Travancore royal family
|Kingdom of Travancore|
|Part of History of Kerala|
|Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma||1729–1758|
|Gowri Lakshmi Bayi||1810–1815|
|Gowri Parvati Bayi‡||1815–1829|
|Sethu Lakshmi Bayi‡||1924–1931|
|Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma||1991–2013 (Titular)|
|Moolam Thirunal Rama VarmaVI||2013–Present (Titular)|
|‡ Regent Queens|
The Travancore Royal Family was the ruling house of the Indian princely state of Travancore (later to be known as Kerala state in sovereign India) until 1949. The ruling family descended from the royal lineage of Mushika Kings (the latter being known also as the Kolathiri Dynasty) and holds the distinction of being a Samantha Kshatriya. While the Chera Dynasty, Pandyan DynastyChola Dynasty descend from indigenous Tamil clans. The Samantha Kshatriyas descend from the Tulu invaders and subgroup of Bunt(Community) of Tulunadu. Samantha subgroup of Tulu Bunt (community) ruled with the other Bunt tribes such as Nayara, Menava, Kuruba.
Unofficially, the Travancore Royalty are considered to be descendants of the Pandya and Chola Dynasties as well, due to consistent intermarriages between the Chera and Pandya and Chola and Mushika Dynasties over the centuries. The Tamil Chera-Ay dynasty (mixture of Chera Dynasty with Ay Kingdom, which ruled Venad was completely replaced by Tulu Samantha around 1600s. Samanthas conitinued to use Tamil Royal titles of Chera Dynasty such as Kulasekhara. Kadamba King Mayuravarma (Mayurasharma) the arch enemy of the Chera dynasty ruler Nedum Cheralathan brought Nagas from Ahichatra in Uttarkhand-Nepal border according to Tulunadu Grama Paddathi and Keralolpathi. Bunts/Samantha/Nairs descend from the Nagas who were mentioned in ancient Sangam literature as Vadugas(Vada Nagas).After Malik Kafur invasion Tulu-Nepalese dynasties under Kolathiri dynasty of Kannur replaced all the Keralas ruling Tamil clans. Tulu-Nepalese rulers who replaced the Venads Chera-Ai dynasty practiced Matriarchy, Polyandry unlike the earlier Tamil Kingdoms.
Lord Sree Padmanabhaswamy (Maha Vishnu) is the chief family deity. The Kings of Travancore, later by taking the title of "Sree Padmanabhadasa", ruled the kingdom as the servant of that deity. This important donation of the Kingdom to the Temple was known as "Thripadidaanam." The Royal family is alternatively known as the Kupaka Swaroopam, Thripappur Swaroopam, Venad Swaroopam, Vanchi Swaroopam etc. All these titles belonged to the Tamil Chera Dynasty and Ay kingdom but adopted by Tulu Samanthas. It has its seat today at Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, India. The last ruling Maharajah of Travancore was Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, died on 20 July 1991 after a stroke. Sree Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma, the younger brother of the last ruling monarch of the Kingdom of Travancore, Maharajah Chitra Thirunal Rama Varma, died at a private hospital in the early hours on 16 December 2013. He was succeeded by Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma, son of Maharani Karthika Thirunal Lakshmi Bayi and Lt. Col. G. V. Raja.
- 1 Recorded history of the dynasty
- 2 Merger Of Attingal
- 3 Thrippadidaanam and Sree Padmanabhadasas
- 4 Adoption
- 5 Titles and precedence
- 6 Marriage and other customs
- 7 The Royal Family Members
- 8 Palaces
- 9 List of Maharajahs of Travancore
- 10 See also
- 11 Further reading
- 12 References
- 13 External links
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.But the Parashurama legend appeared only after 1102 AD and was not known to the earlier Tamil dynasties.Matriarchal Samantha Bunt dynasties which practised Matriarchy appeared in Kerala only after Malik Kafurs invasion and Madurai Sultanate was formed in the 14th century. 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. But the Samantha Kshatriyas who ruled Kerala after Malik Kafurs invasion in 1310 are not ethnically related to Tamil dynasties. Samanthas Ajila,Nayara Hegdes and Menavas are subgroups of Tulu Bunt (community) who existed in Karnataka from fourth century onwards much earlier to their appearance in Kerala. 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. While the Ezhimala Nannans were Tamil Velirs but the Kolathiris who appeared after the defeat of Later Chera Dynasty in 1102 ad are of Tulu-Nepalese descent and their origins can be traced to Ahichatra.
Keralolpathi mentions Kulasekhara and Cheraman Perumal two Tulu invaders. Kulsekharapperumal ruled for 18 years at Mushika Kingdom(1102-1120). Keralas laterday legends call him as Banu Vikrama Kulasekharapperumal.Alupas Pandyan rulers(Nadavara) were Bana,the Northern cousins of Tamil Velir people. Their Kings were called Banapperumal. The Banapperumals had an army of Nepalese Slave Warriors called Buntar brought from Ahichatra in Uttarkhand.Samantha were a subgroup of the Bunts. Keralolpathi mentions the second Tulu invader who was the brother of Tulu Alupas Pandyan king Kavisingharachan (Kavi Alupendra 1110-1160 ad) with a large Nair army 350000 strong under the command of Pada Mala Nair. This Tulu prince from Alupas Pandyan kingdom ended the Tamil Velir Later Chera Dynasty in 1102 ad and called himself Cheraman Perumal. This Tulu pretender Cheraman Perumal(1120-1156) ruled from Valapattanam near Kannur.Facing opposition from the public the Tulu Cheraman Perumal surrendered to the Arabs and went to Arabia. The Tulu Cheraman Perumal crowned one of his Samantha lieutinents called Udayavarman who was the ruler of Madayi Kotta, as Vadakkan Perumal otherwise called Kolathiri. The Tulu Cherman Perumal divided his kingdom among his lieutinents before leaving for Arabia and made Udayavarman Kolathiri as their overall Soverign. Different Tulu Bunt tribes such as Samantha Nayara Menava and Kuruba appeared in Kerala with this Tulu invasion in 1102 ad.
The original Tamil Velir Chera dynasty was shifted to Kollam where it merged with the Tamil Ay Kingdom to form the Chera-Ay dynasty. The Royal houses of the Chera-Ay dynasty were named after the two houses of Ay Kingdom called Thrippapur and Chirava (Cheravay) Moopars. The Chera-Ay dynasty(1102-1314 ad).The official language was Tamil. Chera-Ay dynasty rulers used Tamil titles and they did not add birth stars before their names like the Tulu Kolathiri dynasty. The descendency had been Patrilineal like other Tamil Velir Kingdoms. Polyandry was never practised by Tamil Cheras.
After the fall of the Later Chera Dynasty in 1102 ad to Tulu-Nepalese invaders Kerala came under the Pandyan Dynasty. When the Delhi Sultanate under Malik Kafur attacked and defeated Pandyan Kingdom in 1310 all the Tamil Kingdoms of Kerala came to an end. Kolathiris by colluding with the Delhis invaders and became the most powerful ruler of Kerala. Four Kingdoms, Kolathiri, Samuthiri, Kingdom of Cochin came into existence with Matriarchy and Matrilineal descendency both Tulu-Napalese customs.Friar Jordanus was the first to report Matrilineal descendency in Kerala in 1324. Keralas rulers became subgroups of Bunts ie Samantha, Nairs and Menavas. The lords called themselves Madambi or Mada Nambi after Ahichatra Madasthana(Hill place) from where they came. Southern Chera-Ay dynasty was forced to accept Matriarchy/Marumakkathayam/Aliyasantana and the rule of two Tulu-Nepalese princesses called Attingal and Kunnumel Ranis.
After the arrival of Attingal and Kunnumel Ranis to Venad in 1310 the sons of the Attingal Rani had the right to become the King and the Kings own king did not have the right to become the next king. These Matriarchal Chera-Ay kings after 1310 as vassals of Delhi Sulthanate called themselves Manney Sulthans and Samsher Jung. Between 1310 to 1532 the Kings were still from Chera-Ay dynasty and the Attingal queens were merely consorts. Chera-Ay rulers changed their capital to Southern Tamil Nadu at Kalakkad, Cheranmadevi and Kallidaikurichi. Chera-Ay rulers between 1310 to 1600s used Tamil titles such as Kulasekharan Veera Pandyan etc Cherala Udaya Marthanda Varman(1383-1344)ruled from Cheranmahadevi. Veera Udaya Marthanda Varma(1314-1344) called himself Veera Pandyan. Boothalaveera Sri Veera Udayamarthandavarma who had the Tamil title Ventru man Konda Boothalaveeran was defeated by the army of Vijayanagar king Achyuta Deva Raya. This destroyed the power of Tamil Chera-Ay dynasty. The Attingal Queen started adopting prince and princesses from the other Matriarchal Tulu-Nepalese dynasties of Kerala either from Vellarappalli house of Cochin and the Koalthiri dynasty to the Venads Chera-Ay Royal houses replacing Tamils with Tulu rulers.
In the 1600s the Brahmin mixed Samantha rulers from Velllarapalli called Pandarathil were installed by the Attingal Rani as Travancore rulers who still called themselves Kulasekhara and Thripappur Mootha Thiruvadi.The laterday rulers after 1600s were adopted from Vellarappalli Cochin, Beypore and Chirakkal Raja branches of Kolathiri dynasty who descendents of Udayavarman Kolathiri the Samantha Bunt ruler appointed by the Tulu Cheraman Perumal(1120-1156). They were of Tulu-Nepalese descent and not ethnically related to the earlier Tamil Velir rulers. Tippu Sultans attack of Kerala in 1789 led to the defeat and suicide of Samuthiri and execution of Kolathiri prince.Tippu attacked with a 4000 strong Cavalry and 8000 strong Foot soldiers leading to an exodus of Nair armies four times stonger to Travancore further strengthening the Tulu-Nepalese rule.
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 the invasion of Malik Kafur in 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. Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma, the "maker of modern Travancore" and Dharma Raja were powerful rulers who re-established 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. The British government accorded the Maharajah of Travancore a high 19 gun salute outside Travancore, whereas locally and for all temple festivals, the highest salute of 21 guns were fired. Swathi Thirunal was one of the most popular rulers of the 19th century. He made contributions both in the field of administration as well as music.
The reign of Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma brought about revolutionary reforms like the Temple Entry Proclamation, Free and Compulsory education, for all etc. He was referred to as the Father of Travancore industrialization by A. Sreedhara Menon. V. P. Menon in his book stated that, under Chithira Thirunal's reign, Travancore had become the second most prosperous Princely State in the British Empire.
The occupation of Chera Temples by the Tulu Samantha Dynasty would create an exodus of people to other religeons. Kerala went under dark ages starting from the defeat of Pandyan Dynasty in 1310.Malayanma a form of Malayalam-Tamil(Lingua Malabar Tamul)the indigenous language of Kerala became extinct as Tulu Tigalari alphabet was used by the new rulers. All the earlier books written in Malayanma were destroyed.
Merger Of Attingal
The women of Travancore Royal Family were popularly referred to as Attingal Queens. Attingal was also considered as the ancestral homes of Travancore royals. Historians like V. Nagam Ayya, A. Sreedhara Menon etc. say that Attingal was never a separate Kingdom but the estates and provinces given to the royal women by the male head of the family(King). AS the Kings of Travancore were the sons of Attingal Queens, the latter were held in high respect by the royal family as well as the public. This respect and high status led to the wrong notion that Attingal Queens were once sovereigns which was further compounded by the writings of many foreign historians and travellers. Even if they had any power, it was taken away by Maharajah Sree Anizham Thirunal Veerabaala Marthanda Varma.
Many Attingal Queens misused their status and signed potentially dangerous treaties with foreign forces, without even consulting with the reigning Travancore Kings. Maharajah Sree Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma, anticipating the threat to the Kingdom's security, removed the powers of the Attingal Queens permanently and brought them under the complete control of the King. Thus, the Attingal Queens lost all private rights in the family properties, their power limited to the role of just a supervisor of such properties.
Kerala historian, Prof. A. Sreedhara Menon wrote : "Early in his reign Marthanda Varma assumed direct control over the so-called Attingal 'Queendom'. This was not an annexation or conquest, but "the amalgamation of Travancore with Attingal". The theory that the Ranis of Attingal exercised sovereign powers is incorrect. The fact is that in political matters, the Ranis exercised no sovereign rights. Any grant of rights over immovable property by the Ranis required the King's previous assent or subsequent confirmation for its validity. The so-called Queendom of Attingal had its origin in the 5th century when two Princesses were adopted into the Venad family and the revenues from certain estates in and around Attingal were assigned to them. Since then, the female members of the ruling family of Travancore had come to be known as Attingal Ranis. It was only the male children of these Tamburatties who could inherit the throne. When Marthanda Varma decided to assume direct control over the estates of Attingal, he was not interfering in the affairs of a sovereign State. As the head of the royal family and the ruler of the State, he had every right to interfere in the affairs of a part of his kingdom. The Rani had neither territory nor subjects. What she possessed was nothing more than the control over the revenues of the estates, powers she exercised were delegated to her by the sovereign of the State."
Thrippadidaanam and Sree Padmanabhadasas
Maharajah Sree Anizham Thirunal dedicated the Kingdom of Travancore to his family deity Sri Padmanabhaswamy in 1750 January 3 and after that he was referred to as Sree Padmanabhadasa Vanchipaala Maharajah Sree Anizham Thirunal Veerabaala Marthanda Varma Kulasekharaperumal. The Kings of Travancore, taking the title of "Sree Padmanabhadasa", ruled the kingdom as the servant of that deity. This important donation of the Kingdom to the Temple was known as "Thripadidaanam". Travancore as a whole, thus became the property of Sri Padmanabhaswamy, the deity of the Travancore Royal family or in other words "God's Own Country". It is erroneously believed that use of the title "Sree Padmanabhadasa" before royal male members' names came into being after Thrippadidaanam, but this title was in use even in the 16th century. During the first birthday ceremony of Maharajah Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma(Dharmaraja) in 1725, he is referred to as "Sree Padmanabhadasa" which was much before the Thrippadidaanam(1750) by Maharajah Anizham Thirunal Veerabaala Marthanda Varma.
The title of "Sree Padmanabhadasa" is prefixed to the name of every Travancore King while the royal women are "Sree Padmanabhasevinis". In order to get the eligibility for attaining the title of "Sree Padmanabhadasa", certain rituals must be completed at the birth of new royal male members. On the first birthday of every royal male members would be put on the 'Ottakkalmandapam' of the Sree Padmanabhaswami Temple and holy water from the temple will be sprinkled on the baby and only after completion of this ceremony, the royal child is proclaimed as "Sree Padmanabhadasa". The female members also have a ritual called "Padiyettam" which is conducted only after their "Pallikettu" (wedding of Travancore Princesses and Queens). Only those male and female members who complete these ceremonies are allowed in the temple affairs and are also provided respect as well as the titles associated with temple as well as the royal family.'
The females of the royal family are styled as the "Queens of Attingal" with the titles of Attingal Mootha Thampuran(Senior Queen of Attingal) and "Attingal Elaya Thampuran"(Junior Queen of Attingal) and "Attingal Kochu Thampuran"(First Princess). The first adoption to the Travancore Royal Family was in the early 14th century from the Kolathiri family because the Kolathiris are considered a sister dynasty by the Travancore Royalty. This adoption resulted 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 Maharajah Anizham Thirunal 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 the famous Travancore King Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma was born to one of these princesses. In 1718 a princess was adopted, whose son was the later King Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma Dharma Raja. 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 Maharajah 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, Sethu Lakshmi Bayi and Sethu Parvathi Bayi (gave birth to the last ruling monarch of Travancore, Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma). The latest adoption occurred in 1994 by Princess Aswathi Thirunal Gowri Lakshmi Bayi who adopted a princess named Lekha Parvathi Bayi.
Titles and precedence
All members of the ruling family receive two names, an official personal name and a name associated with the 'star' or 'Thirunal' under which they are born, (e.g.: Maharajah Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma).
- The senior most male or the Valiya Thampuran is the head of the Royal family, born in the female line, to a Queen of Attingal, becomes King with the title of Sree Padmanabhadasa Vanchi Paala (Personal Name) Varma Kulasekhara Perumal Kiritapathi Manney Sultan Maharajah Raja Ramaraja Bahadur, Shamsher Jang, Maharajah of Travancore.
- The Heir Apparent is known as the Maharajkumar (personal name) Varma, Eliya Raja of Travancore.
- The senior most female of the Royal family is the Attingal Mootha Thampuran and is known as Sree Padmanabhasevini Vanchidharma Vardhini Raja Rajeshwari Maharani (personal name) Bai, Senior Maharani of Travancore, with the style of Her Highness.. The Junior Maharani is the Attingal Elaya Thampuran and if mother of the ruling prince is known as Sree Padmanabhasevini Vanchipala Dyumani Raja Rajeshwari Maharani Maharani (personal name) Bai, Junior Maharani of Travancore, with the style of Her Highness. The First Princess is known as Kochu Thampuran and is known as (personal name) Sree Padmanabhasevini Vanchidharma Vardhini Attingal Kochu Thampuran.
- Prince Consorts of the Senior and Junior Maharani are known as the Valiya Koyi Thampuran and Kochu Koyi Thampuran respectively, selected from one of four or five royal houses (or 'palaces') who were closely related to the ruling family . Kerala Varma Valiya Koil Thampuran, consort of Maharani Bharani Thirunal Lakshmi Bayi, and Col. G. V. Raja, consort of Maharani Karthika Thirunal Lakshmi Bayi, went on to become famous in their own terms.
- Consorts of the Maharajahs are usually Nair women, and never Kshatriya (royalty), and hence, is ranked as nobility, and not royalty. They are is known as Ammachi Panapillai Amma and holds the title of (mother's house name) Ammachi Panapilla Amma Srimathi (personal name) Pilla.. The Maharajahs are only allowed morganatic marriages so as to maintain Marumakkathayam. The Travancore Maharajahs' children do not succeed to the throne under the Marumakkathayam Law, as they belong to their Nair mother's family and are not royalty. Instead they get a title of nobility, namely Thampi and Kochamma. The sons of the ruling Kings are known as Sri (mother's house name) (personal name) Chempakaraman Thampi. The daughters of the Kings are known as (mother's house name) Ammaveetil Srimathi (personal name) Pilla Kochamma. The descendents of Ammachis get the title of Thankachi (female) & Thampi (male).
- The surviving younger brothers of the Maharajah, according to age, and by the same mother.
- The sons of the sisters of the Maharajah, according to age. If there were more than one sister, the first born male child of that generation would be the heir, regardless of whether his mother was older or younger than other sisters.
- The sons of the eldest maternal aunt of the Maharajah, according to age.
- The sons of the daughters of the eldest maternal aunt of the Maharajah, according to age. The sons of elder daughters succeeded before those of the younger sisters.
Marriage and other customs
The marriages of the princesses are known as Pallikettus while those of the Maharajahs are known as Pattum Parivattavum Chaarthal. The form of marriage is Sambandham and the consorts of the Princesses are from certain select families of Koyi Thampurans came from one of four or five royal houses or 'palaces' who were closely related to the royal family whereas the consorts of the Maharajahs belong to four houses known as Ammaveedus. The spouses of the Maharajahs and Maharanis 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. An exception to this rule of selection and status of Prince Consort was made when Sree chithira Thirunal chose Colonel Godavarma Raja of Poonjar Royal House (not from the normal select royal houses) as the Consort for his only sister, Maharani Karthika Thirunal Lakshmi Bayi in 1934. Col. G. V. Raja went on to become a resourceful ally of Maharajah Sree Chithira Thirunal, made pivotal contributions to Kerala's infrastructure development as well as sports and tourism.
Cessation of the practice of mahādanams
The kings of Thiruvithamkoor had been conditionally promoted to Kshatryahood with periodic performance of 16 mahādānams (great gifts in charity) such as Hiranya-garbhā, Hiranya-Kāmdhenu,and Hiranyāswaratā in which each of which thousands of Brahmins had been given costly gifts apart from each getting a minimum of 1 kazhanch (78.65 gm) of gold. In 1848 the Marquess of Dalhousie, then Governor-General of British India, was appraised that the depressed condition of the finances in Thiruvithamkoor was due to the mahādanams by the rulers. Lord Dalhousie, instructed Lord Harris, Governor of the Madras Presidency, warn the then King of Thiruvithamkoor Martanda Varma (Uttram Tirunal 1847–60) that if he did not put a stop to this practice, the Madras Presidency would take over his Kingdom's administration. This led to the cessation of the practice of mahādanams. All Travancore Kings including Sree Moolam Thirunal conducted Hiranyagarbham and Tulapurushadaanam ceremony. Maharajah Chithira Thirunal is the only King of Travancore not to have conducted Hiranyagarbham or Tulaapurushadaanam as he considered these as an extremely costly ceremonies.
The Royal Family Members
The eldest son of Amma Maharani Sethu Parvathi Bayi was the last King Of Travancore, Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, who signed the instrument of accession and amalgamated his Kingdom into the Union of India in 1949. The Royal family consists, in the line of Sethu Parvati Bayi, the last Maharajah Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma (unmarried), his brother Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma, and of their late sister Maharani Karthika Thirunal Lakshmi Bayi (married to Col. Godavarma Raja/G. V. Raja of the Poonjar Royal Family). Princess Karthika Thirunal and Col. Godavarma Raja had two daughters (Pooyam Thirunal and Aswathi Thirunal) and two sons (Avittom Thirunal(died at the age of six) and Moolam Thirunal) (current Head of the Royal Family and Titular Maharajah). Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma married Ammachi Panapillai Amma Shrimathi Radhadevi Pandalai of Kayamkulam (the daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Krishnan Gopinathan Pandalai, MB, CM, FRCS, LRCP, Madras), and has a son, Ananthapadmanabhan Thampi and a daughter, Parvathidevi Kochamma. He used to reside at Pattom Palace, Trivandrum, till his death in 16 December 2013.
The current head of Travancore Royal family is Sree Padmanabhadasa Sree Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma, born on 12 June 1949 at Kowdiar Palace as the youngest son of Maharani Karthika Thirunal Lakshmi Bayi by her husband, Lieutenant-Colonel P.R. Godavarma Raja/G. V. Raja of Poonjar Palace. He became the Titular Heir Apparent or Elaya Rajah on 20 July 1991, after the death of Maharajah Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma. Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma is a Physics graduate from Mar Evanios College, Trivandrum and also studied business management in London. After his education, he joined Aspinwall and Co Ltd in Mangalore 1971, and served as a consultant and in various executive positions like Additional Director 2004-2005, Director of Planning 2005-2007, Executive Director Aspinwall & Co (Travancore) Ltd since 2005, Member of Aspinwall Promoter Group since 2005, Managing Director of Aspinwall and Co Ltd in Mangalore since 2008. In 1976 he married Ammachi Panapillai Amma Srimathi Rema Varma of Kilimanoor Palace but divorced in 2002. Sree Rama Varma then married Ammachi Panapillai Amma Srimathi Girija Thankachi of Vazhuthacadu, alias Dr. Girija Rama Varma, former radiologist based in London and has a daughter from her first marriage. The couple after their wedding in 2002 used to live in Mangalore till 2013. After he assumed the Titular Maharajah's position, the couple moved to Kowdiar, Trivandrum, and has settled down there. According to Royalark.net website, Sree Rama Varma has no children from either marriages, till date.
Princess Pooyam Thirunal Gowri Parvathi Bayi is married to Sri Chembrol Raja Raja Varma and has two children, Prince Aswathi Thirunal Rama Varma and Princess Thiruvathira Thirunal Lakshmi Bayi. Lakshmi Bayi married a commoner, Prof. M.D. Nalapatt (son of famous writer Kamala Das) and hence decided not to have any children. As Princess Thiruvathira Thirunal Lakshmi Bayi married a commoner, Lekha varma of Mavelikkara Palace was adopted by Princess Aswathi Thirunal Gowri Lakshmi Bayi in 1996 into the royal family to continue in the female line and became Bharani Thirunal Lekha Parvathi Bayi. Classical Musician, Prince Aswathi Thirunal Rama Varma remain unmarried till date.
Princess Aswathi Thirunal Gowri Lakshmi Bayi, a famous Indo-Anglian writer, was married to Late. Sri Sukumaran Raja Raja Varma of Palikkara West Palace, Thiruvalla. He died from injuries after a car accident, at the Ochira District Hospital, Kerala, 30 December 2005. The couple has three children: Prince Pooruruttathi Thirunal Marthanda Varma, Prince Avittom Thirunal Aditya Varma, and Princess Bharani Thirunal Lekha Parvathi Bayi(adopted). Prince Pooruruttathi Thirunal Marthanda Varma married Ammachi Panapillai Amma Srimathi Gopika Nair alias Kalaimamani Gopika Marthanda Varma or Gopikavarma, the famous Mohiniyattam dancer as well as Director of Dasya Dance School, Member Advisory Board of the Ability Foundation in Chennai etc. They have a son, Sri Vishnu Thampi. Prince Avittom Thirunal Aditya Varma married Ammachi Panapillai Amma Shrimathi Resmi Varma of Mariapalli Palace, Kottayam in 2000. They have twin daughters, Gowri Varma and Prabha Varma. Princess Bharani Thirunal Lekha Parvathi Bayi married Anoopkumar Varma and has a daughter Princess Swathi Thirunal.
Maharani Pooradam Thirunal Sethu Lakshmi Bayi had two daughters, Princesses Uthram Thirunal Lalithamba Bayi and Karthika Thirunal Indira Bayi. Revathi Thirunal Balagopal Varma, the grandson of Maharani Pooradam Thirunal, is believed to be the titular Elayarajah of Travancore.
The Constitutional Amendment of 1971 terminated the status of the Maharajahs 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 Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple were respected and the current head of the family, Sree Padmanabhadasa Sree Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma, fulfills his duty towards the temple as the Titular Maharajah of Travancore and as the Trustee of Sree Padmanabhaswami Temple, Trivandrum, even though he has no part in the administration of the temple. 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 Princess Bharani Thirunal (Rukmini Varma), Princess Aswathy Thirunal Gowri Lakshmi Bayi, Prince Punartham Thirunal Shreekumar Varma, musician Prince Aswathi Thirunal Rama Varma (disciple of Vechoor Harihara Subramania Iyer and Dr. Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna) and Princess Makam Thirunal (Dr Lakshmi Raghunandan).
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 and the men in many other Palaces like Thulsi Hill Palace, Rangavilaasom Palace, Kuthiramalika Palace etc.
The branch of Sethu lakshmi Bayi had sold all their properties in Kerala in the late 1940s and early 1950s itself and moved outside the State. Most of them are settled at places like Chennai, Bangalore, also in foreign countries like United States of America, Australia, South Africa etc. They don't take part in any royal rituals or temple ceremonies, and is not in touch with Sethu Parvathi Bayi's family in Trivandrum.
After the Constitutional Amendment of 1971, the properties and estates of the Royal Family were partitioned and divided into two equal halves among the branches of Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bayi and Maharani Sethu Parvathi Bayi. However certain legal disputes continued between Balagopala Varma (the grandson of Sethu Lakshmi Bayi) and Maharajah Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, regarding the ownership of the Stalemond Palace in Poojapura. According to the verdict given by the Supreme Court of India in the matter, the terms of division of properties was accepted by all members of both branches of the royal family. But later Balagopal Varma(Revathi Nal), who at the time of property division was a minor, accused that Sree Chithira Thirunal had unlawfully taken away a property, Poojappura Stalemond Palace, that rightly belonged to his grandmother, Sethu Lakshmi Bayi . Sree Chithira Thirunal had given away this Palace to the Government of Kerala to construct a new Medical Centre, the now famous, Sree Chitra Thirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology, in 1974. Balagopala Varma(Revathi Nal) also accused that Sree Chithira Thirunal had unlawfully taken away the traditional holdings of Sethu Lakshmi Bayi, as Senior Rani of Attingal. The court also dismissed this argument while giving the final verdict in 1991. Sethu Lakshmi Bayi's case was presented to the then Viceroy of India in the 30's but was dismissed by him, as former Maharajah of Travancore, Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma had already removed all the powers of Attingal Queens in 18th century itself. Revathi Nal Balagopala Varma took his grievance first to the High Court of Kerala and later to the Supreme Court of India. However, at both courts, the verdicts came in favour of Sree Chithira Thirunal and the appelant, Revathi Nal's, case was dismissed in the final judgement of 1991 by the Supreme Court of India. The Maharajah had donated the Stalemond Palace for the creation of Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology, Trivandrum The case was won by Maharajah Sree Chithira Thirunal after the final verdict given by the Supreme Court Of India in 1991.
Presently only the descendents of Sethu Parvathi Bayi live at Kowdiar Palace as it belongs to her legal heirs and their descendents. They are all based in Trivandrum and are also the ones who keep alive the traditions and rituals of their ancient dynasty including the upkeep of the famous Sree Padmanabhaswami Temple.
List of Maharajahs of Travancore
- Anizham Thirunal Veerabaala Marthanda Varma 1729–1758
- Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma (Dharma Raja) 1758–1798
- Avittom Thirunal Balarama Varma 1798–1810
- Gowri Lakshmi Bayi 1810–1815 (Ruling Queen from 1810–1813 and Regent Queen from 1813–1815)
- Gowri Parvati Bayi (Regent) 1815–1829
- Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma 1829–1846 (coronation in 1815, Ruling Maharajah from 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 1931–1991 (coron. 1924) and (Titular Maharajah from 1971-1991)
Titular Maharajahs Of Travancore
- Menon, P. Shungoonny (1879). A History of Travancore from the Earliest Times. Higginbotham & Co., Madras.
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- Prince Adithya Varma, son of Raja Raja Varma and Gauri Lekshmi Bhayi, witnessed a wedding at the Palace when he was 5-year-old. It was the Prince’s uncle Ramavarma’s marriage.
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- GOPIKA VARMA Exponent of Mohiniattam by Art India.Net :......."The ancient Travancore royal family has been famed down the age for its patronage of the fine arts. Gopika Varma is married into the family, to Prince Poorurttathi Thirunal Marthanda Varma, descendent of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal. Mrs. Vanaja Nair her maternal grand mother initiated her to learn mohiniyattam. Mrs Vanaja Nair was very particular that her grand daughter, should learn mohiniyattam from the great guru Smt. Kalyani Kuttyamma'.......
- india.net, art. "GOPIKA VARMA Exponent of Mohiniattam". Art India Net. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
- "The SRIPADMANABHA Royal Indoor Courts is a dream come true as far as I’m concerned. My wife Reshmi who hails from Mariapalli Palace, Kottayam"- SRIPADMANABHA Royal Indoor Courts, by Prince Aditya Varma
- [dead link]
- Raghunanadan, Lakshmi (1995). At the turn of the tide : the life and times of Maharani Setu Lakshmi Bayi.
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- "The Biomedical Technology Wing (BMT Wing) located at the Satelmond Palace at Poojappura, Trivandrum consists of culturally diverse and pluralistic team committed to medical device development, research & teaching." http://www.sctimst.ac.in/About%20SCTIMST/Organisation/Biomedical%20Technology%20Wing/ sctimst.ac.in
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