The Kingdom of Cochin or Kochi (also known as Perumpadappu Swaroopam, Madarajyam, Gosree Rajyam, or Kuru Swaroopam; Malayalam: കൊച്ചി [Kocci] or പെരുമ്പടപ്പ് [Perumpaṭapp]) was a former state in the area of present Kochi (Cochin), Thrissur, Palakkad and Malappuram in what is now the Indian state of Kerala. Later, Kochin 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 the new state of Kerala.
There is no extant written evidence about the emergence of Kingdom of Cochin or of the Cochin Royal Family, also known as Perumpadapu Swaroopam. 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.
According to the Keralamahatmyam (44th adhyaya), King Vishravanan's daughter Bala told Parashurama that she needed a land with her own name for her home. Parashurama, fulfilling her wish, created a land from sea and called it Kochi (which later became Cochin) . Legendary accounts indicate that Lord Parashurama promoted the land and invited people of all religions, castes, and creeds to settle there. This story can be considered a continuation of the old folk tradition in which Parashurama created Kerala out of the sea and built temples.
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.
Another view is that the last Perumal, Ramavarma Kulasekhara Perumal, of the Second Chera Kingdom (Kulasekhara Samrajyam, 800–1102), with its capital at Mahodayapuram, divided his kingdom. There is also a baseless statement in Mangalamala (written by Appan Thampuran) that Bhaskara Ravi Varma performed the division. But there is evidence that the division was made by Ramavarma Kulasekhara Perumal.
Ramavarma Kulasekhara Perumal's sister who was married to a Namboothiri of Perumpadapu Illom near Ponnani had five daughters, of whom only the last daughter had a son. During the last days of his reign, Ramavarma Kulasekhara Perumal divided his kingdom among his sons, relatives, and nobles. The kingdom that was later ruled by his sons was called Venad Swaroopam and that of his nephew was called Perumpadapu Swaroopam. Although a matrilineal system was prevalent, the majority of his kingdom was divided among his sons and the rest only to his nephew with all the religious rights. Venad Swaroopam was bestowed the honor Kulasekharaperumal and Perumpadapu Swaroopam as Koviladhikari, which is a proof of their political and religious practice. Thus, in the beginning of the 12th century the Kingdom of Cochin and the Cochin Royal Family (Perumpadapu Swaroopam) came into existence. Until the 16th century the Perumpadapu Swaroopam did not have any political supremacy; their political supremacy began only in the 16th 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. 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, 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. 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.
According to the wishes of Vishravanan's daughter, Lord Parashurama purportedly created a small realm 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.
It is widely accepted that the genealogy of the kings of Kochi commenced from the sister of the last Prumal (Ramavarma Kulasekhara), and also that she was married to Perumpadapu Namboothiri. After the death of the Namboothiri, there was no predecessor to the wealth and his Illom was merged with the dynasty, and hence the name Perumpadapu Swaroopam came into existence. But this reason for the name cannot be unconditionally accepted, as it is also possible that the first rulers ruled from Perumpadapu.
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.
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.
ME - Malayalam Era
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.
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. 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 apparent, when she was twelve years old. 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 .
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 availbale 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.
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. 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.
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.