|Pandalam map 1498 |
|Narayana Varma of Royal Pandalam family, Kerala. simplicity.in|
|Front viewtwo-storeyed Pandalam Valiyakoyikkal palace en.wikipedia.org|
|/Sabarimala, the holy abode of Ayyappa en.wikipedia.org|
If you turn the faded Indian history pages relating to the Pandya dynasty of Madurai and go to the 14th century, certain interesting facts emerge about the origin of the Pandalam rulers of this part of Kerala. Pandalam dynasty is said to have their origin in the Pandya kingdom of South Tamil Nadu with capital at Madurai. The two royal family heirs had dispute over the succession to the famous and rich kingdom. Malik Kaufer rided Hoysala kingdom in 1311. The Hoysalas could not withstand the onslaught. The invaders forced ruler Veera Ballalla III to submit, and looted him of 312 elephants and 20,000 horses, besides vast jewellery treasures. (the plundering continued in the later years as wel and later destroyed). Taking advantage of the unstable political situation in Pandya kingdom in the same year - 1311 the military commander of Alauddin Khilji (1296–1316) marched into Madurai city with a strong contingent of 10000 soldiers, half of them were ferocious butchers and mercenaries.
The two groups of Pandya rulers were no match for this strong treacherous army. It was an unexpected and sudden raid on their kingdom. Having failed to face the ferocious attack and widespread looting and destruction of Meenakshi Amman temple, the two brothers fled along with their families clandestinely towards west (Chera Nadu/Kerala) for safety from further attacks and certain death. The invaders looted and took away all the Pandya kingdom's vast rich treasures. Please refer to: https://navrangindia.blogspot.com/2014/10/first-muslim-invasion-to-tamil-nadu.html
One group, after crossing the mountainous terrain, settled at Poonjar in Kottayam in the western ghat region and established the Poonjar kingdom. The other group (Chembazhannur), after considerable wandering, settled at Pandalam. The fleeing Chembazhannur branch at first settled in Valliyur (near Tirunelveli) and enjoyed a privileged position in the society. But, later earned the ire of the Nayak ruler Thirumalai nayak as they turned down the wedding proposal of Nayak ruler's daughter. In the midst of threats from Nayak's army, they moved to different places and they
kept troubling the Chembazhannur group where ever they had settled.
The royal family - Chembazhannur group moved farther west via places such as Achankovil, Aryankavu, Kulathupuzha and settled in Konni by c. 79 ME (according to the Copper manuscript issued by the Venad Raja). A full-fledged kingdom was established by them around c. 370 ME (1194 CE) after obtaining the land from Kunjunni Varma Thampan (Kaipuzha Thampan) of Amanthur Kovilakam at Kaipuzha and the local ruler and landlord of the region. As mentioned before, the Venad ruler also played a great role in the establishment of this kingdom. The rulers of Chera region recognised the status of the Pandya rulers, their rich legacy, wealth and their contribution to the construction of countless Hindu temples in Tamil Desam.
Pandalam is part of Pathanamthitta district. The family constructed a shrine for lord Shiva in Konni (Muringamangalam Sreemahadevar Temple) for their daily worships. This temple is considered as one of the most noted contributions of Chembazhanuur family in Kerala. Being charitable and humane, they built a number of Mutts, Manas and Koyikkalls for the benefits of people. The local people who faced continuous threats from the robbers and thieves accepted the family as the ruling class which was named as Chembazhanji kovilakom. Unfortunately, the unexpected attack of Travancore by later Chola rulers forced the family to flee Konni and finally settle down at Pandalam which became their permanent capital.
The Pandalam rulers (Chembazhannur group) earned the love and affection of the natives as they created a peaceful atmosphere for coexistence and growth of the land, besides the welfare of the people. According to the Travancore state manual, Pandalam kingdom maintained a friendly relations with various rulers
of Travancore with the help of Kunjunni Varma Thampan
who was the close friend and advisor to the Maharajah of Travancore.
The territories of Pandalam kingdom extended over an area of 1,000 square miles (2,600 km2), covering parts of Konni, Achankovil, Tenkasi and the forest regions of Sabarimala, the abode of Ayyayppa. It was during 345 ME, Aadhichavarman a ruler of Venad gave a sizable portion of land to this kingdom. Marthanda Varma, the popular Venad ruler and founder of Travancore kingdom (925 ME) annexed many parts in Central Travancore, but he never touched the Pandalam kingdom and left it independent. This was the outcome of special status and friendship they had with Travancore rulers. Further, in the conquest of Kayamkulam region, the Pandalam rulers were of great help to the Travancore ruler.
In the wake of devastating raid by Tipu Sultan of Mysore, in the 18th century the Travancore rulers forced the Pandalam ruler to pay Rs.2,20,001 to Travancore government during 965 ME. It is mentioned in the history of Travancore the money was paid in instalments, being the income from Sabarimala temple. However, by 995 ME, tTravancore ruler made an agreement with the Pandalam king. It was a written assurance that they would support every member of the royal family if they were allowed to collect revenue from Pandalam. In accordance with this agreement, the kingdom of Pandalam became part of Travancore and a monthly pension was issued for each royal family member. The administration of many temples including Sabarimala in the kingdom came under the direct control of Travancore. After Travancore became part of the Indian union, the management at last came under the Travancore devaswom board. Now, Sabarimala is part of Pathanamthitta district; earlier Pandalam was part of the Mavelikkara taluk of Alappuzha district.
Many family members live in Pandalam and the senior most member of the royal family is known as the Valiyaraja. Revathinal Ramavarma Raja holds the position as of today. The ruler of this family as mentioned before has a son and father relationship with Lors Ayyappa. From the post, you would have understood how historically they have close link with the famous Pandya rulers of South Tamil Nadu who made vast contribution to Srirangam Ranganathar and other Hindu temples. Their association with lord Shiva and his consort Parvati has many mythological anecdotes. They are, it is said, the 'Pithrusthanis ' of Lord Ayyappa. The royal members are being held in great esteem by the people of Kerala and others. so are the Pandya dynasty of bygone era in Tamil Desam.