Kingdom of Cochin: Wikis


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കൊച്ചി, പെരുമ്പടപ്പ്‌ സ്വരൂപം
Kingdom of Cochin

Flag Coat of arms
"അന്തസ്സ് നമ്മുടെ കുടുംബ നിധി"


"Om Namo Narayana"
Capital Mahodayapuram (Thiruvanchikulam)
Language(s) Malayalam, English
Government Absolute monarchy
Princely state (1814-1947)
Indian state (1947-1949)
 - Established Unknown
 - Disestablished 1949
Currency Rupee and Other Local Currencies

The Kingdom of Cochin (also known as Perumpadappu Swaroopam, Madarajyam, Gosree Rajyam, or Kuru Swaroopam; Malayalam: കൊച്ചി Kocci or പെരുമ്പടപ്പ്‌ Perumpaṭapp) was a princely state that included much of modern day Thrissur district, Chittoor Taluk of Palakkad district and Fort Kochi Taluk, most of Kanayannur taluk (excluding Idappalli), parts of Aluva taluk (Chovvara, Kanjoor, Srimoolanagaram) and parts of Paravur taluk (Chendamangalam) of Ernakulam district which are now the part of the Indian state of Kerala. Kochi was the first princely state to willingly join the Indian Union, when India gained independence in 1947. Cochin merged with Travancore to create Travancore-Cochin, which was in turn merged with the Malabar district of Madras State on November 1, 1956 to form a new Indian state of Kerala.[1]


Origin traditions

There is no extant written evidence about the emergence of Kingdom of Cochin or of the Cochin Royal Family, also known as Perumpadapu Swaroopam.[2] All that is recorded are folk tales and stories, and there is a somewhat blurred historical picture about the origins of the ruling dynasty. The surviving manuscripts, such as Keralolpathi, Keralamahatmyam, and Perumpadapu Grandavari, are collections of myths and legends that are less than reliable as historical sources.

There is an oft-recited legend that the last Perumal who ruled Kerala divided his kingdom between his nephews and his sons, converting to Islam and traveling to Mecca on a hajj. The Keralolpathi recounts the above narrative in the following fashion:

The last and the famous Perumal king Cheraman Perumal ruled Kerala for 36 years. He left for Mecca by ship with some Muslims who arrived at Kodungallur (Cranganore) port and converted to Islam. Before leaving for Mecca, he divided his kingdom between his nephews and sons.

The Perumpadapu Grandavari contains an additional account of the dynastic origins:

The last Thavazhi of Perumpadapu Swaroopam came into existence on the Kaliyuga day shodashangamsurajyam. Cheraman Perumal divided the land in half, 17 amsha north of Neelaeswaram and 17 amsha south, totaling 34 amsha, and gave his powers to nephews and sons. Thirty-four rajyas between Kanyakumari [now in Tamil Nadu] and Gokarna [now in Karnataka] were given to the Thampuran who was the daughter of the last niece of Cheraman Perumal.

Keralolpathi recorded the division of his kingdom in A.D. 345, Perumpadapu Grandavari in 385, Loghan (a historian) in 825. There are no written records on these earlier divisions of Kerala, but according to historian Elamkulam Kunjan Pillai, a division might have occurred during the Second Chera Kingdom, at the beginning of 12th century.[3]

Differences between Cheras and Naga rulers

Cheras were Tamil rulers who used Tamil Script to write till the end of the 12th century. Silappatikaram was written by Chera prince Ilangovadikal at the 3rd century and Perumal Thirumozhi written at the 9th century were two classical Tamil works. The claims made many of the the later-day rulers of Kerala (excluding only the Mushika and the Travancore Royal Families - including Cochin kings in the second millennium - that they descend from the Cheraman Perumal, completely ignore the fact, that the later rulers were not Tamils.

Chera kings followed Patriarchy like any other pure Dravidian kings. Matriarchy was not practiced by Tamil Cheras while the Karnatakas Nagas including the Bunt/Nairs and Samantas practised it in the first millennium[4]. During the Chera period Chastity and sexual fidelity were revered as recounted by Chera prince Ilangovadikal who wrote Silappatikaram. Polyandry was practised by the Naga dynasties between 12th to 20th centuries unlike the Tamil Chera dynasty.

Naga worship appeared in Kerala after the fall of Chera kingdom. The Sangam literature never mentions Naga worship. Baisaki or Vishu a Naga festival of Nepalese origin was celebrated by laterday Naga rulers not the Chera. The Cochin rulers were so primitive with hardly any dress on the arrival of Portuguese.STATE MANUAL.

The imperial Cheras could not have suddenly adopted Tulu Script, or Matriarchy, or Polyandryall of sudden. For the ancient Villavar-Meenavar people who founded the Chera Dynasty and Pandya Dynasty the enemies were Nagas who attacked them from North. Cheran Neduncheralathan succeeeded in repulsing theKadamba-Naga army in the fourth century according to poet Paranar in his Tamil work Patiṟṟuppattu.

Cochin as Portuguese protectorate

The real Cochin dynasty started under the Portuguese as a Vassal of Portuguese king Ferdinand.So only the kings after 1503 are known.The Portuguese had a free hand in trade,were allowed to assemble a powerful army which will even challenge the Vijayanagar empire.Portuguese promptly converted the recruits to army to Roman Catholicism greatly increasing the Chrisitian population in Kerala. Cochin kingdom were protected by the Portuguese army till 1663. The other Europeans such as Dutch British also had the same kind of alliance with the Cochin Kingdom thus prolonging the minority Naga rule to 1947 for almost 450 years.

Invasion of Hyder Ali

In 1773 Hyder Ali demanded one lakh ikkeri Pagoda from Cochin Raja. When the Cochin king though agreed could not pay the amount, Hyder Ali captured Trichur and occupied it for 3 years.


The capital of Perumpadapu Swaroopamrom was located from the beginning of 12th century CE to the end of 13th century CE at Chitrakooda, in the Perumpadapu village of Vanneri. Even though the capital of Perumpadapu Swaroopam was in Vanneri, the Perumpadapu king had a palace in Mahodayapuram. When the Zamorins attacked Vanneri in the later part of the 13th century, Perumpadapu Swaroopam shifted their capital from Vanneri to Mahodayapuram. This tradition continued until the beginning of 15th century.

In 1405 Perumpadapu Swaroopam changed their capital from Mahodayapuram to Cochin. From there on Perumpadapu Swaroopam used the name Cochin Royal Family. By the end of the 14th century the Zamorin conquered Thrikkanamathilakam and it became a threat for Mahodayapuram (Thiruvanchikulam), and this may be the reason that Perumpadapu Swaroopam changed their capital to Cochin. Moreover, in the year 1341 a flood created an island Puthuvippu (Vypin) and Cochin became a noted natural harbor for the Indian Ocean trade.[5] The old Kodungallore (Cranganore) port lost its importance, which may also be a cause for the shift of the capital. Finally, the arrival of the Portuguese to the subcontinent in the sixteenth century likely influenced Cochin politics. The Kingdom of Cochin was among the first Indian nations to sign a formal treaty with a European power, negotiating trade terms with Pedro Álvares Cabral in 1500.

The palace at Kalvathhi was originally the residence of the kings. In 1555, though, the royal palace moved to Mattancherry,[6] and later relocated to Trichur (Thrissur). At that time Penvazithampuran (Female Thampuran) and the other Kochuthampurans (other Thampurans except the Valliathampuran (King)) stayed at a palace in Vellarapilly.

In the beginning of 18th century Thripunithura started gaining prominence. The kingdom was ruled from Trichur, Cochin and Thripunithura.[7] Around 1755 Penvazithampuran (Female Thampuran) and the other Kochuthampurans (other Thampurans) left Vellarapalli and started to live in Thripunithura. Thus Thripunithura became the capital of Cochin Royal Family.

Alternate names of the kingdom

Perumpadapu Swaroopam, Madarajyam, Goshree Rajyam, and Kuru Swaroopam are among the different names ascribed to the Cochin Kingdom. Perumpadapu Velliya Thampuran, Madamaheeshan, Goshree Bhoopan, Kuru Bhoomi Bhrith are the different ways to call the Kings.

According to the wishes of Vishravanan's daughter, Lord Parashurama purportedly retrieved a small piece of land for her called Balapuri, and which translates as "small land" (Kochu Desham) in Malayalam. This region was later called Kochi (Cochin). According to Nichola County (15th century) and Fr. Paulino da San Bartolomeo (17th Century), Kochi was renounced after a stream flowing through the place. This may be correct, since the capital of the kingdom was Kochi, and the entire kingdom was known by the name Kochi.

The Thruvanjikulam Temple structure is built in keeping with the Chidambaram architectural form. The temple's founder might then be a Chola Perumal from Chidambaram; there is a tiger inscribed on the flag which is called Puliyan and his realm became known as Pulyannur. This was detailed in the notes of noted historian Putheyadath Raman Menon. Since Puliyannur Namboothiri (Tantri Poornathrayeesa Temple and Cochin Royal Family) originated from this place that Illom got this name. Some scholars suggest that the name Perumpadapu came from Perumbathura Periyavar (an elder of Perumbathura, a village near Chidambaram), but this theory lacks evidentiary support.

There was an adoption of Madathinkizu (Madathum Koor) Swoorupam from the Perumpadapu Swaroopam, and there was no predecessor in Madathinkizu; these properties were attached to Perumpadapu Swaroopam. Thus the name Madarajyam came into existence.The Sanskrit version of Madavamsham is Goshree Vamsham (Madu (Malayalam)= Pashu (Malayalam)= Go (Sanskrit)). The Kochi is the Synonym of Goshree. There was also an adoption from Cochin Royal Family to Kuru Swaroopam and finally Kuru Swaroopam was merged with Kochi, hence the name Kuru Swaroopam.

Kings of Cochin

Maharaja Kerala Varma

Veerakerala Varma, nephew of Cheraman Perumal, is the person traditionally believed to be the first king of Cochin (approximately 7th century BCE). The written records of the dynasty, however, date from 1503 CE. The Kings of Cochin were also called as Gangadhara Kovil Adhikaarikal, meaning Head of all Temples[8]..

  1. Unniraman Koyikal I (---- to 1503)
  2. Unniraman Koyikal II (1503 to 1537)
  3. Veera Kerala Varma (1537-1565)
  4. Keshava Rama Varma (1565-1601)
  5. Veera Kerala Varma (1601-1615)
  6. Ravi Varma (1615-1624)
  7. Veera Kerala Varma (1624-1637)
  8. Godavarma (1637-1645)
  9. Veerarayira Varma (1645-1646)
  10. Veera Kerala Varma (1646-1650)
  11. Rama Varma (1650-1656).
  12. Rani Gangadharalakshmi (1656-1658).
  13. Rama Varma (1658-1662).
  14. Goda Varma (1662-1663)
  15. Veera Kerala Varma(1663-1687)
  16. Rama Varma (1687-1693)
  17. Ravi Varma (1693-1697)
  18. Rama Varma (1697-1701)
  19. Rama Varma (1701-1721)
  20. Ravi Varma (1721-1731)
  21. Rama Varma (1731-1746)
  22. Veera Kerala Varma (1746-1749)
  23. Rama Varma (1749-1760)
  24. Veera Kerala Varma (1760-1775)
  25. Rama Varma (1775-1790)
  26. Rama Varma (1790-1805)- Shakthan Thapuran
  27. Rama Varma (1805-1809)- Vellarapalli-yil Theepetta Thampuran (King who died in "Vellarapali")
  28. Veera Kerala Varma (1809-1828) - Karkidaka Maasathil Theepetta Thampuran (King who died in "karkidaka" month(ME))
  29. Rama Varma (1828-1837) - Thulam-Maasathil Theepett1a Thampuran (King who died in "Thulam" month (ME))
  30. Rama Varma (1837-1844) - Edava-Maasathil Theepett1a Thampuran (King who died in "Edavam" month (ME))
  31. Rama Varma (1844-1851) - Thrishur-il Theepetta Thampuran (King who died in "Thrishivaperoor" or Thrishur)
  32. Veera Kerala Varma (1851-1853) - Kashi-yil Theepetta Thampuran (King who died in "Kashi" or Varanasi)
  33. Ravi Varma(1853-1864) - Makara Maasathil Theepetta Thampuran (King who died in "Makaram" month (ME))
  34. Rama Varma(1864-1888) - Mithuna Maasathil Theepetta Thampuran (King who died in "Mithunam" month (ME))
  35. Kerala Varma(1888-1895) - Chingam Maasathil Theepetta Thampuran (King who died in "Chingam" month (ME))
  36. Rama Varma(1895-1914) - aka Rajarshi, Abdicated Highness (died in 1932)
  37. Rama Varma(1914-1932) - Madrasil Theepetta Thampuran (King who died in Madras or Chennai)
  38. Rama Varma(1932-1941) - Dhaarmika Chakravarthi (King of Dharma), Chowara-yil Theepetta Thampuran (King who died in "Chowara")
  39. Kerala Varma (1941-1943) - Midukkan Thampuran
  40. Ravi Varma(1943-1946) - Kunjappan Thampuran (Brother of Midukkan Thampuran)
  41. Kerala Varma(1946-1948) - Ikya-Keralam (Unified Kerala) Thampuran
  42. Rama Varma (1948-1964) - Pareekshit Thampuran, title: Darsanakalanidhi, was a Sanskrit scholar of supreme rank

ME - Malayalam Era

Paliath Achan

Paliath Govindan Achan (ruled 1779-1825)

The Paliath Achan, or head of the Paliam family of Chendamangalam, played an important part in the politics of Cochin state since the early seventeenth century, and held hereditary rights to the ministership of Cochin. The Paliath Achan was the most powerful person after the King, and he sometimes exerted more power than the king.

In addition, there were many Desaavzhis around the Cochin area, among them Paliyam swaroopam, who was second to the Perumpadappu swaroopam. Other powerful lords around these areas were "Cheraneloore Karthavu", "Mappranam Prabhu", "Vellose Nair", "Edappali Nampiyathiri," and "Anchi Kaimal." "Shakthan Thampuran" destroyed their powers and confisicated the properties of most of these lords. However, following the rebellion of the Paliath Achan along with Velu Thampi Dalawa in 1810, the powers of this chief were curbed.

Parukutty Nethyar Amma

Maharaja Rama Varma (popularly known as Madrassil Theepetta Thampuran), who reigned from 1914 to 1932, was assisted by a particularly able consort named Parukutty Nethyar Amma(b.1874) .[9] The Nethyar was the daughter of Kurur Namboodiripad, who was a member of the family that had the traditional honour of anointing the kings of Palakkad. Her mother belonged to the Padinjare Shrambhi house of the aristocratic Vadakke Kuruppath house of Trichur. She married the Maharaja, then heir fourth in line to succession, when she was fourteen years old in 1888. It is said that she was especially blessed by the Devi at the Chottanikkara Temple. By a quirk of fate her husband ascended the throne as a result of the abdication of his predecessor. As the Maharaja was a scholar and had other interests (including knowledge of curing snake bites and comprehension of the language of lizards known as Gawli Shashtra), she took over the finances of the state. Under her guidance salaries were quadrupled and the revenue earned a 17-gun salute. Parukutty Nethyar Amma was awarded the Kaiser-i-Hind medal by King George V in 1919 for public work and came to be known as Lady Rama Varma of Cochin [10].

Royal palace at Kochi

The Nethyar Amma was not only an able administrator but also a Nationalist moving from being seen as an exemplery public figure in the eyes of the British to earning the ire of the colonial state for her relationship with Mahatma Gandhi and Indian nationalists. As one British Intelligence report stated "The hill palace is the centre of nationalist activity and charkhas have been introduced to assist the weaving of khadi." (see Fortnightly Intelligence Reports availabale at the National Archives of India) In addition, a little known fact about the Cochin state is the attempt made by the British government and the Viceroy to force the Maharajah to abdicate under the ploy of trying to prove him insane. A doctor was brought from London to bolster the case, and the physician opined that the "Maharaja was merely an old man who tired easily". This attempt was directly linked to the fear that the Nethyar Amma - or the "Consort" as she was referred to by the British - was becoming increasingly powerful in nationalist circles.[9]

The head of the Congress party in Cochin was Kurur Nilakantan Namboodiripad who was a cousin of the Nethyar Amma. The Collected Works containing Gandhi's letters include correspondence between the Maharajah's daughter V.K Vilasini Amma and the himself, and a second daughter V.K Ratnamma was married to R. M. Palat, himself a politician and the son of Sir C. Sankaran Nair, the former president of the Congress Party and well known nationalist.[9] The Maharaja's son V.K Aravindaksha Menon was married to Malathy , the daughter of V. K Narayana Menon a prominent contractor in Trichur in whose house "Pandyala", Jawaharlal Nehru, Kamala and Indira Nehru rested on their way to Sri Lanka. When Gandhi visited Cochin, he was treated as a State Guest and Aravindaksha Menon, the Nethyar Amma's son personally was deputed to accompany him. Soon Parukutty Nethyar Amma appeared opposed, which proved to be a significant hurdle for British interests in India.[9]

On the death of the Maharaja, the Nethyar Amma retired initially to the palace she had constructed for herself in her home town Trichur, near to her ancestral house, Padinjare Shrambhi. The house Ratna Vilas was named after her elder daughter Ratnam. The Nethyar Amma then went on an extended tour abroad, taking along her grandson Sankaran Palat, who was admitted to Le Rosey in Switzerland and later in Charterhouse, England. She returned to India and divided her time between Trichur and Coonoor, where she purchased two tea estates and a tea factory.

The dynasty today

Members of the dynasty are spread all over the world (In five continents). The family is the one of the world's largest royal families, numbering more than 1000 people, and many members of the family still live in and around Tripunithura and other parts of Kochi.[11]

See also


External links


  • Katz, Nathan and Goldberg, Helen S. Kashrut, Caste and Kabbalah: The Religious Life of the Jews of Cochin. Mahonar Books, 2005.
  • Kulke, Herman. A History of India. New York: Routledge, 2004.
  • Menon, P. Shungoonny. History of Travancore from the Earliest Times. 1878.
  • Pillai, Elamkulam Kunjan. Studies in Kerala History. Kottayam, 1970.
  • Ramachandran, Rathi. History of Medieval Kerala. Pragati Publications, 2005.
  • Thampuran, Rameshan. Genealogy of Cochin Royal Family.


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