Thampi and Thankachi

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Nagercoil Ammachi, the First Consort of Maharajah Moolam Thirunal of Travancore painted by P. Mukundan Thampi in 1879

The Thampis and Thankachis are the sons and daughters of the maharajahs of Travancore and their morganatic wives belonging to Illathu Nair or other similar castes. They form a part of the Nair caste (even if the mother is a non-Nair, as in the case of the Kunju Thampies) and had no title of succession to the throne. The consort of the ruling prince was known as the Ammachi with the title of Panapillai Amma. To the names of the sons of the Maharajahs was prefixed the title of Sri suffixed with Thampi. The daughters were known as Ponnammas. The other members of the Ammaveedus however were simply known as Thampis and Thankachis or Kochammas.[1]


Since the Maharajahs of South Kerala (Travancore) also belong to the warrior race of the Nairs, they followed the matrilineal system (Marumakkathayam) of inheritance. Hence when a king died, his sister's son would become the next ruler, and his own son, born of his Nair wife, would be called Thampi with the title " Sri (mother's house name) (personal name) Thampi" which was also one of the highest titles of nobility in Travancore. All of the Maharajahs' daughters were known by the style of Thankachi with the title " (mother's house name) Ammaveetil Srimathi (personal name) Pilla Kochamma". Since the Marumakkathayam law of matrilineal inheritance existed in Travancore, the descendents of these Thampi's & Thankachi's would not gain any distinguishing title.[2]


As mentioned previously, the title of Thampi was also given to some loyal noble families in Travancore. Thampis had special privileges in Travancore. Besides the Maharajah, they were the only people permitted the use of Palanquins. They also had the right to visit their cousin, their father's heir as per the Marumakkathayam law, without formally previously announcing their visit. The very term Thampi and Thankachi meant, in Tamil language, brother and sister respectively which indicated the position of the Thampi families as relatives of the Royal House of Travancore.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dr. Ivy Peter, Dr. D. Peter (Nov 2009). Liberation of the Oppressed a Continuous Struggle- A Case Study (since1822 A.D). Nagercoil: Kanyakumari Institute of Development Studies. pp. 24–26. 
  2. ^ Christopher, Buyers. "TRAVANCORE-BRIEF HISTORY". Christopher Buyers. Retrieved 23 April 2014.