If you have read your history books, you would have a presumption that India was a country that was easily conquered by the Mughal Invaders and later the British. Have you ever wondered, Was it so easy for any foreigner to conquer and rule us for centuries? Were Indian rulers unable to defend and fight back?
In fact, Conquering India was not easy. There were many great warrior kings who fought relentlessly and defeated the invading forces. Today we will talk about one such ruler whose tales of victory has been suppressed by most of the leftist historians to satisfy their vested interests.
Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma the ruler of the travancore kingdom was born in the royal family of killimanur to queen Kartika Thirunal, the Queen of Attingal and king raghava varma in the year 1705 AD.
Trippappur Swaroopam (Thiruvithamkoor) or modern day Travancore under the rule of raja raja verma (uncle) was a small kingdom extending form Edava to Aralvaimozhi was in a political crisis and the kings power was limited and weak due to the influence of aettuveetil Pillamar (lords of 8 noble houses), Madampimar (landlords) and Ettara Yogam (the Managing Committee of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple). Also the Dutch and British trading companies exerted a huge influence over Rama Varma and weakened the kings rule further.
Marthanda Varma at the young age of 14 used to assist his uncle and helped broker an alliance between Rama Varma and the Madurai Nayaks which helped in strengthening the kings rule in travancore and neutralising the grip of the Pillamar and other rebel noblemen. He also advised the king to sign a treaty with the British East India company to counter the rising power of the Dutch in Kerala.
Raja Raja Verma found the young prince a promising heir and appointed Marthanda Varma as his heir. This created a political unrest among the political rivals followed by assassination attempts due to which marthanda verma was kept in the dark till 1729.
Marthandaverma – Kerala’s lion heart
Marthanda Varma’s regime was full of wars against enemies, both external and internal. Marthanda verma reduced the power of the Ettuveetil Pillamar and other political threats were dealt with thereby making the king stronger. With his local rivals neutralized, Marthanda verma turned his attention to central kerala.
Marthanda verma realized that the Dutch power in Kerala was a threat whose backbone was their flourishing spice trade at the port of Kochi. King Verma planned to conquer the major spice-producing areas supplying cargo to Kochi in order to neutralise the rising power of the dutch and annexed Kayamkulam, Quilon , Vadakkumkur, Thekkumkur and Purakkad to Travancore delivering a serious blow to the dutch establishments.
Marthanda verma, In the year 1731 AD attacked the port of Kollam which was ruled by Venadu family and annexed it. He next turned his attention towards the little kingdom of Marta and seized it.
Fearing an attack by marthanda verma the neighbouring kingdom of Kayamkulam allied itself with Purakkad, Kochi, and Vadakkumkur. The allies built new fortifications and strengthened their defences against the threat of Travancore and The Dutch East India Company also supported the allies against Marthanda verma.
The Kayamkulam by attacking Marta signalled the outbreak of the war to which The Travancore army seized Nedumangadu and Kottarakkara and prevented the joined forces of Elayadathu and Kayamkulam. Travancore Dalavay Ramayyan then lead an expeditionary force to capture the city of Kollam. But, he was forced to withdraw without accomplishing his mission
The dutch east India company, Worried about the impact of marthanda verma’s expansionist policies went against the rule of king verma which eventually led to a war between the Travancore army and the allied Kottarakara-Dutch forces in 1741 AD, in which Marthanda Varma crushed the allied rival army and added Kottarakara to his kingdom. The king further attacked and took control over all the Dutch forts in the region crushing the Dutch East India Company and their commercial interests.
The Dutch, in response to the crushing defeat decided to fight back and asked for reinforcements. An army of Dutch marines and artillery set sail from Ceylon with the aim to capture Padmanabhapuram, the capital of Travancore under the leadership of Captain Eustachius De Lannoy .
In November 1740, their ships first approached the coastal town of Colachel and started raining fire forcing the inhabitants to flee their homes and set up a base just about 2 miles from Padmanabhapuram. Then, the dutch forces further proceeded from Colachel towards Travancore territory capturing most of the villages that stood in their way and captured the Kalkulam Fort. The local fishermen resisted the offensive and managed to hold the invading forces until marthanda verma’s army reached the area.
Meanwhile, Marthada verma after worshipping Lord Adi Kesava at the Thiruvattar Temple, Marthanda Varma marched south with his army towards Kalkulam and repelled the attack on the fort. The Dutch forces defeated by the travancore army fled back to their base in Colachel.
Marthanda Varma and his army captured Dutch posts and pushed dutch soldiers back to Colachel and Travancore soldiers on boats fiercely attacked the dutch naval fleet cutting through the Dutch formation and destroying their defences and captured a large number of prisoners, including the Dutch commander De Lannoy
After the crushing defeat in the battle of colachel, The dutch east in company tried several times by aligning with rival forces to regain control of Kerala but were crushed every time and never re-established rule over Kerala. Marthandaverma on the other hand annexed major spice rich regions into his kingdom, the dutch company faced heavy losses on both military front and financially forcing them to sign a peace treaty with marthandaverma and agreed to never resist marthandaverma.
Meanwhile, captain De Lannoy joined the travancore army and worked hard to modernize and train the army with various war techniques, artillery and machinery. Impressed by the captains dedication, Marthandaverma gave Udayagiri Fort near Padmanabhapuram to the captian as his residence.
Marthanda Varma was one of the greatest, bravest rulers that Kerala who single-handedly expanded a small kingdom in Venad into the most powerful kingdom in Kerala and faught of the richest and the most powerful dutch east india company who never lost a battle.