Moolam Thirunal of Travancore: Wikis


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Portrait of Sri Moolam Thirunal by Artist Shivarama Pillai
Kingdom of Travancore
Part of History of Kerala
Travancore Kings
Rama Varma 1663-1672
Aditya Varma 1672-1677
Umayamma Rani 1677-1684
Ravi Varma 1684-1718
Aditya Varma 1718-1719
Unni Kerala Varma 1719-1724
Rajah Rama Varma 1724-1729
Marthanda Varma 1729-1758
Dharma Raja 1758-1798
Balarama Varma 1798-1810
Gowri Lakshmi Bayi 1810-1815
Gowri Parvati Bayi 1815-1829
Swathi Thirunal 1829-1846
Uthram Thirunal 1846-1860
Ayilyam Thirunal 1860-1880
Visakham Thirunal 1880-1885
Moolam Thirunal 1885-1924
Sethu Lakshmi Bayi 1924-1931
Chithira Thirunal 1931-1949

‡ Regent Queens

Padmanabhapuram 1721-1795
Thiruvananthapuram 1795-1949
Padmanabhapuram Palace
Kilimanoor palace
Kuthira Malika
Kowdiar Palace

Moolam Thirunal was the ruling Maharajah of the Indian state of Travancore between 1885 and 1924, succeeding his uncle Maharajah Visakham Thirunal (1880-1885).


Early Life and Education

Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma was born on the 25th of September 1857 to Prince Raja Raja Varma of the Changanassery Royal Family and Maharani Lakshmi Bayi of Travancore, niece of the illustrious Swathi Thirunal Maharajah. He lost his mother when he was only a few days old. The Maharajah had an elder brother, Hastham Thirunal. After the usual vernacular Malayalam studies the two princes were placed under the tutorship of Annaji Rao B.A. and later under Raghunath Rao B.A. at a special country house built for the purpose. Hastham Thirunal soon had to stop his studies owing to ill health and so Rama Varma remained the only pupil under the tutor. He was taught subjects such as History, Geography of the world, Arithmetic and Grammar initially. His great grandmother was the illustrious Maharani Gowri Lakshmi Bayi of Travancore.

Chief Reforms

The Travancore Legislative Council was established under a Regulation in the year 1888, three years after Rama Varma became the Maharajah succeeding his uncle Visakham Thirunal who died in 1885. This was the first Legislative Council for a Native state in the whole of India. A list of some of the illustrious personalities who served the Sree Moolam Popular Assembly is given in the end.

In 1886 a Proclamation was passed relieving the people from payment of penalties on documents executed on unstamped government cadjan leaves (Paper was not in common use yet in Travancore). In 1887 the penalty on non payment of stamp duty was reduced as it was found to be a huge burden. Likewise in the same year another Royal Proclamation was passed relinquishing the right of the Government in property left by a person under the Marumakkathayam matrilineal system of inheritance when a person died without heirs. Likewise under the then system, when a tenant of a Jenmi or landlord died heirless instead of the land passing in entirety to the landlord, it passed with sovereign right to the Government who auctioned it later. This was abolished.

In 1888 the Anchal System of post was improved and postage stamps of new values were introduced. His reign also saw major changes in the transport sector in Travancore. The first bus services of the native state were started in 1908 in two routes starting from Trivandrum. The first bus on the Trivandrum-Nagarcoil route was started by Arumana Narayanan Thampi, son of Visakham Thirunal, and the first bus on the Trivandrum-Kollam route was started by Joseph Augusti Kayalackakom, a textile merchant of Trivandrum. Ten years later in 1918, the first train reached Trivandrum as the Chenkotta-Quilon railway line was extended to Trivandrum.

Several other reforms were also brought in by Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma in the fields of education, medicine, law and order, civil service etc. Sanitary Departments were opened and female education progressed. Changes were brought in the management of prisons and the Public Works department was reorganised. Life Insurance system was introduced by the Maharajah. For these, the British recognised him by granting him a personal salute of 21 guns in 1898.


All through the reign of Maharajah Sir Rama Varma he was assisted by able men as Dewans or Prime Ministers. These most illustrious personalities included:

Family and Demise

Sree Moolam Thirunal Maharaja of Travancore
Nagercoil Ammachi, the First Consort of the Maharajah in 1879 as painted by RM Thampi
HH Sethu Lakshmi Bayi and HH Sethu Parvathi Bayi, adopted nieces of the Maharajah, with HH Rani Lakshmi Bayi in 1900

Since the Royal House of Travancore followed the Nair Marumakkathayam system of matriarchal inheritance the presence of females was very essential in the family. Since the family had failed to exist in the female line, on the suggestion of Rani Lakshmi Bayi, two princessess including the Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bayi were adopted from the cousin Royal family at Mavelikara. Sethu Lakshmi Bayi succeeded Moolam Thirunal Sir Rama Varma in 1924 as Regent till 1931, when her nephew Maharajah Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma took over as Maharajah and became the last Maharajah of independent Travancore.

Maharajah Sir Rama Varma married twice, both noblewomen of the Thampi clan of the Nairs as tradition. His first wife (married in 1880) was Nagercoil Ammachi Panapillai Amma Srimathi Kunjulakshmi Pillai Anantha Lakshmi Pillai Kochamma, of the Nagercoil Ammaveedu Family, whose aunt was the consort of Ayilyam Thirunal. She died prior to the Maharajah's accession to the throne in 1882 giving birth to an only son, Nagercoil Sri Narayanan Chempakaraman Thampi, who remained aide de camp to his father till his death. Following this the Maharajah remained single for more than a decade. The Maharajah's second wife was Vadasseri Ammachi Panapillai Amma Srimathi Lakshmi Pillai Karthyayani Pillai Kochamma, of the Vadasseri Ammaveedu family.

She originally belonged to the Kaipally family of Palkulangara but was adopted before marriage to the Maharajah into the Vadasseri Ammaveedu in 1899. She was born to Krishnan Nair (manager of Nagercoil Ammaveedu) and Lakshmi Amma. She was the sister of play writ and author, Vadasseri Krishnan Thampi, who also was the Principal(1917 to 1934) of Sanskrit College in Trivandrum. Her other two sisters were Kalyani Pillai Kochamma and Bhageerathi Pillai Kochamma. She was first married to T.Sankaran Thampi, Palace Manager, from which marriage she had a son, V. Sri Velayudhan Thampi in 1898. From her marriage to the Maharajah she had a daughter, Vadasseri Shrimathi Kartyayani Pillai Bhagavathi Pillai Kochamma, K.I.H. Gold Medal (1924) in June 1901. Her elder son was also adopted by Moolam Thirunal (This was not the first instance of a Maharajah espousing an already married woman. Moolam Thirunal's uncle Ayilyam Thirunal's consort was also already married before she became royal consort in 1862). Ulloor S. Parameswara Iyer writes about the Maharajah's consort in "Progress of Travancore Under HH Sree Moolam Thirunal":

..Katyayani Pilla Kochamma by birth belongs to a very ancient and highly respected Nayar family in Trivandrum and is a lady of remarkable culture and attainments, a gifted pianist, musician and artist. Her many lovable and ennobling qualities have won for her a warm place in the hearts of His Highness' subjects..

Official full name

Officially he was also known with his full name, style and honours: Colonel His Highness Sri Patmanabha Dasa Vanchipala Moolam Thirunal Sir Rama Varma Kulasekhara Kiritapati Manney Sultan Maharajah Raja Ramaraja Bahadur Shamsher Jang, GCSI, GCIE, MRAS.

See also

Members of Sree Moolam Popular Assembly

The following were some of the members of the Sree Moolam Popular Assembly:

A. Damodaran Asan - Ayyankali - C. Kesavan - Dominic Joseph Kariappaparambil - E. V. Krishna Pillai - J. Thomas Kayalackakom - Jacob Thomas Karippaparampil - Joseph Vitayathil - K. Damodaran Potti - K. C. Mammen Mappillai - K. M. Thomas Karipaparampil - K. T. Michael Karippaparampil - K. V. Mathew Kollamkulam - Kattiyattu Sivarama Panicker - Kochu Kunju Shanar - Kochu Kunju Vaidian - Komalezhathu Kunju Pillai Chevakar - Kumara Gurudevan - Kumaran Asan - Lonan Pillai - Luka Mathai Pallithanam (alias Pallithanathu Mathaichen) - Malloor Govinda Pillai - Mikhail Alummoottil Kasheesho - Muloor S.Padmanabha Panicker - Nalpathamkalathil Kunjeria - Pattom A. Thanu Pillai - P. K. Kunju - P.K. Narayana Pillai - S. J. Nair - S. Ramanatha Pillai Pangapatt - T. K. Madhavan - T. K. Velu Pillai - T.M. Varghese - V. J. Oommen - V. K. Velappan - (List is not complete)


Moolam Thirunal of Travancore
Born: 25 September 1857 Died: 7 March 1924
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Visakham Thirunal
Maharaja of Travancore
Succeeded by
Chithira Thirunal


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