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Kerala Part 1

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Ancient History

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Kerala, one of the smallest states in the Republic of India, was formed in 1956. It has an area about one percent of the total area of India.

The state stretches for about 360 miles along the Malabar coast on the western side of the Indian peninsula and its width varies from 20 to 75 miles.

The state has 14 districts and the capital is Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum)

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Districts

Thiruvananthapuram, (Trivandrum) Kollam (Quilon),  Alappuzha,  Pathanamthitta,  Kottayam, Idukki,  Ernakulam, Thrissur (Trichur),  Palakkad (Palghat), Malappuram,  Kozhikode (Calicut), Wyanad,  Kannur (Cannanore), Kasargode

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Thiruvananthapuram

The name Thiruvananthapuram, means the city of Anantha or the abode of the sacred Serpent Anantha on which Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the Hindu trinity, reclines. It is a beautiful seaside city built on seven hills. The famous Sri. Padmanabha Swami Temple is dedicated to Vishnu and is a landmark in the city. The sprawling city has an international airport. . It links with places like  Maldives, Sri Lanka and many countries to the West of Arabian Sea.

Kochi (Cochin) -

Major Port

The Cochin harbour Kochi earned a significant position on the world trading routes after the world famous port at Kodungallur (Cranganore) was destroyed by massive flooding of the river Periyar in 1340 AD. Records show that Kodungallur/Cranganore was known to the Arabs and Chinese traders for centuries.

After the Kodungallur port was destroyed, the forces of nature created the natural harbour at the nearby city - Kochi. Kochi then started to grow and soon developed into a major trading point dealing in pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, etc. which were and still are famous for their quality.

The Chinese, Arabs, Portuguese,  Dutch and British,  helped Kochi to emerge as a bustling centre of commercial activity, connecting the mainland to the rest of the world. Kochi owes a lot to great travelers, scholars and traders like Fa Hien, Vasco da Gama, Sir Robert Bristow etc. to her present form of existence

About the princely state of Kochi ... Over the centuries , the princely state of Kochi came under numerous empires. The original local rulers were dominated by the Portuguese, Dutch , British and even the Zamorin of Kozhikode (Calicut). Around 1530 AD , under the Portuguese, Kochi grew into a prosperous town. The ruler of Kochi gave the Portuguese, permission to build a fort at Kochi called 'Manuel Kotta' - which is the first European fort in Kochi .

The Dutch invasion began around 1653 and by 1663 they emerged victorious over the Portuguese. The Dutch then built Fort Williams here .

The Dutch were defeated by the great ruler of Mysore - Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. But at last, when the whole nation lost to the British regime , Kochi too became a part of the British colony in 1814. The magnificent forts built here were destroyed by the British.

Under the supervision of Sir Robert Bristow, Kochi was developed into a major harbour and the Willingdon Island was created. Willingdon Island now accommodates the Cochin Port, Airport and the Head Quarters of Southern Naval Command apart from a host of other trading and commercial organizations .

After India became independent in 1947, the state of Kerala was formed in 1956 by the re-organization of British  provinces.  Kasargode was transferred from South Kanara, and joined  to the Malabar province with Kochi,  and Travancore . The Corporation of Kochi was formed in 1967 by the merger of the towns - Fort Kochi, Mattanchery , Ernakulam and many nearby villages.

At present, Kochi is one of the most important industrial, trading and commercial centre of South India.

Places of Worship

Guruvayur

The Sree Krishna temple here is very famous, making it a very important pilgrim centre. This is regarded as the first Hindu temple to open its gates to all Hindus irrespective of caste. Only Hindus are permitted to enter the temple.

Jewish Synagogue

The synagogue, magnificently decorated with Chinese tiles and Belgian chandeliers, was built in 1568. Giant scrolls of the Old Testament can be found here. It is located near the Dutch Palace.

Trichur (Thrissur)

Thrissur is regarded as the cultural capital of Kerala. The Thrissur pooram is world famous for its elephant procession and fireworks display at the famous Vadakkunatha (Lord Shiva ) Temple. A sample of what an elephant line-up in a pooram can be seen in this picture.

St. Francis Church

It is the oldest church built by Europeans in India. On his 3rd visit to Kerala, Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese trader who reached India from Europe by sea, fell ill and died in Kochi. He was buried in the St. Francis Church. Later his remains were taken back to Portugal. In spite of that the exact place where he was buried has been marked out inside the church

St. Thomas Church,

Malayattoor The famous St .Thomas church is situated at Malayattoor near Kalady. It is believed that the footprints seen on a rock near the church belongs to St. Thomas, the Apostle, who came here in 52 A.D.

Quilon - Kollam

Quilon or Kollam is to the north of Thiruvananthapuram district.   It was an old sea port town on the Arabian coast , standing on the Ashtamudi lake. Kollam , the erstwhile Desinganadu, had a sustained commercial reputation from the days of the Phoenicians and the Romans. Fed by the Chinese trade, it was regarded by Ibn Batuta, as one of the five ports , which he had seen in the course of his travels during a period of twenty four years, in the 14th century.

The rulers of Kollam (Desinganadu) and China , exchanged ambassadors and there was flourishing Chinese settlement at Kollam. Merchant Sulaiman of Siraf in Persia ( 9th Century) found Kollam to be the only port in India , touched by the huge Chinese junks , on his way from Persian Gulf. Marco Polo, the great Venician traveller, who was in Chinese service under Kublai Khan in 1275, visited Kollam and other towns on the west coast, in his capacity as a Chinese mandarin.

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to establish a trading center at Kollam in 1502. Then came the Dutch followed by the British in 1795. A British garrison was stationed at Kollam in pursuance of a treaty between Travancore and the British.

Velu Thampi Dalawa of Travancore, did much for the improvement of the Kollam town. He build new bazaars and invited merchants from Madras and Thirunelveli to settle here. Kollam later became the capital of the enlightened and liberal rulers of Desinganad. It was also the nerve center for the rebellion organized by Velu Thampi against the British. Once a city of palaces, Kollam has been known to the outside world, by the time honoured proverb, "Once you have seen Kollam you would no more need your illam (Home)"

Places of Worship

Kollam district has a number of pilgrim centres.

Hindu Places of Worship

The Hindus have many temples dedicated to the different deities. and  are visited by a large number of pilgrims.

In addition to these temples, there are Churches and Mosques which have their own festival attracting huge crowds, irrespective of their religious affiliation. Some of the important churches are

Christian Places of Worship

St. Casimir's Church, Kadavur;

Velankanni Matha Shrine, Tuyyam;

Infant Jesus Shrine, Vadi;

St. Joseph Shrine, Perinad;

St. Francis Church, Koduvila (Kallada);

Amalotbhava Matha Church, Pullichira (Kottiyam),

St. John Britto Church, Sakthikulangara;

St. Sebastian's Church, Neendakara;

St. Thomas C.S.I. Church, Pattathanam and

St. Thomas Orthodox Cathedral, Sastri Junction.

Places of Worship of Islam

Valiyapalli, Jonakappuram, Juma-Ath-Palli, Kolluvila; Juma-Ath-Masjid, Thattamala; Muslim Juma-Ath-Palli, Karuva; Kalamala Palli, Kalamala; Muthirapparambu Palli, Muthirapparambu and Siyavathummodu Palli, Kililolloor are the most important mosques.

Culture

Isolated from the Deccan plateau by the mountainous belt of the Western Ghats, but with a long coastline open to foreign influences, Kerala has evolved a unique culture. It is a highly politicized region, but has a long tradition of religious amity. It is an educationally advanced state with its own language, Malayalam, and has the highest rate of literacy (100%) among Indian states. Women in Kerala enjoy a high social status, thanks perhaps to its historic matrilineal system. Art forms of Kerala range from Kalaripayattu, the martial art believed to be the origin of various other oriental ones, to Kathakali, one of the dance forms of Kerala considered to be amongst the oldest Indian dance styles. The elegant snake boat races have always been the favorite of tourists visiting Kerala.

Nature

Kerala is a land of great natural beauty. From the majestic heights of the Western Ghats the country undulates westward presenting a vista of silent valleys clothed in the richest green. Among the many rivers that glide across the plains to merge their waters with the Arabian sea, the more important are the Periyar, the Pamba and the Bharatha puzha. The elegant waterfalls at Athirampally near Trichur is a popular tourist spot. Along the coast, sand dunes shelter a linked chain of lagoons and backwaters the still waters of which are studded with sea-gulls and country canoes plying at a snails pace. The silence of the clear skies is broken only by the coos of koels, a type of cuckoo, and the frequent flutter of cranes perched on the embankments. The highest peak of peninsular India Annai Mudi is located in this state. The scenic Thekkady Wild Life Sanctuary is a popular vacation destination for nature lovers.

The climate is equable and varies little from season to season. The temperature normally ranges from 80 to 90 F in the plains but drops to about 70 F in the highlands. The state gets its due share of both the southwest as well as the northeast monsoons, and the rainfall is heavy, averaging around 118 inches annually.

Ancient History of this Region

In order to appreciate our brothers from Kerala, we should get rid of bias, and look deep into the past, which has made them what they are today: enterprising, exploring new regions and businesses.   Excellence in education and pioneers in almost every field.  One can understand why they are staunch in their convictions.  Others should be able to learn a lot from this tiny State of this country, and goad themselves into advancement.

1st to 5th century A.D. - Three powers ruled over today’s Kerala. They were Aay Rajas in the southern side, Ezhimala Kings in the northern side, and the first Chera kingdom comprising most of the present central Kerala.    The Cheras were a sea faring people who had contacts in the Arabian Sea islands, and the coast of East Africa.    This external influence was the primary reason of their enlightened approach to government of their people.

Trade with Arabs.

It appears from subsequent transactions with the Arabs, that they were familiar with this place through trade. It could be the Mesopotamians, (Iraq) traded with India, as comes out in the legends of Omar Khayyam - like Sindabad the Sailor.   Romans too seemed to have traded on the west coast of India.    However, in the 2nd and 3rd century, the geography of the east was vague in the minds of the Western world.    Thus when the Portuguese entered the scene, this misunderstanding grew, and problems arose as a result.

Chaldean Christians of Mesopotamia, used to send missionaries to the east, and they covered India, and the countries to the east.   The Cholas of South East India - present day Tamilnadu, had trade in the Indonesian archipelago, and traces of their interactions are visible even now.   Thus it is not implausible, that the missionaries, travelled with the traders.    Even the Jewish traders must have had settlements in the east, as is evident from Jewish people in Maharashtra, and Kerala.  


Presence of Christianity

Theophilus (surnamed the Indian) --  sent by Emperor Constantius (about 354) on a mission to Arabia Felix and Abyssinia -- is one of the earliest, if not the first, who draws our attention to the existence of Christians in these areas.   His travels are recorded by Philostorgius, a Greek Church historian, who relates that Theophilus, after fulfilling his mission to the Homerites, sailed to his island home in the Maldives-. Thence he visited other parts of India, reforming many things -- for the Christians of the place heard the reading of the Gospel in a sitting, according to Hindu customs.

This reference to a body of Christians with church, priest, liturgy, in the immediate vicinity of the Maldives, can only apply to a Christian Church and faithful on the adjacent coast of India, and not to Ceylon, which was well known even then under its own designation, Taprobane. The people referred to were the Christians known as a body who had their liturgy in the Syriac language - also used by the Chaldean Church of Mesopotamia, and inhabited the west coast of India, i.e. Malabar.

This Church is next mentioned and located by Cosmas Indicopleustes (about 535) "in Male (Malabar) where the pepper grows"; and he adds that the Christians of Ceylon, whom he specifies as Persians, - Chaldean Christians  - and "those of Malabar" (the latter he leaves unspecified, so they must have been natives of the country) had a bishop residing at Caliana (Kalyan), ordained in Persia, where the Eastern Church had spread, and one likewise on the island of Socotra.

The Apostle's tomb at Mylapur

St. Gregory of Tours (Glor. Mart.), before 590, reports that Theodore, a pilgrim who had gone to Gaul, told him that in that part of India where the corpus (bones) of Thomas the Apostle had first rested (Mylapur on the east or the Coromandel Coast of India) there stood a monastery and a church of striking dimensions and elaboratedly adorned, adding: "After a long interval of time these remains had been removed thence to the city of Edessa." The location of the first tomb of the Apostle in India is proof both of his martyrdom and of its Apostolate in India. The evidence of Theodore is that of an eyewitness who had visited both tombs -- the first in India, while the second was at Edessa. The primitive Christians, therefore, found on both coasts, east and west, witness to and locate the tomb at Mylapur, "St. Thomas", a little to the south of Madras; no other place in India lays any claim to possess the tomb, nor does any other country. On these facts is based their claim to be known as St. Thomas Christians.

This upheld by the Edessan Church

Further proof may be adduced to justify this claim. A Syrian ecclesiastical calender of an early date confirms the above. In the quotation given below two points are to be noted which support its antiquity -- the fact of the name given to Edessa and the fact the memory of the translation of the Apostle's relics was so fresh to the writer that the name of the individual who had brought them was yet remembered. The entry reads: "3 July, St. Thomas who was pierced with a lance in India. His body is at Urhai [the ancient name of Edessa] having been brought there by the merchant Khabin. A great festival." It is only natural to expect that we should receive from Edessa first-hand evidence of the removal of the relics to that city; and we are not disappointed, for St. Ephraem, the great doctor of the Syrian Church, has left us ample details in his writings. Ephraem came to Edessa on the surrender of Nisibis to the Persians, and he lived there from 363 to 373, when he died. This proof is found mostly in his rhythmical compositions. In the forty-second of his "Carmina Nisibina" he tells us the Apostle was put to death in India, and that his remains were subsequently buried in Edessa, brought there by a merchant. But his name is never given; at that date the name had dropped out of popular memory. The same is repeated in varying form in several of his hymns edited by Lamy (Ephr. Hymni et Sermones, IV). "It was to a land of dark people he was sent, to clothe them by Baptism in white robes. His grateful dawn dispelled India's painful darkness. It was his mission to espouse India to the One-Begotten. The merchant is blessed for having so great a treasure. Edessa thus became the blessed city by possessing the greatest pearl India could yield. Thomas works miracles in India, and at Edessa Thomas is destined to baptize peoples perverse and steeped in darkness, and that in the land of India."

Edessa retained its importance during the early Christian period, as is attested by the remains of basilicas erected on the site. From the end of the 7th century A.D. onwards, the city was restricted in the castle of Vodena, in the area of the modern city in Pella, Central Macedonia, Greece.
Excavations on the site began in 1967 and are still continued in the area of the acropolis and the lower city as well as in the cemeteries outside the walls, along the Via Egnatia. The excavation finds confirm the importance of the city, its social and economic organization through the centuries and its commercial exchanges.

Early Period

For their earliest period they possess no written but a traditional history

These Christians have no written records of the incidents of their social life from the time of their conversion down to the arrival of the Portuguese on the coast.

Written Records

Record of these traditions embodied in a manuscript Statement dated 1604

Fortunately the British Museum has a large collection consisting of several folio volumes containing manuscripts, letters, reports, etc., of Jesuit missions in India and elsewhere; among these in additional volume 9853, beginning with the leaf 86 in pencil and 525 in ink, there is a "Report" on the "Serra" (the name by which the Portuguese designated Malabar), written in Portuguese by a Jesuit missionary, bearing the date 1604 but not signed by the writer; there is evidence that this "Report" was known to F. de Souza, author of the "Oriente Conquistado", and utilized by him. The writer has carefully put together the traditional record of these Christians; the document is yet unpublished, hence its importance. Extracts from the same, covering what can be said of the early part of this history, will offer the best guarantee that can be offered. The writer of the "Report" distinctly informs us that these Christians had no written records of ancient history, but relied entirely on traditions handed down by their elders, and to these they were most tenaciously attached.

Of their earliest period tradition records that after the death of the Apostle his disciples remained faithful for a long time, the Faith was propagated with great zeal, and the Church increased considerably. But later, wars and famine supervening, the St. Thomas Christians of Mylapur got scattered and sought refuge elsewhere, and many of them returned to old ways. 

The Christians, however, who were on the Cochin side, fared better than the former, spreading from Coulac (Quilon) to Palur (Paleur), a village in the north of Malabar. These had fared better, as they lived under native princes who rarely interfered with their Faith, and they probably never suffered real persecution such as befell their brethren on the other coast; besides, one of the paramount rajahs of Malabar, Cheruman Perumal, had conferred on them a civil status. The common tradition in the country holds that from the time of the Apostle seven churches were erected in different parts of the country, besides the one which the Apostle himself had erected at Mylapur. This tradition is most tenaciously held and is confirmed by the "Report". It further asserts that the Apostle Thomas, after preaching to the inhabitants of the Island of Socotra and establishing there a Christian community, had come over to Malabar and landed at the ancient port of Cranganore.

The Socotra archipelago is part of the Republic of Yemen and is situated in the north-western part of the Indian Ocean. It comprises the four islands Socotra, Abd al Kuri, Samha and Darsa. The islands are separated from one another by relatively shallow seas and from the mainland by a deep trench.
Socotra, the largest island, is about 120 by 40 km and covers an area of 3625 km². It is composed of a basement complex of igneous and metamorphic rocks of Pre-Cambrian age overlain by sedimentary rocks, mainly limestone and sandstone.

They hold that after preaching in Malabar the Apostle went over to Mylapur on the Coromandel Coast; this is practicable through any of the many paths across the dividing mountain ranges which were well known and much frequented in olden times.

The Socotrians had yet retained their Faith when in 1542 St. Francis visited them on his way to India. In a letter of 18 September of the same year, addressed to the Society at Rome, he has left an interesting account of the degenerate state of the Christians he found there, who were Nestorians. He also tells us they render special honours to the Apostle St. Thomas, claiming to be descendants of the Christians begotten to Jesus Christ by that Apostle.

By 1680 when the Carmelite Vincenzo Maria di Santa Catarina landed there he found Christanity quite extinct, only faint traces yet lingering. The extinction of this primitive Christanity is due to the oppression of the Arabs, who now form the main population of the island, and to the neglect of the Nestorian Patriarchs who in former times were wont to supply the bishop and clergy for the island. When St. Francis visited the island a Nestorian priest was still in charge.   The Nestorians themselves were persecuted by the newly emerging Muslim rulers in Mesopotamia and Syria.

The Syrian merchant Thomas Cana arrives in Malabar

There is one incident of the long period of isolation of the St. Thomas Christians from the rest of the Christian world which they are never tired of relating, and it is one of considerable importance to them for the civil status it conferred and secured to them in the country.

This is the narrative of the arrival of a Syrian merchant on their shores, a certain Mar Thoma Cana -- the Portuguese have named him Cananeo and styled him an Armenian, which he was not. He arrived by ship on the coast and entered the port of Cranganore. The King of Malabar, Cheruman Perumal, was in the vicinity, and receiving information of his arrival sent for him and admitted him to his presence. Thomas was a wealthy merchant who had probably come to trade; the King took a liking to this man, and when he expressed a wish to acquire land and make a settlement the King readily acceded to his request and let him purchase land, then unoccupied, at Cranganore.

Under the king's orders Thomas soon collected a number of Christians from the surrounding country, which enabled him to start a town on the ground marked out for his occupation. He is said to have collected seventy-two Christian families (this is the traditional number always mentioned ) and to have installed them in as many separate houses erected for them; attach to each dwelling was a sufficient piece of land for vegetable cultivation for the support of the family as is the custom of the country. He also erected a dwelling for himself and eventually a church. The authorization to possess the land and dwellings erected was granted to Thomas by a deed of paramount Lord and Rajah of Malabar, Cheruman Perumal, said to have been the last of the line, the country having been subsequently divided among his feudatories. (The details given above as well as what follows of the copper plate grant are taken from the "Report".) The same accord also speak of several privileges and honours by the king to Thomas himself, his descendants, and to the Thomas Christians, by which the latter community obtained status above the lower classes, and which made them equal to the Nayars, the middle class in the country.

Misunderstanding of History

The West received Christianity from missionaries sent to them from Rome and their knowledge of world-history was vague, until voyages of the 15th century, brought new information about the life in parts of the world, where they had not set foot before.   Due to the rigidity of their ideas of their Faith, the political and trade self interest, they were not able to comprehend the way God had nurtured his children in other parts.

Pope Paul VI in his encyclical in 1964 proclaimed the following: "History, tradition and abundant ecclesiastical institutions bear outstanding witness to the great merit owing to the Eastern Churches by the universal Church.(5) The Sacred Council, therefore, not only accords to this ecclesiastical and spiritual heritage the high regard which is its due and rightful praise, but also unhesitatingly looks on it as the heritage of the universal Church. For this reason it solemnly declares that the Churches of the East, as much as those of the West, have a full right and are in duty bound to rule themselves, each in accordance with its own established disciplines, since all these are praiseworthy by reason of their venerable antiquity, more harmonious with the character of their faithful and more suited to the promotion of the good of souls."

In view of the new understanding, we have to respect what God in His wisdom has done over the last 20 centuries in our country and receive from His loving hands, the pain as well as the joy of the experience of following Him.    Each one of us may be born in different traditions, but our love for one another should teach us to see the good in other's history and background.


 500 to 814 A.D. - Kerala passed through a dark period in history which saw a multitude of invasions from outside.    These ages also witnessed the biggest Brahmin settlements into Kerala, especially in the 8th century A.D

825 A.D. - Beginning of Malayalam Era (calendar)

· 800 to approx.1112 A.D. - Second Chera kingdom. During this period Kerala returned to the political stability that it once enjoyed. The Chera kings were powerful emperors who ruled over most of Kerala.

Wars

Approx. 990 A.D. to 1105 A.D. - The biggest and bloodiest war ever witnessed by Kerala, a war which lasted for over a 100 years. Started with invasion by the Chola kings. - who ruled present day Tamilnadu.  The Cholas continuously attacked and plundered Kerala, wave after wave, and again and again South Kerala was left in ruins. By 1095 A.D., Kulothunga Cholan had destroyed Kollam.

Towards the end of these wars the Cholas conquered as far as central Kerala, and the capital of Chera kingdom, Mahodayapuram, was looted and burned completely by the Chola armies. But the last Chera king Ramavarma Kulasekharan won battles against the Chola army, with the help of tact, and efficient suicide squads (Chavers) provided by various subordinate kings, a technique to which the Chola armies were not familiar.

By 1102 A.D., the Chola armies had been thrown back. Soon the armies led by Ramavarma Kulasekharan put an end to the Chola rule in Kerala. The king had done his job well. The Cholas never again rose to their former power in South India.   However this King, according to folk-lore,  appears to have abdicated and divided the kingdom into smaller ones and given the charge to his relatives, and himself embraced Islam and migrated to Mecca.    This opened the region for foreign incursions that followed.

1341 A.D. - The flood of Periyar which did great damage to the harbour of Kodungallur (Cranganore).  Kochi later came to occupy its place.

Samoothiri - (Zamorin of Calicut)

The power balance changed as Samoothiri killed Porlathiri of Polanad by treachery, occupied Kozhikkode, developed the town as port, grew rich by a flourishing trade, and used most of the funds to developing a huge army. Samoothiri had ambitions to be the absolute emperor of Kerala. The funds from Kozhikkode port provided the crucial advantage in his wars

Samoothiri pitted one rival against another, and sided with the winning side, and captured the losers territory and thus built his empire.   It was only through machinations and tact that Samoothiri gained in the war.

1405 A.D. - Samoothiri continued his aggression on Perumpadappu Rajas. The Perumpadappu Rajas, or Rajas of Kochi as they came to be known later    Unable to withstand Samoothiri's attacks, Kochi Raja finally accepted Samoothiri's rule and became his feudatory. Family feud between the elder and younger branches of the royal family of Kochi was well exploited by the Samoothiri to make Kochi Raja's submission possible

Vasco da Gama

1498, May 18 - Vasco Da Gama arrived. He asked Samoothiri to let the Portuguese keep a small legion in Kozhikkode to protect their goods. Samoothiri rejected this and also told Gama that he had to pay levy at the same rates as that of others. Vasco Da Gama visited Kolathiri and made a trade agreement with the king. Then he returned to Portugal.

1502 Feb - Gama returned. Samoothiri rejected the request of Gama for expulsion of Arabs and to give Portuguese the trade monopoly.

· The Portuguese attacked and killed a number of traders at Kozhikkode. Then Gama came triumphantly to Kochi. Here he was given a warm welcome. He concluded a treaty with Kochi Raja.

· On hearing of this agreement with the Portuguese and his feudatory Kochi Raja, the Samoothiri demanded expulsion of Portuguese from Kochi. Kochi Raja rejected this demand.

1503 March 1 - Gama, anticipating attack from Samoothiri, hurriedly left Kochi and returned to Portugal, despite entreaties for help from Kochi Raja. Samoothiri's forces gave a crushing defeat to Kochi Raja's armies, killing three of the royal family and occupying Kochi.

· Within a few months, the Portuguese under Fransisco Albuquerque joined with the remaining forces of Kochi, reclaimed Kochi and reinstated Kochi Raja again.

· Thus these wars resulted in the independence of Kochi from the Samoothiri's rule, but Kochi remained a stronghold of the Portuguese for a long time.

Defeat of Samoothiri

1504 - Samoothiri decided to mount a huge attack on Kochi. An army with more than 60,000 soldiers marched to Kochi. But the war was not successful for the king. As it dragged on, 19,000 of his soldiers died in war and a further 13,000 died due to vishuchika(cholera). Samoothiri was on the retreat. In the same year, the Portuguese captured Kodungallur also, and built a fort around the town. The Raja of Kodungallur became a Portuguese feudatory.

1506 - Samoothiri's naval forces joined with the Navy of the Turks and Arabs, and a fierce battle took place at the sea with the forces of Lorenzo, son of Almeida. The Portuguese won again.

· Samoothiri with the help of Kolathiri. laid a siege of the St. Angelos fort at Kannur. But the Portuguese won this battle also, and Kolathiri was forced to plead for peace.

Between 1507 and 1515 there were intermittent wars in which Samoothiri sought the help of foreign forces.

1515 - Albuquerque died at Goa.    1524 - Vasco Da Gama was sent by King of Portugal to make war on Samoothiri but he could not accomplish much.   · 1524, December 24 - Gama died at Kochi

In 1604 the Dutch who had set their base in Colombo, entered the fray and started to play one against the other, to get the franchise which the Portuguese had until then.

Around 1740  Marthanda Varma of Travancore defeated the Dutch forces. The strength of the Dutch declined with the rising power of the British and French elsewhere in India.   After this defeat they never really regained their former power in Kerala. By now the Samoothiri had also distanced himself from them.

The decline and rise of British Power.

Samoothiri used the help of Hyder Ali in Mysore, and the conflict widened, and ultimately, as the British power rose, the in-fighting Indians lost.  

The lesson is divided we fall, united we rise.


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