Thacholi Meppayil Kunjhu Othenan or Mepayil Tacholi Manikoth Kovilakathu Kunji Othena Kurup (Udayana Kurup of Thacholi Manikoth House) or more popularly Thacholi Othenan (Malayalam: തച്ചോളി ഒതേനന്) was a legendary hero who is believed to have lived during 16th century in North Malabar region of Kerala, India. He is praised about in Vadakkanpattu (ballads of North Malabar).
Othenan was born into Family of a Padakurup in Thacholi near Vatakara. The Family is one of the 30 Koottams of Kurumbranad Royal Family called as Kurumbra Swaroopam or Kurumbiathiri. The Capital of the Kingdom was at Vatakara. (His father, Kotakkad Kovilakath Puthuppanathu Mooppil Vazhunnor was a Desavazhi of a small fiefdom) a small town in Kerala. He practised Kalarippayattu (ancient martial art form of kerala) from a very young age and grew up to be an extraordinarily brave and skilled warrior. Legends portray him as being a merciless opponent to enemies and a friend to the helpless. Even the powerful Zamorin of Calicut respected him. Mathiloor Gurukkal was his trainer, while Kandachery Chappan was his best companion.The legendary Thacholi Chandu was his nephew. A famous temple in Vatakra named Lokanarkavu_Temple is considered to be the family temple of Othenan.
Othenan beheaded Chandan Nambiar, who was regarded at that time as the best warrior in entire North Malabar, with the help of a martial art technique known as Poozhikkadakan learned from his colleague Payyamvelli Chanthu. He also killed a number of other very prominent warriors such as Punnora Kelappan and Puramala Nambi Kurup. He defeated Kadhirur Gurukkal in ankam (duel/war) and killed him. But one of the Gurukkal’s disciples (Parunthunkal Emman Panicker) arranged a Moplah mercenary (Mayin Kutty) who killed Othenan through treachery at the age of 32. The legend says that Othenan was shot while he was walking home through a rice field.
The Northern Ballads or the Vadakkan Pattukal extol the adventures of brave men and women, set against a feudal and medieval background, the stories celebrate the valour and skills of the renowned characters. The Vadakkan Pattukal reflect the peak of Kerala folk-poetry. These ballads are associated with North Malabar. The movie Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha capitalised on the popularity of these stories.
Thacholi Ambadi, another renowned martial arts expert, is Othenan's son.
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