|Pazhassi Raja en.wikipedia.org/|
Above image: Painting of Pazhassi Raja by Raja Ravi Varma displayed in Pazhassiraja Museum, Kozhikkode, Kerala. Reign1774–1805....
Many legendary patriots and early freedom fighters from South India, for unknown reasons, got lost in the annals of Indian history because of either ignorance on the part of the central government or lack of details or sheer negligence. Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja of the Kottayam Clan is one among them. Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja staunchly rebelled against the British and their atrocities against the natives of Kerala in the early years far before the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 and made a name for himself in the history of Kerala.
|Pazhassi Kudeeram- in Mananthavadi, Wayanad,.en.wikipedia.org|
|Pazhassi Raja dcbooks.com|
|Actor playing Pazhassi Raja in the film whykol.com|
Above image: 2009 Malayalam epic historical film "Pazhassi Raja" in which famous Malayalam film actor Mammootty playing the main role as Pazhassi Raja. This film was directed by Hariharan and written by M.T. Vasudevan Nair. The film received a National award, Kerala Government film awards and seven awards from Filmfare South.
When Hyder Ali of the Kingdom of Mysore occupied Malabar in 1773 for the second time for non-payment of tributes from the Rajas of Malabar as agreed after war in 1768 most of the Malabar rulers including the Raja of Kottayam found political asylum in Travancore. However, Pazhassi Raja, the fourth prince in line for succession to the throne during this period, became one of the de facto heads of state surpassing several of his elder royals. Valiant as he was, he fought a war of stiff resistance against Hyder Ali's army between 1774 to 1793. Between 1776 and 1780 Hyder Ali, in collusion with some Hindu rulers and Coorg army, made futile attempt to capture Pazhassi Raja. Later he fought wars against Tipu Sultan from 1784 to 1793. On account of his refusal to flee and resolve to fight invaders till the last breath of his life, people of Kottayam stood firmly behind the Raja, who had not abandoned them in their hour of misfortune and pain. Raja's troops were drawn from ranks of the Nambiar, Thiyya and also from the tribal clans like Kurichias and Mullukurumbas.
|Pazhassi Raja Museum and Art Gallerywww.linkedin.com|
Above image: This Pazhassi Raja museum, Kozhicode includes the coins, costumes, and weapons etc which were used by the king. It also includes the painting of Raja Ravi Varma, many mural paintings and sculptures.
In the 18th century the British used Tallacherry as its harbor and Naval base. Hyder Ali, in collaboration with local ruler, imposed economic blockade to break the backbone of the British. Pazhassi Raja successfully resisted the Mysorean army in association with the British. After several political manipulations and intrigues among the Mysorean Army, British army and Pazhassi Raja, the control over Tallasseri remained unresolved.
In 1792, after the Third Anglo-Mysore War, the English imposed their ruling power in Kottayam in violation of their earlier agreement of 1790 which recognized independence of Kottayam. Vira Varma, to whom Raja was a nephew, was appointed by the East India Company authorities as the Raja of Kottayam. Vira Varma played a series of power games to cut down the influence of his nephew. Here, the wily British used Vira Varma as a puppet to their advantage. The British, at no time, felt ashamed of breaching written agreements made with the local rulers. Violation or breaching of trust was part of British East India company's strategy to expand imperialism world over and later the British Crown followed the same dictum to expand their lands and influence. As part of their deal, they imposed tough revenue targets for the local rulers who were under their control. This way they wanted to fill the coffers and the excess money would be either sent to England or used here to grab more lands.
Having been caught in the net, Vira Varma found it difficult to meet the high revenue target imposed by the British and to safe guard his status and commitments, he introduced exorbitant tax rates to be collected from the peasants. This unjustifiable move was met with a mass resistance by the people led by Pazhassi Raja in 1793. Vira Varma, on his part, earned the ire of the people. Right from the beginning Pazhassi Raja was against the English hegemony and their subjugation of native people. He was much concerned about losing native people's freedom and fundamental rights to the foreign rulers. In 1796, the East India Company made an attempt to arrest Pazhassi Raja, but he evaded capture and instead fought back using guerrilla warfare.
Rajah secretly built an elaborate system of cantonments and forts in thick jungles and mountainous areas of his country. Four of them were most important. 1. The granite fort on Purali range - modern Muzhakunnu, 2. Manatana, 3. Wynad, he had a great fort in Mananthavady which could house 6,000 army men and 4. at Todikulam near Kannavam. None of them survived and are in ruins today.
After a string of serious setbacks, the company wanted to have peace treaty in 1797. The conflict was renewed in 1800 over a dispute regarding Wayanad and after an insurgent warfare that lasted for five years, Pazhassi Raja was killed on 30 November 1805 at the age of 52 in a gun-fight at Mavila Todu near Kerala - Karnataka border. The gradual fall of Raja was due to a few betrayers and traitors among the natives and their proper manipulation by the wily British.
Fischer-Tiné, Harald; Mann, Michael, eds. (2004). Colonialism As Civilizing Mission: Cultural Ideology in British India. Anthem Press. ISBN 9781843310921.