Kannavath Sankaran Nambiar

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Kannavath Sankaran Nambiar (c. 1760 – 27 November 1801) was the prime minister or Sarvadikaryakar of Pazhassi Raja.

The word "Kannavath" means "that which is associated with Kannavam" - Kannavam is the name of a village which is located in Thalasseri taluk of Kannur district. But "Kannavam" is also the name of the dominant feudal Nair (Nambiar) clan resident to this village and this Nair clan once possessed this village along with vast estates in neighborhood that was estimated at 400 square miles.[1]

Kannavath Nambiars were vassals of Kottayam Raja and were once the richest landlords in whole of Northern Malabar. Sankaran was born into this feudal clan.[1]

Early life[edit]

As a teenager Sankaran joined Pazhassi Rajah's war effort to oust Mysoreans from Kottayam. Rajah was pleased with his courage, determination, loyalty and also appreciated his skill in diplomacy and administration - so he appointed him as his prime minister. One of Pazhassi rajah's main headquarters was located in Todikulam which was in heart of Sankaran's fief. Much of Sanakaran's fief was covered with mountains and woods inhabited by Kurichia tribesmen who proved to be of great help in war with Mysore and then British.[1][2][3]

War with British[edit]

During first war with British, Kannavath Nambiar along with Kaitheri Ambu played a major role in the mass resistance and subsequent war faced by British. He also was present in Todikulam where Pazhassi troops entrenched in a fortified temple fought British army in 1797 - British faced severe loss in this encounter with death of their senior leaders like Captain Bachelor and Captain William Brown.[1][4]

During second war with British too he played an active role. In June 1800, he along with his friends collected a large band of rebels. The British, on 4 August 1801, proclaimed him an outlaw and imposed death penalty on him. But Sankaran along with his men helped Rajah evade capture and came into agreement with rebels in South Malabar like Manjeri Athan Gurikkal as well as organized harassing warfare increase difficulties of British troops.[1][2]

Arrest and execution[edit]

On 27 November 1801, Sankaran along with his 24-year-old son and a small band of rebels who had camped at Kuttiyadi was betrayed to British by a Brahmin. That night itself British took all the prisoners to Kannavam and hanged them in night. The following morning people of Kannavam was greeted by sight of hanged bodies of their lord and his followers.[1][2]

The tree on which Sankaran and his son was hanged fell recently due to natural death. But 1 acre spot where he along with his son and retainers were hanged is even now kept vacant as a memorial and is called as Kuritikalam or Plot of Blood Sacrifice.[4]

Sankaran showed remarkable calm and courage even at the moment he was to be hanged. British officers repeatedly promised him pardon and a big reward if they showed Pazhassi Raja's hideout to British. But Sankaran angrily rejected all offers and told his executioners that "he will get a far greater reward in heaven if he remained loyal to his Raja." His son, nephew and brother as well as rest of his arrested followers who were to be hanged also rejected British offer of pardon and reward in exchange for information about Pazhassi Raja's hideout. So all of them were hanged that same night—Sankaran reportedly put the noose around his neck with his own hands and his followers also repeated his example.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Malabar Manual, William Logan, 1887
  2. ^ a b c Kerala Simham, Sardar KM Panikkar, 1941
  3. ^ Pazhassi Samarangal, KKN Kurup, 1986
  4. ^ a b Vadakkan Aithihyamaala, Vanidas Elayavoor, 1986
  5. ^ Account of George Strachan