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Travancore begins with Marthanda Varma who inherited the Kingdom of Venad, and expanded it into Travancore during his reign 1729-1758. It comprised most of South Kerala and Kanyakumari District with the capital of Padmanabhapuram. In successive battles, he defeated and absorbed the Kingdoms right up to Cochin including Attingal, Kollam, Kayamkulam, Kottarakara and Ambalapuzha. He succeeded in defeating the Dutch East India Company during the Travancore-Dutch war, the most decisive engagement of which was the battle of Colachel on 10.08.1741 in which the Dutch Admiral Eustachins De Lannoy was captured as a prisoner of war and was given appointment as the Senior Admiral (Valiya Kappithan). He modernized the Travancore army by introducing fire arms and artillery. Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma (Dharma Raja) reign the country between 1758 and 1798. Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore attacked Travancore in 1791.
The Travancore forces withstood the Sultan for 6 months, defeating him twice, and then Maharaja appealed to the British East India Company for aid starting a precedent which led to the installation of a British resident in the country. He shifted the capital from Padmanabhapuram to Thiruvananthapuram in 1795.
In 1798 Balarama
Varma took over the throne. Velu Thampi emerged as an able
Divan. Velu Thampi, and the minister of Cochin Paliath Achan
organized an ill-fated revolt against the British in 1809. The
British defeated Velu Thampi
at the battle of Nagercoil and Kollam. Most of the Nair
battalions of Travancore had been disarmed and disbanded and in
1810 the remaining forces where also disbanded after the
rebellion of Velu Thampi.
Rani Gowri Lakshmi Bayi succeeded the throne 1810-1815 with the blessings of the British. When a boy was born to her in 1813 the infant was declared as the King, and on Rani Gowri Lakshmi Bayi death in 1815 Maharani Gowri Parvathi Bayi continued as regent. Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma assumed the throne in 1829 and remained till 1846. The next ruler Maharaja Utharadam Thirunal Marthanda Varma 1847-1860 abolished slavery in the Kingdom in 1853, and restrictions on the dress codes of certain castes in 1859. He was succeeded by Ayilyam Thirunal 1860-1880 and Rama Varma Visakham Thirunal 1880-1885. The reign of Sri Moolam Thirunal Sri Rama Varma 1885-1924 saw the establishment of many colleges and schools. Sethu Lakshmi Bayi ruled as the Regent from 1924-1931. The last ruler of Travancore was Chithirai Thirunal Balarama Varma 1931-1949. He made the temple entry proclamation on 12.11.1936, which opened all the Kshetrams (Hindu temples in Kerala) in Travancore to all Hindus, a privilege reserved to only the upper caste Hindus till then.
When the British decided to grant independence to India, Diwan Sir. C.P. Ramaswami Iyer that Travancore would remain as an independent country. The tension between the Indian National Congress and the Diwan Sir C.P. Ramaswami Iyer led to revolts in various places of the country. In one such revolt in Punnapara-Vayalar in 1946, the Communists established their own Government in the area. This was brutally crushed by the Travancore army and navy leading to hundreds of deaths. This led to further disturbances and an attempt was made on the life of Sir. C.P. Ramaswami Iyer following which he was succeeded by Sri. PGN Unnithan. After this, the King (Maharajah) agreed to join India and Travancore was absorbed into the Indian Union on July 1, 1949 A.D.
On July 1, 1949 A.D. the State of Travancore-Cochin was established with the Maharaja of Travancore as the Rajapramukh of the new State i.e, Kerala. The Travancore Tamilnadu Congress led by Kumari Thanthai Thiru. Marshall Nesamony launched a campaign for the merger of the Tamil speaking regions of Southern Travancore with the neighbouring area of Madras State. The agitation led by Mr. Kunjan Nadar, took a violent turn and some police and many local people were killed in the riots at Marthandam and Puthukkada. Under the State Re-organization Act of 1956, the four Southern taluks of Travancore, Namely, Thovalai, Agasteeswaram, Kalkulam and Vilavancode and a part of Chencotta Taluk was merged with Madras State.
The Maharajah was striped of all his ranks and privileges according to the twenty sixth amendment of the Indian Constitution in July 31, 1971. The Maharajah Shri Chithirai Thirunar Balarama Varma was died on July 19, 1991.Shri Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma is the present titular Maharajah of Travancore since 1991 and head of the Travancore Royal Family. He was named Heir Apparent (Elayarajah) at the age of two, as per the Travancore Matrilineal law of succession.