Travancore royal family
|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|
The Travancore Royal Family is a Chera dynasty that ruled over the Indian princely state of Travancore until 1947. The family descended from the Venad line of the Chera kings and holds the dignity of being Samantha Kshatriya. The Royal family is alternatively known as the Kupaka Swaroopam, Thripappur Swaroopam, Venad Swaroopam, Vanchi Swaroopam etc. It has its seat today at Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, India. The last ruling Maharaja was Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma and Sethu Lakshmi Bayi was the last Queen Regent of Travancore. The present head of the family Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma died at a private hospital in the early hours on 16 December 2013.—nbala 08:55, 16 December 2013 (UTC)(nbala). He was the younger brother of the last ruling monarch of the Kingdom of Travancore, Maharajah Chitra Thirunal Rama Varma.--nbala 04:31, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
Recorded history of the dynasty
According to one existing version, the founding members of the Travancore royal family are said to have come to Kerala, from the banks of the Narmada river. Another belief is that Parashurama himself crowned the first official ruler in the dynasty. Officially, their lineage can be traced definitively to at least 820 C.E, which is based on the claim of descent from the Later Cheras of the three southern Indian Mandala Kingdoms namely Chera Mandalam, Pandya Mandalam and Chola Mandalam. According to another legend, a branch of the Chera family was sent to the extreme north of the then Kerala, where they settled and came to be known as the Mooshika Royal family, or the later Kolathiris, while another branch was deputed to go south to grapple with the Pandyan invasions.
One of the two branches of the Chera dynasty shifted to Venad/Quilon where it merged with the Ay kingdom. Ravi Varma Kulasekhara was the last rulers of this Chera Ay dynasty. Ravi Varma Kulasekara described himself as Ay as well as Komaravarmaan as his mother was a Pandya princess. Numerous places are named after this Tamil Cherai dynasty. Ravi Varma Kulasekhara (1299-1314) invaded the territories of the Pandyas and Cholas and performed imperial coronations at Madurai and Kanchipuram and thus threw of the Pandyan hegemony in the region. However his success was short lived and after him his successors could not hold on to these acquisitions of the Pandyas and Cholas. After 1310 the last Chera-Ay King Veera Udaya Marthandavarma was forced to abdicate in favour of the princesses sent from the Kolathiri kingdom called Attingal and Kunnumel Ranis. But they adopted the titles of Chera-Ay rulers. The line of kings after Ravi Varma continued through the Marumakkathayam law of matrilineal succession of Nairs, from whom most of the royal house hold of Kerala comes. Soon after Ravi Varma's death two princesses were adopted from the Kolathiri Royal family and installed as Ranis or Queens at Attingal. The Venad Royal family continued thus in the female line. Whenever there were no females to take forth the line, princesses were adopted from the Kolathiri family, the latest adoption being in 1994. Umayamma Rani who reigned towards the end of the 17th century was a prominent ruler. Marthanda Varma, the "maker of modern Travancore" and Dharma Raja were powerful rulers who reestablished the power of monarchy in the state and destroyed that of the nobles. By the early 19th century the kingdom became a princely state under the British. Swathi Thirunal was one of the most popular rulers of the 19th century. The regency of Sethu Lakshmi Bayi was a time which heralded many new reforms which were continued by Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma.
The Travancore royal family style themselves as Padmanabha Dasas or servants of Padmanabha an epithet of Hindu God Vishnu since 1750 when Maharajah Marthanda Varma made over the state to the deity of the Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple and vowed that from that that day on, the royal family would rule the state on behalf of Him. The title of Padmanabha Dasa is prefixed to the name of every Travancore King while females call themselves Padmanabha Sevinis. This important donation of the state to the temple was known as Thripadidanam. The British government accorded the Maharajah of Travancore a high 19 gun salute, whereas for all temple festivals, the highest salute of 21 guns was fired.
The first adoption to the Travancore Royal Family was in the early 14th century from the Kolathiri family because the Kolathiris are the first one to get kshtriyahood after conducting " 16 Mahadanas" during 13th century. Since then the senior most females of the family are styled as the Ranis of Attingal with the titles of Attingal Mootha Thampuran (Senior Rani of Attingal) and Attingal Elaya Thampuran (Junior Rani of Attingal). This adoption resulted by the late 17th century in the branching of the Royal family into four families namely the branch at Trivandrum, another at Kottarakara known as Elayadathu Swaroopam, the Peraka Thavazhi branch of Nedumangad and the Quilon branch. The later two branches died out into the 18th century whereas the last Rani of Kottarakara fled after battle with Marthanda Varma. In 1630 two males were adopted from the Cochin Royal Family  sowing the seed of dissension between the branches of the Royal family. Later in 1684 one male and two females were adopted from the Kolathiri family, from which family all subsequent adoptions were made, by Umayamma Rani. In 1688 two males, including
Rajah Rama Varma, and 2 females were adopted and Marthanda Varma was born to one of these princesses. In 1718 a princess was adopted, whose son was the later king Dharma Raja and whose great grandson was the poet Irayimman Thampi . In 1748 again four princesses were adopted and Balarama Varma (1798–1810) belonged to this line. The next adoption of 1788 brought forth the famous Maharanis, Gowri Lakshmi Bayi and Gowri Parvati Bayi and all the male rulers up to 1924, the last ruler in this line being Moolam Thirunal. In 1857 two princesses, including Rani Lakshmi Bayi, were adopted from a branch of the Kolathiri family residing at Mavelikara since the 1790s, but by 1901 both these princesses and all their issue died. In 1900 again two princesses were adopted from Mavelikara, granddaughters of Raja Ravi Varma, including the Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bayi. The latest adoption occurred in 1994.
Titles and precedence
- The senior most male of the Royal family, born in the female line, to a Rani of Attingal, becomes Maharajah with the title of Sri Padmanabha Dasa Vanchi Pala (Personal Name) Kulasekhara Perumal. Other titles include Shamsher Jang, Raja Rama Raja Bahadur, Manney Sultan etc.
- The senior most female of the Royal family is the Maharani and holds the title of Attingal Mootha Thampuran and is known as Sri Padmanabha Sevini Vanchi Dharma Vardhini Raja Rajeshwari Maharani (personal name).
- The second princess is known as Attingal Elaya Thampuran, third princess as Attingal Kochu Thampuran.
- The heir apparent is known as the Elaya Raja.
- Consort of the Maharani is known as the Valiya Koil Thampuran.
- Consort of the Maharajah is known as the Ammachi and holds the title of Panapillai Amma. The Maharajahs children do not succeed to the musnud under the Marumakkathayam law and instead get a title of nobility, immediately below royalty, namely Thampi. The Maharajahs are only allowed morganatic marriages so as to maintain Marumakkathayam.
Marriage and other customs
The marriages of the princesses are known as Pallikettus  while those of the Maharajahs are known as the ceremony of bestowing the Pattum Parivattavum. The form of marriage is Sambandham and the consorts of the princesses are from certain select families of Koyi Thampurans whereas the consorts of the Maharajahs belong to four houses known as Ammaveedus. The spouses of the princesses and Maharajahs are not considered members of the royal house owing to the prevalent Marumakkathayam law. However they received many royal dignities and privileges owing to their position as consorts. Sri Padmanabhaswamy is the chief family deity.
Cessation of the practice of mahādanams
The Maharajas of Travancore had been conditionally promoted to Kshatriyahood from Samantha Nair with periodic performance of 16 mahādānams (great gifts in charity) such as Hiranya-garbhā, Hiranya-Kāmdhenu, Hiranyāswaratā, and Tulāpurushadānam in which each of which thousands of Brahmins had been given costly gifts apart from each getting a minimum of 1 kazhanch (78.65 gms) of gold. The Nambudiri Brahmins had stipulated that Rajas of Travancore could retain their dignity of Nair Sāmanta permanently but the Kshatriyhood conferred on them by the yāgās and mahādanams would be valid only for 6 years and thus the latter purchased kshatriyhood at a heavy recurring cost. During 1848, Lord Dalhousie the then Governor General of British India who was also an eager annexationist was appraised that the depressed condition of the finances in Travancore was owing to mal-administration and practices of treasury by the ruling elite. Dalhousie, who was indignant at the colossal wasteful expenditure of Travancore state treasury through mahādanams among others, instructed Lord Harris Governor of Madras, warn the Rāja under the ninth article of the treaty of 1805. On 21 November 1855, Harris dispatched a strongly worded communication to the then Rāja of Travancore alias Martanda varma (Uttram Tirunal 1847–1860 A.D) that if he did not put a stop to his periodic re-incarnation as Kshatriya by squandering away huge sums of tax payer's money, among others, his state administration would be taken over by the Madras government. This led to the cessation of the practice of mahādanams and the Rājas of Travancore were unable to purchase their Kshatriyahood further and hence Sāmanthan by dignity presently.
The Padmanabhapuram Palace was the main residence of the Travancore Maharajahs whereas the Ranis of Attingal resided at that place in their own palaces. Later the royal family moved to Trivandrum wherein the females resided at the Sree Padam Palace. Presently the Royal family members live at Kowdiar Palace in Trivandrum and at Chennai, Bangalore etc. Some members are also settled abroad in the United States of America, Australia, South Africa etc.
The Royal Family
The Royal family at present consists of the descendants of the two princesses adopted in 1900 from the Mavelikara royal family, Sethu Lakshmi Bayi and Sethu Parvathi Bayi. Sethu Lakshmi Bayi was the last regent Maharani of Travancore. The oldest son of Sethu Patvathy Bayi was the last Maharajah, Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, who signed the instrument of accession and amalgamated the state into India in 1949. The Royal family consists, in the line of Sethu Lakshmi Bayi two daughters, Princesses Uthram Thirunal Lalithamba Bayi and Karthika Thirunal Indira Bayi and their families. In the line of the Junior Maharani, Sethu Parvati Bayi, are the last Maharajah (unmarried), his brother Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma, present head of the royal family and the family of their late sister Princess Karthika Thirunal Lakshmi Bayi (who was married to Col. G.V. Raja of the Poonjar Royal Family). Princess Karthika Tirunal and Col. G. V. Raja had two daughters (Pooyam Tirunal and Ashwati Tirunal) and two sons (Avittam Tirunal and Moolam Tirunal). The present Head of the Family, Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma married Shrimati Radha Devi (the daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Krishnan Gopinath Pandalai, MB, CM, FRCS, LRCP, late IMS, sometime Superintendent of the Government General Hospital, Madras), and has a son, Anantha Padmanabhan Thampi and a daughter, Parvati Devi. He resides at Pattom Palace, Trivandrum. Presently the senior most female in the Royal Family with the title of Attingal Mootha Thampuran is H.H. Karthika Thirunal Indira Bayi. She resides in Chennai. The Indian Constitutional Amendment of 1971 terminated the status of the royal families of the erstwhile princely states as rulers and abolished their rights to receive privy purses. However the other clauses of the agreements signed between the Government of India and the Princes in 1947 legally still hold. The Royal Family of Travancore has no administrative authority since 1971. Till 1956 Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma served as Rajpramukh of Thiru-Kochi. Later in 1971 while the family lost their privy purse and other privileges, the rights of the family in the Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple were respected and the head of the family still fulfills his duty towards the temple as the Maharajah of Travancore. The allowances of all the family members born prior to 1949 are also still paid by the Government of Kerala.
Some prominent members of the Travancore royal family today include artists Rukmini Varma (Princess Bharani Thirunal) and her son Jayagopal Varma, writers Shreekumar Varma (Prince Punardam Thirunal), Dr. Lakshmi Raghunandan (Princess Makham Thirunal) and Gowri Lakshmi Bayi (Princess Aswathy Thirunal), musician Aswathi Thirunal Rama Varma, Yathi Verma. After the Constitutional Amendment of 1971, the royal family and its properties and estates were partitioned and divided into two equal halves among the branches of HH Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bayi and HH Maharani Sethu Parvathi Bayi. However certain legal disputes with regard to the same continued among family members until as late as 1991.
List of Maharajas of Travancore
- Anizham Tirunal Marthanda Varma 1729–1758
- Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma (Dharma Raja) 1758–1798
- Balarama Varma 1798–1810
- Gowri Lakshmi Bayi 1810–1815 (Queen from 1810–1813 and Regent Queen from 1813–1815)
- Gowri Parvati Bayi (Regent) 1815–1829
- Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma 1829–1846
- Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma 1846–1860
- Ayilyam Thirunal Rama Varma 1860–1880
- Visakham Thirunal Rama Varma 1880–1885
- Sree Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma 1885–1924
- Sethu Lakshmi Bayi (Regent) 1924–1931
- Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma 1931–1947
- Menon, P. Shungoonny (1879). A History of Travancore from the Earliest Times. Higginbotham & Co., Madras.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Travancore Royal Family .|
- SANTHANAM, KAUSALYA (30 March 2003). "Royal vignettes: Travancore - Simplicity graces this House". The Hindu. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
- Travancore State Manual Vol II by Velu Pillai pages 104-105
- Native Life in Travancore Vol I by Rev:Samuel Mateer, AD 1883, pages 388
- "The Hindu : New member in Travancore family". Hinduonnet.com. 2000-11-25. Retrieved 2012-03-09.
- Travancore State Manual Vol II by Velu Pillai page 348
- Travancore State Manal Vol II by Velu Pillai page 121
- Travancore State Manual Vol II by Velu Pillai page 301
- Travancore State Manual Vol II by Velu Pillai page 202
- Travancore State Manual Vol II by Velu Pillai page 228
- Travancore State Manual Vol II by Velu Pillai page 232
- Travancore State Manual Vol II by Velu Pillai page 347
- Travancore State Manual Vol II by Velu Pillai page 399
- Travancore State Manual Vol II by Velu Pillai page 582
- Travancore State Manual Vol II by Velu Pillai page 706
- "Maharani Passed Away". Mayyam.com. 2008-06-08. Retrieved 2012-03-09.
- A Social History of India – (Ashish Publishing House: ISBN 81-7648-170-X / ISBN 81-7648-170-X, Jan 2000).
- Administration and social development in Kerala: A study in administrative sociology, By Sadasivan, S.N. published by Indian Institute of Public Administration (New Delhi), 1988.
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- Revathinnal Balagopala Varma Vs. HH Padmanabha Dasa Bala Rama Varma, Supreme Court of India 1991