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|Anizham Thirunal Veerabaala Marthanda Varma|
|Maharaja of Travancore|
|Veera Rama Varma of Venad|
|Sree Padmanabhadasa Maharajah Sree Anizham Thirunal Veerabaala Marthanda Varma Kulasekharaperumal|
|Father||Kilimanur Koyi Tampuran|
|Mother||Junior Queen of Attingal|
|Died||July 7, 1758 (aged 52)|
|Kingdom of Travancore|
|Part of History of Kerala|
|Gowri Lakshmi Bayi||1810–1815|
|Gowri Parvati Bayi‡||1815–1829|
|Sethu Lakshmi Bayi‡||1924–1931|
|‡ Regent Queens|
Anizham Thirunal Veerabaala Marthanda Varma (Malayalam: അനിഴം തിരുനാൾ വീരബാല മാര്ത്താണ്ഡ വര്മ്മ; 1706–7 Jul 1758) was king of Travancore from 1729 till his death in 1758. He contributed substantially to the expansion of his ancestral domains by annexing several neighbouring states and unified the entire southern Kerala. Under his rule, Travancore rose to prominence as a powerful military state in southern India. He was succeeded by his nephew Rama Varma (Dharma Raja).
Anizham Thirunal, aged 23, ascended the throne of Venad in 1729. He crushed the Dutch expansionist designs at the Battle of Kolachel in 1741. Marthanda Varma then adopted a European mode of discipline in his army and expanded the Venad domain to adjoining regions. He organized a substantial standing army, reduced the power of the Nair aristocracy (on which rulers of Kerala had been dependent militarily) and fortified the northern limits of his kingdom at the Travancore line.
Travancore under Maharajah Marthanda Varma was one of the few kingdoms in India determined to consolidate their power by the use of maritime outlets. The control of trade was also seen as crucial in the statecraft of the period. It was also the policy of Marthanda Varma to extend patronage to the Syrian Christians, the large trading community within his domains, as a means of limiting European involvement in trade. The key commodity was pepper, but other goods also came to be defined as royal monopoly items.
The city of Trivandrum became prominent under Maharajah Marthanda Varma, who made it the capital of Travancore in 1745.His alliance in 1757 with the ruler of Cochin against the Zamorin of Calicut, enabled Cochin to survive. Varma's policies were continued in large measure by his successor, Rama Varma, who was able, moreover, to defend Travancore successfully against the Kingdom of Mysore.
Anizham Thirunal Veerabaala Marthanda Varma was born in 1706 to the Junior Queen of Travancore adopted AD 1688 from Kolathiri Swaroopam ("Queen of Attingal"). Travancore (Trippappur Swaroopam) then, a small principality extending from Attingal in the north to Kanyakumari, the southernmost tip of the Indian sub continent. Within this small kingdom the power of the king was only nominal due to the power of the nobles known as Madampis, chief among them being the Ettuveetil Pillamar or the "Lords of the Eight Houses". The powers of the ruler were also to a great extent curbed by the power of the Ettara Yogam, the Managing committee of the great Pagoda of Padmanabhaswamy in Trivandrum. The Ettuveetil Pillamar and Ettara Yogam play an important role in the history of Travancore and were responsible, as per legend, for the murder of Maharajah Aditya Varma in the previous century, the murder of five sons of Maharani Umayamma and other similar crimes, all committed in a bid to extirpate the Travancore Royal House. It was into these conditions, where the sovereign was powerless under the refractory nobles of the state that Maharajah Anizham Thirunal was born in 1706. Anizham Thirunal, from his formative years, was an intelligent prince and it was on his advice in 1726 that Maharajah Veera Rama Varma signed a treaty with the Madurai Nayaks and secured a foreign force in the country to check the activities of the Ettuveetil Pillamar and other rebellious chieftains. After being pleased by the maturity and administrative talent of his nephew, Maharajah Veer Rama Varma anointed Anizham Thirunal as the "Prince of Neyattinkara". This incurred the wrath of the Eight Lords and thus they bent upon murdering the young Prince. The result was that Sree Marthanda Varma had to flee the capital for the safety of the northern states such as Kottarakara, Kayamkulam etc. where he lived in difficulty for many years, travelling from one place to another to escape his enemies.
Marthanda Varma was not only a shrewd tactician and a great king but also an able general as well. In his military conquests he was ably assisted by Ramayyan Dalawa, later his Prime Minister. After crushing the power of the feudal Lords, he turned his attention to the neighbouring states. In 1731 Quilon or Kollam, which was ruled by a branch of the Venad family was defeated and the last King was made to sign a document allowing the annexation of his kingdom by Marthanda Varma after his death. Till then Quilon was to be a Venad tributary. Marthanda Varma next turned his attention towards Kayamkulam, which allying itself with the Quilon family tried to prevent the growth of Venad. In 1734, several battles were fought against Kayamkulam and Quilon without any decisive effect. In the final battle of that year the Rajah of Kayamkulam was killed and succeeded by his brother who soon sued for peace and hostilities were ended for the moment. Marthanda Varma then, in 1734, annexed the Elayadath Swaroopam or the Kottarakara kingdom, ruled by another related Queen who was pensioned off. In the same year,the Quilon Rajah died and Kayamkulam annexed the possessions of that king against the wishes of Marthanda Varma. The Kayamkulam Rajah had the support of the Rajah of Cochin and Dutch. The Dutch Governor of Ceylon, van Imhoff, asked the King to stop hostilities against Kayamkulam, to which Marthanda Varma remonstrated that the Governor need not interfere in affairs that did not concern him. In 1739 Van Imhoff arrived in Cochin and in 1740 espoused the cause of the Rani of Kottarakara and protested against the annexation of that kingdom by Marthanda Varma. On a subsequent interview with the Maharajah Marthanda Varma, the relations between the Dutch and Travancore became further strained. It is said that when the Dutch Governor threatened to invade the territories of Travancore the Maharaja gave an effective reply that he would invade Holland in case the Dutch misbehaved in Malabar. In 1741 the Dutch reinstated the Queen of Elayadath Swaroopam at Kottarakara against the wishes of Marthanda Varma who attacked the kingdom and completely routed the Dutch army and finally fully annexed Kottarakara to Travancore while the Queen fled to Cochin and received a pension from the Dutch.
Following this occurred the decisive Battle of Colachel, resulting in the complete eclipse of Dutch power in Kerala. Though the Battle of Colachel was fought in 1741 A.D. (10 to 14 August) peace with the Dutch was only concluded and ratified by the Batavian Government in October, 1753. More than twenty Dutch men were taken as prisoners in the Battle of Colachel. The prisoners were treated with kindness, so they were glad to take service under the Maharaja. Among them were Eustachius De Lannoy and Donadi, who attracted the maharaja's special notice. De Lannoy, commonly known in Travancore as the 'Valiya Kapithan' (Great Captain) was entrusted with the organization and drilling of a special Regiment, which he did to the entire satisfaction of the Maharaja. De Lannoy was raised to the rank of General and proved of considerable service to the Maharaja in the subsequent wars. Following the expulsion of the Dutch, the Maharajah now turned his attention once again towards Kayamkulam which continued seeking help from the Dutch. In 1742, the Travancore forces attacked the Kayamkulam possessions at Quilon and fought the Kayamkulam army led by its commander Achuta Warrier.In this battle Travancore was defeated. But reinforced with cavalry brought in from Tirunelveli, Marthanda Varma mounted an attack on Kayamkulam and finally defeated the kingdom.
A treaty known as the Treaty of Mannar was signed, by which Kayamkulam became a tributary. However by 1746, the Kayamkulam Rajah once again started showing signs of rebellion and when his conspiracy with the kingdoms further north (such as Kottayam, Changanassery, Cochin and Ambalapuzha) came to the attention of Marthanda Varma, Kayamkulam was annexed by a final war in which the Rajah fled to the Kingdom of Cochin. Travancore now extended from Cape Comorin to Kayamkulam in the north. Following this, Ambalapuzha, Kottayam and Changanassery were also annexed to Travancore by 1753. The principality of Meenachil was also annexed. In 1753 the tributary states of Cochin collectively known as Karappuram and Alangad were ceded to Travancore. In 1755, the Zamorin of Calicut, the most powerful king in Northern Kerala was also defeated at a battle in Purakkad. He was supported by the armies of some other local kings also. This made almost all the Kings of Kerala prostrate before the power of Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma.
Treaty of Mavelikkara
Treaty of Peace and friendship concluded between Marthanda Varma and the Dutch. According to this treaty both the parties agreed to live in friendship and peace. The treaty was signed on 15 August 1753. The treaty was signed at Mavelikkara.
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One military commander of the Travancore forces was Eustachius De Lannoy, a prisoner of war from the Battle of Colachel. He modernised the Travancore forces and made it superior to those of the other Kings of Kerala, thus playing a major part in the military acquisitions of Marthanda Varma. Besides these, under ponpandidevar reforms were brought about in the revenue system, budgetary system and public works etc., of the state. The Padmanabhaswamy temple was renovated and new state ceremonies such Murajapam, Bhadra Deepam etc. were introduced by Marthanda Varma. Marthanda Varma also instituted a new knighthood for his loyal Nair officers known as Chempakaraman Pillai. The Kingdom of Travancore was dedicated to the Lord Sri Padmanabhaswamy in 1750 January 3 and after that he was called Sripadmanabha Vanchipala Marthandavarma Kulasekaraperumal and the Maharajah, taking the title of Padmanabha Dasa ruled the kingdom as the servant of that deity. Travancore as a whole, thus became the property of Lord Sri Padmanabhaswamy, the deity of the Travancore Royal family or in other words "God's Own Country".
Marthanda Varma paid special attention to improving agriculture in the kingdom. The southernmost district of present day Tamil Nadu, Kanyakumari was the southernmost part of Travancore. The portions of land lying east of Nagercoil town called Nanjil Nadu was considered the granary of Kerala due to the extensive cultivation of paddy there. The fertility of this area was only due to the irrigation facilities introduced by Marthanda Varma. His Edicts on the subject of irrigation issued between 1729 and 1758 A.D fill several pages in the Travancore Land Revenue Manual by R. Mahadeva Iyer. Only due to the digging of new canals for irrigation during His reign, the single-crop paddy fields of that area became double-crop fields, almost doubling their production. Pallikondan Dam,Chattuputhoor Dam, Sabari Dam,Kumari Dam and Chozhanthitta Dam, all on the River Pazhayaru in the vicinity of Nagercoil, were constructed by him and are still operational. Near Bhoothappandy, Chattuputhoor dam was constructed and a new channel named Puthanaaru was dug from it to irrigate the Thovala areas. Puthan Dam, built by him near Padmanabhapuram, provided drinking water to that area.
The death of Ramayyan Dalawa in 1756 caused great pain to Marthanda Varma as the former was not only his minister but also his friend. The king's health started deteriorating since then till he died two years later in 1758 after a brilliant military career. He was succeeded in 1758 by his nephew Maharajah Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma Dharma Raja, who consolidated the kingdom further. Before his death, Marthanda Varma summoned his nephew and successor and gave his final instructions. The main instructions were concerning the maintenance of all the pujas, ceremonies etc. in the Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple without attempts to meddle with them and to maintain above all the friendship existing between that Honourable Association (the British) and Travancore and to repose in them full confidence. They had proved more trustworthy of all the foreign forces. Another main instruction was that the expenses of the state should never exceed its revenue. No infighting in the royal family was to be ever allowed. Within a short time of these final instructions, the king gave up his life.
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Marthanda VarmaBorn: 1706 Died: 1758
Rajah Rama Varma
(as Raja of Venad)
|Maharaja of Travancore