded the Queen of the balance due to him. The Queen was much put out at this inconvenient demand. She never thought that she would be asked to pay this after she had given permission to build the fort. On the captain’s insisting upon payment, she thought of taking the fort. At her instigation the young Prince Martanda Tiruvadi began to annoy the captain in several ways. The captain complained to the Queen but without effect. He was enraged and immediately prepared for war against the Queen and her subjects with the three chief officers above referred to for his assistance. Relying on their false promises he began preparations for the struggle. But they at last with a large force laid siege to the fort and took it without much difficulty. The first who took the offensive was Bala Pillay who with 1,500 Nayars started to the front of the main gates while from the back side all the Moplahs scaled the fort walls. The Nayars as soon as they entered the fort imprisoned all the Christians, the blacksmiths, the masons and others who were engaged in the building of the fort. A fight ensued at the end of which the Quilon troops sustained severe loss from the guns of the Portuguese. All the Europeans within the fort had to starve for want of food and many actually died of hunger and disease. On these news reaching Cochin, the Governor sent his nephew with a consignment of provisions and a small band of veteran soldiers. They reached Quilon speedily and saved the lives of the survivors within the fort. This happened in August 1520 A.D.
The Queen of Quilon then sent a letter of apology to the Governor at Cochin and an amicable settlement was effected between the two parties. By this treaty dated 17th November 1520 A. D., it was stipulated that the pepper still due under the treaty of 1516 should be paid at once, that all pepper in the land should be sold to the King of Portugal and to no one else, that all ships arriving at that port (not being enemies’ ships or laden with pepper) should be allowed free access and be well received, and that the captain of the fort should grant all reasonable assistance the Queen might require.
At this time trade was prosperous and the people throve. Ludovica di Varthema who visited Malabar in 1505 A.D., describes the extensive trade that was going on and speaks highly of the protection afforded by the native kings to their subjects, particularly the great security to person and property which they enjoyed. He praises the administration of justice and the probity of the merchants. Duarte Barbosa who visited the coast about 1514 A.D., bears similar testimony to the good administration of India especially in regard to justice in olden times.
From Calicut, VARTHEMA travelled by a river, “the most beautiful he has ever seen”, and arrived at Cacolon (Kayangulam) distant from Calicut by fifty leagues. The river is evidently the continuous water communication formed by the rivers and backwaters and estuaries and running parallel to the coast from Ponnani as far as Quilon. “The king of Cacolon is a pagan and is not very rich and follows Calicut in his manner of living, dress and customs. A good deal of pepper grows in their country. There are some Christians of St. Thomas here, who say that a priest comes there every three years to baptise them.” After leaving Cacolon, he came to Colon (Quilon) distant twenty miles.
“The king of this city is a Pagon and extremely powerful, and he has 120,000 horsemen, and many archers, and is constantly at war with other kings. This country has a good port near to the sea-coast. No grain grows here, but fruits, as at Calicut, and pepper in great quantities. The colour of the people, their dress, manner of living, and customs, are the same as at Calicut. At that time, the king of this city was the friend of the king of Portugal, but being at war with others, it did not appear to us well to remain here. Wherefore, we took our way by sea, aforesaid, and went to a city which is called Chayl, belonging to the same king, opposite from Colon fifty miles.”*
NOTEs: * Travels of Ludovico Di Varthema - Haklyut Society, Page 184
We have next the account of DUARTE BARBOSA who visited Malabar and Travancore about 1514 A.D.
“Coulam. Beyond this kingdom of Cochin towards the south, the kingdom of Coulam is entered between these kingdoms there is a place which is called Porca, it belongs to a lord............ Having passed this place the kingdom of Coulam commences, and the first town is called Cayncolan in which dwell many Gentiles, Moors, and Indian Christians of the doctrine of St. Thomas. And many of those Christians live inland amongst the Gentiles. There is much pepper in this place of which there is much exportation.
“Further on along the same course towards the south is a great city and good seaport which is named Coulam, in which dwell many Moors and Gentiles and Christians They are great merchants and very rich, and own many ships, with which they trade to Cholmendel, the island of Ceylon, Bengal, Malaca, Samatara, and Pegu: these do not trade with Cambay. There is also in this city much pepper. They have a Gentile king, a great lord of much territory and wealth, and of numerous men at arms, who for the most part are great archers. At this city, withdrawn a little from it, there is promontory in the sea where stands a very great church which the apostle St. Thomas built miraculously before he departed this life.......... This church was endowed by the King of Coulam with the revenue from the pepper which remains to it to this day.” *
NOTEs: * A Description of the Coasts fo East Africa and Malabar - Haklyut Society. Page 57
Barbosa also tells us that the king of Coulam was called Benatederi (Venad Tiruvadi). Dr. Caldwell explains ‘Pinate’ or ‘Benate’ as representing Venadan, lord of Venad, that being the name of the District to which belonged the family of the old kings of Kollam, and ‘Venadu’ being their regular dynastic name. The Rajah of Travancore is still styled Venadan. Barbosa then describes how Sernaperimal (Cheraman Perumal), ruler of Malabar, divided the whole of his kingdom amongst his relations and constituted three kingdoms in the country, namely Calicut, Cananor (Cannanore) and Coulam, and commanded that no one should coin money except the king of Calicut, but that the kings of Coulam and Cananor afterwards struck money for a certain time in their countries without having the power of doing so.
“Trinangoto. Further on along the same coast towards the south, is a town of Moors and Gentiles called Trinangoto, (Tiruvitancode), which also possesses shipping. The town and territory belong to a lord, a relation of the king of Coulam; it is abundantly supplied with provisions, rice and meat. Further along the coast is the Cape of Comery where the Malabar country finishes; but the kingdom of Coulam reaches thirty leagues further, as far as a city which is called Cael (Kayal)”
The king of Quilon at this time must according to the Travancore authorities have been SRI VIRA RAVI VARMA. Kayal was regarded by the earliest Portuguese as belonging to Travancore and the king of Travancore as the legitimate sovereign of the whole of the south of Tinnevelly.
Barbosa writers thus graphically of the Brahmins and their customs —
“The Gentile Brahmins are priests all of one lineage, and others cannot be priests, but only their own sons. And when these are seven years old they put round their necks a strap two fingers in width of an animal which they call Cressna Mregam (Krishnamriga, the black deer) with its hair, which is like a wild ass; and they command him not to eat betel for seven years, and all this time he wears that strap round the neck passing under the arm, and when he reaches fourteen years of age they make him a Brahman removing from him the leather strap and putting on another of three threads, which he wears all his life as a mark of being a Brahman. And they do this with much ceremony and festivity, just as here at the first mass, and from this time forward he may eat betel. They do not eat flesh nor fish, they are much reverenced and honoured by the Indians, and they are not executed for any offence which they may commit: but their chief, who is like a bishop, chastises them in moderation. They marry only once, and only the eldest member has to marry and of him is made a head of the family like a sole heir by entail, and all the others remain bachelors, and never marry. The eldest is the heir of all the property. These Bramans, the elder brothers, keep their wives very well guarded, and in great esteem, and no other man can approach them and if any of the married one die, the person who becomes widowed does not marry again. And if the wife commits adultery, the husband kills her with poison.
“These young men who do not marry, nor can marry, sleep with the wives of the nobles, and these women hold it as a great honour, because they are Bramans, and no woman refuses them. And they must not sleep with any woman older than themselves. And these live in their houses and estates, and they have great houses of prayer, in which they do service as abbots and whither they go to recite their prayers at fixed times of the day, and worship their idols and perform their ceremonies. And these temples have their principal doors to the west, and each temple has three doors, and in front of the principal gate, outside of it, is a stone of the height of a man, with three steps all round it and in front of the stone inside the church is a small chapel, very dark, inside of which they keep their idol, of gold, silver, or metal, and three lamps burning. And no one may enter there except the minister of that church, who goes in to set before the idol flowers and scented herbs, and they anoint it, with sandal and rose water, and take it out once in the morning, and another time in the evening with sound of trumpets and drums and horns.
“And he who takes it out first washes thoroughly, and carries it on his head with the face looking backwards and they walk with it three times in procession round the church, and certain wives of the Bramans carry lighted lamps in front, and each time they reach the principal door, they set the idol on that stone and there worship it and perform certain ceremonies and having ended the three turns with music and rejoicing, they again place it in the chapel, and each day they do this twice, by day and at night. And around this church, there is a stone wall, between which and the church they walk in the before-mentioned procession, and they carry over the idol a very lofty canopy upon a very long bamboo (cadjan umbrella) for state as for kings. They place all the offerings upon the stone before the principal gate of the temple, and twice a day it is washed, and they set cooked rice upon it to feed the crows twice a day with great ceremony.
“These Bramans greatly honour the number trine they hold that there is a god in three persons, and who is not more than one. All their prayers and ceremonies are in honour of the trinity, and they, so to say, figure it in their rites and the name by which they call it is this, Berma, Besnu, Maycereni, (Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesvara), who are three persons and one sole god. Thus they confess him to be from the beginning of the world. They have no knowledge or information of the coming of Jesus Christ. They believe many more vain things, which they speak of. These people each time that they wash put some ashes upon their heads, foreheads and breasts, in token that they have to turn again into ashes and when they die they have their bodies burned. When the wife of a Brahmin is in the family way, as soon as the husband knows it, he cleans his teeth, and eats no more betel nor trims his beard and fasts until his wife gives birth to her child. The kings make great use of these Bramans for many things, except in the deed of arms.
“Only Bramans can cook the king’s food, or else men of the king’s own family, and so all the king’s relations have this same custom of having their food cooked by Bramans. These are the messengers who go on the road from one kingdom to another, with letters and money and merchandise, because they pass in safety in all parts, without any one molesting them, even though the kings may be at war. These Bramans are well read in the law of their idolatry and possess many books and are learned and masters of many arts and so the kings honour them as such.” *
NOTEs: * The Coasts of East Africa and Malabar. Page 123.
This account though not free from mistakes is very creditable to Barbosa considering the times he lived in and the obstacles to get at correct information in those days.
Of the kings, their laws of succession and customs, he writes thus: —
“In the first place, the kings of Malabar are, as has been said, gentiles and honour their idols they are brown, almost white, others are darker; they go naked from the waist upwards, and from the waist downwards are covered with white cotton wraps and some of them of silk. Sometimes they clothe themselves with short jackets open in front, reaching half way down the thigh, made of very fine cotton cloth, fine scarlet cloth, or of silk or brocade. They wear their hair tied upon the top of their heads, and some times long hoods like Galician casques, and they are barefooted. They shave their beards and leave the moustaches very long, after the manner of the Turks. Their ears are bored and they wear in them very precious jewels and pearls set in gold, and on their arms from the elbows upwards gold bracelets, with similar jewels and strings of very large pearls. At their waists over their clothes they wear jewelled girdles three fingers in width, very well wrought and of great value...........
“When they are in their houses they always sit on high benches, and in houses without storeys. And they keep there a stand very white and four fingers high, and a cloth of brown wool undyed, after the manner of a carpet of the size of a horse cloth , folded in three folds and upon this they sit ............... and they lean upon pillows, round and long, of cotton, silk or fine cloth. And they also sit on carpets of cloth of gold and silk; but they always keep under them, or near them, that cloth of brown wool, on account of their sect and for state and when any one comes to see them, they bring him this brown woollen cloth and put it near him and when he goes out a page carries the cloth folded before him for state and ceremony. And likewise he always keeps a sword near him, and when he changes from one spot to another, he carries it in his hand naked, as they always keep it. These kings do not marry, nor have a marriage law, only each one has a mistress, a lady of great lineage and family, which is called Nayre, and said to be very beautiful and graceful. Each one keeps such a one with him near the palaces in a separate house, and gives her a certain sum each month or each year for expense, and leaves her whenever she causes him discontent, and takes another.... And the children that are born from these mistresses are not held to be sons nor do they inherit the kingdom, nor anything else of the king’s.
“The heirs of these kings are their brothers, or nephews, sons of their sisters, because they hold those to be their true successors, and because they know that they were born from the body of their sisters. These do not marry, nor have fixed husbands, and are very free and at liberty in doing what they please with themselves.
“The kings of Malabar when they die, are burned in the country with much sandal and aloes wood and at the burning all the nephews and brothers and nearest relations collect together and all the grandees of the realm. And before burning him they keep him there when dead for three days waiting for the assembling of the above mentioned persons, that they may see him if he died of a natural death or avenge his death if any one killed him, as they are obliged to do in case of a violent death. And they observe this ceremony very rigidly. After having burned him, all shave themselves from head to foot excepting the eye-lashes, from the prince the heir to the throne, to the smallest child of the kingdom i.e., those who are gentiles, and that they also clean their teeth, and universally leave off eating betel for thirteen days from that time and if in this period they find any one who eats it, his lips are cut off by the executioner.
“During these thirteen days the prince does not rule, nor is he enthroned as king, in order to see if in this time any one will rise up to oppose him and when this term is accomplished, all the grandees and former governor make him swear to maintain all the laws of the late king and to pay the debts which he owed and to labour to recover that which other former kings had lost. And he takes this oath, holding a drawn sword in his left hand, and his night hand placed upon a chain lit up with many oil wicks in the midst of which is a gold ring which he touches with his fingers, and there he swears to maintain everything with that sword. When he has taken the oath, they sprinkle rice over his head, with many ceremonies of prayer and adoration to the sun, and immediately after certain counts, whom they call caymaIs, along with all the others of the royal lineage, and the grandees, swear to him in the same manner to serve him and to be loyal and true to him. During these thirteen days, one of the caymals governs and rules the State like the king himself; he is like an accountant-general of the king, and of all the affairs of the kingdom. This office and dignity is his, by right and inheritance. This person is also the chief treasurer of the kingdom, without whom the king cannot open or see the treasury neither can the king take anything out of the treasury without a great necessity, and by the counsel of this person and several others. And all the laws and ordinances of the kingdom are in the keeping of this man.”*
NOTEs: * The Coasts of East Africa and Malabar. Page 1108.
This account too, though not quite accurate, is very creditable to Barbosa.
To return to our historical narrative, from two inscriptions at Marungur (South Travancore), we have seen that the royal insignia of Sakalakalai Martanda Varma consisted of three swords, a drum, a bow and an arrow and that in 1495 A.D., he promulgated certain rules for the conduct of the right and left hand castes of the community towards each other. In 1507 A.D., both Martanda Varma and Aditya Varma issued a writ to redress certain grievances of the Nadars in the villages between Parali and Tovala mountains. Aditya Varma died about 1517 A.D.
Aditya Varma’s younger brother, BHUTALA VIRA SRI VIRA UDAYA MARTANDA VARMA, who was already associated with him in the government in 1494 A. D, continued to rule over the country till 1535 A.D. But his name is erroneously entered in one or two edicts of the temple chronicles of Sri Padmanabhaswamy as Sri Vira Rama Martanda Varma, the Senior Tiruvadi of Tiruppapur and also as the Senior Tiruvadi of Siraivoy. His surname waa according to epigraphical records, Mankonda Bhutala Vira Sri Vira Udaya Martanda Varma. He was a famous warrior and conquered almost the whole of the Tinnevelly District from the Pandyas and ruled over it in addition to his own kingdom. He married a Chola princess by the name of Cholakulavalli who brought with her the district of Calacaud (Cholakulavallipuram) as a dowry. Bhutala Vira made Calacaud his capital and built in it a new palace under the name of Viramartanda Chaturvedimangalam-putumalikai.
He was also called PULI MARTANDA VARMA, as he married the Chola princess whose house had the leopard for its royal insignia; the dam across the river which stands even now under the name of Virappuli anai, was erected at that period. He was the first of the three Bhutala Viras whose names occur in the coins of Tinnevelly. The title “Mankonda Bhutala Vira’ was assumed by him just after his conquest of the Tinnevelly District. He had two loyal chieftains in Tinnevelly one of whom was known by the name of Singa Perumal at Sevval and the other by the name of Chempakavanan Perumal at Sentanseri on the banks of the Chittar. His contemporaries among the Pandyas were probably Jatila Vaiman Parakrama Pandya, Kulasekhara Jatila Varman Sri Vallabha and Maravarman Sundara. Either Parakrama Pandya Kulasekhara who ascended the throne in 1480 A.D., or one of his co-regents or immediate successors seems to- have been defeated by the famous warrior, Bhutala Vira I. Sri Vallabha-mangalam, Sevval and several other places in the Tinnevelly District were under the sway of this Bhutala Vira Martanda Varma, even before 1495 A.D. It is probably of this Martanda Varma that Mr. Logan says: —
‘His territory extended from Quilon to Cape Comorin and embraced besides the southern portion of the Pandyan kingdom including the port of Kayal. The Raja exacted tribute from Ceylon, kept a corps of three hundred female archers, and it is said he had not hesitated to challenge to battle the Raja of Vijayanagar.” *
NOTEs: * The Malabar Manual, Vol. 1. Page 310.
There is evidence to show that there was perpetual war between Travancore and Vijayanagar lasting for over a century i.e., from 1530 till at least 1635 A.D. He made several gifts of lands as pallichantam to the god in the temple of Nagercoil, at the special request of Jivakarudaiyan Gunavira Panditan, and Narayanan Kamalavahana Panditan. The very names of these two persons are sufficient to prove that they were Jains. Pallichantam means a royal gift of lands to the deities of other religions at the special request of their adherents.
About the same time the Christian Paravas, who resided at Kumari-muttam near Cape Comorin, were harassed and ill-treated by the Hindus. On the 20th Minam 701 M.E (1526 A.D.), a royal writ went forth for redressing the grievances of the Christian Paravas under the sign-manual of Bhutala Vira Sri Vira Udaya Martanda Varma to the senior and junior Kangan (the head-man and his assistant among the Hindu fishermen) who resided in the haven at Kumari-muttam, commanding them that they should not thereafter molest or harass in any way the Christians who were exempted from paying the taxes due to the village community of the heathens, such as idankai- valankai-panam (the tax for the right and the left hand castes) padai-ppanam and prachandakanikkai &c. The pillar on which this edict is engraved stands in a dry field called ‘Muthanayinar Vilai’, near Cape Comorin.
The immediate successor of the said Bhutala Vira Sri Vira Udaya Martanda Varma was BHUTALA VIRA SRI VIRA RAVI VARMA, as mentioned in the inscription engraved on the southern side of the rock near the shrine of Kailasanathar in the temple of Suchindram. It reveals that on the 19th Medam 712 M.E. Bhutala Vira Sri Vira Ravi Varma granted some lands in Irukkanturai in the District of Tinnevelly to Suchindram Udaya Nayanar, for the daily performance of Udayamartandan Sandhipuja. This gift was made by him in the name of his predecessor Bhutala Vira I.
It appears that one SRI VIRA RAMA MARTANDA VARMA who was the Senior Tiruvadi of Siraivoy and eventually became the Senior Tiruvadi of Tiruppapur was a co-regent of Bhutala Vira Udaya Martanda Varma. He made some gifts to the temple of Padmanabhaswamy as an atonement for the sins committed during the internal dissensions of 704 M.E His name also occurs in the later records dated 713-723 M.E, (1538-1548 A.D.) of the temple chronicles of Sri Padmanabhaswamy as Sri Vira Rama Martanda Varma, the Senior Tiruvadi of Siraivoy. The inscription dated 716 M.E (1541 A.D.) on the western wall in the outer mantapam of Suchindram temple shows clearly that this was Sakalakalai Martanda Varma II, the Senior Tiruvadi of Siraivoy.
The successor of Bhutala Vira Ravi Varma was BHUTALA VIRA KERALA VARMA, the Senior Tiruvadi of Jayasimhanad. His name appears in a neet given to one Dikkellampukazhum Perunial of Vijayagudi in Tinnevelly, appointing him temple-accountant on the 27th Vrischigam 720 M.E (1544 A.D.)
Francis Xavier arrived in South Travancore about 1543 A.D., and sought to introduce Christianity on the west coast. He was specially sent from Goa to look after the fishermen converts of Father Miguel Vaz at Cape Comorin. He wandered through fishing villages and baptised all those who submitted to it. He founded many congregations and built a number of churches. Before the close of 1544 A. D., he had founded forty-five churches in Travancore. These were at first merely booths made of branches of trees and palm leaves which in time were replaced by stone and cement. Kottar was his principal residence. In one of his letters dated March 1544, he describes the king of Travancore as the ‘Great King’ having authority all over South India. He also mentions that a near relative of the king resided at Sael (Cael or Kayal), and that the Badagas whom he described as ‘tax gatherers’ and ‘lawless marauders’ invaded Travancore in great force by the Aramboly Pass and endeavoured to possess themselves of the coast as far south as Cape Comorin in July 1544.
Mr. Venkayya identifies these Badagas with the officers and soldiers of Vittala, a Prince of Vijayanagar, who ruled over Madura in 1547 — 1558 A.D. This is corroborated by an inscription at Tiruvidaimarutur, which records that during the reign of Sadasiva Raya of Vijayanagar, Prince Vittala, son of Rama Rajah, made an expedition against Tiruvadi (the King of Travancore) shortly before Saka year 1466 (1544 — 1545 A.D.). That the Badagas, as Mr. Venkayya shows, were the officers and soldiers of the King of Vijayanagar is conclusively proved by another circumstance. From the Rise of Portuguese Power in India, we gather that in 1543 A.D., the Portuguese Governor Afonso de Sousa organised an expedition against some of the rich temples in India to rob them of their fabulous wealth, but that on coming to the Cape, he found a large army belonging to the Rajah of Vijayanagar, who held sway over these temples, collected to prevent the Portuguese attack and that consequently he had to retreat with his force to Kayangulam. This clearly explains the arrival of the army of the Rajah of Vijayanagar to South Travancore. It appears that the Badagas, after the Portuguese had gone, invaded the interior of Travancore.
According to some accounts, the Rajah of Travancore was indebted to Xavier for deliverance from danger, a panic having, it is said, been produced in the ranks of the Badagas by the sudden appearance of Xavier in front of their host, crucifix in hand, and thus the Badagas failed in their attempt to conquer Travancore. It is related in Oriente Conquistado (I. 143)., that the Maha rajah received Francis Xavier exclaiming, “They call me the Great King but hereafter for ever they will call you the Great Father”. Father Martin S. J* fixes the scene of the retreat of the Badagas on a plain two miles north of Kottar. We have already seen that the king of Travancore at the time was Bhutala Vira Kerala Varma, the Senior Tiruvadi of Jayasimhanad.
NOTEs: * MIssion du madure, IV.18.
There is reason to believe that the Portuguese caused considerable annoyance and trouble to the king of Travancore, for Xavier in his letter of March 24, 1544 A.D., states in anger that his plans to enter Travancore were frustrated by the annoyance of the Rajah at some misconduct of the Portuguese officials.
De Sousa is stated to have then led an expedition to attack the temple: of Tebelicare, which local information reported to be full of gold. If this is the Tevalakara of Travancore, it is a small village seven or eight miles-north-east of Quilon and situated in the Karunagapalli Taluq. There were two jangadas* attached to the temple, but one of them with all his guards at once went south when he heard of the movements of the Portuguese. An offer of twelve thousand pounds, it is said, failed to turn the Governor from his intention to rob the temple which was reached before nightfall. The Governor and his immediate followers went inside the temple and after shutting the door spent the whole night in torturing the Brahmins there and digging up the floor. It is not known exactly what was found; a gold patten worth about £ 50 was all that was shown. But an idea of their booty may be gathered from the fact that two empty barrels passed in and they each required eight slaves in relays to carry them out.
NOTEs: * These were probably military officers appointed to guard the temple.
An anecdote is mentioned in this connection. When the Governor and his men started on the return journey in the morning, a Nayar dressed with scrupulous care and wearing all his ornaments, flung himself on the Portuguese ranks followed by ten or twelve others. It was discovered that this was the remaining jangada with his relatives and dependents that thus tried to wipe out by their deaths the stain upon their honour. It appears that the Portuguese on their way back were much harassed by the country people and. suffered a loss of thirty killed and one hundred and fifty wounded. They then sacked another temple from which they obtained a small amount in silver coins, which was distributed among the soldiers.*
NOTEs: * The rise of Portuguese Power in India (1497-1550). - Whiteway. Page 285.
From the date of the Badaga invasion the power of the king of Travancore had declined in Tinnevelly.
In Kollam year 722 (1546 A.D.) i.e., two years after the time of Bhutala Vira Kerala Varma, KING BHUTALA VIRA RAMA VARMA made a gift to the temple of Suchindram in Tulam, as mentioned in an inscription of that temple. It appears that subsequent to the advent of the Badagas a compromise was effected between Rama Varma, the King of Travancore and Vittala (alias Rama Rajah according to some authorities), the ruler of Vijayanagar, by which the former ceded the Tinnevelly District to the latter, who in return agreed not to molest Travancore. It was also agreed that Rama Varma should allow Vittala to make a grant of lands to the Vishnu shrine in the temple of Suchindram for special offerings in commemoration of King Vittala’s birth-day. It was with reference to this peace that Francis Xavier “took an active part in sending to Tuticorin the Brahmin envoy sent by the Maharajah of Travancore to make peace with Madura”.
Xavier mentions a Prince of ‘Tala’ under whose protection he worked near Cape Comorin. Mr. G. T. Mackenzie surmises that ‘Tala’ may be Tovala, but Dr. Caldwell seems to think it refers to Kayal. The former is the more probable as there is still a village of that name (Talakil) in the Tovala Taluq a few miles to the north-east of Cape Comorin and evidently the seat of government.
Several internal dissensions took place between the Senior Tiruvadi of Siraivoy and the Senior Tiruvadi of Jayasimhanad throughout the period (1545-1551 A.D). Both of them made separate gifts to the temple of Padmanabhaswamy as an atonement for their sins. Kuttamangalam was also attacked by them during this period.
SRI VIRA UNNI KERALA VARMA of Jayasimhanad, Kilapperur, the Senior Tiruvadi of Tiruppapur, reigned in Venad between the 2nd Minam 734 M.E (1559 A.D)., and the 18th Mithunam 736 M. B. (1561 A. D)., as mentioned in the temple chronicles of Sri Padmanabhaswamy. His co-regent was SRI VIRA ADITYA VARMA the Senior Tiruvadi of Siraivoy, who ruled over Travancore from 1559 to 1565 A.D.
According to the same records, King Aditya Varma made a gift of lands to the temple of Rameswaram Udaya Nayanar at Darisanamkoppu in the Taluq of Tovala, to meet the daily puja expenses of the temple. The lands thus given were then exempted from the tax called anjali. This gift was made by him on the 6th of Mithunam 734 M.E (1559 A.D.).
According to the temple chronicles the reign of this king lasted till the 16th of Vrischigam 740 M.E (1564 A.D.). The construction of the eastern gopuram of the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple was finished on the 14th of Tulam 741 M.E (1565 A.D).
SRI VIRA UDAYA MARTANDA VARMA of Jayasimhanad ruled over Travancore from Vrischigam 743 to Tulam 763 M.E (1567 — 1587 A.D). According to the temple chronicles, this king was the Senior Tiruvadi of both Siraivoy and Jayasimhanad. In 752 M.E (1576) A.D), there was also a Queen of the Kupakas who was born in the star of Mrigasira. She reconstructed the temple of Kariyamanikka Vinnavar Emperuman of Idaraikudi (Idalaikudi) in the Taluq of Agastisvaram. The expression Kariyamanikka Vinnavar Emperuman indicates that the temple should have been founded by a certain Pandya king of that name.
In the Calendar of State Papers* it is said that the Portuguese had a great war with the Queen of Malabar about 1571 A.D., and that the Queen was forced to peace. This Queen may have been the Queen of the Kupakas above referred to. Mr. Mackenzie says, “In the years 1571 and 1574 the Senior Ranee of Travancore at Attingal took fright at the growing power of the Portuguese and set on foot an agitation against the Christians in the course of which three churches were burnt down.”
NOTEs: * Colonial Series (1513-1616). - Saintsbury. Page 9.
From an inscription at Padmanabhapuram we learn that one King Ravi Varma anointed the God of Mahadevar in the Padmanaphapuram temple on the first of Vrischigam 754 M.E (1578 A.D.), after finishing his architectural undertakings. This king might have been the co-regent of Sri Vira Udaya Martanda Varma.
In the temple chronicles, it is said that SRI VIRA UDAYA MARTANDA VARMA, Senior Tiruvadi of Tiruppapur made certain arrangements with regard to the temple management on the 18th Mithunam 762 M.E (1587 A.D.). From an inscription at Darisanamkoppu, we learn that this same king made some gifts to Raghavanisvaram Udayar for monthly offerings on the day of his star Purattathi. Another inscription in the Parakai temple reveals that BHUTALA VIRA RAMA VARMA, the Senior Tiruvadi of Siraivoy, born in the star of Kartika granted some lands to the temple for the daily performance of Chempakaraman-puja on the 13th Kanni 762 M.E (1586 A.D). He may have been the co-regent of Udaya Martanda Varma. There were also two princes by name Ravi Ravi Varma and Aditya Varma.
There are several documents in the temple chronicles to prove that SRI VIRA RAVI RAVI VARMA of Jayasimhanad reigned in Travancore from Vrischigam 771 to Makaram 782 M.E (1595—1607 A.D). From one of the Tiruvattar inscriptions, it is clear the reign of Sri Vira Ravi Ravi Varma lasted till the 16th Edavam 780 M.E, that he had two younger brothers by names, Aditya Varma and Rama Varma, that there were two Queens Iraiyummakkuttiyar and Ilaiyummakkuttiyar, under the patronage of this Ravi Varma, besides one Senior Rani named Nambirattiyar Ammai, that one Nachiyar Ammai was under the patronage of Aditya Varma and one Kesava Perumal Ammai under that of Rama Varma, and that all these had contributed to the repairs of the temple.
Sri Vira Rama Varma of Jayasimhanad is also mentioned in the chronicles as the Senior Tiruvadi of Tiruppapur during the years 779 and 780 M.E