--INDIA'S FIRST REVOLT/MUTINY AGAINST BRITISH RULERS--1800 MUTINY AND MASSACRE OF150 BRITISH AT ATTINGAL PALACE
FORT WAS BUILT BY DUTCH COLONISERS IN 1600S LATER TAKEN OVER BY EAST INDIA COMPANY AS A TRADING POST AND FORT
1810-53 Junior Rani H.H. Sri Patmanabha Sevini Vanchi Dharma Dyumani Raja Rajeshwari Rani Gouri Parvati Bai of Attingal in Travancore (India)1815-29 Regent of TravancoreWhen her elder sister Regent Maharani Gowri Lakshmi Bayi died after childbirth in 1815 she was only thirteen years of age and being the only female left in the family, besides her deceased sister's little daughter, she became Regent Maharani on behalf of her nephew, the heir, Maharajah Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma. She was on her accession actively counselled by her brother in law, Raja Raja Varma of the Changanssery Royal family as well as her husband, Raghava Varma, who belonged to the Royal family of Kilimanoor. Her first act was to appoint a new Dewan, and she continued the reforms of her older sister. Christians got more freedom and some of the restrictions put on some of the lower castes were removed, she also introduced health reforms. er mother, Princes Atham of the Travancore, was the Senior Rani of Attingal. Her first husband was Raghava Varma of the Kilimanoor Royal family and after his death she married his brother After his death in 1824, she married again, but did not have any children. She lived (1802-53).1815-? Senior Rani Gowri Rukmini Bayi of Attingal in Travancore (India)succeeded to the title of Senior Rani of Attingal after the death of her mother, the Queen Regent, Rani Gouri Lakshmi Bai. Apart from her aunt, who was regent 1815-29, she only female in the matriarchal Travancore Royal Family, she married Rama Varma Koil Thampuran of Thiruvalla Royal Family in 1819 and had seven children, five sons and two daughters. One of these daughters died soon while the other married and had two sons, including Moolam Thirunal Sir Rama Varma. In 1888 two princesses were adopted from the Mavelikara Royal family into Travancore. (b. 1809-?).HistoryOn the night of April 11, 1721 150 Britishers were done to death at the Attingal Palace near Thiruvananthapuram. What perhaps was the first major attack on the British in India though rarely mentioned in Indian history . It was a clever plot laid by Kodumon Pillai, Minister of the queen of Attingal, Umayamma Rani, who out smarted the shrewd British who had superior weapons. The Nair Pada and the local Muslims took part in the operation and the British met with the biggest debacle in the region. The immediate provocation was about the building of a Fort at Anchu Thengu, Anjengo in British records. The scheming British had entered in to a series of maneuvers to make trade in spices their monopoly. Greed for huge profits drove them wild, capturing the spice country itself later. Those were the early days of the English East India Company in India, the Dutch and the British on Indian shores were engaged in a series of conflicts to stake control of the sea trade. Muslims, traditionally intermediaries in spice trade, were severely affected with the curbs in trade. Equipped with their guns and cannons, what the local soldiers were not yet having, they became menacing. Orders of the Rani to stop the building of the Fort were disobeyed. Initial attacks launched by the Nair Pada was rebuffed with severe casualties. It was after a wait that the clever trap was laid and almost everyone in the Fort was executed. Cannons and gunfire of the British came to naught.Attingal was the seat of the sovereign of Venad during this period and there were only queens, Ranis, in power. Apart from Attingal proper the principalities of Elayidam or Kottarakkara, Perakam or Nedumangad, Thiruvithamkode or Travancore, Kollam, Kaymkulam, Karunagappalli and Karthikappalli were all under the Attingal Rani. The sovereigns were ceremonial rulers and the actual power remained with the feudal lords titled Pillais, Nairs, who kept their own armies and administration. Feuds between the Pillais used to lead to intermittent clashes at the time. This was a turning point in the history of Kerala, also India. Travancore stood the side of the British after this episode and emerged as a major power during the reign of King Marthanda Varma. It was Marthanda Varma, who with the support of the British, annexed most of these principalities later and created the unified Travancore. The others were mostly allied with the Dutch, except the extreme north like Kolathu Nadu, modern Kannur. Marthanda Varma was also instrumental in neutralizing the powerful Pillais, Nayars, the story of his avenging the ‘Ettuveettil Pillamar’ is a figurative story of the event. From traders the British soon became sovereigns in India. The famous Kalari culture of the feudal lords, Pillais, stood liquidated during the British period that ensued.The sequence of events that lead to the massacre were rooted primarily in the English attempts to monopolise trade. The Dutch and the English East India Companies were active in spice trade and both had factories on Indian soil, godowns for merchandise initially, which later were made army barracks. The Dutch had a factory at Thenga Pattinam, now in Kanyakumari district, and the English in Vizhinjam. The negotiations were all with the Pillais who had the authority to deal with the traders. Due to the internecine conflicts and overtures to monopolise trade the factory in Thenga Pattinam was destroyed by the Pillais and the factory chief was executed in the year 1684. Two ships belonging to the Dutch were also set on fire. When complained Attingal Rani agreed to compensate the loss, but this was not possible as the Pillais were adamant. A request from the English that they be permitted to build a big wall around the Vizhinjam factory was also opposed by the Pillais. They fore saw the implications. Kottayam Kerala Varma, the ruling king in Thiruvithamkode, adopted from Kolathunadu in the north, was not in very good terms with these powerful feudal lords. It was during this time that the Attingal Rani gave permission to the English to build a factory at Anchu Thengu in the year 1694.Vanchimuttom Pillai and Kodumon Pillai were the ministers to the queen, prominent among the Council of Ministers, who advised the Rani that it will eventually prove disastrous. Accordingly the Rani asked the Company to stop building the Fort, this the English refused to heed. And Kodumon Pillai with the help of the Nair Pada in Chirayinkeezh attacked the Fort. The English now equipped with their cannons and guns retaliated and the attempt to stop the British ended in vain. Now, Vanchimuttom Pillai and Kodumon Pillai had a tussle going between them and Kodumon Pillai was the favourite of the Rani. How Vanchimuttom, it is believed, secretly helped the English in building the Fort. In 1690 the Rani passed away and the English completed building the Fort in the very next year taking advantage of the confusion. Soon the sea trade was under the control of the British who with their superior arms started dictating terms, in who can trade and at what price, also refused to pay taxes. The queens that followed Umayamma Rani were all adopted from Kolathunadu and they were too weak to manage the scene and the Pillais were restive. Feuds between the two Pillais also became a matter of concern, which gave the English a golden opportunity. The old feudal system was having its own problems.The English now stationed comfortably at the heavily armed Fort at Anchu Thengu refused to permit anyone else to trade in Attingal principality. Except the Dutch who were very powerful at the time, though the English used to give information about the Dutch vessels to the Muslims who had taken to warfare and were pirates in the seas by now. The English men in the Fort went around trading at their will and started looting the local people who had no choice but obey them. Corruption among the British officers became rampant. The local traders and common people came to hate the English. Each one in the Fort started minting money and one Coifing, who was in charge at the time, was discharged by the Company for misappropriation of money. Next it was the tenure of one Gilford, who made the situation worse from bad. Two incidents at the time became crucial. One was the purchase by one Ignacio, an interpreter of the company, a plot of land belonging to the Devi temple. The one who sold this had no legal rights to sell it and the English forcibly occupied the land despite objections from the local people.Another episode was the maltreatment to some traders who went to the Fort. A merchant Brahmin who went there was anointed with some ritual powder by a woman, as part of a Christian ceremony, and the insulted man injured the woman taking out his sword. Gilford coming to know about it inflicted severe punishments on the merchants. In fact it was a plot by Gilford who wanted to take revenge on those who refused to help him in his private trade. The matter reached Kodumon Pillai who attacked the Fort with a big force, lost many lives due to gunfire and the English took refuge inside. The Nair Pada burned a ship of the Company and laid a siege on the Fort, but soon after a ship from Mumbai with soldiers arrived and they were saved. The impasse that followed after the cold war between the two Pillais, as to who should be accepted as the Rani in Attingal, was a matter of concern during this period. Eventually in the year 1721 they came to a truce and the sister of the sovereign of Kollam was accepted as queen in Attingal. The British, who had to pay arrears, were contacted and Gilford, facing troubles due to the opposition of the people, decided to meet the queen and also compromise with the Pillais. He sent emissaries to the Palace.Extensive talks were held through intermediaries and the English agreed to pay up the tax arrears for the period they made default and make relations smooth. To settle the matters they were invited by the Pillais, Gilford and the other Englishmen did not sense the pent up anger and thought it an old story, to the Attingal Palace. Everyone in the Fort were invited for a big party. On 11 th of April almost everyone in the English factory at Anchu Thengu thus came in a procession, as discussed and agreed to. Taking the river route they reached the Palace in great ceremony. The entourage was 150 strong. As the boats landed messengers of the Pillais persuaded the English to leave their guns in the boat as these were not permitted in the Palace. This was complied. Later the English and the Pillais went in to marathon discussions regarding the arrears in taxes and it was dark by then. The English had brought the new currency of the East India Company which the Pillais refused to accept. They demanded that the traditional Venetian currency be paid, what was the dollar of those days, this was not available with the English. Pillais were buying time. They wanted to meet the queen but as it was already dark the Pillais asked the English men to stay for the night and meet her in the morning.Casey, the second in charge of the Fort, smelt a rat and told Gilford that it was risky to stay there at night but Gilford was not willing to listen. As it was getting pitch dark Gilford heard the unusual movement of people in the Palace and was alarmed. Now sensing danger he sent a messenger to the Fort at Anchu Thengu several kilometers away in the night itself. Soon a huge party of the Nair Pada and the Muslims ran over the English men and every one of the 150 odd people were killed. It was a clean operation where the superior arms did not help. Gilford, crafty and corrupt, to whom they had a long standing grudge, having killed many comrades, was beheaded and the body pinned on a wooden board, then floated in the river. The only one who escaped was the messenger sent by Gilford at night, who reached the Fort the next day. The horrifying revenge was known only at the time. It was mostly women and children at the Fort and the only competent gun man left there, one Samuel, evacuated the women and children to safety by sea. Expecting that the Nair Pada is to attack the Fort soon he sealed the doors. He also burned the large quantity of surplus gun powder stored in the premises.As expected the attack of the Nair Pada came on April 14 . It was more to capture the Fort and the weaponry. But they could not enter the huge Fort walls and the cannons kept spitting fire, after sporadic attacks repulsed by the gun men they gave up. They returned back after setting fire to the houses in the vicinity of the Fort. On hearing about the tragedy that befell the Englishmen the Rani send a message expressing sorrow about what happened. Trade had become too attractive to lose. The King of Kollam also send a similar message. Taking advantage of the situation the King of Thiruvithamkode, Travancore, Rama Varma, who had assumed the throne only a few days back, made swift moves. Competition between the spice kingdoms was common, for better trading. Originally belonging to Kolathunadu, Rama Varma, brother Aditya Varma and his sisters were adopted in 1696. This adoption had the support of Adams, chief of the Tellicherry factory of the British, under which the Fort at Anchu Thengue also came. After the massacre the Rani and Vanchimuttom Pillai had left to Kollam allied with the Dutch. Rama Varma saw this an opportunity and also wanted to make his sister queen of Attingal. The British interfering in selection of kings and queens was common in this era, using terms in trade as the bait, offering luxuries and various other means.In 1722 Alexander, a cousin of Adams, was appointed chief of Anchu Thengu. In the same year two more adoptions were made from Kolathunadu, a prince and a princess, at the behest of Adams and one of them was crowned the prince of Travancore. Rama Varma meanwhile gave permission to the English, by now his friends, to build a fort at Colachel and permission to mint coins for Travancore in 1723. He made an agreement with the English giving them monopoly for trade in Travancore and gave permission for yet another fort in Idava in 1726. From the two nephews of Rama Varma one was the Prince of Iraniel, who was to become famous later as Marthanda Varma, and the other Prince of Neyyattinkara. In 1728 the Prince of Neyyattinkara taking the help of the Naiks of Madurai hired a battalion of Vaduka Pada and marched on Attingal. The British all along did not directly confront the Nair Pada but made one to fight another. Fifteen of the leading Pillais in Attingal were executed and the remaining surrendered. Karthika Thirunal, a princess and his own relative, was made the queen of Attingal.In 1729 after Rama Varma passed away the Neyyattinkara prince and another in Karunagappalli became kings of Travancore and both died in the same year one after other. Prince of Iraniel, Marthanda Varma, became the king of Travancore. He helped the British to contain the Dutch presence in the region and was instrumental in a major expansion drive. Soon Marthanda Varma captured all the remaining Pillais of Attingal involved in the massacre and handed them over to the English. From a small principality that remained south of the river Karamana, Travancore, with the help of the British got extended up to river Periyar in the north. With the help of a Brahmin minister Ramayyan all the principalities were subdued, many of these allied with the Dutch. The traditional social structure with the Nair warriors in charge were razed to the ground. Marthanda Varma raised new armies and this left the traditional warriors jobless. Nair chieftains’ powers of tax collection and legal duties stood removed and those who opposed were mercilessly persecuted, even the women and children not spared. Those favourable were promoted. The state was surrendered to the Padmanabha Swamy temple by Marthanda Varma, under Tulu Brahmin priests, as a clever move to neutralize revolt. But it was an actual surrender to the British that resulted, completed by his heir Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma who consolidated the British connection and Travancore came under the British in 1795. After the war with Mysore, where Tippu Sultan was defeated, Travancore was forced to accept the sovereignty of a Company, the English East India Company, traders became rulers.The Travancore royalty, as also many other royal families, remained friends of the British, the British crown taking over control from the Company later, till India attained independence. The popular revolts that immediately followed this phase, by Pazhassi Raja in the north and Velu Thambi in the south (1790 – 1810), against the British, were contained. And those who revolted were pauperized and their powers gradually neutralised. Whether the human sacrifice at Attingal taught the British in India a lesson or it helped the chain of events leading to British occupation is a question that remains unanswered. Monopoly trade, what triggered the massacre, later took over the world and remains the most oppressive regime controlling mankind is a valid observation. Resource poor North exploiting the resource rich South using the game of trade continues to operate without any hindrance. The same urge to monopolise trade is what underlies the modern rhetoric of globalisation, only it is now much more subtle and sophisticated. It has become far too well entrenched, have governments as allies and it has become difficult to question the silent war killing millions in poverty.HistoryIt is beleived that Attingal town was built 800 years ago. During ancient times Attingal was known to be "Chittattinkara" as it is encircled on three sides by the rivers "Vamana puram river" and "Mamom river". Historically, Attingal has been the residence of the women of the Venad royal family. The Attingal Palace dates to 1305 C.E. Attingal and the surrounding areas were a principality within the Travancore kingdom, and were ruled by their queens. By the colonial period, trade flourished with Portuguese and Dutch traders. In 1735, Marthanda Varma, the king of Travancore, took Attingal.Feudal statusThe mother of the Maharaja of Travancore and her sister received the principality of Attingal in joint appanage. They were consequently styled the Senior and Junior Rani (the female form of Raja or Rana) of Attingal, respectively. Their husbands, known as Koil Tampurans, came from one of four or five princely houses who were closely related to the Royal House. Attingal was the seat of the sovereign of Venad during this period and there were only queens, Ranis, in power. Apart from Attingal proper the principalities of Elayidam or Kottarakkara, Perakam or Nedumangad, Thiruvithamkode or Travancore, Kollam, Kaymkulam, Karunagappalli and Karthikappalli were all under the Attingal Rani.Attingal RevolutionAttingal Mutiny was the first ever rebellion againt the British in India. The grant of Anchuthengu to the English provoked the wrath of a section of the local population and in 1697 the English factory was subjected to a violent but futile attack. In 1721, the English factors felt the need to appease the Rani of Attingal (Queen) after alienating the local population by their "overbearing behaviour". They sent a set of presents to the Rani. The local agents of the "Pillamar" demanded that those presents should be given to them for transmission to the Rani. When it was denied, on the night of April 11, 1721 140 Englishmen were massacred on their way to the Rani, and the fort was laid under siege for nearly six months. The Nair Pada and the local Muslims took part in the operation and the British met with the biggest debacle in the region The fort was relieved only when reinforcements for the English arrived from Talassery. Similarly the grant of Talassery was resented by Kurangoth Nair who claimed the territory to be under his control. He in alliance with one of the dissident Kolathiri princes, raided the Company's warehouse and inflicted heavy damage to property in 1704-05.Attingal PalaceThe Attingal palaces (Manomohanavilasom and Koyikkal), which are mentioned in literature dating from 1305 A.D., and many temples are in the Municipality. Chirayinkil, a town famous for its Sarkara Temple, is close by. It is also a major road junction.Until 1837 Senior Rani Gouri Rukmani Bai of Attingal in Travancore (India)The younger daughter of the Queen Regent Rani Gouri Lakshmi Bai (1810-15), she succeeded her sister, Gouri Lakshmi Bai, as Senior Rani of Attingal. Two of her sons became Maharajas, she was mother of a total of eight children, and lived (1809-37).1837-53 Senior Rani Parvati Bai of Attingal in Travancore (India)Also known as Chathayam Tirunal, she succeeded Gouri Rukmani Bai as joint administrator of the principality of Attingal, which were given as appanage to the two senior Princesses of the Travancore royal family, which follows matrilineal inheritance, according to male primogeniture. She was unmarried and (d. 1853).