History Of Kerala
Kerala's history begins with Parasurama's axe, the credit of recovering 160 katam (old measurement) of land that lay between Gokarnam and Kanyakumari. Another legend is connected with the king mahabali and lord vishnu. It specifies about the Lord vishnus vamana incarnation and thereby deporting king mahabali to the underworld. It is a contradiction to the legend of parasurama and implies the priority of existence of kerala.
The recent history of Kerala includes the prelude to independence, the road to Communism and the evolution of the modern state of Kerala. Kerala was formed out of three political units:the princely state of cochin , the kingdom of Travancore , and the Malabar district. Modern traders of that time were - the portuguese, Dutch, French and the English and among them it was the English,who presided over Kerala from 1791, to the end of British rule in 1947.
The Rise of Travancore eventually saw the waning of the Dutch ascendancy in Kerala as the chivalrous ruler of Travancore, Marthanda Varma (1729-1758) defeated the Dutch powers in the conflict of Koiachel. Actually the modern history of Travancore starts with Marthanda Varma who after succeeding the throne, transformed and amplified the old kingdom of Venad into Travancore during his progressive tenure.
Marthanda Varma was acknowledged as the Maker of Modern Travancore and under his reign Travancore emerged as the independent realm of political, cultural and social activities. He signed an accord with the British and abolished the supremacy of the Feudal landlords (Ettuveetil Pillamar) and in consecutive battles seized the kingdoms of Kollam, Attingal, Ambalapuzha, Kayamkulam and Kottarkara . In 1753, he signed a treaty of peace with the Dutch .In spite of facing much internal and external opposition within the kingdom he maintained his sovereignty .In 1757 AD, another pact was signed between Travancore and Cochin, assuring stability and peace on the Northern boundary. He arranged proper tax system and provided many irrigationfacilities. He made the army of Travancore advanced by introducing guns and weaponry. Marthanda Varma is also renowned for his erecting the majestic Sri Padmanabha Temple of Trivandrum.
Rama Varma, renowned as Dharma Raja (1758-98) inherited the throne after Marthanda Varma was also a remarkable ruler and his reign was termed as the the Golden Age in the medieval history of Kerala. He was a very able administrator and was helped by two illustrious Ministers Raja Kesava Das, the Diwan of Travancore and Ayyappan Marthanda Pillai. His strong defence system even defied the potent Mysore rulers- Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. Dharma Raja is credited with building the great Mall - Nedumcotta of Central Kerala to defend his kingdom from the attack of Mysore and this construction was administered by the Dutch-General D'Lannoy. Dharma Raja was a great musician and scholar and the Sanskrit drama Pradyumnabhyudayam is attributed to him. He patronized eminent poets like Unnai Harrier and Kunjan Nambiar and other men of great wisdom. During his reign trade prospered considerably and Quilon became a major centre of business and enterprise.
Legends apart, the first set of people who left their footprints on the soil of Kerala can be identified at present only with reference to their burial practices. Though records are lacking, a reasonable assumption is that they spoke an archaic form of Tamil. They constructed strange burial monuments in granite, literate and pottery, most of which are strikingly similar to the megalithic monuments of West Europe and Asia.
These monuments are, however, younger than their counterparts in the rest of Asia. Historians have postulated a time bracket between 10th century B.C. and 5th century A.D. for these people. It is clear from the grave relics, including iron tridents and daggers, that the megalithic builders had long emerged out of the stone age into the iron age without passing through a bronze age. In fact, there is very little evidence of the old and the new stone ages in Kerala.
It is quite possible that the Mauryan invaders who reached the Mysore borders in their conquest southwards, encountered the megalith making tribes who lived in hill forts and controlled the surrounding countryside. Fortunately, a whole corpus of ancient Tamil literature known to scholars by the name of Sangham literature, has been preserved.
It is believed that during the period of Asoka the Great, the southern most tribes were just emerging from the tribal status of civilization. Contacts with the more advanced Mauryan world could have accelerated the pace of political and social movement among the Cheras and the minor chieftains of Kerala.
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