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Undoubtedly the commercial and industrial capital

of the state of Kerala, the city of Cochin is where
ancient civilization gracefully mingles with modern
life. Right from the early years, Cochin has had cultural
and trade relations with the outside world. She has
also experienced pulsating episodes of European
colonial rivalry. With its all-weather natural harbour,
serene backwater, beautiful lagoons, wooded isles,
and a magnificent seascape, Cochin is known all over
the world as the Queen of the Arabian Sea.

Cochin has become the epicentre of Kerala's

developmental hopes with global geographical
advantages. Cochin is poised for a big leap forward
in all the sunrise industries such as Information
Technology, Bio-Technology and Tourism, and also
in areas like Multi Model Transport Linkages, IT
Connectivity and Bandwidth Commercial Track
Record. The Cochin Port and the economic activities
associated with it form the major economic base of

This land is also proud of its rich cultural and natural

heritage, cosmopolitan character and high social
index. These strengths in vital areas are the engines
that can propel this city into a real growth centre.

The vibrant cultural landscape of Cochin, wherein

almost sixteen different linguistic and cultural groups
coexist even today, is marked by its rich customs,
traditions and art forms. Cochin is indeed a classical
example of creating an urban environment in which
diversity becomes a source of strength rather than
that of conflict.

This book is an attempt to bring information related

to this city's birth, growth and spread in a concise
form. Here, emphasis has been given to historical
data pertaining to the city and its nearby areas.

I am sure this monograph will give you a glimpse of

the land of Cochin and its environs. We will be
comming out with a detailed and well researched
version of this book before long.

C.M.Dinesh Mani
Mayor of Cochin
Kerala, India.


Cochin, originally known as this city evolved through the centuries,

Perumpadappu Swaroopam, is the assimilating the cultures of the many
beautiful cosmopolitan city of Malayalees. communities from all over the globe who
Rightly known as the Queen of the made it their home. It was well known all
Arabian Sea, it has attracted many over the world for spices, cashew nuts,
voyagers and traders over the centuries. tea, coir products, handicrafts etc. The
The Greco-Romans and all other east prosperity that all this brought is well
bound Western trade interests had their attested by the Italian traveller Nicolo
strong presence here in the early period Conti who described Cochin, as early as
of trade and commerce. Then there were five centuries ago, as “a place prosperous
the Arabs who were followed by the enough to spend the money one makes
Chinese in search of spices. It was the in China”. It is now the commercial capital
scene of the first European settlement in of the State of Kerala. With a rich cultural
India early in 1500 when the Portuguese, heritage, be it in art forms, literature, or
the Dutch, and then the English came here music, Cochin is truly today’s symbol of
and added to the rich history of this land. Kerala’s progress and promise of
Ruled by many Maharajas and Divans, prosperity.


Cochin was originally known as historians believe that Cochin is a

modified form of the word Cochazhi,
Perumpadappu Nad after a village in the
Ponnani Taluk of Malabar. The name which in Malayalam means small sea.
Cochin was given to the town that came According to some accounts, traders from
into existence after the formation of the the court of the Chinese ruler Kublai Khan
harbour in 1341. Later, the country in the gave Cochin the name of their homeland.
immediate vicinity of the town and finally, Still another theory is that Cochin is
the whole territory under the ruling family, derived from the word Kaci meaning
Perumpadappu Swaroopam, came to be harbour. According to yet another scholar,
known as Cochin. Neither in the earlier the place name Cochin is derived from
notices of Malabar nor in the accounts of the term Cocha, which is a transfiguration
Pliny (AD 23-79), Ptolemy, Periplus of the of the Biblical term Cohen.
Erythrean Sea, Marco Polo (AD
1290-93) nor Ibn Batuta do we
find any mention of a place
named Cochin. The first mention
of Cochin is made sixty years after
the formation of the harbour by
Ma Huan, a Chinese
Mohammedan, and later by the
Italian traveller Nicolo Conti (AD
1440). These writers, as well as
those of the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries, variously
called the town Cocym, Cochym,
Cochin, Cochi etc.

Though believed to be a
corruption of the Sanskrit ‘go sri’,
meaning prospe- rous with cows,
the word Cochin’s first portion
definitely is the Malayalam word
kochu meaning small or young.
The town is called Balapuri in the
Kerala Mahatmyam and other
Sanskrit works. Nicolo Conti (15th
century) and Fra Paoline in the
17th century say that it was called
Kochchi after the river connecting
the backwaters and the sea. Some


Location districts. The Arabian Sea envelops the city

The former kingdom of Cochin lay all along the western boundary. It lies
between 9’48’ and 10’50’ Latitude and almost at sea level.
76’5’ and 76’58’E Longitude. For
administrative purposes, it was divided Geographical Features
into five taluks, viz., Kanayannur-Cochin, The geographical peculiarities of Cochin
Mukundapuram, Trichur (Thrissur), and its surrounding areas have
Talapilli, and Chittur along with the tiny contributed to the uniqueness of the
principality of Cranganore (Kodungallur). culture of the city and the region. The
geography of the region mainly consists
Cochin City is in the Ernakulam District of lowland along the seaboard and the
of Kerala, the State formed by the merger city lies barely 2 metres above the sea
of the former kingdoms of Travancore, level.
Cochin and Malabar (which was a part
of the Madras Presidency under the Plains
British). Ernakulam District is bounded on Much of the area is ‘plain’ land having
the north by Thrissur District, on the east natural facilities of drainage via
by Idukki District and on the south by backwaters, canals and rivers. Cochin
Kottayam and Alappuzha (Aleppey) Taluk is divided into two blocks by the

square miles to less than a square mile

and are favourably fertile for the luxuriant
growth of coconut palms.

The main rivers in this area are the Periyar
and Muvattupuzha. The Periyar flows
through all the taluks except Cochin. In
the rainy season the water level in the
Muvattupuzha river rises 25-30 feet in
certain areas, but in the summer season
there is barely a foot of water in some

A portion of the Vembanad Lake falls
within Cochin Taluk. On the northern side
of the North Paravur Taluk lies the
Kodungallur Kayal and on the southern
side, the Varapuzha Kayal.

The geological succession is as follows:
• Recent sediments (Alluvium, Teri’s,
Brown sands etc.), Mud banks, Laterite.
• Archaean-Basic Dykes, Charnockites,
• The entire western part is covered by
Cochin Azhi (backwaters), viz. Vypeen recent sediments.
Kara on the northern and Fort Cochin to
Chellanam on the southern sides.
The flora is characteristically tropical. The
Sea Coast, Estuaries, Lakes, Islands etc. heavy rainfall combined with moderate
The seacoast, about 30 miles in length, temperature and fertile soil support
falls entirely in the Cochin Taluk. The luxuriant vegetation.
Cochin Harbour, a major natural harbour, The common plants found in the lowland
is also situated in this Taluk. The coastal area that forms a somewhat
backwaters in the Cochin and Kanayannur narrow belt are Launaea, Ipomoea,
Taluks are dotted with small islands, the Portulaca, Hydrocotyle, Spinifex, Lippia,
main ones being Willingdon, Vypeen, Moniera, Cynodon, Digitari, Cyperus etc.
Ramanthuruthu, Ponjikkara (Bolghatty Coconut is extensively cultivated.
Island), Vallarpadom, Kumbalam,
There are many tidal mangrove
Cheranelloor etc. Most of these islands
formations of Rhizophora, Avicennia,
are very small, varying in extent from 4
Sonneratia, Acrostichum etc.

Fauna are only too common. The dolphins in

Though the greater part of the region is the backwaters, especially near the
mainland, the abundant backwater system Cochin Bar, represent aquatic mammals.
favours a large and varied fish population The bird fauna is rich and varied and the
and wading and water birds. The common birds seen around human
monkeys, carnivores, elephants, habitats and cultivated areas are the
ungulates, bats and insectivores, and Jungle crow, House crow, Drengo, Bulbul,
dolphins in the backwaters represent the Magpie, Robin, Tailorbird etc.
mammals. Weaverbird, Parakeet, and Larks are also
Bonnet, Lion tailed, Langur, and Loris are very commonly seen. Terns, Pond Heron,
the monkey species found. The leopard Black Bittern etc., that are noticed along
cat, jungle cat, civets and toddy cats are the lakes and the backwaters, represent
the cats found commonly. Mongooses are water birds. Ducks are represented by the
represented by three or four species. Teals (Malayalam - Eranda), which are
winter visitors and occur along the
Jackal and wild dog represent the dog backwaters in the season.
tribe. Lutra vulgaris or the otter is the only
aquatic carnivore in this area. The deer Several species of lizards are found in this
tribe has the Sambar, Barking Deer, area but the most familiar are the Geckos
Spotted Deer and Mouse Deer. Elephants represented by the house lizard. Monitor
are plentiful in the forests. lizard, chameleon and garden lizard are
the other types. Common snakes are
Bats are well represented. Rats and mice Python, Rat Snake, Wolf Snake, and

freshwater snakes locally called Neerkoli Climate

or Pulavan etc. The common poisonous The region has a tropical humid climate
snakes found are the Naia naia, King with an oppressive hot season and
Cobra, Pit Viper, Indian Coral Snake etc. plentiful seasonal rainfall. The hot season
Crocodiles consist of Crocodilus porosus from March to May is followed by the
and Crocodilus palustris. Turtles and South-West Monsoon season from June
tortoises of various kinds are also found. to September and the North-East
Common fishes found are the Scoliodon Monsoon from October to November/
(Dog fish), Pristis, Narcine, Otolithus, mid-December. The period from
Arius, Serranus, Ambassis, Clupia, December-end to February is generally
Gobius, Diodon etc. dry.

Sponges are abundant along the coasts. Rainfall

Coelenterata are represented by species The average annual rainfall is 3431.8
of Anemones, Hydroids, Medusa etc. mm. The rainfall increases from the coast
Annelida are represented by Polychaets towards the interior. The South-West
or marine bristle worms, leeches, etc. The Monsoon generally sets in during the last
Mollusca are well represented in this area. week of May or first week of June. The
The backwaters and coasts teem with rainfall in the South-West Monsoon
oysters and in the backwaters and months of June to September constitutes
estuaries large quantities of clams are about 68 per cent of the annual rainfall.
found. June and July are the rainiest months when

45 per cent of the annual rainfall is Skies are heavily clouded to overcast in
received. The rainfall gradually decreases the South-West Monsoon season whereas
after July and picks up again by the end in the North-East Monsoon months the
of September/early October, when the sky generally gets overcast by the evening
North-East Monsoon sets in. when it rains in intense bursts with thunder.
In May and the post-monsoon season of
A good amount of rain, mostly as a few days in December, skies are
thundershowers, occurs in April and May. generally moderately to heavily clouded.
The variation in the annual rainfall from In the other months clear or lightly clouded
year to year is not large. skies are common.
Temperature, Relative humidity and Winds
Winds are generally light to moderate with
Temperatures begin increasing after some increase in force in the summer and
February. March and April are generally monsoon seasons. In the South-West
the hottest months. In the interiors the day Monsoon season the winds are mainly
temperature may be a little higher than Westerly or North-easterly. During the rest
the coastal region. The air is very humid of the year winds are North-easterly in the
throughout the year, the relative humidity morning and from between South-West
being generally over 90 per cent. and North-West in the afternoon.

Vembanad Region & the Islands of Cochin

For this century Cochin has been Kerala’s Vembanad estuary, gave this place the
most powerful financial, commercial, and name ‘Cochin’.
cultural centers. The legacy of this power Cochin City lies at the sea mouth of seven
and prosperity can be seen throughout major rivers flushing out into the Arabian
the city, its port, islands, core and Sea, which start from the Western Ghats
hinterlands. and travel through Kerala’s midlands,
Geographically Cochin forms a natural lowlands and coastal areas. They carry
harbour at the Arabian Sea and falls on sediments right from the hills and deposit
the favorite trade channels from west. The all around the sea mouth creating the
city had developed with the old city, the huge estuarine system of the Vembanad
defense establishment and the port on Lake. The lake stretches 70Kms south, and
islands and it anchors on the mainland 35Kms north of the sea mouth and further
where the newer parts of the city had penetrates the land as fingers of
cherished and established. backwaters. Similar backwater formations
can be found all over Kerala’s coastal
Kochu a small branch of the Periyar River,
zones. The unique geographic features of
which flows in to the sea mouth of the

the region, the cultural landscapes with Yavanas (Greeks and Romans), and
moulded by the natural systems and oldest Babylonians around 1500BC. The region
trade history in the world with its had trade links with Arabs and further with
characteristic natural and built Portuguese, Dutch and English people in
environment thus reflecting an image, give the later years.
rise to the identity of the Vembanad A series of port locations were found in
Region. the line where the lowlands meet the
coastal areas and according to the
geological history of the region, the
present coastline of Kerala was formed in
The Vembanad backwater region is one the last 1000-1200 years of its natural
of its kind, listed in the proposals for processes. This had changed the locations
World’s out-standing land-scapes, is a of the ports according to the receding sea
major attraction for tourism also. Seafood, and formation of sandbars and islands of
agriculture, coconut cultivation and the coastal zone, where finally Cochin
related activities are the predominant became a major port of the region in the
cultural backgrounds of this region mid 20th century.
combined with the region’s long history
of international trade. In fact this trade The region has a history of intensive trade
history is one of the oldest in international of spices brought from the hills through
trade linking east and the west. It started the 7 rivers, which ignited a series of

cultural interactions and invasions. The settlement patterns thus reflect the
Buddhist culture found here belonged to regions ecological history. The trade, folk,
the before Christ period. Few among the linguistic and livelihood history, and the
Jews who were dislocated from the Middle historical development of its natural setting
East had reached and settled here. is all reflected in the architectural
Christianity started here even before it character of the region’s settlement
spread in Europe. Islam started here at patterns. Vembanad region dominated by
the time when it was born. The first the backwaters with its unique cultural
instances of colonialism that had expressions lives in delicate ecological
happened in the world were in this region balancing mechanism.
by Portuguese and further by Dutch. The
trade history also included lots of ethnic NATURAL ECOLOGICAL FEATURES
groups from all over India coming to this The physical spread of the Vembanad
region and handling its various aspects region refers to the low lying areas
of trade surrounding the Vembanad Lake, which
also is the delta of Pullot, Periyar,

comprising of about 490

km2 of paddy fields, 300
km2 of garden lands and
remaining portion, the
Vembanad Lake
consisting of lagoons,
canals, rivers, rivulets and
the like. Nearly 60% of the
area excluding the lake
lies below sea level at a
depth of 0.5m to 2m
mostly spread across
Kuttanad. The entire
region is half submerged in
water during june to
January every year which
is the monsoon season and
are protected by bunds etc.
from floods and tides.
The Vembanad ecosystem
is influenced by salt-water
incursion during high tide
in dry season and fresh
water inundation during
monsoon rains. This
condition perpetuated for
centuries. Though there
were some environmental
disturbance due to these
activities, it is believed that
the natural ecosystem was
not seriously affected.

Muvattupuzha, Achencoil, Pamba,
Manimala and Meenachil Rivers
originating from the Western Ghats. The GEOMORPHOLOGY
region lies between 90 15’ – 90 35’ N Physiographically, this area is unique in
latitude and 76 0 23’ – 76 0 35’ E the sense that the entire region is a product
longitude. It covers an area of 870 km2 of fluvial-estuarine agencies modified by

human activities in terms of reclamation. deposition. A large area, originally below

The entire region is formed of Tertiary and sea level, has also been subjected to
quaternary sediments flanked by reclamation.---
Precambrian rocks along the eastern
border. The eastern extension of the GEOLOGY
Vembanad Kayal may probably represent On land sedimentary formation,
the coastline at any one phase in the belonging essentially to the Neocene
geological past revealed by the
existence of dune chains. Literary
records also confirm this. It can
be inferred from the evidence
that the study region was under
the sea in the recent geological
At present, the region appears
as a saucer shaped basin
flanked by sand dunes on the
west and low lateritic hills in the
east. The central area is a
deltaic region formed by the river
systems. These rivers were earlier
debauching directly into the sea
near the apex of the delta but
before the delta formation was
completed, the sea might have
receded. The dune chains on the
west of the Vembanad Lake,
initially as a sand bar, probably
emerged much earlier before the
completion of land by the
process of fluvial deposition.
Consequently, the water body
enclosed by the dune chain in
the west and landmass on the
east evolved as Vembanad Lake.
Predominance of silt and fine
sand within the soil composition
of the lower Kuttanad is a
convincing evidence of the
major role of estuarine

period and Quaternary period developed in the area surrounding the

unconformably overlie the Precambrian backwaters
rocks. These belong to the late Miocene
age. Sediment of the Quaternary period SURFACE HYDROLOGY
consisting of sands, lagoonal clays, shell The Pampa, Manimala and Achencoil
deposits, teri sand, etc unconformably have formed one integrated drainage
overlie the Neocene sediments. Total system, which dominates the southern,
thickness of the sedimentary sequence and south Central part of the region by
exceeds 600m in this region. These developing a beautiful delta
evidences further reinforce the previous incomparable in the whole of Kerala.
arguments regarding the formation of the Muvattupuzha and Minachil flushes into
region. the Vembanad Lake through historical
landward edges. Where as the the Periyar
SOILS and Pullot which flow from the northern
The soil of the region can be divided into end of this region has developed more
four broad groups – These are Coastal siltation and thus the formation of many
alluvium, Colluvic alluvium, Acid saline islands in this region.
and Hydromorphic saline. The extreme
western part of the coastline is dominated GEOMORPHOLOGIC FORMATION &
by sandy soil & the eastern part, all along DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
the eastern border of the region. Fluviatile The Vembanad Lake and its environs owe
alluvium and colluvial soil are observed its formation to a series of transgressions
in the inter-hilly basins. Acid saline soils and recessions of the sea as a result of
mostly covers the Kuttanad & North of various natural forces that possibly acted
Cochin. A considerable portion of the on it over a period of millions of years.
area (8,000 hectares) has been reclaimed According to geologic evidences and
from the lakebeds. These areas are literary accounts including legends, the
covered by Kayal soil. The Karappadam following sequence of events may be
soil has developed along rivers and attributed to as the forces that shaped the
channels as a flood plain deposit. It region.
spreads over large part of the region
covering an area of 41,000 hectares. The PHASE I – (2.5 TO 4 MILLION YEARS
Karisoils is a peat soil developed in the AGO)
swampy areas. Isolated patches are seen The Kerala coast originally had three
in the southwest, northeast and major physiographic divisions. They are
northwestern part. This soil is deep black the
in colour with half decomposed organic
matter, indicating the subsidence of · Highlands
previously mentioned forest area under · Midlands and
water. The Hydromorphic saline soils has · Lowlands.

The lowlands, where the region under period of 200BC to 600AD. Tripunithura,
consideration is situated, were supposed another town south east of Kodungallur
to have been covered by a thick forest. and Parur, is said to have Greek trade
(See Fig.1 around the same time, which also found
a place in Ptolemy’s map. Vaikom is
PHASE II – (2.5 MILLION YEARS AGO shown as another port town in the same
TO 2ND CENT AD) accounts during 1st century AD and further
The lowlands were inundated by a south Kottayam too had evidences of
transgression of the sea caused by a Greek Trade.
sudden natural calamity (earth quake or
Purakkad (Porka) was also there in
forest fire) that led to the subsidence of
Ptolemy’s map and around that time in
the forest beneath the sea. Traces of the
1 st and 2 nd Century AD Niranam
buried forest are found in this region such
(Nelcynda) was described as a port. St.
as Kari lands, 50cm to 1m below ground
Thomas in his travel reached Niranam
level in the form of logs of wood in the
and established a church here.
process of being transformed into peat.
The forest mentioned as the Khandava All this clearly says that the Geographical
Vana in Mahabharat and the fire that burnt evidences match with the Port Locations
it down is also attributed to this incident of that time and tells us that the Arabian
by some authors. Sea actually extended upto Niranam and
Vaikom in south with a projection of land
From LANDSAT images of the coastal
mass at the southern end from Mavlikkara
region, a chain of inland sand dunes can
to Purakkad. Where as in North
be traced and the sea is believed to have
Thripunithura, Kodungallur and Parur all
extended to this line. This line also
becoming part of the trade activity sort of
coincides with the series of port towns
defines the sea extent of that time. (See
mentioned in the 1st century records by
Fig 2
Pliny and in Ptolomey’s map. Interestingly
from their accounts we also learn that PHASE III – (2ND CENT TO 10TH CENT
Kodungallur (MUZIRIS) used to have spice AD)
trade with Babylonians before 1000BC. This phase is responsible for the formation
In 1st century AD Budhism flourished, Jew of the linear mass of land on the west of
colony was formed and St. Thomas had the Vembanad Kayal and the profile of
come to Muziris. It must be noted that the Vembanad Kayal itself in its present form.
entire Vembanad Lake region used to flush The dune chains that lie in the western
out to the sea through its mouth at side of the present Kayal today, were
Kodungallur. It was the Chera capital upto initially parts of a sandbar formed by
12th century AD. estuarine deposition by the combined
Parur, which is geographically close to action of the detritus carrying rivers and
Kodungallur, has been found with the turbulent monsoon sea and a sandbar
evidences of Greek Trade during the that was inhabited in due course of time.

It is also possible that the Vembanad Kayal mouth for the Lake region at Cochin. The
is probably the result of an embayment traders in this region slowly started to
of a large graben in the offshore, as move towards south to Cochin and
pointed out by the configuration of the Alleppey in the hope of establishing trade
Kayal in the northern part. It can thus be towns. Purakkad developed strong trade
inferred that the Vembanad Kayal is the links with Portuguese in 1528 AD and
zone of unfinished deposition “of structural Dutch in 1642 AD. It was part of the
origin and subsequently modified by Chempakasseri Kingdom at that time.
fluvio- estuarine deposition”. The marshy Subsequently, Njarakkal started to gain
land left behind by the deposition of the attention through its geographical feature
river system parallel to the recession of of mud banks, which allowed it to have a
the sea made the estuary to confine itself all weather port. Looking at the
to the present Vembanad Kayal. This vast geographical advantage of the region, in
marshy tract of land had mangrove 18th Century AD, Raja Kesavadas built a
vegetation and fauna like crocodiles and New Port town of Alleppey in consultation
jackals. with the Dutch. Up to 1980 Alleppey was
These natural activities have led to the a major port with heavy international
formation of the long sandbar from activities. After this, from the geographic
Kodungallur to Alleppey and subsequently evidences, we learn that the mud bank
the formation of small islands in the entire phenomenon was slowly moving towards
region. (See fig3) north on the shore, which has taken away
Alleppey’s status of being an all weather
PHASE IV – (10TH CENT TO 20TH CENT port. The advent of Cochin as a major
AD) port has seen the decline of Alleppey.
This phase saw major uphill land During this period Cochin was slowly
development and cultivation activities in developing into an international trade
the catchment of the Seven Rivers, which region. The great flood in Periyar washed
flushed through the Vembanad Region, away 600 feet of land creating the sea
resulted from the major demand for mouth and natural harbour of Cochin.
spices, which was initiated by the trade
In 1440 AD Cochin City grew around
activities. Due to disturbances in land
Mattancherry settlement as a city of 5
masses the rivers started to bring in more
miles of circumference and Chinese and
sediments and siltation happened in a
Arabs used to trade with the natives of
greater pace
the town. The Cochin Rajas ruled Cochin
Now, looking at the historical evidences in the period from 12th century onwards.
in relation to Trade activities of the region, (Before that it was part of Vempalinad
in 1341 AD a great flood happened in under the Chera rule.)
Periyar and the port of Kodungallur silted
In 1500 AD Portuguese had come to
up. This geographical phenomenon led
Cochin after Calicut and subsequently
to the development of another big sea
Portuguese Fort (Manuel Kota) was built

in Fort Cochin. In 16th Century AD Jews opened and subsequently major railroad
moved in from Kodungallur (Muziris) to connections were introduced connecting
Sanda Cochin and many ethnic groups Islands of Cochin to the main land. After
from North India arrived. All this showed Independence Cochin was declared as
that being the geographic feature of the major port by the Govt. of India
Sea Mouth of the Vembanad Region has
given it the locational advantage to NATURE HAS ITS FINAL HAND
become a major trade zone
Recently in 2004 AD the Islands of
In 1662 AD, Dutch invaded and killed Vypeen, Vallarpadam and Bolghatty were
Raja of Cochin in a battle and a Dutch all connected to the mainland through
Fort was built over Portuguese Fort. Later Goshree Bridges Project. Cochin is
they built the Bolghatty Palace. 1790 AD planning to elevate its global status by
Sakthan Thampuran takes over as Cochin another major project of the Proposed
Raja and in his time an Anchal postal Transshipment terminal at Vallarpadam
system started here. Island.
As one closely watches nature’s activity
in the region of Cochin sea mouth one
1795 AD British took over Cochin from
would be surprised to learn that nature is
the Dutch. And subsequently in 1840 AD
still modifying the shape and volume of
Cochin rulers shifted to Ernakulam.
land masses in the islands of cochin. In
Ernakulam Market and associated
last 10 years huge amount of land was
settlements flourished during this period.
accreted at the west of Vypeen and the
The opening of Suez Canal in 1869 AD Beach at Fort Cochin was washed away
emphasized the importance of Cochin Port to a great extent. The whole of Vembanad
as a coaling station. Dredging of port and Region today, is a major Tourist attraction
formation of Willingdon Island was for its outstanding Cultural Landscape.
initiated under the design and direction The constant interaction between man
of Sir Robert Bristow in 1920 AD. and nature in this region has seen an
Ernakulam – Sharanur railway line was absolute symbiosis.

History of Cochin

Prehistory and Archaeology of Cochin

Archaeologically, although Cochin is belt of Keralam. The most important
rich in proto-historic and historic relics, prehistoric monuments belonging to the
the pre-history of Cochin has always Neolithic age seen in the area are
remained a mystery. There has been no dolmens and menhirs containing relics
clear evidence of Stone Age man such as bones, stones and other
inhabiting these regions. H.D. Sankalia implements, pottery and beads. However,
has remarked that this absence in compared to the neighbouring districts of
paleoliths may be because no search has Trichur and Kottayam they are not
been made for it or else because of truly extensively found here. One of the sites
geographical reasons. When the where dolmens are found is Vadattupara
neighbouring states of Tamilnadu, in Malayattur Reserve. Compared to the
Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka have other commonly found dolmens in the
yielded evidence of palaeolithic sites, it neighbouring regions, the dolmens found
is difficult to accept that prehistoric man here are much smaller and cruder in
did not set foot in Keralam. shape. A menhir has also been found in
Vennala is an important site where a Tripunithura in Kanayannur Taluk.
Neolithic axe has been found. Cochin Kodanad in Kunnathunad Taluk is another
forms the central part of the Megalithic important site where, during the Periyar

Canal excavation in 1963, relics of Village till the end of the 13th century.
Monolithic culture dating from 200 BC In the 13th and 14th centuries the Zamorins
to 1st century AD were found. Terracotta who had become the masters of a vast
male figurines with beard and female dominion in northern and central
forms in worshipping posture along with Keralam, posed a serious threat to the
elephant tusks, potsherds with engravings Perumpadappu Swaroopam. Due to this
etc. were found at this site. the headquarters was shifted to Cochin
Very little is known about the history of around 1405 AD. Accounts of Ma Huan,
Cochin prior to the arrival of the a Chinese Muslim attached to the suite of
Portuguese as neither inscriptions nor Cheng Ho the envoy of Emperor Yong Lo,
literary works throw much light. Cochin is who visited Cochin in 1409 AD, mentions
not even mentioned in any of the earlier that the king or the ruler is of solar race
foreign notices of Malabar. Neither in the and a sincere believer in Buddhism. His
accounts of Pliny, Ptolemy, Marco Polo or account gives details about the types of
Ibn Batuta do we find any mention,
though they give detailed accounts
of places situated to the north and
south of Cochin. Though it is
generally believed that Cochin port
was formed only as late as 1341 there
is also the possibility of its existence
as a small harbour even earlier. In
1341 the heavy floods that took place
in the Periyar River silted up
Cranganore Harbour (Kodungallur).
Useless for purposes of trade, this
decline in the importance of
Cranganore led to Cochin’s rise into
prominence and commercial
supremacy. The Cochin royal family
is much more ancient. The ruler of
Cochin State following the break-up
of Kulasekhara (1102 AD) was a king
whose authority was confined to
Cochin and adjoining areas. The
Cochin ruler from the Perumpadappu
family was the descendant of the
Kulasekharas of Mahodayapuram in
the maternal line. They were based
at Chitrakudam in Perumpadappu

clothes, houses, classes of men, trade etc. build a factory at Cochin and the
Another account of this time is that of Portuguese promised to add Calicut to the
Nicolo Conti, an Italian traveller who Cochin Raja’s dominions. At Cabral’s
visited Cochin in 1440 AD. suggestion, a few leading Nairs were
taken as hostages in the ships but to the
Conflict between Cochin and Calicut Raja’s displeasure Cabral left in panic at
By the beginning of the 15th century the the sight of the Calicut fleet. Anxious to
Zamorin had grown in power and prestige get Portuguese assistance he took no
and acquired suzerainty over the ruler of reprisals against the Portuguese left on
Cochin. The Zamorin’s possession of shore. Joao Da Nova, the next Portuguese
Cranganore, steadfast ally in the ruler of captain who was received with warmth,
Edappally, and internal strife among the had to face the hostility of the Zamorin.
members of the Perumpadappu The indignant Portuguese King sent Vasco
Swaroopam were the factors that provided Da Gama next and after bombarding
him with a decisive advantage over the Calicut and annihilating the Arab
Cochin ruler. merchants, he arrived at Cochin on 7
November 1502. Alarmed at the
Towards the close of the 15th century the Portuguese commercial triumphs at
internal dissensions in the Perumpadappu Cochin, the Zamorin in anger at the
Swaroopam gave an opportunity to the Cochin Raja’s refusal to heed his
Zamorin to interfere in its affairs and effect ultimatum, marched into the heart of the
further territorial conquests. On the eve Cochin Kingdom at the head of a large
of the arrival of the Portuguese in Keralam, army. The war between Calicut and
Cochin was a small principality dependent Cochin began on 1 March 1503. Cochin
on Calicut. It’s ruler was Zamorin’s Raja was soon forced to take refuge in a
partisan, a member of the Mootha temple at Vypeen. The Zamorin ordered
Thavazhi. The Anchikaimals or the five the town of Cochin to be burnt and went
nobles who held sway over Ernakulam to blockade the island of Vypeen.
and neighbouring territories on the coast However, on account of the monsoon
also proclaimed their allegiance to the setting in, he raised the blockade and after
Zamorin and repudiated the authority of fortifying Cochin with a ditch and rampart
the Cochin Raja. and leaving a strong force there, departed
for Calicut. He intended to renew the
The Portuguese Period
blockade after the Onam festival in
It was during this time that the Portuguese August. The arrival of a small Portuguese
Admiral, Pedro Alveraz Cabral, landed at fleet under Francisco De Albuquerque
Cochin on 24 December 1500. The alarmed the Calicut army at Cochin and
Cochin Raja, Unni Godavarma, received they soon left the city in panic. The ruler
his emissaries with great warmth and of Cochin was then conducted
friendliness. A treaty of friendship was triumphantly to Cochin and re-established
signed. The Portuguese were allowed to

in the possession of his kingdom.

After this the Portuguese extracted
concessions from the Raja who entered
into a treaty with the Anchikaimals, who
repudiated their allegiance to Zamorin.
The Portuguese also obtained permission
from the Raja to erect a fort at Cochin for
the protection of the Portuguese factory.
A convenient spot close to the edge of
the river was chosen and the foundation
stone laid on 27 September 1503. The
Raja supplied all the materials and
workers for the work. The fort was a square
structure of 183 yards surrounded by a
deep moat. The fort, when completed,
was christened Manuel Kotta or Fort
Manuel after the reigning king of Portugal.
The two Albuquerques sailed from India
in 1504, leaving Duarte Pacheco with
about 150 Portuguese and 300 native
soldiers and some vessels to defend
Cochin. The Zamorin once again tried to
regain Cochin but his attempts were
thwarted by the Portuguese when, after 5
months of war, the Zamorin was forced
to return. The Raja, Unni Rama Koil II,
continued to rule with Portuguese help.
From now onwards a convention was in the Raja to Christianity. His immediate
force for about a century and a half that successors were incompetent. The only
the succession to the throne of Cochin important development of the period was
should be confined to the Elaya Thavazhi an unsuccessful attempt on the part of the
branch. Cochin Raja to attack Calicut (1521). On
Albuquerque (1509-1515) reversed his visit to India in 1524, Vasco Da Gama,
several policies of his predecessors. He who was appointed as Viceroy, visited
also entered into a treaty with the Zamorin Cochin. During the Portuguese period,
of Calicut. During this time the notable events were the war with
headquarters of the Portuguese Vadakkumkoor, the building of
Government of India was transferred from Mattancherry Palace during Veera Kerala
Cochin to Goa in 1510. Before he left, Varma’s reign (1537-65) the building of
he made an abortive attempt to convert the Jew Town and the convention of the

Synod of Diamper during Kesava Rama Zamorin. On their way back to Colombo,
Varma’s reign (1565-1601). In the latter Paliath Achan, the leading nobleman of
half of the 16 th century, two foreign Cochin and the minister of the Vettat
travellers, Caesar Frederick and Ralph princes boarded Van Goen’s ship and
Fitch, visited Cochin. Another sought Dutch protection. Accordingly a
Englishman, Sir Thomas Herbert, treaty was concluded on March 12,1661
described Cochin on the eve of Dutch by which Achan placed himself under
capture as the chief place the Portuguese Dutch protection and undertook to serve
have in the Indies where they carried on them faithfully.
trade in spices, drugs and all other According to the Batavia Council’s
merchandise. decision to renew the campaign on the
The causes for the decline of Portuguese Malabar Coast in 1661, a Dutch fleet was
in Kerala, which began soon after the time despatched to Cochin under the
of Albuquerque, were both internal and command of Admiral Van Goens. It
external like the intermarriages, forcible captured Quilon on 7th December and
conversions, religious persecution etc. laid siege to the Cranganore fort on 3
January 1662. Finally they landed troops
Dutch conquest of Cochin on 7 at Vypeen. They built a fort called New
January 1663 Orange and bombarded Cochin from
The Dutch East India Company began to there. A battle was fought in front of the
despatch ships to India from 1595 Mattancherry Palace and Cochin forces
onwards and after many encounters with were forced to withdraw with heavy loss
the Portuguese and their allies they in men and material. Van Goens
succeeded in establishing their power in compelled Rani Gangadhara Lakshmi to
several places in India. Under Admiral recognise her deposed nephew as the
Van Goens, Quilon was captured in King of Cochin. In the meantime, the
December 1658. Veera Kerala Varma, Dutch converged on Portuguese Cochin
the senior member of the Mootha from three directions. The siege of Cochin
Thavazhi branch of the Cochin royal lasted for nearly two months. Though the
family appealed to the Dutch for help prospects of Dutch success seemed bleak
against the ruling family of Cochin. While initially, in the end, with the help of the
he had the Zamorin and the chiefs of Anchikaimals, the Dutch occupied
Vadakkumkoor, Thekkumkoor and Ernakulam. Though the Portuguese still
Edappally as his allies, the ruling Raja had held out in Cochin, soon they fell short of
the support of the princes of provisions with the result that the Dutch
Chempakasseri, Parur and Valluvanad as General stormed the Cochin Fort assisted
well as that of the Portuguese. The Dutch by the troops of Veera Kerala Varma and
decided to interfere and Van Der Meyden the Paliath Achan. The attack that lasted
landed at Njarakkal with a Dutch fleet for 8 days and nights resulted in the victory
and after taking over the fortress of of the Dutch. Having established
Pallippuram handed it over to the themselves as the masters of Cochin, the

from foreign aggression, erection of

fortresses, Dutch monopoly of the
import trade in opium etc. were some
of it’s terms.

Treaties with local Rajas

Even before the conquest of Cochin, the
Raja of Edappally had given an
undertaking to the Dutch that he would
be on friendly terms with them.
According to a treaty concluded
between the Dutch Company, the King
of Cochin and the Raja of Purakkad on
14 March 1663, Purakkad proclaimed
their allegiance to the ruler of Cochin.
The King of Vadakkumkoor and the Raja
of Parur were other Rajas who accepted
Dutch protection. Alangad also offered
it’s allegiance to the Dutch Company
though there was no formal written
agreement to this effect.

Dutch Treaties with Cochin

The Dutch policy towards the local Rajas
took definite shape only with the arrival
of Henrick Van Rheede as Commander
Dutch made it their headquarters in of Cochin in 1673. A formal treaty was
Keralam. entered into on February 23, 1674
between the Dutch Company and Erorma
During this period, Cochin Fort was (Iravi Varma) the second prince of Cochin,
reduced to about one-third of its original Goda Varma the fourth prince of Cochin
size. A small Pentagon Fort was built. After and Paliath Achan, according to which
the conquest of Cochin the Dutch installed no one thereafter could be permitted to
Veera Kerala Varma, Chazhur adoptee be adopted as heir to the Cochin Kingdom
into the Mootha Thavazhi, as the ruler of except from the five lawful Thavazhis.
Cochin. The first formal treaty between Promising to remain faithful allies forever,
the Raja of Cochin and the Dutch East it was stipulated that the fanams and other
India Company was concluded on 20 coins made by the Raja’s mint should be
March 1663. Dutch possession of all the made under the supervision of the Dutch
territories previously held by the Company. Another treaty concluded on
Portuguese, protection of Cochin State

the 2nd of September 1674 brought the strategic town of Trichur. Now, Cochin
Cochin Kingdom still further under the State was limited to portions of Cochin
control of the Dutch Company and soon and Kanayannur Taluks and a part of
resulted in a revolt by the princes. The Trichur Taluk. The chief of Paliyam and
result was another treaty with the Raja on the Anchikaimals were the only notable
21 May 1678 under which the Prime chiefs who continued to be faithful to the
Ministership of the State was virtually Raja. The Dutch, who were till then co-
handed over to the nominee of the Dutch operating with the Raja, now withdrew
Company. Another agreement was also from the scene. At this juncture, Raja Rama
signed by the Dutch Commander, Martin Varma of Cochin died at Mattancherry in
Huysman, with the Raja on 3 May 1681. 1760. The following ruler Kerala Varma
According to an agreement dated 21 May (1760-1775) entered into an alliance with
1678, the Chief of Paliyam was given the Travancore in December 1761. Raja
power to rule Cochin State in Kerala Varma visited Trivandrum in August
communication with the Raja. 1762 and solemnly ratified the treaty
before the altar of Lord Sthanumurthi of
The traditional rivalry between Cochin and
Calicut continued to complicate the
politics of Keralam during the Dutch With this, the era of Nair predominance
period also. During this period, which saw came to an end and the era of the modern
many internal troubles, an important event centralised State began. Cochin was
was the dismissal of the Paliath Achan reorganised into a centralised
from the Prime Ministership of the State. bureaucratic State. Another notable event
Another notable political development was the deterioration of relations between
was the rise of Travancore to prominence Cochin and Dutch Company during the
under Marthanda Varma (1729-1758). term of office of C.L. Sneff. An appeal
In view of her treaty obligations, Cochin was sent for a responsible person and
was also dragged into the war between soon Adrain Van Moens relieved Sneff
Travancore and the Dutch in which early in 1771.
Marthanda Varma was victorious.
Mysorean Invasion
Internal dissensions in the royal family Though Haider had invaded Malabar in
gave an opportunity to Marthanda Varma 1766 it had not affected Cochin. But when
to interfere in the politics of the Cochin Haider’s army descended again on
Kingdom. The title of Perumpadappu Malabar in 1773, Cochin wasn’t spared.
Mooppu was revived during this time. The The Cochin Raja had to pay a lakh of
Battle of Ambalapuzha (1754) was the last Ikkeri Pagodas (4 lakh rupees) as subsidy
great fight undertaken by Cochin with to Mysore. In September 1776 the Mysore
Vadakkumkoor and Purakkad against the forces under Sirdar Khan marched into
Travancore yoke in which the Cochin army Cochin and occupied Trichur. The Raja
lost. was forced to become a tributary of
During this time the Zamorin captured the

Mysore and to pay a nuzzar of 1 lakh of summoned in 1789 and this turned Tippu
Pagodas and 4 elephants and annual Sultan into a determined enemy of
tribute of 30,000 Pagodas. Haider Cochin. Tippu made a proposal to
accorded to Cochin a special position in purchase Cochin, Cranganore and
his empire. Meanwhile Rama Varma Azhikotta from the Dutch but the Dutch
(1775-1790) had succeeded Raja Kerala and Travancore had entered into
Varma (1760-1775) and Sakthan negotiations and the sale of these forts to
Thampuran had become the virtual ruler Travancore was effected with great speed.
of the State in 1769. The hereditary Prime Tippu who took strong objection to this
Ministership of Cochin also came to an drew the attention of British Madras
end during this period. Government to it but his demands weren’t
Cochin was left unmolested in the early met. He soon sent his army and
years of the reign of Tippu Sultan, who demolished the Travancore lines and
succeeded Haider Ali. The alliance with Travancore and Cochin lay at the invaders
the Cochin Raja was seen as an important mercy. The British Governor-General,
factor in achieving his ambition of Lord Cornwallis, sent a British contingent
conquering Travancore. Though the Raja under Colonel Hartley to help the
offered to act as a mediator, he refused Travancore army. He also started
to meet Tippu Sultan when he was negotiations with the Nizam of Hyderabad

and the Mahrattas for a joint attack on quite unfavourable for the Dutch. Major
Seringapatam. Alarmed at these Petrie laid siege to Cochin Fort, which was
developments Tippu withdrew from the finally captured on 19 October 1795. All
scene. With this the drama of the the Dutch living in Cochin were taken
Mysorean invasion came to an end. prisoners by the English and thus the
historic connection of the Dutch with
Treaty between Cochin and the Cochin ended.
English (1791)
Immediately after this, the Cochin Raja Modern Period
threw off his allegiance to Mysore and The Modern Period in the history of Cochin
became a tributary to the English East begins with the accession to the throne in
India Company. The formal 1790 of Rama Varma, the Sakthan
treaty between Company and
Cochin was signed on 6 January
1791 but it was to have effect
from 25 September. Cochin,
placed under the commissioners
appointed jointly by the Bengal,
Bombay and Madras
Governments, was first under the
control of the Madras
Government and later under
Government of Bombay before
being transferred back to
Madras Government in 1800.

Rise of the English Power

The English, at the time of the
Portuguese, had set up factories
at Calicut and Cranganore in
1616 with the help of the
Zamorin of Calicut. They
entered into a treaty with the
Portuguese, whose sway was
collapsing, by which they got free
access to all Portuguese ports.
After this, they settled at Cochin
till the Dutch capture forced
them to quit the place. Before
the turn of the century the
international situation became

Thampuran, and the treaty concluded by advantage of the offer and agreed to
him with the English East India Company surrender. It was made clear that Paliath
the following year. Though the treaty Achan wouldn’t be allowed to reside in
provided the basis for friendly relations, Cochin thereafter. On 6 May 1809 a new
the negative decision of the company in treaty was signed with the English by
respect of the various territorial claims put Kerala Varma (1809-1828) who
forward by Cochin was a sore succeeded Raja Rama Varma, the
disappointment to Sakthan Thampuran. provisions of which remained in force till
The Raja’s relations with the English the withdrawal of British power form India.
continued to be strained till his death in The period immediately following the
September 1805. suppression of the rebellion of Paliath
The period following the death of Sakthan Achan was one of gross anarchy and
Thampuran was an epoch of religious misrule. Kunjukrishna Menon of
ferment and political unrest when the Nadavaramba who had helped the
Rajas of Cochin adhered to militant English in the fateful days of 1808-09 was
Vaishnavism. On the death of Ravi Varma appointed Valia Sarvadhikaryakar but he
in 1864 the Cochin Royal Family returned was unequal to the new tasks that faced
to it’s ancient Smarta fold. the State. Cochin was soon on the verge
of financial bankruptcy. After Macaulay
Revolt of Paliath Achan was recalled, the new Resident took
The most important event of the period prompt steps to curb Menon’s power for
following the death of Sakthan mischief and in June 1812 obtained the
Thampuran was the revolt organised by permission of the Madras Government to
the Paliath Achan against the English. retire him on pension.
Though the Paliath Achan had ceased to
Genealogy of the Royal Family
be the hereditary Chief Minister of Cochin
in 1779, during the reign of Rama Varma Details about the Cochin royal families
(1805-1809) he was reinstated in the before the advent of the Portuguese are
office of Chief Minister with the help of not very clear, though there are references
Velu Thampi, the Dalava of Travancore. to some of their names in some books. It
Soon the Paliath Achan became the de is said that one Veera Kerala Varma, the
facto ruler of the state. The period of son of Cheraman Perumal’s sister was the
friendship between Macaulay, the first ruler.
Resident, on the one side and Velu Thampi Details of the rulers are given
and Paliath Achan on the other was not below in chrono- logical order.
destined to last long and soon resulted in
a revolt against the English. The combined Unni Raman Koyil I (? - 1503)
forces of Paliath Achan and Velu Thampi He was the ruler when the Portuguese
attacked Cochin. Soon the English Naval Commander, Cabral, reached
Company issued a proclamation offering Cochin on December 24 1500 and was
friendship or war. Paliath Achan took received with all honours when the latter

passed away in 1510.

Diogo de Couto has
recorded his name as
Unni Godavarma

Unni Raman Koyil II

During his time the
Portuguese laid the
foundations of their fort
in Cochin. In 1505,
India’s first Portuguese
Viceroy, Francisco De
Almaida, reached
Cochin and presented
a golden crown from
the King of Portugal to
him. After Unni Raman
Koyil I passed away in
1510, instead of
resigning and
b e c o m i n g
Mooppil according to
the tradition, he, with
the help of the
Portuguese continued
as the Maharaja.
During his time it was
established that only
the younger Thavazhi
could be crowned. He
passed away in 1537.

Veera Kerala Varma (1537-65)

called on the Maharaja at the Calvathy
Also known as Gangadhara Veera
Palace. The Zamorin of Calicut attacked
Keralan, during his time, St. Xavier came
Cochin and in the fierce fighting the
to Cochin (1542). The Portuguese
nephew and two other Princes died. He
Governor looted Palluruthy Temple in
abdicated the throne in 1503 in favour
1549. In 1555 the Portuguese built the
of the fourth in the line of succession. He
Mattancherry Palace and presented it to

the ruler (however, as the Dutch rebuilt

the palace later, it got the name Dutch
Palace). Moorish assassins in the employ
of the Vadakkumkoor Raja assassinated
him on the 10th of February 1565.

Kesava Rama Varma (1565-1601)

He is the most famous ruler during of the
Portuguese era. It was during his time
(1567) that Jews settled in Cochin and
built the Jew Town near the Palace. He
gave land to the Konkinis in Mattancherry
for establishing Thirumala Devaswom.
Don Alexis de Meneses, who was the
Archbishop of Goa in 1599, came to
Cochin and convened the Synod of
Diamper during his rule.
Mazhamangalam Narayanan
Namboodiri and Balakavi were poets at
his court. Ulloor opines that the Maharaja
was the author of the beautiful poem
Keralamprasasthi were written by
He was deeply interested in pilgrimages Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri, who was
and on the 27th of Kanni in the Malayalam a member of the royal.
year 776 he performed the
On 22nd Kanni in the Malayalam year 790
Thulapurushadanam. He passed away on
he killed Ittikkumara Menon and captured
3rd May 1601 at Kasi, where he had gone
the Mathilakam. On 15th April 1615 he
on pilgrimage.
passed away.
Veera Kerala Varma (1601-15)
Ravi Varma (1615-24)
It was during his time that the first British
His reign was unremarkable. On the 30th
ship reached India (1609). During his
of September 1624 he passed away.
reign Muringoor Thavazhi ran out of
successors and permission was given to Veera Kerala Varma (1624-37)
the eldest member to adopt the second
Mathilakam Angadi was captured during
eldest member (Goda Varman) from Elaya
his reign. On the 11th of July 1937 he
Thavazhi. Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri
passed away at Cochin.
was a member of his court.
It was during this time that Goda Varma (1637-45)
Gosrinagaravarnam and Veera During his reign Muringoor Thavazhi was

merged with Elaya Thavazhi. Adoption Prince from Chazhiyur.

was made to Elaya Thavazhi from the
Rama Varma (1650-56)
Mootha Thavazhi and the Palluruthy
Thavazhi. Ulloor has recorded that the He was adopted from Chazhiyur. He
Maharaja was the younger brother of the passed away in 1656.
earlier ruler, Veera Kerala Varma.
Rani Gangadhara Lakshmi (1656-58)
Veera Rayira Varma (1645-46) When Rama Varma passed away,
Ulloor has recorded that he was the Valiyamma Thampuran took over as
brother of Veera Kerala Varma and Goda Regent. Actually, the Portuguese crowned
Varma who ruled before 1645. He passed her the Queen to keep the members of
away in the Malayalam year 821 on the the Mootha Thavazhi at bay. Rani
2nd of Karkkidakom. After his death the Gangadhara Lakshmi is the only female
Elaya Thavazhi ceased to have any male who ruled Cochin. The Rani’s real name
members. is not known, Gangadhara Lakshmi being
a title.
Veera Kerala Varma (1645-50) At the instance of the Portuguese, the Rani
He was adopted from the Palluruthy adopted five male children from Vettath
Thavazhi. As mentioned earlier, during the and Ayiroor. It is mentioned in Padappattu
reign of Goda Varma (1637-1645) when that the eldest Prince’s name was Unni
there were no male members in the Elaya
Thavazhi, male members were adopted
from the Mootha Thavazhi and the
Palluruthy Thavazhi. When there were
internal conflicts between the adoptees
from the two Thavazhis, the Portuguese
helped the Palluruthy Thavazhi and Veera
Kerala Varma, who was adopted from
there, was crowned the Maharaja
superceding Rama Varma from the
Mootha Thavazhi. The members of the
Mootha Thavazhi were then exiled. With
the help of the Zamorin, Rama Varma and
his brother tried to capture the throne, but
did not succeed.
Veera Kerala Varma granted Thirumala
Devaswom Sanketam to the Konkini’s of
Mattancherry and gave civil and criminal
rights inside the Sanketam to them. He
passed away in 1650. He adopted a

recapture the country but

failed. From Chazhiyur the
Mootha Thavazhi adopted a
prince with the name of Veera
Kerala Varma. Veera Kerala
Varma of the deposed Mootha
Thavazhi and Veera Kerala
Varma who was adopted form
Chazhiyur went to Colombo
seeking Dutch help and under
the leadership of Dutch
Commander van Goens
reached Quilon on 7 t h
December 1661 and
captured the Portuguese Fort.
In January 1662 they captured
Cranganore Fort. Following
this van Goens entered
Mattancherry. The Maharaja,
Rama Varma, and Veera
Kerala Varma (adopted from
Chazhiyur) were killed in a
battle in front of the
Mattancherry Palace. Henrick
van Rheede captured
Gangadhara Lakshmi as a
prisoner. However, Goda
Varma who was next in the line
of succession was at
Ernakulam and escaped harm.
Rama Varma. He was crowned as the
Maharaja in 1658 when the Rani gave Goda Varma (1662-63)
up the throne. Goda Varma became the Maharaja when
Rama Varma was killed. On 7th January
Rama Varma (1658-62) 1663 the Dutch captured Cochin Fort.
He was the eldest among those adopted The next day Goda Varma surrendered
from Vettath. Veera Kerala Varma, who to the Dutch. With the end of his rule, the
belonged to the Mootha Thavazhi, had Portuguese era in Cochin’s history came
left the country after they were denied the to an end.
right to rule the country. He joined with
the Chazhiyur Thavazhi and tried to Veera Kerala Varma (1663-87)

1665. She was 100 years old at that time.

The Dutch and Veera Kerala Varma signed
four agreements in 1663, 1665, 1681
and 1684.
The Maharaja passed away at Trichur on
the 11th of the month Kumbham in the
Malayalam year 862, (February 1687).

Rama Varma (1687-93)

He was the last Maharaja of the Mootha
Thavazhi. In 1689 six princes and four
princesses were adopted from Chazhiyur.
He passed away on the 19th August 1693.

Ravi Varma (1693-97)

He was the eldest of the princes adopted
from Chazhiyur in 1689. He had
suzerainty over the temples of Tiruvalla,
Haripad and Kuttamperur to the south of
Cochin. He passed away in November
1697 while at Tiruvalla to sort out disputes
regarding conduct of poojas at the
The Dutch era in the history of Cochin Tiruvalla Temple.
began with his reign. Veera Kerala Varma
of the Mootha Thavazhi passed away on Rama Varma (1697-1701)
the ship he was coming back from He was the second eldest among the
Colombo. The Dutch crowned the prince princes adopted from Chazhiyur in 1689.
who was with him as the Maharaja He signed the fifth agreement with the
(adopted into the Mootha Thavazhi from Dutch in 1698. According to it, he was
Chazhiyur). A gold crown with the insignia given the right to have a share from the
of the Dutch East India Company sea taxes. He passed away in 1701 at
engraved on one side was made Veera Irinjalakuda.
Kerala Varma was crowned with it by the
Dutch Commander van Goens with great Rama Varma (1701-21)
fanfare. An agreement made in 1679 He was the third in line among the princes
banned princes from interfering in the adopted from Chazhiyur. He was the most
affairs of the Government. Van Rheede famous Maharaja of the Dutch era.
presented the third volume of Hortus Though the Dutch did not trust him, they
Malabaricus to the Maharaja. had high regard for his political and
Rani Gangadhara Lakshmi became administrative skills
seriously ill in 1664 and passed away in In 1715 two princes and a princess were

adopted from Chazhiyur. It is said that they age of seventy he passed away at Trichur
were the Maharaja’s own nephews and in 1721.
Ravi Varma (1721-31)
Originally, the Perumpadappu Maharajas Vischer Padre has written that Rama Varma
ascended the throne and were crowned hated Ravi Varma. From this it can be
at Chitrakudam at Vanneri in assumed that Ravi Varma was not one of
Perumpadappu. But after it was captured the princes adopted in 1715, as those
by the Zamorin this was not possible. At adopted then were reportedly Rama
the beginning of his rule, this Maharaja Varma’s own nephews and niece of whom
had taken an oath that his crowning he was very fond.
ceremony will be held only at
Chitrakudam. However, he could not do He had some misunderstandings with
it. In honour of their predecessor’s oath Paliath Achan and Achan was dismissed.
that could not be achieved, subsequent However, later, the younger generation of
Maharajas of Cochin did not wear a Paliyam reconciled the differences. He
crown. passed away in 1731 at Irinjalakuda.

With the help of the Dutch, Rama Varma Rama Varma (1731-46)
recaptured many places from the He was the last prince adopted from
Zamorin. It is said that he was very Chazhiyur in 1689. According to the
cunning and fond of wars. At the ripe old agreement with the Dutch he was forced
to wage war against Travancore. But
because of the intolerable misdeeds of
the Dutch he withdrew from the war. He
passed away at Kareekkatt in January

Veera Kerala Varma (1746-49)

He was one of the two princes adopted
from Chazhiyur in 1715. It was during
his reign that the Dutch were defeated in
the war against Travancore at Kulacchil.
He passed away at Tripunithura in January

Rama Varma (1749-60)

He was the eldest son of Ikkavu
Thampuran who was the daughter of one
of the princesses adopted from Chazhiyur
in 1689.
During his reign Travancore attacked

But this is most likely not correct. The

Dutch Commander of Cochin wrote a
letter to Batavia (in Indonesia – the then
headquarters of the Dutch East India
Company) in 1761, in which he has
written that the Maharaja of Cochin had
passed away and that his brother, Veera
Keralam, had succeeded him.
He was a mild mannered and not very
efficient person. The prince next in line of
succession was also not possessed of
administrative acumen. So, the Dutch
Governor in consultation with the
Travancore Maharaja unofficially
entrusted the administration to the
efficient, brave and spirited Sakthan
Thampuran in 1769.
In 1766 Cochin became a Samantha
Kingdom of Hyder Ali of Mysore.

Rama Varma (1775-90)

According to legend he was the uncle of
Sakthan Thampuran. During this time
Sardar Khan captured Cochin and began
his stay at Trichur. He passed away
following an attack of smallpox at
Cochin State from the south and Zamorin Tripunithura on 16th August 1790.
from the north. The 1753 agreement
Rama Varma (1790-1805)
between the Dutch and Travancore
adversely affected Cochin. Help from the This Maharaja became famous as the
Dutch also stopped. He passed away in Sakthan Thampuran (Powerful Maharaja).
August 1760 at Cochin and was cremated He started ruling the State from 1769
at Tripunithura. onwards itself and after his uncle’s death
in 1790 formally became the Maharaja.
Veera Kerala Varma (1760-75) As soon as he started his reign (1790
He was the second son of Ikkavu August) he reached an understanding with
Thampuran and the younger brother of Mr. Pouni about the English supremacy
Rama Varma. This Maharaja was the over Cochin State. On January 1791 it
direct uncle of Sakthan Thampuran was officially accepted. With this the
according to Puthezath Raman Menon. English era in the history of Cochin began.

He was the most brave, strong and Divan of Cochin. In 1818 Nanchappan
diplomatic Maharaja in the history of became the Divan. Following his death
Cochin. He passed away in September in 1825, Seshagirirayar became the
1805 at Trichur. Divan.
Veera Kerala Varma was deeply interested
Rama Varma (1805-09)
in literature. He has written more than 50
He was the eldest son of Sakthan Attakathakal. He was a great sponsor of
Thampuran’s aunty (mother’s younger Kathakali. He passed away at Tripunithura
sister). Though he was a great Sanskrit in August 1928.
scholar, mild mannered and generous he
was not very capable. During his time the Rama Varma (1828-37)
actual rule was in the hands of Paliath He was the nephew of the previous
Achan. Maharaja. In 1830, Seshagirirayar
He and his brother converted to Madhava resigned as the Divan because of the
Matham and also popularised it. He is accusations of Valiya Thampuran and
the author of Sundarakanda Pana. He Edamana Sankara Menon became the
passed away in January 1809 at Divan. He was dismissed because of
Vellarapilly. accusations of bribery and sentenced to
jail and in October 1824
Veera Kerala Varma (1809-28) Venkitasubbayyar became the Divan.
He was the younger brother of Rama In November 1837 Valiya Thampuran
Varma who preceded him. Both he and passed away while at Tripunithura. Ikkavu
his brother were opposed to any attack Thampuran was the sister of Valiya
against the British. In the History of Cochin Thampuran. The present Cochin Royal
by Padmanabha Menon it is said that it Family are the descendants of Ikkavu
was even doubted that Rama Varma had Thampuran.
been killed because he refused to take
part in the attempt to kill the Resident, Rama Varma (1837-44)
Macaulay. He was the son of the eldest aunty of his
Paliath Achan and Velu Thampi Dalava predecessor. He passed away in June
had tried to kill the Resident, Macaulay, 1844 at Irinjalakuda.
by attacking Ponjikkara Bungalow. The
British became very angry at this. But as Rama Varma (1844-51)
Paliath Achan accepted the entire He was the eldest son of Ikkavu
responsibility for the attack the British did Thampuran. He passed away while at
not exile the royal family and take over Trichur in July 1851.
direct rule. According to the treaty signed
on 6th May 1809, the Perumpadappu Veera Kerala Varma (1851-53)
Maharaja became a vassal of the British. He had a great desire to improve his mind
In 1812, Colonel Munroe became the first and to acquire knowledge before he took

over the rule. So before he started his rule of the Most Exalted Order of the Star of
he, with a very small retinue, travelled to India). He built the Puthen Bungalow and
Bangalore, Coimbatore, Indore, Pune, Mani Malika of Tripunithura. He passed
Bhopal etc. and in 1853 February away while at Tripunithura in August
reached Kasi. He planned to travel back 1888.
through Calcutta, Puri, Madras and reach
Kerala Varma (1888-95)
Rameswaram and after Sethusnanam,
return to Cochin. However, he could not He was the brother of Rama Varma. He
fulfil his wish and in February suffered an was good in English and was a mild
attack of small pox and passed away while mannered Maharaja. The British
at Kasi. He was a great scholar and had Government honoured him with the order
deep knowledge of the English language. of K.C.I.E. when he was the Ilaya
He was also very handsome. His death Thampuran itself.
was a great tragedy because people In 1890 Govinda Menon resigned from
believed that the country would prosper the post of Divan. Following this C.
during his rule. Tiruvenkatacharya became the Divan.
Following his death
Ravi Varma (1853-64) V. Subrahmanya Pillai became the Divan.
He was not efficient or capable like his
In 1893 Valiya Thampuran visited Kasi,
brother, who preceded him. In 1856
Gaya and Calcutta. He passed away in
Divan Sankara Varier passed away and
September 1895 at Tripunithura.
Venkittarayar became the Divan. After his
dismissal, Thottekatt Sankunni Menon Rama Varma (1895-1914)
became the Divan. The Maharaja passed
He was a very efficient ruler. In 1897
away while at Tripunithura in February
Divan Subrahmanya Pillai retired. After
that P. Rajagopalacharya (1897-1901), L.
Rama Varma (1864-1888) Locke (1901-02), N. Pattabhirama Rao
(1902-07), A.R. Banerjee (1907-14) etc.
He was not in good health and easy going
became Divans. British Government
by nature. It was Divan Sankunni Menon
honoured the Maharaja with the orders
who looked after the affairs of the State.
of K.C.S.I, G.C.S.I., and G.C.I.E. It was
In 1879 Sankunni Menon resigned
during his time that the railway line from
because of poor health. After that his
Shornur to Cochin was built. Because of
brother Govinda Menon became the
a difference of opinion with the British
Divan. After a long time the Kings of
Government he gave up the throne. He
Cochin and Travancore visited each other
passed away in 1932 January at Trichur.
at Trivandrum and Tripunithura. In 1876
he went to Madras and visited the Prince Rama Varma (1914-32)
of Wales, the eldest son of Queen Victoria.
J.W. Bhor (1914-19), T. Vijayaraghav-
The British Government bestowed on him
achari (1919-22), P. Narayana Menon
the order of K.C.S.I. (Knight Commander
(1922-25), T.S. Narayana Iyer (1925-30)

and C.G. Herbert (1930-35) became was known as the ‘Aikya Keralam
Divans during his period. He passed away Thampuran’. He passed away while at
at Madras in March 1932. Ernakulam in 1948.

Rama Varma (1932-41) Rama Varma (1948-64)

In 1935 R.K. Shanmugham Shetty He was the last Maharaja of Cochin
became the Divan. Though the Maharaja State. He became famous as Parikshit
was an inefficient ruler, because of the Thampuran. On 1st July 1949, Cochin
efficiency of Shanmugham Shetty his rule and Travancore merged to form Tiru-
became progressive. The expansion of Cochi State. The Maharaja’s rule came
Cochin harbour was completed and the to an end with that. He ruled as a
Ernakulam High Court was opened at this Maharaja only for one year. After that
time. he continued as Cochin Valiya
This Maharaja was very much interested Thampuran. He passed away while at
in the affairs of the temples and cultural Tripunithura in 1964.
matters. He passed away while at The Divans of Cochin
Chowwara in April 1941. In June 1812, Col. Munro, the British
Kerala Varma (1941-43) Resident took the administration of
Cochin into his own hands in order to
He was the brother of Valiya Thampuran
restore order in the State. He was, in fact,
who passed away while at Madras in
the first Divan of Cochin State. In 1818
March 1932. He was known as
he was succeeded by Nanjappayya who
‘Midukkan’ Thampuran. After
was succeeded by Seshagiri Rao (1825-
Shanmugham Shetty’s retirement in 1941,
1830). Edamana Sankara Menon
A.F.W. Dixon became the Divan. The
(1830-35) the next Divan was an
Maharaja passed away while at
unscrupulous administrator. His
Tripunithura in October 1943.
misappropriation over a lakh of rupees
Ravi Varma (1943-46) led to criminal proceedings against him
and when found guilty, he was sentenced
He was the brother of Kerala Varma.
to 5 years rigorous imprisonment.
George Boug (1943-44) and C.P.
Venkatasubbayya succeeded Sankara
Karunakara Menon (1944-47) were the
Menon in 1835. The administration of
Divans of Cochin during his time. He
Sankara Warier who was the next Divan
passed away while at Tripunithura in
from 1840 to 1856 marked a new epoch
February 1946.
in the history of Cochin. He served four
Kerala Varma (1946-48) successive Rajas and laid the foundation
of a modern administration. Vanuatu Rao
Because of his idea of creating ‘Aikya
(1856-60) was the next Divan but for a
Keralam’ by merging British Malabar,
short period. Thettikol Sankunni Menon,
Cochin and Travancore into one state, he

the son of Sankara Warier, was the Divan and Cochin were integrated with the
of Cochin from 1860 to 1879 under consent of the popular cabinets then
whom public works of all kinds received functioning in the two States and the State
great fillip. Sankunni Menon was of Travancore and Cochin came into
succeeded by his brother Govina Menon existence.
(1879-89). The next Divans, C. Events leading to the integration of
Tiruvenkatacharya (1889-92) and V. Cochin and Travancore
Subramonia Pillai (1892-96), continued
the policies of Sankunni Menon. The anti-British movements all over India
Subrahmanya Pillai retired from under the leadership of Indian National
Divanship in 1896 and the office was Congress had its echoes in Cochin also.
then held successively by P. In the late 1930s the District Congress
Rajagopalachari (December 1896 – Committee made itself active in the public
August 1901), S. Locke (August 1901 - life of Cochin. In 1938, a scheme of
September 1902), N. Pattabhirama Rao Diarchy was introduced in Cochin. The
(September 1902 - March 1907), A.R. experiment in Diarchy did not satisfy the
Banerjee (1907-14), J.W. Bhore (1914- progressive sections of the population of
19), T. Vijayaraghavachari (1919-22), P. Cochin. Hence, in 1941 a new political
Narayana Menon (1922-25), T.S. organisation, the Praja Mandalam, was
Narayana Iyer (1925-30), C.G. Herbert formed.
(1930-35), Shanmugham Shetty (March In September 1948, Praja Mandalam got
1935 - June 1941), Komattil Achyutha a clear majority in the first elected
Menon (June-October 1941), A.F.W. legislature. This was the first election held
Dixon (October 1941 - November 1943) in India on the basis of universal adult
and then Sir George Boag (November franchise to a legislature. By this time
1943 – August 1944). He was succeeded Praja Mandalam had merged with the
by C.P. Karunakara Menon whose period Indian National Congress and the first
of Divanship saw far-reaching Congress ministry assumed office in
constitutional changes that culminated in Cochin with E. Ikkanda Warier as Chief
the abolition of the age-old Divanship Minister on 20th September 1948. During
and the establishment of responsible the tenure of this ministry, the State of
government in Cochin. Cochin was merged with Travancore on
In July 1949, during the reign of Rama 1st July 1949 to form the new state
Varma Parikshit Thampuran, Travancore ‘Travancore- Cochin’.


Architecture follows the style of detached buildings and

The architecture of Cochin ranges from the typical upper caste Malayalee house
temples, mosques, churches to theatres, is a courtyard type nalukettu, a quadran-
houses, palaces and public buildings. Like gular building consisting of four blocks
elsewhere, climatic considerations have with a square or oblong courtyard in the
played an important role in the centre, known as nadumittam. The four
architecture of this region. halls enclosing the courtyard, identical to
the nalambalam of the temple, maybe
The building materials used are timber,
divided into several rooms for different
clay, palm leaves, granite, laterite slabs
activities such as cooking, dining,
etc. The use of granite was restricted to
sleeping, studying, storage of grains etc.
the plinth even in important buildings such
Ekasala the common type of hall located
as temples. For the walls laterite was used
on the western and southern sides of the
and for the roof structure, timber.
nadumittam are referred to as the western
Traditional Domestic Architecture hall (padinjattini) and the southern hall
(thekkini). Padinjattini is divided into three
The traditional domestic architecture

rooms the middle one of which is the into number of grids (padam) occupied
store-room, where the valuables and the by different deities (devatha). Depending
household deities are kept and other two on the size and importance of the
are bed-rooms. The northern block, or household the building may have one or
vadakkini, is divided into two rooms, the two upper storeys (malika) or further
kitchen and the dining room. The whole enclosed courtyard by repetition of the
or the middle portions of the eastern and nalukettu to form ettukettu (eight-halled
southern blocks kizhakkini and thekkini are building) or a cluster of such courtyards.
open halls, where visitors and guests are One of the best-preserved examples of a
received and entertained. With verandas nalukettu is the Mattancherry Palace at
all round the building and also round the Cochin and that of the ettukettu, the
inner courtyard we also find an open
portico or poomukham attached to it
often leading to the kizhakkini. Male
visitors are received here. By the side
of the kitchen is the well, water drawn
to it through a window. A courtyard
surrounds the building and in the
centre of the eastern yard we find the
thulasithara, a kind of altar or platform
in which the sacred basil is grown.
Surrounding the yard is the compound
in which fruit trees like jack and
mango, and plantains and other
vegetables are grown and which is
bounded by masonry walls, or by mud
walls with fencing. This garden
compound may also contain cattle
sheds, bathing tanks, wells, farm
buildings, grain stores etc, as ancillary
structures. An entrance structure or a
gate-house (padippura), often
constructed like the gopuram of a
temple, may contain one or more
rooms for guests or occasional visitors
who are not entertained in the main
house. The position and sizes of
various building were decided by the
analyses of the site involving the
concept of vastupurusha mandala
wherein the site (vastu) was divided

Paduthol Mana at Pazhoor. Padamugal In rare cases a porch or ardhamandapa

Illam is another example of traditional is seen attached to the shrine. A detached
domestic architecture. namaskara mandapam is generally built
The poorer houses were built of mud, in front of the srikovil enclosed by
whitewashed or coloured red and the roof nalambalam, a quadrangular building.
thatched with plaited coconut fronds or The altar stone or balikkal is often located
straw. The better classes of houses were at the entrance to the nalambalam. Of
built of laterite plastered with lime and the different plan, shapes, square,
the roofs tiled or thatched with plaited rectangular, circular or apsidal, the square
coconut or palmyra fronds. Recent years plan of the srikovil is more commonly
have shown great improvement in the seen. While this is categorised as the
design of houses with airier and better nagara style, the circular temples belong
ventilated rooms with higher ceilings and to the vasara category. In the unitary
larger doors and windows but less massive temples, the alpa vimanas, has the
in structure. basement, the pillar or the wall (stambham
or bhithi) and the entablature (prasthara)
Temple Architecture in the lower half. Similarly the upper half
Temple architecture can be divided into is divided into the neck (griva), the roof
three phases in it’s stylistic development: tower (shikhara) and the fenial (stupi) in
rock cut temples, structural temples and the same ratio. Granite adisthana and
unitary temples. laterite superstructure with it’s sloping roof
and the copper fenial are other notable
Rock cut temples comprise of a shrine features.
room and a spacious ardhamandapa
arranged axially facing the west. The The middle phase of the evolution of the
earliest structural temples (8 – 10 th temples is characterised by the emergence
centuries) had a unitary shrine or a srikovil. of the sandhara shrine in which the cell

has twin wells leaving a passage between enclosing the temple, gopuras or
them. Four functional doors on all four gatehouses with the ground floor open
cardinal directions and pierced windows space used for temple dances and upper
to provide subdued light in the passage floor kottupura (a hall for drum beating)
are it’s characteristics. Sometimes the are it’s characteristic features. The
functional door is replaced by pseudo secondary shrines of parivara devathas
doors (ganadwaras). The concept of the found within the prakara were unitary cells.
storied temple is also seen in this phase. The prakara may also contain temple
tanks, vedapadhasalas and dining halls.
A greater complexity in the temple layout
as well as elaboration of detail can be A unique edifice of the native temple
seen in the last phase (1300-1800 AD). architecture is the presence of a large,
The vilakkumadam, the palisade structure pillared theatre hall (koothambalam)
fixed with rows of oil lamps added beyond meant for dance, musical performances
the nalambalam, balikkal mandapam and religious recitals. Technically the most
(altar stone) deepasthambham and important feature of the temple
dwajasthambham (the lamp post and flag architecture is the construction technique
mast) added in front of the balikkal using a dimensional standardisation. The
mandapam, prakara, the massive wall decorative elements are of three types:

mouldings, sculptures and paintings. prayer hall with a mihrab on the western
Mouldings are seen in the plinth and in wall and covered verandah all around, a
the mandala and sculptural work in the tall basement, walls being made of laterite
relief sculpture done on the outer walls of blocks with a wooden superstructure. The
the shrine and in timber elements (the roof is covered with copper sheets
rafter ends, the brackets, the timber incorporating fenials in the ridge. A new
columns and their capitals, door frames, trend has been to replace the architectural
wall plates and beams) and metal craft features of the old mosques with the use
used in sculpturing idols, motifs, claddings of arcuated forms, domes and minar-
and fenials. Paintings were murals and minarets of the imperial school of Indo-
had mythological and epic stories as their Islamic architecture. In the secular
themes. architecture of Muslims we find houses
with upper floor living rooms with windows
Islamic Architecture to the streets and wooden screens used
Built under the instructions of the Muslim to provide privacy and shade in the
religious heads and by the local artisans, verandahs, features superimposed on the
the models being the temples or theatre traditional construction patterns. Though
halls (koothambalam), the early mosques the pattern shows affinity with that of Arab
resembled the traditional buildings of the countries, traditional Hindu styles of
region. The mosque comprised of a large ekasalas and nalukettus are also adopted.

Christian Architecture one side of the nave. The bell was hung
There are two sources for the evolution of in an opening in the nave gable in smaller
the church architecture: work of Apostle churches. The church had a gable roof
St. Thomas and the Syrian Christians and extending to the chancel and the sacristy
European missionary work. by it’s side. Reminding us of a Hindu
temple, the tower over the chancel soared
Tradition has it that St. Thomas had seven higher than the roof of the nave. The
churches built at Kodungallur, Chayil, residence of the priest and the parish hall
Palur, Paravur, Kollam, Niranom and were located on either side of the church.
Kothamangalam but none of these The remnants of the indigenous Hindu
churches are now extant. With the arrival style could be seen in the massive laterite
of the Syrian Christians we find the wall that enclosed the church and the
introduction of West Asian conventions in ancillary buildings, the open cross in front
church architecture, which finds it’s of the main entrance on a granite
influence in the ornamental gable, façade basement, the flag mast, a gateway and
at the nave end, surmounted by a cross with a kottupura or a music room on the
and an entry porch (shale), and small upper storey etc.
chambered baptistry with belfries built on

The Portuguese were the first to introduce later trends in the plan shapes and
European styles in church architecture structural forms are also there. For
followed by the Dutch and the British. Their example the Cathedral of Archbishop of
innovations included the use of images Varapuzha is a soaring hyperbolic
of saints made of wood, erection of paraboloid in reinforced concrete with
pulpits, ornamental altar pieces, painted bold expression in sharp contrast with all
ceilings and walls, pointed and rounded traditional forms.
arches and installation of stained glass
windows. The British period saw the use Jewish Monuments
of cross shaped plan, central Roman Though the most important Jewish
dome, towers serving as belfries on either settlement seen at Cochin near the
side of the main entrance in the front, and Mattancherry palace resembles traditional
the typical features of European church architecture it is of a different plan
architecture. These were the Gothic concept. The difference lies in the fact that
arches, the pilasters and buttresses, the the ground floor rooms are used as shops
rounded openings, the classic mouldings or warehouses and the living rooms are
and stained-glass windows. Churches with on the first floor. The frontage of the

building on the street side is continuous modernistic style which uses concrete as
with adjoining buildings in the pattern of the medium of construction and linear ,
row houses. The Synagogue, an important cubical or curvilinear shapes for
historic monument, stands in contrast to expressing forms. The other trend is to
the temples of the Hindus. adopt the traditional techniques with the
use of indigenous material propagated
Indo-European Style in Secular
by Lawrie Baker.
During 16th to 19th century, architectural Monuments
development was clearly influenced by the Synagogues
European style, first by the Portuguese and
The famous White Jew’s Synagogue or
later by the Dutch. It saw features like the
Paradesi Synagogue is situated opposite
projecting balconies, Gothic arches and
the Dutch Palace at Mattancherry.
cast iron window grill work. The later
Architecturally it is only an undistinguished
British influence saw a compromise of
tall building with sloping tiled roofs. Built
antique craft and neo-classical
in 1567, the original synagogue was
construction needs. The Greek and
destroyed in 1664 in shelling during a
Roman antiquity was emphasised in the
Portuguese raid. Later it was rebuilt after
classic orders of pillars with triangular
the Dutch returned to Cochin. The clock
pediments, arches and domes for public
tower was built in 1767. The famous
buildings, town halls, hospitals, railway
Copper Plate Grants of Bhaskara Ravi
stations, colleges etc. Laterite and lime
Varman (1000 AD), a golden crown
plastering remained as the media of Indo-
presented by the Maharaja of Travancore
European work. Bungalow architecture is
in 1805, silver lamps presented by Col.
one of the best examples of the
Macaulay, the first Resident of Cochin, are
adaptations of European style to the
some of the interesting exhibits at the
climatic needs and the synthesis with
synagogue. The synagogue has a hand
traditional style. Bungalows were buildings
painted blue and white willow pattern
with large rooms with high ceilings with a
mosaic floor of approximately 256 tiles..
veranda all around and there were upper
These were brought all the way from
floor rooms, balconies, portico, Venetian
Canton, China in 1763 and presented
blades, glazed panels, brick arches,
by Ezekiel Rabi, a rich merchant. The
terracotta pieces and exposed brick work
scene depicted on each tile is slightly
in various bonding patterns. Cast iron
different from the other. The cemetery
fences, stair balustrades and iron grills,
attached to the synagogue contains many
made in England, were used to complete
tomb stones with inscriptions in Hebrew
the bungalow architecture.
script. This synagogue has the unique
The Present Trend distinction of being the oldest synagogue
Post-independence architecture presents in the Commonwealth.
two diverse trends: one being the One of the two Black Jew’s synagogues

in Cochin is in Mattancherry, to the south Fort Kochi Juma Masjid (Calvathy

of the Paradesi Synagogue. There are two Mosque) is the contribution of Arabs who
granite slabs with Hebrew inscriptions on came to Cochin for trading—the name
its walls. Tomb stones with Hebrew Calvathy coming from the Arabic word
inscriptions are found in the cemetery ‘Halwath’ meaning open space. The open
attached to it. space here was originally used by the
Arabs for their prayers. Claimed to be built
The other Black Jew’s Synagogue, very
in 1384, it was reconstructed about 130
close to the Vaipicotta Seminary, has an
years ago. It is indicated in the mosque
important Hebrew record written on a
that the construction, which was started
granite slab in the year 1269 AD.
in the Hijara year 1291, was completed
The Parur Synagogue, probably within one year.
constructed in AD 1615, also preserves a
The Chembittapally Mosque site was
Hebrew record.
allotted by the Maharaja of Cochin. The
Mosques mosque got it’s name from the roof of
the main hall which is sheathed with
Cheraman Juma Masjid, resembling a
copper. It is said that the Jews of Cochin
Hindu temple, was built in 629 AD. This
donated the wood for it’s construction.
is the first mosque in India and the second
The mosque was reconstructed by Said
in the world where Juma prayers were
Maulana Bukhari Thangal who came from

Karvathy in the Hijara year 926. Kothamangalam and Kolenchery are all
examples of the early Christian institutions.
A notable specimen of the old Muslim
style, the beautiful Kanjiramittam Mosque The Mulanthuruthy Church built around
is said to have been erected over the 1225 and repaired in 1575 AD is one of
mortal remains of Shaikh Parid who spent the oldest Orthodox Syrian churches.
his last days here. The great Muslim saint, After the acts of vandalism against the
Baver is supposed to have prayed and Portuguese by the Dutch, the Catholics
attained eternal bliss here. were persuaded to establish their
The Karikode Mosque near Thodupuzha headquarters in the town of Vypeen.
conforms to the typical Islamic architecture Vypeen Church was built and dedicated
and is one of the oldest mosques in this to ‘Our Lady Of Hope’. The altar and the
area. old screen of the church are said to have
once belonged to the Church of St.
Churches Francis. The father memorial slab in the
Some of the earliest centres of Christian church at the foot of the main altar where
activity in Kerala were in Cochin and only Bishops are buried, indicates: ‘Poney
therefore, it has several old native and Guezlar the master ship builder of Cochin
European churches. for 12 years died in 1852’.
The churches of Parur and Malayattur are The Portuguese who were given
believed to be among the oldest Catholic permission by the Raja of Cochin to
churches. Njarakkal church, whose origins construct a fort built the old St. Cruz
can be traced to the pre-Portuguese Church in 1503 at the harbour mouth.
period is an old Romo-Syrian church. The The historic church Santa Cruz Basilica
Roman Catholic churches at built by the Portuguese, was elevated to a
Chennamangalam, Kanjur and Cathedral by Pope Paul the Fourth in
Udayamperoor, St. Theresa’s Convent at 1558. It was demolished in 1795 when it
Ernakulam, the church at Vallarpadom, fell into the hands of the British. About a
Orthodox Syrian churches at 100 years later, Bishop Dom Gomez
Ferreira commissioned a new building at
the same site in 1887. Pope John Paul
Second proclaimed the church a Basilica
in 1984.
Santo Antonio Church, now St. Francis
Church, is India’s oldest European built
church. A landmark of history and church
architecture of India, its date of
construction is not known. Probably it was
constructed in 1503. It owes its origin to
the Franciscan Friars who accompanied

the Portuguese expedition under Pedro largest number of lithic records of

Alvarez Gabral. Built of wood in the historical importance. The deity of the
beginning it was later rebuilt in stone, latter is invoked during the national festival
perhaps within the first few years of the Onam.
sixteenth century. It is a lofty edifice with a The Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple
gabled timber framed roof covered with contains paintings in oil colours on the
tiles. Facing the west, it has a semicircular walls of its vimana.
arched entrance and windows above. The
impressive façade is flanked on either side Temples of archaeological importance
by a stepped pinnacle. On the summit of also include Kunnathali Temple, Siva
the gable-front there is a bell-turret divided Temple at Uliyannur with its inscriptions,
into three compartments. Inside, the Pazhoor noted for it’s mural paintings and
chancel is divided from the nave by a plain woodcarvings, Thirumaradi and Durga
arched opening and two stepped Temples.
pinnacles crown the top of the chancel Gosripuram Cochin Thirumala
roof. Vasco Da Gama was buried here in Devaswom Temple is the premier
1524 though later his body was removed institution of the Gowda Saraswath
to Portugal. In 1663, the church passed Brahmins of Goan origin (locally called
to the hands of the Protestant Dutch who Konkinis or Chetties). Dedicated to Sri
restored it in 1779. After the British Venkateswara or Venkatachalapathy of
occupation of Cochin in 1795 it gradually Thirumala Hills and more than 4 centuries
became an Anglican church. At present old, it was established in the later half of
the Church of South India manages it. the 16th century. The site is said to be
allotted by the Raja of Cochin. Situated
Temples in a vast square area of about five and a
The main characteristics of the temples in half acres, the temple is noted for it’s
Cochin are the predominance of wood unique architecture. The pagoda type two
architecture decorated with ornamental storied northern gopurams, the ceilings
figures in wood, terracotta and carved of which are adorned with paintings of
stone. Puranic scenes and epics and the seventy
The Siva Temple at Ernakulam is 385 years feet high three-storied vimana shaped
old. The presiding deity of the temple is eastern gopuram testify to this. The
Lord Siva and according to a legend, sage prathista is on a five-layer throne with
Nagarishi installed the idol. It is one of Venkateswara and consorts Sreedevi and
the largest temples of the State. Bhoodevi on top while the Utsava Moorthy
is in the middle and the Utsava Lakshmi is
The Santhanagopalakrishnaswami or
at the lower layer. Salagramams are on
Sree Poornathrayeesa Temple,
the lowest layer. There are 4 sub-temples
Tripunithura and the Vishnu Temple at
or shrines inside the main temple
Thrikkakara are noted for their historical
premises, dedicated to Hanuman,
importance, the latter containing the
Garuda, Mahalakshmi and Vigneswara.

The six feet height idols of Hanuman and Tourism Development Corporation.
Garuda, a gigantic lingam dedicated to Hill Palace—the official residence of the
Siva, Papanasam temple tank on the erstwhile Cochin royal family—was built
northeast corner, paintings, woodcarvings, in 1865. Known as ‘Kunnummel Kottaram’
pagoda type gopuram, copper roofed in Malayalam, the palace is situated on a
Mani Mantapam, etc are the notable panoramic hill top. The complex consists
features. This temple contains one of the of 49 buildings in the traditional
biggest bronze bells in India. architectural style of Kerala and is
Devaresa Prabhu established Shri surrounded by a wide and expansive area
Venkatachalapathy Thirumala Temple in of nearly 52 acres of beautiful green
1727 AD. The main deity is Shri landscape. The northern block of the main
Venkatachalapathy. The deity was palace complex called the Hill Bungalow
originally the kuladevatha of Sri was designed by European architects and
Damodara Achari who migrated from was put up to perfection in 1898. The
Goa. The other deities are Mahalakshmi, central block which houses the Cabinet
Hanuman, Mahaganapathy, Garuda and Hall and the adjacent block were
Yakshi. completed by the Rama Varma Raja
(1895-1914). During his regime a unique
Palaces lift imported from England was installed.
Bolghatty Palace was built in 1744 by the The Hill Palace main building is a majestic
Dutch and was later taken over by the mansion with lofty columns and arches
British. Today it is a hotel run by the Kerala

showing the European influence. Though the palace we find another temple
in the earlier phase the inner ceiling was complex dedicated to Vishnu and Siva.
spanned with huge wooden beams, we On the western side of the palace there is
find imported iron beams from Britain in a large masonry tank for bathing. The
the later phase. Rare varieties of imported entire structural complex is enclosed by a
tiles were used for flooring in this complex high wall with entrances on the eastern
with wooden ceilings and staircases. and western sides. The upper storey of
Recently developed into one of the most the palace, with it’s covered porch
relevant Archaeological Museums of contains the spacious Coronation Hall,
Kerala, the palace complex contains an and is noted for it’s carved ceiling. It has,
Archaeological Museum, a Heritage however, no wall paintings. Dresses,
Museum, a Deer Park, a Pre-historic Park turbans and three palanquins belonging
and a Children’s Park. The Archaeological to the Cochin royal family are now
Museum has a rich variety of antique exhibited here. There are three large bed
exhibits. There are seventeen major chambers apart from other rooms. To the
categories. The Heritage Museum is west of the Coronation Hall is a bed
actually an ettukettu, a traditional chamber (palliyara) with low wooden
residential mansion of the upper strata of ceiling covered with murals executed in
early Kerala society. The palace grounds traditional style. There are forty to forty-
are a rare conservatory of indigenous and five scenes from the Ramayana. To the
exotic trees. south of the Coronation Hall we find the
staircase room (govinithalam) leading to
Mattancherry Palace, known also as the the bedchamber, meant for ladies, on the
Dutch Palace, is one of the oldest buildings lower floor. The lower floor is divided into
built by Europeans in India in a several small chambers with a spacious
predominantly oriental style. It was built dining hall and a kitchen on one side.
by the Portuguese in AD 1557 and Attached to the eastern wing of the palace
presented to the then ruler of Cochin, at the southern end, is a long portico with
Veera Kerala Varma. It was the seat of a secret opening to the courtyard outside
the royal house of Cochin for about two and with painted walls. To the north of
centuries. More than a hundred years the govinithalam is another room with only
later, in 1663 AD, the Dutch undertook one painting representing Vishnu as
repair and renovation of the palace. Vaikuntanatha of the Tripunithura temple.
It is a double storied quadrangular A spacious hall further north exhibits at
building divided into long and spacious present some of the paraphernalia of the
halls. It follows the plan of nalukettus (an royal house of Cochin, while the hall to
open courtyard surrounded by the the east contains some of their weapons,
building proper). In the centre is enshrined a swing and some furniture. The Dutch
the titulary deity of the royal family— Palace represents a peculiar blending of
Pazhayannur Bhagavathy. To the south of the European and indigenous ideas of

architecture and remains one of the main bungalow with it’s Portuguese, Dutch and
attractions in Cochin. local influences. Characteristic features
are the wood panelled roof, arched
doorways, carved doors and sprawling
Remains of forts built by the Portuguese rooms. Waterfront verandahs are an
and the Dutch can be seen at Pallippuram added attraction.
and Cochin. The former, a hexagonal
building known by the name of Ayakotta Bastion Bungalow, built in the Indo-
or Azhikotta, is perhaps one of the oldest European style in 1667, got it’s name
European structures extant in India. Made from it’s location on the site of Stromberg
of laterite blocks with a gateway built of Bastion of the old Dutch fort. The building
dressed granite, the main purpose of this blends beautifully into the circular structure
fort was to guard the entry into the of the bastion as a tiled roof and a typical
backwaters from the north. first floor verandah in wood along it’s front
portion. Though it has been said that a
The remains of forts built by Cochin rulers network of secret tunnels runs beneath the
can be seen at Chowwara and bungalow, none have been found. Today,
Tripunithura. The ruins of a cavalry outpost the bungalow is the official residence of
have been come across at Thrikkakunnu the Revenue Divisional Officer.
(near Irimpanam). In Muvattupuzha and
Ramamangalam are the ruins of a fortress Delta Study, once a warehouse, this
of the Vadakkumkoor Rajas. Ruins of an heritage building built in 1808, houses a
old fort can be seen at Karikode. high school today.

Fort Manuel, the bastion of the Portuguese The Old Harbour House, built in 1808,
in Cochin, was a symbol of the strategic is in the possession of Carrit Moran and
alliance between the Maharaja of Cochin Co., renowned tea brokers. It was once a
and the Monarch of Portugal, after whom boat club. Now it is used as a residence.
it was named. The foundation stone was Koder House, constructed by Samuel S.
laid on 27 September 1503. The fort was Koder of the Cochin Electric Company in
a square structure of 183 yards 1808, is a supreme example of Indo-
surrounded by a deep moat. Christened European architecture. Features like
as Manuel Kotta or Fort Manuel, it was verandah seats at the entrance, floor tiles
destroyed by the Dutch by 1806 and more in a chessboard pattern, carved wooden
completely by the British later though furniture, red coloured brick-like façade,
some of it’s remains can be seen today wooden bridge connecting separate
along the Fort Cochin Beach. structures across the street are all unique
to this bungalow.
Bungalows and Houses
Vasco House is one of the oldest
Pierce Leslie Bungalow, an office of M/s
Portuguese residences in Fort Cochin. It
Pierce Leslie and Co., coffee merchants
is believed to have been the residence of
founded in 1862 , is a representative of
Vasco Da Gama. Built in the early
the archetype Fort Cochin colonial

India Company. After

they left India, it
passed to the hands of
a prominent spice
trading family from
Mattancherry. In the
1900’s it became the
home to the
managers of the
National Bank of
India. In 1977 it was
acquired for
residential purposes
by the Ram Bahadur
Thakur Company, the
sixteenth century it is now in private
renowned tea trading firm. An intriguing
ownership as a residence. The chara
aspect of the structure is that it is perfectly
cteristic features are European glass-
symmetrical on both floors. Thakur
paned windows and balcony-cum-
House sports several trademarks of Dutch
architecture, with it’s wooden floors,
The Bishop’s House, built in 1506 as the spacious rooms and large bay windows
residence of the Portuguese Governor, that served significant strategic
stands on a little hillock near the Parade requirements at the time of it ’s
Ground. The facade of the house is construction. The secret tunnels beneath
characterised by large Gothic arches. The the house are supposed to lead to the
building was acquired by Don Jos Gomes St. Francis Church as well as to Bishop’s
Ferreira, the 27th Bishop of the Diocese House.
of Cochin whose jurisdiction extended
The tombstones in the Dutch Cemetery
over Burma , Malaya and Ceylon in
are the most authentic record of the
addition to India.
hundreds of Europeans who came here.
The graceful Thakur House holds within The cemetery was consecrated in 1724
itself a reflection of the colonial era. The and is today managed by the Church of
bungalow was built in the late 1700’s on South India.
the site of the Gelderland Bastion, one of
VOC Gate is a large wooden gate facing
the seven bastions of the old Dutch Fort.
the Parade Ground, with the monogram
Earlier known as Kunal or Hill Bungalow,
(VOC) of the once mighty Dutch East
it was built by the Dutch mainly as a club
India Company carved on it. It was built
and a community centre for the Dutch East
in 1740.

Folk Arts

Folk Arts
padayani and kalikettu in Kali temples.
Cochin does not have a folk culture of its
The powder for all the 5 colours–black,
own that could be separated from the folk
white, yellow, red and green– are taken
culture of Kerala. Folk arts of Kerala can
from natural substances like burnt chaff
be broadly classified as ritualistic and non-
(for black), rice (for white), brick (for red),
ritualistic and the former again into
leaves of kumkumam or vaka (for green)
devotional and magical. Devotional folk
and turmeric (for yellow). The practice of
arts like Theyyam, Kanyarkali, Kummatti
decorating the walls of temples, churches
etc. are performed to propitiate a
and palaces with beautiful paintings as a
particular God or Goddess and magical
tradition goes a long way back. In
folk arts like Pambinthullal,
mukhamezhuthu colours are applied on
Pooppadathullal, Kolamthullal etc. to win
the face in different ways for mudiyattom,
prosperity for a community or exorcise evil
theyyam, kalikettu etc. In meyyezhuthu the
spirits or to beget children. Non-ritualistic
chest and stomach of a performer are
folk arts can be divided into theatre arts,
painted in art forms like theyyam etc. Art
painting, architecture, sculpture etc. Folk
forms that employ mukhavarnam (mask)
drama, a part of theatre, is closely bound
are padayani, theyyam, thira etc.
to religious rituals. Folk dances are
performed by both men and women to Handicrafts
the accompaniment of songs, which are
The practice of decorating articles of daily
sung by the dancers themselves or
use and mouldings of pottery and metallic
occasionally by a group of musicians.
vessels have always been a passion for
Painting Malayalees. Traditional bronze lamps and
large bronze vessels called vattalam are
Intimately linked to religious rituals, folk
good examples of this tradition of folk
paintings are of 5 types: Kolamezhuthu,
Kalamezhuthu, Chumarchithramezhuthu
(murals), Mukha-mezhuthu, Dances
Mukhavarnangal (masks) and Kireedom
(headgear). Onam is celebrated in all Kanyarkali
homes by laying flower designs on the Kanyarkali (also known as Desathukali)
floor (pookkalam). Kolamezhuthu tradition is a fast moving, militant dance attuned
finds it’s vestiges in the kolams that are
drawn by Tamil Brahmins. They are
usually done using powder of a single
colour. Kalamezhuthu includes forms
like Kalamvaraykal, Aniyal etc. and uses
powders of 5 different hues. They are
relatively larger and it is a means of
propitiating Gods. Multicolour powder
designs of Goddess Kali are made in

to rhythmic devotional folk songs and evil spirits from homes. It is believed that
asuravadyas. It is said to be a ritual Pakkanar and his wife visit the houses.
offering in honour of Bhagavathy. The They dance in tune with the beat of
dances last for four days and are preceded different drums. Usually this art form is
by three days of Karivela and Vattakali. performed during Onam festival.
The programme for each day is known
by a different name; the first day ’s Oppana
Kanyarkali being called Erawakkali and Performed traditionally among the Muslim
the next three day’s items being known community in Kerala, this song and dance
as Aandikootu, Vallon and Malama programme is performed by females to
respectively. There are more than forty entertain the bride and by males to
‘steps’ or puratts for the four-day entertain the bridegroom. Harmonium,
programme. Though performed by Nairs, tabla and ganjra are the musical
Kanyarkali depicts the life of the Malayans, instruments used. The songs are based
one-time slaves and dependents of the on Mappilappattu.
feudal chieftains and jenmies of the
Malabar area in Kerala. The
accompanying folk songs also throw some Historically, Kurathis are Kerala’s gypsies
light on the ancient feudal relationships. who go about from place to place telling
Musical instruments like chenda, fortunes. In this dance called
maddalam, elathalam and chengala are Kurathiyattom, two Kurathis in the guise
used. The costumes are very colourful. of characters representing the wives of
Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva stage an
Aivarkali argument through songs about the
Literally meaning the play of the five sets, exploits of their respective husbands. The
this was a ritualistic art form performed in favourable point in one’s favour becomes
the temples. Also known as Pandavarkali the butt of ridicule at the other’s hands
or the play of the Pandavas, this is and while one praises profusely, the other
performed by Ezhava, Asari, Moosari, condemns sarcastically. This is interpreted
Karuvan, Thattan and Kallasari with fluent mime. The gestures, body
communities. The performers numbering swerves and footwork, show perfect co-
5 or more with their leader called ordination and rhythmic grace. After this
Kaliachan, after a ritualistic bath apply the Kuravan (male) enters and enact a
sandal paste over their foreheads and mock quarrel with the Kurathi. Maddalam,
perform beneath a decorated pandal with kaimani etc. are the instruments used.
a nilavilakku at the centre. Besides ponthi,
only elathalam is used for musical Thumpithullal
accompaniment. Usually performed by women in
connection with the Onam festival, all the
Pakkanaraattom girls dressed in Onakkodi (new clothes
This art form is performed to drive out received as a present for Onam) sit round

in a circle. At the centre of the circle sits beating of the sticks by men and the
the performer. The girls sing in chorus to clapping of the hands by women are
the rhythmic clapping of hands and perfectly synchronised with the steps that
occasional vociferations known as Kurava. they make and also with the rhythm of
The rhythm and the pitch of the clapping the songs.
and the songs rise to a feverish level when
the girl in the centre enters into a trance Thiyyattu
and begins to dance. Thiyyattu is a devotional offering
performed in Bhadrakali temples.
Kummi Thiyyattunnis alone are entitled to perform
Performed by women, the dancers move it. The theme is usually the killing of Darika
in a circle with hand gestures signifying by Bhadrakali. First the picture of
reaping and harvesting. One of the Bhadrakali (called Kalam) is drawn on the
women leads the singing while the rest floor, with five different coloured powders.
take up the refrain. Each performer A peedhom (seat) is placed in front, facing
renders a new line in turn and the dancing a traditional oil-lit lamp. Then, the dancer
stops when all get tired. In variations of in the costume and make-up of
the Kummi, in some areas men also Bhagavathy wearing a special headgear,
participate. Here, the men with small sticks pleated skirt and painted face dances
in their hands form a circle, inside which before the Kalam, to the accompaniment
the women stand in a smaller ring. The of devotional songs. A small sized chenda,

thimila and kaimani are the instruments gathers momentum. The group formations
used. Sometimes Thiyyattu is performed are many and varied. Every movement
before the deity Ayyappan by a set of keeps perfect time with the strokes of the
people known as Thiyyadi Nambiars. In sticks that the dancers hold in their hands.
the Ayyappan Thiyyattu the make-up and Unique for its footwork and the striking of
costume of the dancer is that of sticks that very closely resemble the
Nandikeswaran. movements of the sword and the shield in
ancient duels in Kerala, this dance is also
Bhootham Thullal known as Kampadikali and Koladikali or
This is ritual performed in connection with Kolkali.
Vela, Pooram, Thalappoli etc., which are
festivals in Keralam temples. Mannanmars Ammanattom
and, very rarely, Panars and Pulayas are Ammanam is a hollow metallic ball that
usually allowed to perform this dance. The contains numerous metal pieces inside.
concept is that the devil-aides Women perform the Ammanattom dance,
(Bhoothams) of Lord Shiva are coming to using four to twenty-four Ammanams that
see and enjoy the temple festival. Large are juggled. The jingling of the metal
headgear, protruding, unnaturally pieces in the Ammanams keeps time
rounded eyeballs, high ridged noses, perfectly with the rhythm of the Brahmani
protruding tongue, flowing back hair, songs sung by the performer.
pleated skirts and overcoats all conspire
to make the dancers appear completely Sarpam Thullal
supernatural. Each dancer has a girdle Sarpam Thullal is usually performed in the
of bells. Anklets are also attached to the courtyard of houses having snake shrines.
legs and each dancer holds a shield and It is a votive offering for family wealth and
club in his hands. happiness. Members of a community
called Pulluvar perform the dance. In the
Kolam Thullal first stage, the Pulluvan draws a Kolam
This is a ritual offering usually performed (picture) of two or more entwined snakes
to get rid of the troubles caused by evil- in the courtyard. An oil-lit traditional lamp
spirits. Here, a number of characters, with and one full measure (Nirapara) each of
hideous make-up and flat big head-gear paddy and rice are then placed in front
dance to the accompaniment of primitive of the Kolam. In the second stage, the
percussion instruments. The costumes of idol of the snake is brought out from the
the dancers are highly decorative and rich Kavu in a procession called Thalappoli. A
in colour and brilliance. This dance is not number of girls with their hair dressed up
accompanied by songs. like the hoods of snakes and reminiscent
of the legend of the Naga kanyakas are
Kampadavukali part of this procession. The idol is placed
This war dance is performed in circles and in the Kolam and the Poojari performs
the dancers utter wild war cries as it

ritual offerings while the girls sit in two there is kalamezhuthu, in which the form
rows on the side of the Kolam. The Poojari of the deity is drawn on the floor with the
then dances to the rhythmic beating of aid of five different coloured powders.
para and elathalam. All the while a Then, devotional songs are sung to the
Pulluvan and Pulluvathi will be singing accompaniment of nanduni, a musical
special devotional songs set to tune and instrument. After this the dancer known
rhythm by nanduni (a primitive type of as Velichappadu enters, wearing a red
veena) and kudam respectively. As the mundu, red scarf and a girdle of bells at
song gathers momentum the girls go into the waist, and a sword in hand. Slowly he
a trance and begin to dance, swaying their gets into a trance and executes vigorous
bodies slowly at first and steadily movements that are called idumkoorum
ascending in tempo. The dance finally chavittal.
erupts in a violent frenzy of rhythmic
fervour. Kavadiyattam
Kavadiyattam is mainly performed as a
Velichappadu Thullal votive offering in temples where the
This is a ritual dance common with presiding deity is Lord Subrahmanya. Here
Bhadrakalippattu, Ayyappanppattu and a number of dancers dressed in yellow or
Vettaykorumakanppattu. Usually the pink clothes and with ashes smeared all
members of the Kallathu kuruppanmar over the body carry ornate Kavadis on their
perform it. In the first stage of the dance shoulders and dance in a row to the

rhythmic music of instruments like udukku, perform stylised movements, through well-
chenda etc. Sometimes nadaswaram is defined steps. The instrumentalists repeat
also used the songs and put questions to the
characters. Some portions from the
Kolkali Ramayana form the theme of the play.
This art form is prevalent among Hindu Sometimes, portions from the
farmers. Both men and women Mahabharatha are also used. When
participate. The performers numbering 12 needed by the actors the accompanists
to 24 move in a circle, striking small sticks keep time with tiny cymbals (Kuzhithalam).
and keeping rhythm with special steps. The
circle expands and contracts as the dance Pallukali
progresses. The dance phases are In vogue in Palakkad District, the Pariah
Irunnukali, Thaduthukali, Thadakali, community performs this ritualistic art. An
Thaduthu thettikol, Orumanimuttu, artiste in the costume of Ganapathy is
Chavittichuttal, Churanjuchuttal, Chind followed by such characters as
etc. The accompanying music gradually panakkaran (a rich man), his servant, his
rises in pitch and the dance reaches its two wives, and a kolkaran (he is also the
climax. Sometimes it is performed on a comedian). The leader sings a song in
specially constructed wooden stage giving Kavu style. According to the meaning of
it the name Thattinmelkali. It is also called the song, those on the stage start acting
Kolukali, Koladi, Vettumthada etc. and singing the dialogues. Of the two
wives of the rich man, one turns informer
Poykkalukali against him. This and the misfortunes that
Also known as Marakkalattom, this is a follow upon this, form the core of the
stilt-dance performed in connection with theme. On account of the prayers of the
temple festivals. Theme songs are sung other wife it all ends happily. The male
in which the fight of the goddess Durga characters have costumes similar to those
on stilts against the Asuras who attacked of Kathakali. The female characters don
her in the guise of snakes, scorpions etc., mundu and randammundu.
are portrayed. The rhythm is kept by
percussion instruments. Paana
This is a ritual dance propitiating the
Thekkathiyum goddess Kali. Small temporary shrines are
Popular in Palakkad and Malappuram constructed and variously decorated. A
Districts this is a dance performed by the branch of the Pala tree is taken around
Panars whose profession is the making of the temple by about 10 to 12 persons
palm leaf umbrellas. Two dancers (one who dance all the way to the rhythm set
male and one female) and two percussion by percussion instruments and it is called
instrumentalists form a troupe. The Pala Piditham. The branch is then installed
characters sing, exchange dialogues and in the centre of the shrine as the deity and
the village leader performs pooja. Ten to

twelve persons dancing round the deity red scarf on the head and a red cloth at
with burning torches follow this. After this, the waist. Anklets are tied to the legs. The
songs are sung glorifying the victory of performer goes around the deity, dancing
Kali over Darika. The last part of the dance to the rhymes set by chenda, maddalam,
is Velichappadu thullal. thimila and elathalam. Then he gets onto
a one-wheeled platform over which is the
Ayyappan Vilakku pillar like Utholakam. There is a hook at
A miniature temple is constructed with one end of the Utholakam that is hooked
tender coconut fronds and banana plant into the back of the dancer. This end is
stem. Then songs are sung on the then raised up. Hooked to the Utholakam,
legendary fight between Ayyappan and the dancer is thus suspended in the air in
Vavar. In tune with the various rhymes and which posture he executes certain physical
rhythms of this devotional song, two feats and dance movements and the
dancers in the costume and make up of whole platform is taken around the temple
Ayyappan and Vavar perform with swords deity thrice. Sometimes the make-up of
and coconut fronds. The dancers execute the dancer will be in the shape of Garuda,
vigorous foot-movements. In the last the mythological bird, hence the dance is
stage, a huge fire called aazhi is lit and also called Garudan Thookkam.
the dancers jump into the burning embers
still dancing. Poothanum Tharayum
Vannanmar perform this in the northern
Thookkam region. When performed by the Parayas
This is a votive offering performed in elsewhere it is known also as Parayan
Bhagavathy temples. The costume of the Thira. It is usually presented during the
dancer is as in Velichappadu Thullal - a festivals in Bhagavathy temples. The
characters are the divine Bhoothams who
Kali during her
mission to slay the
demon Darika.
Symbolic of the
merrymaking of
the spirits after the
slaying of the
demon, this
dance is noted for
it’s colourful and
distinct costumes.

Performed by

women on the Thiruvathira day in the performers fake a sword battle while the
Malayalam month of Dhanu, during leader, called Asan, sings songs. The
Onam and other festive seasons, this musical accompaniment is restricted to
dance is believed to be the elathalam.
commemoration of Parvathi’s dance on
Siva’s birthday. Performed continuously for Mariamma Pooja
seven days prior to Thiruvathira, it is a It is mainly performed by Kumbharanmar
symmetric group dance around a (potters) in temples. There are 22
Nilavilakku. The dance has the lasya performers who take out an effigy of
element predominating except in parts of Mariamma (clan deity) along with a large
North Kerala where men also participate pot to the river. After taking a dip in the
and the thandava element is also brought river and dancing back to the pandal put
into play. The songs are in the Sopana up in front of the temple, the kumbham
style. carrier will flagellate himself with a whip.
After this, the invocation of the deity,
Mudiyettu subsequent possession and oracular
It is a ritualistic dance presented in utterances take place. Chenda, udukku
Bhadrakali temples. A Kolam of the and elathalam are used in this
Goddess in her most destructive moods performance that starts in the evening and
is created followed by rituals of drawing lasts till daybreak.
a Kalam, then prathistapooja,
thiriyuzhichil, thalappoli and kalam Darikavadham
maykal. The Kolam is then taken around It is the dance enactment of the slaying of
the temple to the accompaniment of Darika by Bhadrakali, performed by
percussion instruments and finally installed Parayas. There are at least 14 persons
in a suitable place. After a ritual called involved. Two Kalams are drawn inside the
aranguvazhthal the dance is enacted precincts of the temple, one each for
before the Kolam. There are at least Darika and Kali. After a pooja, two
sixteen performers in this dance, the theme persons dressed as Kali and Darika act
of which is the legendary victory of out the battle scene on the Kalam. Lord
Bhadrakali over Darika. Two types of Siva also appears, trying to save Darika
chenda and cymbals are the percussion but fails. Thappu, chenda and elathalam
instruments used. It is usually presented are used. The costumes are terrifying in
after dusk. effect with Kali’s red lips, red tongue and
Darika’s Kavacha and Kundala.
A martial art performed by Christians, Tholpavakoothu
Thiyyas and some other communities, this Also known as Pavakoothu (puppet play)
art can be traced to the ancient days of and Nizhalattam (shadow play), this
Kerala when Kalaripayattu was in vogue. ritualistic art form is prevalent in Palakkad.
This is a group dance in which 6 to 16 At least 4 persons are involved, usually

Pulayanmar. Deer skin made puppets are Pulikali

arranged behind a white screen Also known as Kaduvakali, in this art form,
representing four characters from the the dancers made up as tigers, enact
Ramayana. Behind these are placed bright being hunted by a game-hunter and
wick lamps that cause their shadows to preying on a goat etc. They present
fall on the screen. The puppets are made vigorous dances to the loud beating of
to dance along with songs sung from percussion instruments like udukku, thakil
Kamba Ramayanam. After each song, an etc.
entertaining description of the characters
is made. Parayanthira
This is a ritual dance performed before
Bhagavathy temple in connection with
Performed in certain parts of Palakkad, festivals. The concept is that the devil-
this art form is performed by Hindu aides of goddess Bhadrakali perform this
children of all castes who go around dance after the death of Darika. The
different houses dressed as Kummatti in costumes of the Thira are colourful and
garb made of grass, dry banana leaves captivating. The large headgears,
or paper. The leading character, protruding eyes, high-ridged noses,
Thallakummatti, with the mask of a very protruding tongues, flowing black hair
old woman is accompanied by other and the voluminous pleated skirts and
children dressed as Gods and Goddesses overcoats all make the dancers completely
of the Hindu pantheon. They sing and supernatural. The dance is usually
dance to the music of a small drum and performed by Parayas.

the raga swaras.
Music plays an important role in the lives
of Malayalees, be it folk, sacred Uniquely, in Sopana Sangeetham, the
(vaideeka), secular (laukeeka), or drama alapana treats every note of a raga as its
(natya) music. base (nila or padi), proceeds to its
immediate succeeding note and then
Sopana music, the traditional and most
descends to its nila. Also, unlike that of
typical music style of Kerala, literally
art music, the alapana is slow and tala
means music that is performed from the
bound. The usage of straight and sharp
sopana or the granite steps leading to the
notes of a raga and holding them for long
sanctum sanctorum of temples. And like
creates a feeling that there are more than
steps, it is a music that proceeds slowly in
the usual varieties of nishadas, gandharas,
an ascending and descending order of
etc. in Sopana Sangeetham. The choice

of gamakas and their application are also Dhruvacharitam, Harischandracharitam,

different. Sangeetha naishadham, Nallathankai,
Sopana Sangeetham is also marked by a
certain tremor that is heard with most of Chavittu natakam and other dramas, that
the swaras of a raga. A sudden break into had a different musical set-up, lead to the
various sancharas and phrases, emphasis growth of light music.
on jeevasthayam, limited range of ragas,
Harikatha Kalakshepam
musical forms and talas and restriction in
their renderings are also traits of this The strictly traditional, classical and
system. Starting from panchama, most of religious music of Harikatha Kalakshepam
the songs go down to adhara shadja or can be traced to the narrations of soothas,
up to tara shadja. Margi talas said to be chakiars etc. who presented the story of
prevalent before the advent of the 35 desi Gods and kings through acting, music
talas is followed in Sopana Sangeetham. and dance. With this exquisite form of the
The typical orchestra instruments used tauratrikam (denoting the harmonious
include chenda, edakka, chengala, blending of the three forms of art, viz.,
elathalam, maddalam, kuzhithalam, geetam (vocal music), vadyam
thimila, nanduni, maram, kombu, kuzhal, (instrumental music) and nrityam
villu, shangu etc. (dramatic dance) many aakhyanas,
harikathas, tarangams, etc. were specially
Classical Carnatic Music composed for it. Its modified modern
Classical Carnatic music in its present forms are kathakalakshepam and
form made it’s appearance in Kerala just kathaprasangam.
before the time of Swati Tirunal. It reached
Folk Music
its peak in productivity during his time,
when innumerable compositions were In addition to the classical tradition, there
composed, practised and popularised. But is a very rich folk song tradition. Songs
it declined after his death. A brief revival accompanied all the phases of agriculture
in the second quarter of the last century like sowing, weeding and harvest,
was short-lived. irrigating the fields, etc. Composers of
classical music were so attracted to such
Sangeetha Natakam songs that they also used them. For
Music of the dramatic arts can be traced example, Iraymman Thampi and
in the music of koothu, koodiyattom, Cherrusseri used the melodies of
ashtapadiattom, krishnanattam, kathakali traditional lullabies to write lyrics and the
etc. However, the music of sangeetha boat song melody was used by
natakams, as seen today, started with the Ramapurath Warier in the 18th century.
introduction of Tamil sangeetha natakams Music also played a significant role in most
and Malayalam sangeetha natakams festivals of Onam, Thiruvathira, Pooram,
inspired by them like Sadarama, etc. and special songs sung on occasions

of a girl’s attaining puberty, marriage, vadyam (temple instruments), neeti

pregnancy and even after death. Songs vadyam (instruments of justice), thullal
to ward off the evil eye and to help beget vadyam (instruments of Thullal dance),
children were also popular. kathakali vadyam etc. Grouped also as
chetty vadyam etc. from their point of their
Musical Instruments association with certain communities,
There are three classes of musical another classification treats them as
instruments. They are classical, traditional akamuzha, puramuzha. etc according to
(theatrical and ritualistic) and folk. Used their prominence in religious and social
solo or as accompanying instruments to ceremonies.
Carnatic music and classical dances, the Instruments are of different tol-varieties or
classical instruments include veena, avanadha (membrophonic), tula or
tampuru, gottuvadyam, flute, sushira (aerophonic), tata or tantri
nagaswaram, mridangam, ganjira, (chrodophonic) and talam or ghanam
ghatam, tavil etc. (idiophonic). There are also instruments
The folk instruments are the pulluvan made of wooden blocks (castanets) like
veena, pulluvan kudom, udukku, chapplam-katta, vadi, tadi, marakkayil,
tampattam, sooryappira, ampilivalayam ponti, netumkol, kurumkol, panamkol,
etc. that are used in non-Aryan temple mulakkol.
rituals, religious songs and dances, and Avanadha (membrophonic) instruments
social ceremonies. include bheri, patahom, edakka,
The traditional theatrical and ritualistic maddalam, thimila, karatika, kudomuzha,
musical instruments include chenda, mizhani, takka, para, damarukam,
chengala, maddalam, thimila, edakka, murasu, anakam, dundubhi, udukku,
maram etc. The traditional and folk chenda, nakra (nagara) kudukotti,
instruments, exceeding fifty in number, kathirikka, itumudi maram, pani, kidikitli,
have a number of sub-varieties according pambai saundi, kanappara, stani,
to their size, shape and prominence in pankitam, takunicham, kanvidu tumpoo,
temple rituals, melams and theatrical ghanam, tanka, rasadhvani, murasam,
presentations. Representing a direct and tattalam, tumpupaangi, chatakam,
unbroken tradition form the music in tattanicham, ekaksham, murajam,
Chilappathikaram epic, the instruments naleekam, antari, mulaveedu, jharjhara,
have been classified on the basis of their kotti, tudi, katum-tudi, tavil, challari, tappu
structure and scope in early Tamil and tumittam, dindimam, dhakka, perumpara,
Malayalam literature. In view of their utility tampuru, mridangam, ganjira tampattam,
they are also classified as veera vadyam panchamukha vadyam, edora, viranam,
(por-murasam or instruments of war), dholak, antari, tadari, nichaalam ,
nalikappara vadyam (kanaparai or time tudumai, adakkam, bhagam, viraleru,
announcing drums), preta vadyam uppangi and chandravalayam.
(instruments of funeral rites), kshetra Ghanam (idiophonic) includes kaimani,

kalmani, aramani, kudamani, kinnam, with both Aryan and non-Aryan

kaalchilampu, kaichilambu, ilattalam, worshipping centres, many of the
kuzhithalam, talam, chengala, inverted instruments are connected either with
chempu, kancham, bheri-mani, kamysam temple rituals and festivals or with temple
and ghanta. theatres.
Sushiram (aerophonic) includes Edakka, kurumkuzhal, itumudi, veeranam,
odakkuzhal, kurumkuzhal, pullamkuzhal, maram, elathalam, chenda, maddalam,
kombu, magudi, kahalam, sringam, titti, shuddha maddalam, toppi maddalam,
veena, murali, sanghu, nagaswaram, sanghu, thimila, kombu etc. are used in
mukha-veena, vangiyam, yekkalam, tuttiri, rituals like edakka pradakshinam,
sahanai, bhoori, tutti, tandu, sri-chihnam, vilakkacharam, sribhoota bali, kalasam,
yezhil, nauri, karna, cinam, sandhya-keli, poojakkottu etc. Instruments
bhullamukhom, sarppanadam, like nantuni, pulluvan veena, pulluvan
sarppamukham, nalikom. Tatam include kudom, udukku, tudi, tappu, viranam,
kinnaram, vilvadyam, pulluvan-veena, pambai, ampill valayam, soorya valayam,
pulluvan-kudam, nantuni, ravananki, kuzhal, ponti etc. are used in gandharvan
sarangi, veena, yel, pinaki, tanti, tantri, pattu, sarpam pattu, kalam pattu,
svarabat, tata, ghottu-vadyam, chala- theyyam, mudiyattom, sanghakkali,
veena, rudra-veena, tampuru, kinnari, velakali etc. While instruments like
sarod, rava, ravana-hastha, svaramandali, chenda, thimila, maddalam, kombu,
tumpu-vadyam etc. kuzhal, vil, edakka and others are used
These instruments, with a number of sub- for performances of panchavadyam,
varieties and combining with others to tayambaka, and chenda melam, koothu
function as misra vadyas, are frequently and patahom, mizhaavu, edakka, sanghu,
referred to in ancient classics like kuzhal etc. are used for koothu and
Chilappathikaram, Unnuneeli Sandesam, koodiyattom. Mridangam, talam,
Chandrotsavam and in the works of harmonium and maddalam are used for
Cherrusseri, Ezhuthachan, Nambiar and Thullal while chenda, chengala,
Karthika Tirunal. elathalam, maddalam, edakka, sanghu
etc. are used for Krishnanattam, Kathakali
Drums, with the maximum number of and Arjunanrittam.
varieties, stands foremost of these five
types of instruments followed by ghana Some of the leading ensembles include
or metals and then sushira or wind. Of ritualistic ones like edakka pradakshinam
very little significance and representation and vilakkacharam, and festive ones like
are the stringed instruments. kuzhal pattu and chenda melam.
Miscellaneous instruments include kudom, Panchavadyam has thimila, maddalam,
kalasam, niramelum-tunni, maddu, kombu, elathalam, edakka and sanghu,
kantha, jalam, musical pillars, mukha- all the four varieties of musical
veena, musical bronzes, stone instruments. While the minor group has
nagaswaram etc. Common and popular eleven thimilas, five maddalams, eleven

elathalams, eleven kombus, two edakkas songs and beating of drums. This is an
and one sanghu, the major set has fifteen adaptation of Koodiyattom based on
thimilas, eight maddalams, fifteen Christian themes, with some ingredients
elathalams, fifteen kombus, two or more of Western opera.
edakkas and one or more sanghus. It originated around the sixteenth and
Regarded as devavadyam, pancha seventeenth centuries, when foreign
vadyam starts with omkara, sounded Christian missionaries tried to adapt
through the sanghu. Panchavadyam is Christian religious themes to the local
presented in temple rituals. While conditions and develop a presentable
sandhya-keli is a part of the temple ritual theatrical form, which could be
vilakkacharam, kathakali keli is performed understood by the Malayalee audience.
before a Kathakali performance begins. It had its debut at Mattancherry where two
While the former ensemble consists of Tamil Christian scholars, Vedanayakam
elathalam, chengala and maddalam, Pillai and Chinnathampi Pillai, contributed
kooru vayikkal is the typicality of the much to it’s development in the formative
latter’s ensemble. stage.
Performing Arts While Kathakali is dependent on miming
Chavittu natakam and physical expressions, Chavittu
natakam depends on verbal acting with
A theatrical art, which developed under
more importance to the element of
the auspices of the Church in Kerala, the
drama. The dressing, which includes
Chavittu natakam, evolved as a Christian
western forms including helmet,
alternative to the Hindu Kathakali. The
breastplate, gloves etc., is simpler and
name originates from the rhythmic
only characters like Satan, dragons etc.
stamping (chavittu) on the wood stage
have elaborate forms of dressing similar
floor by the performers to the tune of
to Kari in Kathakali.

This musical drama, with songs in Tamil an unusually loud noise, not very pleasant
meter, is sung by the actors themselves. to the ears. In some churches there were
Music, vocal and instrumental has an Natakasalas or drama halls intended for
important place in this theatrical art. the staging of Chavittu natakam. With the
Chenda, maddalam, mridangam, development of modern drama forms this
nagaswaram, violin, harmonium and art form is losing its attraction to younger
band instruments were the musical generations.
instruments used for the orchestra. Flute
and fiddle are also used. There are sixteen Visual Arts
types of basic chuvadus (steps) with a Cochin Murals
number of variations like irattippu,
The Cochin Murals bear ‘traces of the
kalasam, idakkalasam and kavittam.
influence of Buddhist painting that links
Chavittu natakam has also a martial
the art of Keralam with that of Ajanta and
aspect as war scenes are an essential
Bagh.’ The palliyara or bedchamber in the
ingredient of the performance. Among the
Mattancherry Palace contains most of
stories presented by the Chavittu natakam
these murals. Painted above the wooden
troupes were those of Charlemagne,
mouldings on the walls, these scenes cover
Napoleon, the lives of Christian saints and
an area of more than 300 square feet.
the history of Christianity. Resembling the
The upper half of the walls was covered
miracle plays of the West, the costumes,
with puranic themes while the lower half
make-up, and stage settings show
had simple textile designs.
unmistakable traces of Western influence.
The great moments of Ramayana are
The stage in Chavittu natakam is an
depicted through more than 60 wall
unusually large one, 30 metres in length
paintings, from Dasaratha’s Putrakamesh-
and 9 metres in width, made by arranging
tiyagam till the re-entry of Seetha and Ram
a series of wooden planks. It is about 2.70
to Ayodhya. Dasaratha instructing
metres high from the floor and very often
Sumandra about the preparations for the
the Elizabethan type of double-storied
Putrakameshtiyagam forms the first picture
stage is put up. Sometimes, as many as
on the northern end of the eastern wall.
fifty actors appear in an action scene and
Fire God Agni with payasam in his hands
all of them have to be accommodated
appearing from the fire with Lord Maha
along with the members of the orchestra
Vishnu, and the wives of Dasaratha
on the stage. Therefore, the stage is not
receiving it are the other pictures. Among
provided with a curtain that covers the
Kausalya, Kaikeyi, Sumitra, the wives of
whole frontage. The specially improvised
Dasaratha, only Kaikeyi has been
wooden platform on which the play is
coloured with golden paint.
staged gives Chavittu natakam the
nickname Tattupolippan because the Child-birth scenes have been shown
actors used to stamp continuously with openly which makes us wonder whether it
their feet on the stage floor and produce is the influence of folk art. Several scenes

from the Ayodhya episodes is followed Siva as described in the Kumarasambhava

by scenes from Aranya, Sundara and of Kalidasa deserve special mention.
Yudha episodes. Contrary to tradition, Sri There are also paintings representing
Rama Patabhishekam is not portrayed. Mahalakshmi and Bhutanata,
The wall painters stylised not only the Kiratamurti, Coronation of Sri Rama, Siva
ornaments and figures but even the and Parvati, Ardhanareeswara and other
flowing blood as can be seen from the Goddesses, Vishnu as Anantha-
picture depicting Lakshmana cutting sayanamurti, Guruvayurappan, Krishna
Surpanaka’s nose and breasts. These lifting the Govardhan, Siva and Parvati
paintings have been attributed to about in Kailasa and Vishnu as Mohini playing
1600 AD. ball when Siva comes on the bull. These
Four other chambers in the upper and are said to be painted around 1700 AD.
lower storeys of the palace are also There are some unfinished pictures too.
decorated with mural paintings. Among According to tradition, the mural paintings
them the depiction of Vishnu as were executed by one Govindan
Vaikuntanatha and the story of Uma and Embranthiri of Narayana- mangalam.


Religions spread rapidly. During this period a new

Religious toleration being the hallmark of culture evolved based on the synthesis of
Keralam’s culture, we find all Indian Aryan and Dravidian cultures. This culture
religions like Hinduism, Jainism and was inextricably bound up with the
Buddhism and western religions like matrilineal system, the rise of the Nairs
Christianity, Judaism and Islam co-existing and the feudal system. It is believed that
in Cochin. In spite of the relatively low the majority of the Brahmins here are
proportion of Buddhists, Janis, Sikhs and those who migrated from south of
Jews to the total population of Cochin, Karnataka while the Namboodiris, who
their presence has lent colour and variety. are at the apex of the Hindu system, came
from the Krishna and Godavari river
Dravidian Religion regions. According to Elamkulam P.N.
The ancient Malayalees followed a Kunjan Pillai, the Namboodiris were the
Dravidian way of life. Their religion was a real rulers of Keralam from the 11 th
strong mixture of animism, totemism and century to the 16th century.
spiritual worship where totem Gods, spirits The triumph of Aryanisation was marked
inhabiting rivers, trees, and hills, many by their superior intellectual skill.
local deities, demons, ancestors etc. were Prabhakara, the great Mimamsaka,
worshipped. For example, Kottavai was a became the head of the school they
Dravidian Goddess worshipped with founded for the propagation of Vedantic
offerings of meat and toddy (fermented studies. Venerated as a guru, his
coconut tree sap) and the banyan tree was philosophy was known as Gurumata
considered the abode of God. philosophy. Hinduism further progressed
under Sankaracharya, the Advaita
philosopher and Hindu religious reformer.
Hinduism, a compromise between the His system had it’s roots deep in
pantheon of the Aryans and the Upanishadic teachings and advocated the
demonolatry of the Dravidians, forms the oneness of the individual soul with
religion of the largest majority of the Brahman, the all pervading cosmic force.
population in Cochin at present. It is It permitted the worship of God in different
believed that the advent of the Jains and forms. The Bhakti movement in the 8th and
Buddhists was followed by the Aryan 9th centuries led to spectacular progress
immigrants in the 3rd century BC. In the of Hinduism. From the 11th century to the
8 th century, Aryanisation reached it’s 18th century, dominance was established
climax with the arrival of a large batch of by Brahminical Hinduism with it’s
Brahmins. In the early years of the Kollam ceremonies, beliefs, witchcraft practices,
era, they poured into Keralam from traditions, superstitions, mythology etc.
Tulunad and exerted their influence in Their heroes became popular with the
different spheres of life. Saivite and masses and their idols were installed in
Vaishnavite sects gathered strength and temples. Villages and cities grew up
the religion and culture of the Aryans around the temples as economic, social,

political and cultural aspects of life were who settled down in Cranganore
intimately connected with the temples. (Kodungallur), probably around the 7th
Slowly non-Aryan deities were century AD. According to tradition, Mali
accommodated within the Hindu fold and Ibn Dinar the pioneer of Islam in Kerala,
non-Aryan religious practises were also established mosque at Cranganore and
absorbed. Aryan and Dravidian aspects later on in different parts of Kerala. It is
of this syncretised Hinduism is typified by believed that a group of Muslim
the two classes of temples: the ambalams merchants who were followers of Prophet
or Aryan institutions dedicated to the Mohammed on their way to Adam Mala
worship of Vishnu and Siva and their in Ceylon visited Cranganore, which was
consorts and incarnations, and the an important centre of trade. It is also
Dravidian kavus in which Kali, Ayyappan believed that Cheraman Perumal, the ruler
and other Gods and Goddesses are of Cranganore, accepted Islam and went
worshipped. Serpent worship, ancestor to Mecca and met Prophet Mohammed
worship and worship of animals and trees in the 57th year of his age. There were
are some of the features of Hinduism many marital alliances between these
prevalent in Cochin. Arabs and the natives as well as
Islam conversions to Islam. The Muslims in
Cochin are mainly the descendants or the
Islam was introduced to Keralam by Arab offspring of such inter-marriages or
merchants, the pioneers of the spice trade, conversions from the lower classes among

Hindus and are locally called

Jonaka Mappilas. There are
also a few immigrant Muslims
from north-west India. The
Gujarati and Kutchi Memons
and the Boras are two
important immigrant sects who
live mainly in Mattancherry.
The Ravuttans or Labbais
belonging to Tamilnadu,
Mohammedan immigrants
from the north including
Shaiks, Pathans, Sayyids,
Mughals and Hussains are the
other Muslims found in Cochin.
Almost all the Muslims are
Sunnis. They are engaged in
trade, cultivation, casual
labour, government services
and in the learned professions.
As among the Christians of
Cochin, there are survivals of
Hindu beliefs and customs
among Muslims also, such as
the worship of saints and belief
in magic and local

Christianity in Kerala is attributed to the around 68 AD, the accounts of Pantaenus,
visit of St. Thomas, one of the twelve the head of the Alexandrian school, who
Apostles of Jesus Christ, who landed at visited Kerala in 189 AD, the account of
Maliankara near Kodungallur in 52 AD. Cosmos Indicopleustes, a Byzantine monk
He preached the Gospel of his master, who visited Malabar in the 6th century AD,
first to the Jewish settlers in and around Marco Polo who visited Kerala towards
Cochin and then to the natives, some of the close of the 13th century etc. Prior to
whom converted to Christianity. He the arrival of Portuguese Christians who
established seven churches along the were Catholics, the St. Thomas Christians
Malabar coast. There are several were known as Syrian Christians (because
references to the early Christians here like they followed the Syriac (a dialect of
the Jewish traditional accounts dating to Aramaic) liturgy. The work of St. Francis

Xavier and the Synod of Diamper (1599) Other religious communities

played an important part in the Buddhists are a recent addition to the
subsequent Latinisation of the Church. population of Cochin due to the neo-
Buddhist movement of 1951-61. The
The Anglican Church came into existence
Sikhs, also a new addition, is another
in Kerala when the British missionaries
religious community represented in
broke their connection with Syrian
Cochin. They have a Gurudwara here and
Christian Bishops and Church. Syrian
an active community life.
Christian Church priests advocating
reforms like the replacement of Syriac by Various Immigrant Communities In
Malayalam, under the influence of the Cochin
missionaries, formed a new church known
as Marthoma Syrian Church.
Though the exact date of their migration
Cochin, which has the largest Christian to Keralam is not known, the Gujarathis
population in Kerala, has the following celebrated their 100th year in Cochin in
offshoots of Christianity. The Nestorian 1985. Presently, there are around 12,000
Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Gujarathis in this city. It is believed that
Jacobite Syrian or the Orthodox Syrian the Gujarathi migration started when
Church, the Anglican Church, Church of Mohammed Ghazni attacked Gujarat
South India and Marthoma Syrian Church. and took over Somnath Temple. Some
Jainism people left the Kutch region, where rainfall
was scanty.
Jainism entered the land of the Malayalees
sometime around 3rd century BC. In the Basically traders, they first migrated to
early centuries of the Christian era, there Bombay, then to Madras and finally settled
was not much opposition and the Jains in Keralam. They first reached Alleppey,
got royal patronage. The revival of which was the best known port in those
Hinduism in the beginning of the 9 th times. Afterwards, they spread themselves
century AD led to the decline of Jainism. to Kozhikode (Calicut) and Cochin.
The Saivites and the Vaishnavites headed Finally, Mattancherry in Cochin became
the struggle against Jainism. The history their main centre and today it has the
of many Hindu shrines that were largest Gujarathi population in Kerala.
transformed from Jain shrines is positive Initially they conducted business in spices,
evidence of the influence and spread of and later started diversifying their trade
Jainism in the state, e.g. the Jain shrine into other commodities also.
at Kallil near Perumbavur that is now a Around 13 sections of Gujarathis like
Hindu temple. Jain monasteries gave Lohana, Vaisya, Brahman, Jain, and Kutch
education to the poor and the homeless reside in Cochin. They have different
and they practised medicine out of charity. temples like Kuladevathakshethram for the
There are quite a few Jain families in Lohanas, Samoodirimatha for the Vaisyas,
Cochin. and Deravasa for the Jains.

cardamom etc. are some of the

products they deal with. Press,
mills, oil mills, tyre and soap
factories all complete their
business picture. Today they
have also started working in
banks and other companies.
Gujarathis have got an
important place in the art and
culture of Cochin. There are
two schools and one private
coaching college. There is no
better proof that they have
become a part of Cochin than
the fact that they learn
Malayalam as a second
language in their schools.

They are very fond of
celebrating festivals. Durgapuja
and Deepavali are their main
festivals. Garbha, their
traditional dance is an
important item during these
festivals. Dandiya-ras Dance,
which continues throughout the
night during Navrathri, is also
important. Marriage is another
occasion for celebration. After-
death ceremonies are also
It is said that sweets, celebration, bhakti important for a Gujarathi.
and trade give an entirety of a Gujarathi.
He cannot avoid these symbols, which Journalistic ventures
forms an important part of his life. Though the Gujarathis are known for their
There are businessmen, peons, clerks and trading skills, the community excelled in
officers among Gujarathis in Cochin. publishing many magazines. The paper
There are so many shops and factories of Keralapatrika published in Malayalam
Gujarathis’ in Mattancherry Bazaar and from Cochin in 1865 was the contribution
Jew Town. Pepper, chukku, turmeric, betel of Devji Bhimji. For a proper
nut, copra, coconut oil, tea, rubber, coir, understanding between the native

communities and the Gujarathis, Kamal were the first white and blue collar-
Jeshapara translated various Gujarathi working women in India. They worked
literature to Malayalam. He also mainly in the fields of nursing, teaching,
translated Malayalam to Gujarathi. It was military services, clerical and social
he who published the weekly Deepthi. services.
Nouka, Cochin Patrika, Dakshin Bharath Among the Portuguese, Dutch, German,
etc. were other publications of the Swiss, Italian and English ancestries, the
Gujarathis. The Mattancherry Municipal majority has Portuguese ancestry. Their
Chairman, Poppetlal Govardhan Lalen, main centres were Fort Kochi, Kollam,
was another prominent Gujarathi. Kannur, Cranganore etc.

Anglo Indians How they came into existence?

The history of Anglo-Indians is centred on It was common at that time to bring
Cochin. The Anglo-Indian nominees for Portuguese women by sea to India for
Cochin and later the Travancore-Cochin Portuguese men to marry. As this wasn’t
Legislative Assemblies were all from practical as many passed away enroute,
Cochin. At a time when women were Albuquerque, a prominent Portuguese
confined to the kitchen, Anglo-Indian ruler, asked the Portuguese men to marry
women became role models in society by Indian women with the promise of many
their social work. Anglo-Indian women favours like houses, land and trade

facilities. They started marrying people Tamil Brahmins engaged themselves in

from different castes. trade, money lending and agricultural
According to the treaty signed at the time pursuits. The poorer sections among them
of Portuguese surrender to the Dutch, they have engaged themselves in domestic
were allowed to continue living in their service.
colonies. But the Protestant Dutch couldn’t Locally called Konkinis, Gowda
tolerate the Catholic Portuguese and after Saraswaths are immigrants from Goa, the
suffering a lot at their hands, the Anglo- southernmost part of Konkan. They are
Indians left for other places like Kudukotti, also known as ‘Sasastikars’ as it is believed
Manjanakadu, Vypeenkara, Mulavukadu that they belonged to Sasasti (modern
etc. The Anglo-Indians of Cochin, Kollam, Salsete) in Goa. A branch of the
Aleppey and Kannur are their successors. Saraswath subdivision of Pancha Gowdas,
they took refuge in Cochin in the 16th
Post-Independence era century to escape religious persecution at
The post-independence period saw their the hands of the Portuguese in Goa.
conditions deteriorating. Educational During the time of the Dutch they were
backwardness and extravagance, under the protection of their East India
especially among the men, were its Company and later, after the overthrow
causes. Their patriotism was questioned of their power, were subject to the laws of
even though they fought for the country. Cochin. They are subdivided into four
Many of them migrated to Canada, grades, the Thattans or goldsmiths, the
Australia and Britain. Generally, while the Wannears or oil merchants, the Chetties,
women were highly educated, the men who are shroffs and general merchants
turned to blue jobs after basic education. and the Cudumis who pound rice and
Scarcity of educated men forced the perform inferior offices.
women to marry from other communities.
Speaking the Konkani dialect of Marathi,
Contributions they are found in Mattancherry, Palluruthy,
Ernakulam, Tripunithura, North Parur,
Immanuel Carniro translated the famous
Vypeen Island, Chennamangalam etc.
Hortus Malabaricus into Portuguese. John
They are Vaishnavites, being followers of
Gonsalves, the Anglo-Indian priest, was
Madhavacharya, and have rich and well-
the first to carve out Malayalam letters for
endowed temples, the Thirumala
printing. Pothigazler and his son
Devaswom temples in Mattancherry and
Cornialius belonging to Vypeen were
Ernakulam being the most important.
famous ship builders.
Observing the shodasakarma or the
Brahmin Communities sixteen rituals of a Brahmin’s life laid down
by Manu they strictly follow the customs
Tamil Brahmins are one of the most
and manners prescribed in the Vedas, the
influential of the non-indigenous
Brahmanas and the Upanishads. The
communities that migrated to Cochin.
Namboodiris and Tamil Brahmins did not
Holding a dominant position in public life,

important community in Mattancherry,

they have a temple of their own, the
Janardha Devaswom. They are petty
traders and gold and silver workers.
Kudumi Chetties are Konkani Sudras
noted for their capacity for hard and
sustained manual work.
Chetans or Divanga Chetties and
Kaikolans are weaving castes, the former,
immigrants from Mysore and speaking
Canarese and the latter from Coimbatore
with Tamil as their mother tongue. The
former, a more thriving community, has
some landholders and cultivators.

It is still not certain when exactly the Jews
arrived here. It is believed that they came
to Kerala during the time of King Solomon
in the 10 th century BC while another
treat them as their equals and hence did
tradition holds that they came here in the
not inter-dine or inter-marry with them.
6 th century BC to escape from the
By occupation they are mostly
Babylonian captivity of Nebuchednezzar.
businessmen, traders and shopkeepers
and have several religious shrines, cultural According to the tradition prevalent
and educational institutions. Having taken among the Cochin Jews, they made their
to the learned professions and callings in way to the Kerala coast soon after the
recent times, they form a prosperous destruction of the Second Temple of
community. Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD. They
settled at Muziris (modern Kodungallur).
Other Brahmin immigrants include the
Well received by the enlightened rulers of
Embrans from South Canara. Speaking
Keralam, they built synagogues and laid
Tulu they are employed mainly as priests
the foundations of a strong community
in temples. There are also a few Telugu
life. Under the Kulasekharas, they enjoyed
and Marathi Brahmins in Cochin.
several rights and privileges and the
Non-Brahmin Communities famous Jewish Copper Plate Grant of
1000 AD by the Chera emperor, Bhaskara
Among the non-Brahmin Paradesi
Ravi Varman, to the Jewish chieftain
communities, the Vaniyas deserve special
Joseph Rabban, is a standing monument
mention. They are Konkani Vaisyas who
of the religious toleration and goodwill
wear the sacred thread and resemble the
extended to them.
Gowda Saraswath Brahmins. An

Till the 15th century the Jews enjoyed a returned to Israel in 1948 with the birth
high status in society and established a of independent Israel. At present there
trading monopoly. In the 15th century they are less than members of the
had to flee Kodungallur to Cochin when community in Cochin.
the Moors attacked their settlements. The
The Cochin Jews were historically divided
Cochin Raja welcomed them and gave
into two major communities: the Black
them land and permitted them to build a
Jews, or Malabaris, who regard
town near his palace. This led to the rise
themselves as the descendants of the
of the Jew Town in Cochin in the beginning
original settlers, and the White Jews, or
of the 16th century. Paradesi Synagogue
Paradesis, descendants of immigrants
was built as their place of worship.
from various Middle East and European
The Jews led a relatively peaceful and countries. There are also a few Brown
prosperous life till the arrival of the Jews, or Meshuhurarum, who are
Portuguese who persecuted them. The descended from emancipated slaves.
Jews got solace only with the advent of They became spice merchants, business
the Dutch who followed a policy of owners and professionals and spoke
religious toleration. Under the British also, Malayalam as well as English.
they enjoyed freedom. Many of them


The Cochin Saga

The industrialisation in Kerala has taken berthed in the outer seas and cargo
place mainly around Cochin. The supplied by large barges. The critical
presence of a major port providing turning point was its transformation in to
effective port service is the dominant factor a modern Port with safe inner harbour.
that drives the economy of the region. The This development was conceptualised and
port’s linkages to different industries like implemented by one committed
Oil Refinery, Cashew, marine, Tourism and individual. A British Harbour Engineer,
shipbuilding are extending from their Sir Robert Bristow who braved many
genesis to progress. hassles, made sacrifices and single-
There is always a close relationship handedly spearheaded the execution of
between existence of a port and prospect the decade long ambitious project.
of regional economic development. The As the hinterland of Cochin port rich
responsible role of a Port as the with spices attracted more and more trade
determinant of economic development is from across the seas, the need to expand
justified only if it transforms at pace with the port was increasingly felt in the early
the changing demands of the trade it twentieth century. In response to the
supports. repeated collective appeals of the trading
The old Port of Cochin operated with ships fraternity, it was Lord Willingdon, then

harm on the environment was

beyond estimation. It could be
anything like the destruction
of Vypeen foreshore or the
destruction of the Vembanad
Sir Robert Bristow upon arrival
in Cochin collected all the data
on the experimental schemes
and plans drawn prior to his
arrival. He addressed the
Governor of Madras who arranged to immediate problem of erosion of the
bring a highly qualified Harbour Engineer Vypeen foreshore by building of rubble
to develop the Port. Mr. Robert Bristow granite groynes nearly parallel with the
who was chosen for the assignment was shores and overlapping each other. The
posted at Malta and engaged in the groynes first produced an automatic
maintenance of Souz Canal till then. reclamation which naturally protected the
Sir Bristow came to Cochin on 13 shore from the monsoon seas. Confident
April 1920. At that time Cochin was a at initial success Bristow planned out a
port where the ships were berthed detailed proposal of reclaiming a large
offshore with cargo loading and island and building a complete harbour
unloading being done using lighters. The with jetties, bridges and railway lines at a
ships were exposed to all the violent forces cost of 2.5 Crores. The plans included
of the open sea. Bristow foresaw that ports creation of a channel inside the harbour
which would take ships alongside the 6000ft long and another channel of
berths only would have future. When he 3000ft long cutting through the sand bar.
left in 1941 he had transformed Cochin The channels would be 150 feet wide.
as the safest harbour in the peninsula, The plans included the purchase of a
where ships berthed alongside the newly cutter suction dredger with 39’ pipe line
reclaimed inner harbour equipped with designed adequately to be a craft capable
a long array of steam cranes. of dredging through the bar. An ad-hoc
The challenge before the Engineers who committee appointed by the Madras
had studied the Port was a formidable government examined and approved the
bar of heavy and densely packed sand plans submitted by Robert Bristow.
across the harbour mouth that prevented The construction of a special dredger
the entry of ships requiring more than for Cochin ‘Lord Willington’ was
eight or nine feet of water. It was thought completed in England in 1925. It arrived
that the removal of sand bar was a here in May 1926. The dredger was
technical impossibility. Even if it is done, put to use for at least 20 hours a day for
the nature and the extent of the potential the next two years. The great work

demanded endless patience and bridge of the dredger ‘Lord Willingdon’

perseverance. As the dredger began the half an hour before noon on 30-March
ultimate challenge of encountering the 1928, to be in at the death – the cutting
bar, each item of the machinery was through of the last ridge of the bar. At
tested. Hair breadth escapes for men and noon the cut was finished. To celebrate
plant were regular. Bristow, relying largely the success, all the ships, tugs and barges
on his judgement made immediate assembled there ran up their flags and
technical solutions. He paid close blew their hooters in ecstasy. An excited
attention both to the designs and to the Bristow, in his book ‘Cochin Saga’ fondly
execution of works recalls the unexplainable magic of the
Bristow had always cared for the moment
local sentiments and beliefs. He had now “at this precise moment the sun,
cut open a channel and created a which had been obscured by cloud all the
reclamation that brought down the area morning suddenly shone through and
of the lake. While the sand bar was cut then close around it there appeared a
he knew that the existing equilibrium of firmly knit hallow of seven rainbow
the local environment was being colours, vivid and brilliant. Dramatic,
disturbed. He anticipated reactionary symbolic, unique, prophetic? It was all
developments. He knew it would effect of these to me, for I had never seen or
the Vypeen shore. He had been putting heard of such occurrence, and its
reinforcements on the Vypeen sea-walls appearance at this moment, of all others
so that the Vypeen foreshore is not taken reminded me of some old testament
over by the sea. On the noon of 30th stories”
March 1928, he came to the sand bar or On 26 May 1928, even before the
the last remains of it, that was to be inner channel was declared ready for
removed by the dredger to make the sand navigation, Steamer S.S ‘Padma’ coming
bar a part of history. Robert Bristow, his down from Bombay sailed calmly into the
engineers and staff gathered on the harbour against explicit signals from the
Port officer. She was
rewarded with the
amount of cargo
which could be
crammed into the
vessel without sinking
it. The modern Port
of Cochin was
opened to the world.
Bristow encountered
impediments on his

way to achievement of the mission. modern port of Cochin. When he was

Nobody considered that he would stay invited to speak on the BBC on 11-8-
on for 20 years. He was expected to 1935 in recognition of his successful
return once he comes to face the initial endeavour that changed the course of
hassles. Bristow had anticipated the the old port, his pride was reflected in his
challenges from the natural forces only. words
He had to resist the malicious opposition “I live on a large Island made from the
from the lobby of the lighter owners. He bottom of the sea. It is called Willingdon
met with the opposition from the influential Island, after the present Viceroy of India.
owners of waterfront, whose assets lost From the upper floor of my house, I look
value when the berthing was shifted to the down on the finest harbour in the East”.
new reclamation at Willingdon Island.
He received offers for employment from
the authorities of other South Indian ports. THE PORT TODAY
His affinity for Cochin made him spurn
The Port of Cochin has since made
more lucrative offers. While
commendable strides of progress keeping
recommending capital intensive plans he
pace with the modernization trends . The
was taking a huge risk upon himself
Port handles around 13.5 Million Tonnes
exposing himself to a high degree of
of cargo, with over 1100 vessels calling
accountability. Yet through a long saga
annually. The Port is venturing into
of ambition skill determination and
transhipment business with the setting up
perseverance, he had created the
of the International Container Terminal

at the Vallarpadam Island. It will the should generate a large number of export
India’s first transhipment terminal. This oriented units. The Petronet LNG
terminal itself should provide direct and Consortium is in the process of setting
indirect employment of over 20000 up and LNG Regasification plant at
accompanied with predictable economic Puthuvypeen . An International Golf
development to the region. Course is also coming up in the
Taking advantage of its strategic Vallarpadam Island. The Central
position, the Port is also setting up India’s Government is supporting the projects by
first Bunkering Terminal to provide fuel assisting in achieving Railway and
for the large number of vessels passing Highway connectivity. The entire projects
through the busy Maritime Highway in would comprehensively bring in at least
close proximity to the Port. A Cruise over 60000 employment in Cochin and
Terminal is coming up in Cochin to Suburbs among other direct and spill over
provide dedicated facilities for the positive economic impacts.
increasing number cruise vessel that are The timely completion of these projects
tempted to touch the highly promoted and realization of the consequential social
tourism friendly Kerala. The Special and economic benefits would be the ideal
Economic Zone that is being set up at memorial for Sir Robert Bristow.
the Puthuvypeen and Vallarpadam Island

The Economy Thanks to the efforts of Sir Robert Bristow,

Kochi is better known as the commercial who almost single-handedly managed the
capital of Kerala. The State’s commercial setting up of a port and the artificial island
activities are centered in and around this in the process.
city. Needless to say, Kochi gained
significance largely due to its
geographical positioning in the middle of The well designed port built in between
the narrow state. the twin towns of Kochi and Ernakulam,
the main land, is situated in a very strategic
Kochi is essentially a commercial city. point facing the Arabian Sea. There are
Although Kerala’s economy is two wharfs named Ernakulam and
predominantly an agricultural one, Mattancherry on the two sides of the
Kochi’s economy is centered on the Willingdon Island, the land created by
commercial activities. The agricultural filling the mud from the dredging process.
land is disappearing in an alarming rate Plenty of vessels visit berth at Cochin Port
from the city. Instead huge concrete round the year, majority of which are
structures and sky scrappers are emerging cargo vessels. More than ten thousand
on an every day basis in all parts. Kochi cargo containers are handled here every
now bears the face of a modern year, which is increasing in a tremendous
metropolis. pace. All the modern facilities of any
Travellers from across the seas reached efficient port are available here also.
here in search of spices and timber. The The setting up of the Port has opened the
enlightened erstwhile rulers of Cochin new avenues for export which generated
were cosmopolitan in their outlook and lot of employment and foreign money.
always cordial with the visitors. Their Another huge container terminal is
hospitality opened the city doors to various coming up in the opposite island of
cultures. Thus the modern Kochi is a Vallarpadam. The administration of the
magnificent blend of various sub-cultures. Port is carried out by a Trust consisting of
Temple, church, mosque and synagogue 17 Trustees.
coexist closely here and so also people
belonging to various religion, caste and Wellingdon Island is connected to the
creed. main land with bridges. The Island is
connected to the mainland by road and
The city’s economic life is on a fast gear rail. There are plenty of offices in the island
since the commissioning of the Cochin and few residential quarters for the port
Port. The flood of 1341AD washed out trust staff.
the erstwhile seaport of
Muziris(Craganore). But it became a The Headquarters of the Southern Naval
blessing for Kochi as this paved the way Command is also situated in the
for an ideal harbour, which later came to Wellingdon Island. A huge portion of the
known as the “Queen of Arabian Sea”. land is occupied by the Naval Base. The
Southern Naval Command, a major unit

of Indian Navy has been here since the Caprolactum, a petro-chemical

1930s. Most of the Indian Navy’s training substance used for the manufacture of
porgrammes are carried out in Kochi. The nylon is another important product of the
Navy which employs lot of personnel has FACT.
made significant contribution to the
cosmopolitan life of modern Kochi. COCHIN REFINERIES LIMITED
Fuel represents the lifeline of any
TRADE & INDUSTRY economy. Cochin Refineries Limited
The progress of industry and entered in the Industrial scene of Kochi
industrialization of Kerala is relatively slow since 1963, injecting new enthusiasm for
when compared to other states in the growth in petroleum and other related
country. Most of the major industries of products. Incorporated by Government of
the state are located in the border India, in collaboration with the Philips
townships of Kochi. Among them the trio, Petroleum Co. of USA, the CRL ranks
the FACT, Cochin Refineries and Cochin among the best refineries of the country.
Shipyard stands out because of their giant Apart from producing petrol and diesel
size in terms of investment, turnover and for automobiles, it produces Liquefied
employment generation. Petroleum Gas and kerosene for
households and industrial units, naphtha,
FERTILISERS AND CHEMICALS a major raw material for petrochemical
TRAVANCORE LIMITED and fertiliser industries, benzene, phenol
FACT is India’s first large scale fertilizer etc. With hundred per cent utilization of
plant. Set up in 1943 as a private its capacity, CRL’s annual turnover exceeds
enterprise, it started production of Rs.3000 Crores, the highest in the State.
Ammonium Sulphate in 1947. It became It contributes more than Rs.1000 Crores
a Kerala State Public Sector Enterprise to national exchequer by way of taxes and
since August 1960 and Government of dividend. CRL provides direct
India became the major shareholder since employment to more than 1600 people.
November 1962. FACT set up a
consultancy organisation FACT COCHIN SHIPYARD LIMITED
Engineering and Design Organisation COCHIN SHIPYARD LIMITED is
(FEDO) in July 1965. FACT Engineering considered one among the ten public
Works (FEW)another Engineering unit was sector-undertakings in India by
set up in April 1966 to fabricate and install continuously excelling in its activities of
fertilizer plants and cross country piping ship building and repairing. Launched in
and fabrication. 1976, the COCHIN SHIPYARD was a
longtime aspiration of the citizens of
Cochin Division of FACT, another
Cochin. The first vessel, a giant oil tanker
production unit was set up at
of 75000 tons “Rani Padmini” rolled out
Ambalamedu which was commissioned
of the dock on 28 th January, 1980.
in 1973.
Located in the heart of the city, Cochin

Shipyard has become a landmark of production, namely SEPZ, comprising of

Kochi. The credit of building the largest more than fifty production units. They
ships in India goes to Cochin shipyard. produce goods ranging from garments to
CSL has so far built a wide variety of software.
vessels including tankers, bulk-carriers,
The following export promotion councils
heavy engineering structures, tugs for
and commodity boards are also stationed
various ports of India, patrol vessels,
in Kochi:-
passenger-vessels and docking pontoons.
Nearly three thousand people are in direct Cochin Export promotion Council, Marine
employment of the Shipyard. Products Export Development Authority,
The other major industries in Kochi are Coir Board, Coconut Development
Travancore Cochin Chemicals, Indian Board, Rubber Board, Spice Board, Tea
Aluminium Co., Hindustan Organics Ltd., Board.
Appollo Tyres, Binani Zinc Limited,
Hindustan Machine Tools and Indian Rare
Earths. There are many other medium and There are three major trade associations
small scale industries in and around Kochi, 1. Cochin Chamber of Commerce &
inside and outside the industrial areas. Industry: The pioneer association of
Perhaps the first trading community of traders and industrialists of Kochi is nearly
Kerala emerged in Kochi. As mentioned 150 years old. It was established in 1857
elsewhere, the Portuguese, the Dutch, the by a group of European merchants. It is
Chinese and the British came here in a state level organization, locally
search of spices and timber etc. The controlled.
merchandise were traded at the harbour 2. Indian chamber of Commerce &
in Fort Cochin and were taken in smaller Industry: Started in 1912, this traders’
country crafts to the ships anchored away organisation caters to more than 400
from the shore. Hence the market industrial and trading houses of Kochi.
developed around Fort Cochin. Even now, Having its headquarters in Mattancherry
the biggest spices market is in the Jew and a branch in Willingdon Island, the
town of Kochi. But it is the seafood chamber plays a key role in the
products that now attract more overseas development of trade in Kochi.
traders to Kochi than anything else.
Plenty of firms are now engaged in the
3. Ernakulam Chamber of Commerce:
processing and exporting of seafood
This Association is an important traders
products. The headquarters of the Marine
association of Ernakulam since 1951,
Development Authority is also situated
making significant contribution for the
development of commercial activities of
There is an exclusive export processing the city.
zone for the promotion of export

Kerala has its own place in the realm of educational institutions like the SRV High
learning and Kochi is one of the most School and the Maharaja’s College .
literate regions in Kerala. There are many The Cochin University of Science and
educational institutions of repute in the Technology is one among the major
city. universities of India,with many
The first English school was established professional courses in a variety of
in Kochi in 1918 by Rev. Sawson in disciplines such as Management,
Mattancherry. The Christian missionaries Language, Law, Fisheries and Technology.
had a prominent role in furthering the There are many Libraries in all parts of
cause of education in Cochin. the city and the most prominent among
The erstwhile rulers of Kochi were very them is the Ernakulam Public Library,
keen in imparting education to its subjects. which is one of the oldest in the state.
They took an active role in establishing


Kochi Legislative Assembly was constituted Pandit Karuppan: The great social
for the first time in 1925 in response to reformer and member of the legislative
persistent demands from the public over council left his mark in the social life of
a decade. There were 45 members of the state.
whom 10 were officially nominated. Changampuzha Krishnapilla: The
Thottakkattu Madhaviamma became the evergreen romantic poet of Malayalam
first woman to be a member of any literature lived and penned his melodies
legislature in India. in Kochi. The Changampuzha Park at
Kochi was the first princely state to Edappally is a green and live monument
voluntarily join the Indian union. Post dedicated to the memory of the poet.
independence, Ikkanda Warrier became Kesary Balakrishna Pilla: The doyen of
the first Prime Minister of Kochi in 1948. Malayalam literary criticism and the one
K.P. Madhavan Nair, P.T Jacob, C.Achutha person who introduced many new ideas
Menon, Panampilly Govinda Menon were to the realm of thought of Malayalees was
few of the other stalwarts who were in the born in 1889 and died in 1960.
forefront of the democratic movements.
G. Sankarakurup: Winner of the first
Thiru-Kochi state came into being in 1949 Jnana Peetha award, the great poet of
and Paravur T.K Narayana Pillai was the Malayalam was a native of Kochi. A
first chief minister. The ultimate merger of memorial for him is coming up in the city
Travancore, Cochin and Malabar took centre.
place on 1 st November 1956 and a
unified Kerala became a reality. Ponjikara Raphi: The short story writer and
novelist had Cochin as the milieu of his
Personalities literary works.
Sahodaran Ayyappan: Vyloppilly Sreedhara
Even a brief note on Menon: He was yet
Cochin will be incomplete another son of Kochi
without a mention of the whose contribution to
social reformer and leader Malayalam literature will
Sahodaran Ayyappan. He be everlasting.
was one of the first to
dream of a bridge to Justice V.R. KrishnaIyer:
connect the Ernakulam- Retired Supreme Court
Vypin-Mulavukadu bridge Judge, Humanist and
and even managed to get Human Rights activist.
the proposal approved by K.J Yesudas: The “Gana
the Kochi assembly when Gandharva” of Kerala
he was the revenue was born, brought up
minister. and flew on the wings of
melody in Kochi.

The Cultural Background

It is not yet known when exactly man
started inhabiting this beautiful piece of
land now known as Cochin. However,
the material evidences, though sporadic
in nature, do suggest that this place
witnessed human inhabitation at least
from the Neolithic period. The
megalithic-Iron Age, a period
subsequent to the Neolithic in Kerala,
also witnessed intense human
occupational activities in this area as
the evidences envisage. Further
research has to be carried out in this
regard to ascertain the exact nature of
the man-environment interaction of
those distant past.
However, a well-documented history of
last two millenniums will tell us tales
about life on this beautiful landscape.
We do have literature from the West and
also from the East, mainly classical, to
authenticate this history. Material
evidences in the forms of Monuments,
Ceramics, Coins, Inscriptions, Icon and
Architecture do substantiate what is in
written form. In the context of history tales of eventful history to be told and the
and culture, the geographic extent of same is reflected in its rich cultural
Cochin covers besides the city of Cochin, heritage and traditions.
adjoining areas like Kodungallur, Paravur,
Records and monuments speak in
Chendamangalam, Tripunithura etc.
volumes about people who came to this
Time has brought in many changes to this land from various parts of the world and
land. Its natural landscape has been had trading and cultural relationship with
changed quite a bit over the years owing the people of this land. People from
to many natural and human factors. Its Greco-Roman world, Arabs, Jews,
cultural landscape has also been Chinese and other East Asians,
subjected to ‘changes’ and in the process Portuguese, Dutch, French and English,
has become a living repository of to name the most important among the
divergent culture and traditions. Every lot; and almost all of them had left their
nook and corner of this great land has mark on this land, irrespective of the

duration of their stay here. They are in and cultural groups co-exist even today,
the forms of structural monuments, coins, is marked by its rich customs, traditions
inscriptions, icons, texts, language and art and art forms. Cochin can be considered
forms. as a classical example of creating an
It is believed that the Greco-Romans came urban environment in which diversity
as early as in the first centuries of the becomes a source of strength rather than
Christian era and had very close of conflict.
relationship with this land for almost four Cochin has been the Chief Port of
to five centuries. It is believed that the Malabar for over centuries and it can
Arabs and Jews also had close tie-up with certainly attribute some links with Muziris,
the land during these periods. The one of the oldest and biggest port towns
Chinese and others from East Asia had of western coast of India. Centuries have
also started their interaction with the land rolled by since the arrival of ships laden
sooner or later. From the Medieval period with gold, glided slowly into the inner
onwards a strong presence of Chinese harbour, steering safely through the deep
was also visible. channel of the Vypeen River and anchored
Then the visible presence was that of the quietly in one of the finest natural harbours
Portuguese, starting from the 15th century. their wandering eyes had ever beheld, the
They built an ‘empire’ here and in the explorers who came in search of the exotic
process built buildings, forts, churches, Malabar spices.
houses etc. with an element of Portuguese Ernakulam was once the capital of the
in all of them. After some time the Dutch Kingdom of Cochin. The word ‘Cochin’
wrested the ‘empire’ from the Portuguese
and improved it considerably by giving a
touch of them to all those structures and
also by laying out streets and gardens.
The English in turn took it out of the hands
of the Dutch, but pulled down everything
their predecessors had taken so much
labour and expense to rear up, and all
but succeeded in putting back somewhat
to it’s old position of comparative
obscurity. Then there were people from
other parts of the subcontinent, who came
here at intervals and made Cochin their
permanent home. Gujaratis, Jains,
Konkanis, Punjabis, Tamils, Marathis,
Bengalis, Pathans, Kutchi Saits, to name
a few. This vibrant cultural landscape,
wherein almost sixteen different linguistic

derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Balapuri’. as the ‘Queen of Arabian Sea’, is redolent
It is stated in the ‘Kerala Mahalmyam’. in history. It is associated with a very old
‘Bala’ (small) ‘puri’ (town) thus became dynasty of kings known no less for the
Cochin in course of time. The other simplicity of their lives and the ancientness
version in this behalf according to Shri of their culture than for their boldness as
Achyutha Menon is that the word Cochin warriors and their efficiency as
is derived from the Chinese word ‘Conchi’ administrators. It is a tribute to the justice
which means the seat of the King. But and cosmopolitanism of these rulers that
according to the architect of Cochin Port, people of widely different castes and
R.D. Bristow, the Chinese traders gave the creeds have lived for centuries in happy
name to the place as Cochin; amity. Fort Cochin, Mattancherry and
remembering the name ‘Cochin’ China Ernakulam were the three Municipalities
of the present South Vietnam. which were in existence then in Cochin
The very name Cochin rightfully known

Malayalam Language and Literature

with particular refe-rence to Cochin
The youngest of the Dravidian languages,
Malayalam was known as Malabar Tamil
in the 16th and 17th centuries. It was only
in the 18th century that the language of
the people of Kerala came to be called
Malayalam. A mixed language of
Malayalam and Sanskrit known as
Manipravalam was the language in vogue
in earlier times. We see a pronounced
development towards an independent
language only after the 9th-10th centuries.
Malayalam developed a literary idiom of
its own only by the 16th century, though
its roots can be traced to the Sangam Age.
The magnificent literary tradition flowed
in two distinct streams, one popular and
the other elitist. Apart from this trend the
lively interactions with subcontinental and
with transnational trends and movements
has given it magnitude, variety, originality
and depth. The history of Malayalam
literature can be divided into 3 periods.
First a period of receding Tamil
Neelakanta, the author of the Malayalam
dominance and advancing Sanskrit
Champu, Thenkailanadhodayam.
influence, the next with Bhakti influence,
Balakavi, who wrote Ramavarmavilasam
the third with development of prose,
and Ratnakedudayam, and Narayana, the
spread of journalism and English
author of Rajaratnavaleeyam Champu
education that led to the birth of new forms
and Naishada Champu enjoyed the
such as fiction, drama, lyrics and literary
patronage of Kesava Rama Varma (1565-
1601). Melpathoor Narayana Bhattathiri
One of the earliest literary compositions who wrote Gosrinagaravarnana and
from Cochin is the Sukasandesa of Veera Keralaprasasthi, and
Lakshmidasa. It was only with the rise of Vedantacharya, the commentator of
Cochin to political prominence in the Kavyaprakasa were prominent scholars of
Portuguese period that literature and Cochin. Other works of this period
learning made progress. Cochin includes Pathapattu, which describes the
Maharaja’s of this period were liberal political developments in the
patrons of men of letters. Veera Kerala Perumpadappu Swarupam between
Varma (1537-65) was the patron of 1646-1670 and the Hortus Malabaricus

Ushaparinaya Champu and Bhaskara of

Mutukkurissi, the author of
Sringaraleelatilaka were all given
encouragement in the Cochin Court.
Other members of the Cochin Royal
Family who contributed to Malayalam
literature include Subhadra (1844-1921),
with works like Saubhadrastavam,
Bhagavatyastakam Yudhakandam Pana,
Rama Varma Appan Thampuran (1875-
1941) the editor of Rasika Ranjini, a
Malayalam magazine, and Rama Varma
with commentaries like Subhodini and
Bhavarthadipika and Sanskrit works like
Prahladacharita, Sukanyacharita,
Radhamadhava and stotras like
Gangastava and Purnanilayadurgastava.

Recent Works
K.P. Padmanabha Menon’s Kochi Rajya
Charitram and the History of Kerala are
monumental works. Known to the world
of letters as ‘Kesari’, A. Balakrishna Pillai’s
contributions to the literary world with his
short stories and translations are
remarkable. P. Kesavadev’s works like
compiled under the Dutch Governor Nati, Odayil Ninnu, Bhranthalayam, Oru
Henrick van Rheede. In the 19th century, rathri, Olakka and Ayalkkar depicts grim
considerable literary activity took place realities of social life. G. Sankara Kurup’s
under the patronage of the Kings of name is associated with symbolism and
Cochin. Rama Varma (1805-1809) wrote mysticism in Malayalam poetry. Among
a stotra in Sanskrit called Purnatrayisastuti his important works are Vilasalahari,
about the deity of the temple at Sahityakauthukam, Chengathirukal,
Tripunithara. His brother Kerala Varma Nimisham, Odakuzhal etc. and translation
(1809-28) wrote Purnatrayisasataka and of Gitanjali and Viswadarsanam. A
Dasavataraslokamala. Scholars like Arur notable poet of this region was K.P.
Madhava Atitiri (1765-1836) the author Karuppan (1885-1938), whose poems
of the Uttaranaishada, Krishnan Kartha had social justice as their theme. Paliath
of Cheranellur (1765-1845), the author Cheriya Kunjunni Achan (1881-1942) of
of Chitpuresastuti, Narayan Nambudiri of Chennamangalam was also a vigorous
Ilayedam (1770-1840) the author of the prose writer and poet. Edappally has given

birth to two of the most popular poets of Thottekat Ikkavu Amma like Subhadrar-
modern Malayalam Edappally Raghavan junam and T.C. Achyutha Menon’s
Pillai (1909-35) with Thushaharam, Naishdham have added to the already
Navasaurabham and Maninadam and rich literature. Such dramas as V.T.
Changampuzha Krishna Pillai (1913- Bhattatiripad’s Adukkalayilninnu
1948) with poems like Ramanan, Arangathekku, M.P. Bhattatiripad’s
Bhashpanjali, and Swararagasudha. Ritumathi and K. Damodaran’s Pattabakki
Vailopilli Sreedhara Menon is a poet of heralded a new era itself in Malayalam
considerable distinction. Vallathol drama. The first two mentioned brought
Narayana Menon (1878-1958), often to the stage the woes of the cloistered life
described as the poet of Indian led by Nambudiri women. The most
nationalism and freedom, wrote outstanding of the celebrities in the field
outstanding works like Badhiravilapam, of literary criticism in Malayalam are
Oru Katha, Kochu Sita, Magdalana Joseph Mundasseri and Kuttikrishna
Mariyum, Sahitya Manjari etc. Apart from Marar.
his original works, Vallathol also enriched
Malayalam literature with translations of Modern Period
the Valmiki Ramayana and the Rig Veda. Some of the important literary
Nalappat Narayana Menon has personalities of the modern period from
immortalised himself in Malayalam poetry this area are M. Leelavathy, Thomas
by his beautiful elegy, Kannunirthulli. The Mathew, M.K. Sanu (all of them critics),
poems of Kuttipurath Kesavan Nair Victor Leenus, Rajalakshmi, George
contain beautiful descriptions of the rural Joseph K., N.S. Madhavan, Sethu, T.R.
life of Kerala. Malayalam literature has Ramachandran, M.P. Narayana Pillai,
produced a number of other illustrious Radhakrishnan, Thomas Joseph etc. in the
poets who have won general acclaim, for field of story writing, and Balachandran
example K.K. Raja, Balamani Amma, Chullikad, V.M.Girija, Vijayalaksmi etc. in
Edasseri Govindan Nair, and P. the field of poetry.
Kunhiraman Nair etc. Dramas written by

Islands in Cochin
Mulavukad, Kadamakudi, Cheranellur, Bolgatty Island is opposite the boat jetty
Kumbalangi, Edakochi, Vallarpadam etc. at Ernakulam where the Bolgatty Palace,
are some of the islands that dot the built by the Dutch in 1744, and presently
backwaters in the Kanayannur-Cochin a Heritage Hotel stands.
Taluk. These islands, formed by the deposit
Gundu Island, barely 5 acres, is the
of alluvium brought down by the rivers
smallest island around Cochin. It was
during the monsoons, being low and
once used for the training of soldiers and
swampy favour the growth of coconut
manufacture of doormats from coir.
palms. Islands of Willingdon, Bolgatty and
Vypeen Island, lying north of Fort Cochin,
Gundu lie in the Cochin harbour.
has an old lighthouse and a 16th century
Willingdon Island, named after Lord Fort.
Willingdon, British Viceroy in India, is an
All these islands in Cochin, well connected
artificial Island of over 1000 acres. It
by ferry and some now by the new Gosri
forms the hub of all shipping, import and
bridges, are now major tourist attractions.
export activities and houses important
buildings like the Naval Airport, Customs
House, Government of India Tourist Office

Occupation people of Cochin. There are also a good

Agriculture forms the predominant number of artisans, including bell metal
occupation of the people. Natural workers.
advantages of numerous canals, large Most of these industries are pursued by
extent of backwaters and long forest tracts hereditary workers belonging to particular
provide occupation to fishermen, fish castes. For example, weaving is mostly
curers and dealers, boat- and barge-men, done by Chaliyans, Kaikolans and
wood cutters, sawyers, carpenters and Chetans while it is the Parayans and
collectors of forest produce. Industries of Vettuvans in the mat making industry. The
toddy tapping, oil pressing, coir making artisan caste consists of Marasaris
etc. give means of livelihood to a large (carpenters), Kallasaris (masons),
number of people. Many work as priests, Kuruvans (blacksmiths), Tattans (gold- and
temple servants etc. Cotton weaving is the silver-smiths), Musaris (braziers) and
only textile industry pursued in Cochin Tolkollans (leather workers).
which sometimes is combined with other
occupations like vending groceries, Trade is another activity of the people of
husking paddy etc. The manufacture of Cochin, both seaborne and inland.
yarns, ropes, rugs and mattings of coconut Cochin today is a busy place teeming with
fibre and grass, and baskets, oil pressing, professionals in various fields like
toddy tapping, arecanut processing, medicine, law, engineering etc. and
timber trade, manufacture of bricks and enterprising businessmen whose
tiles, rubber plantations etc. are the combined efforts give Cochin a prominent
various occupational activities of the place on the world map.


The very name Cochin rightfully known and Palluruthy and Vyttila in 1953. In
as the "Queen of Arabian Sea", is redolent 1952 the then Edappally Panchayat was
in history. It is associated with a very old bifurcated and thus formed a new
dynasty of kings known no less for the Panchayat - It was Vennala. Gundu Island
simplicity of- their lives and the ancientry and 'Ramanthuruth" were the parts of the
of their culture than for their boldness as Elamkunnapuzha Panchayat and the
warriors and their efficiency as "Thanthonni thuruth" was the part of
administrators. It is a tribute to the justice Mulavukad Panchayat.
and cosmopolitanism of these rulers that The idea behind the formation of Cochin
people of widely different castes and Corporation was first shaped in the
creeds have lived for centuries in happy Mattancherry Municipal Council. The
amity. Fort Cochin, Mattancherry and Council passed a resolution requesting
Ernakulam were the three Municipalities Government to form Cochin Corporation
which were in existence then in Cochin amalgamating the Municipalities of
area. Ernakulam, Mattancherry and Fort
Fort Cochin became a Municipality on Cochin. It was on the 9th July, 1960. This
the 1st of November 1866. resolution was sent to Govt. by the
The first election to the Fort Cochin Council. The then Fort Cochin Municipal
Municipal Council was conducted on the Council strongly opposed to the proposal
6th December 1883. The strength of the and declared that Fort Cochin was against
Council was 16. any such formation. The Ernakulam
Municipal Council at its meeting held on
In 1896 sanitary boards were formed the 2nd August, 1963 put forwarded a
separately for Mattancherry and proposal to form Cochin Corporation
Ernakulam by the Maharajah of Cochin amalgamating much more suburban
and thus local administration came into areas. Thus the Govt. in principle
existence in these places for the first time. approved the proposal of formation of
Funds for the functioning of the Boards Cochin Corporation and appointed the
were given by the Govt. The town councils then Director of Local Bodies, Major
at Mattancherry and Ernakulam were Balagangadhara Menon, as Special
formed as per the above regulation. In Officer for submitting a report in this
1956 the erstwhile Elamkulam Panchayat behalf. He conducted surveys and studies
and a portion of Cheranallur Panchayat and submitted his report to Govt. on the
(Pachalam - Vaduthala) were 1st July 1967 and the Kerala Assembly
amalgamated tip the Ernakulam approved the formation of Cochin
Municipality. Corporation. Govt. of Kerala notified the
In 1962 a portion of Palluruthy Panchayat formation of the Corporation of Cochin
(Mundamveli area) was amalgamated to by amalgamating the three ancient
the then Mattancherry Municipality. Municipalities of the state, viz. Ernakulam,
Edappally Panchayat was formed in 1946 Mattancherry and Fort Cochin and the

Willington Island and four Panchayats viz. committees constituted by the Council,
Palluruthy, Vennala, Vyttila and Edappally reception to the distinguished guests,
and the small islands of Gundu Deepu, public grievances etc. are attended to
Ramanthuruth having an area of 83.524 by this department. People's plan wing
sq. Km. The new born Corporation came (10th 5 year plan) and decentralisation
into existence on 1st November 1967. wing are also under the control of this
Administrative Set Up
(3) Engineering Department
According to the 2001 census, Cochin
Corporation has 650,000 residents. The It is headed by the Corporation
city’s estimated density in 1996 was Engineer having the status of Supt.
6,250 persons per square kilometre. The Engineer vested with powers of Chief
total area of the main part of the city is Engineer in respect of Corporation
94.88 works.
(4) Health Department
Main Office
Health Department is controlled by the
It is the Head Quarters of the
Corporation Health Officer, General
Corporation and is located in the
sanitation, prevention and control of
east zone at Park Avenue. The Offices
communicable diseases, prevention of
of the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Standing
food adulteration, mosquito control,
Committees and the secretary are
family planning, births and deaths
functioning in it. The following
registration, maternity and child
departments are also housed here.
welfare activities, licencing and control
(1) Personal Department & General of D. & 0. trades, etc. are dealt with
Administration by this department.
This department is under the control of (5) Revenue Department
the Personal Assistant to the Secretary,
The Revenue Officer is the head of this
general establishment, record, store,
Department. All revenue matters
marriage registration, town hall
related to the Corporation are dealt
reservation and other general
with in this office. The Corporation
administrative matters are dealt with in
treasury is under the control of the
this department. Establishment matters
Revenue Officer.
related to the regular establishment
employees are also dealt with in this (6) Town Planning Department
department. It is headed by the Town Planning
(2) Council Section Officer having the grade of the
Executive Engineer. Enforcement of
The Secretary to Council is the head of
the provisions of Building Rules,
this Section. All matters relating to the
encroachments, dangerous structures,
Council, standing committees, and sub

detailed Town Planning Schemes, etc. their problems connected with the
are attended to by this Department. Corporation.
(7) Accounts Department Janaseva Kendram is functioning under
Accounts Officer is the head of this the direct control of the Secretary and the
Department who is the financial advisor implementation Committee consists of
and internal auditor of the Corporation. the representatives of the service
All payments, preparation of daily, organisations and other selected
monthly and annual accounts, audit members of staff. The Committee
objection clearance, etc.are managed regulates the function of the enquiry
by this Department. counter by pointing out the defects and
its remedial measures.
In addition to the above departments
office of the Deputy Director of Local (9) ZONAL OFFICES
Fund Audit, Deputy Health Officer, Vital Fort Cochin, Mattancherry, Palluruthy,
Statistics are also functioning in the Edappally, Pachalam (Vaduthala), Vyttila
Central Office. a n d
(8) Janaseva Kendram Central.

The general public who call at the (10) MATERNITY AND CHILD WELFARE
Corporation Main Office is received at CENTRES
the "Janaseva Kendram" where all the 1. Edacochin 2. Moolamkuzhy
enquiries of the public are responded 3. Pandikudy 4. Thevara
well by the staff members specially posted 5. Elarnkulam 6. Thammanam
at the Counter. Here the public are well 7. Kaloor 8. Edappally
treated. Complaints in respect of non
burning of street lights etc. lodged at the All the above centres are functioning
counter are registered and appropriate under the control and supervision of the
and immediate remedial measures taken Lady Medical Officer.
on each case. Application forms, chalan Functions of Standing Committees in the
forms etc. are being issued at the counter Corporation of Cochin
itself. All applications, petitions,
1. The Standing Committee for
representations etc. are received at the
Counter and the receipt of the same are
acknowledged. Applications for birth (i) supervise the utilization of budget
and death certificates are dealt with by grants and watch carefully the timely
a special team of staff at the counter for assessment and collection of taxes, fees,
speedy action, as such things are urgently rents and other sums due to the
needed by the public. In short, the public Corporation;
can expect a good guidance from the (ii) inspect frequently the accounts of
counter, as to what is to be done to solve Corporation;

(iii) watch carefully the release of grants development plants of the Corporation
from the Government and its proper integrating the proposal of other Standing
utilization; Committees;
(iv) conduct monthly audit of accounts and III. The Standing Committee for Welfare
check the monthly demand, collection and deal with matters of Welfare of women
balance and abstract of receipts and and children, development of Scheduled
expenditure of the preceding month as Caste and Scheduled Tribe, Social
furnished by the Secretary; Welfare, Social Security Pension and
Financial Assistance, Slum improvement
(v) may, subject to such rules as may be
and Public distribution system;
prescribed, write off the sums due to the
Council as appears to the Committee as IV. The Standing Committee for Health
irrecoverable; and Education deal with matters of public
health and health services, sanitation,
(vi) scrutinise the annual accounts,
education and sports;
demands, collection and balance;
V. The Standing Committee for Works deal
(vii) prepare and present the budget
with matters of public works, housing,
estimate before the Council under Section
electricity, water supply, drainage and
(viii) verify whether any amount proposed
VI. The Standing Committee for Town-
to be expended by the Corporation is
Planning deal with matters of town
within the budget provisions approved by
planning including regulation of building
the Council and whether there is sufficient
constructions, environment, urban
fund for this purpose;
beautification, promotion of art and
(ix) enquire into the allegations against culture and preservation of monuments
the employees of the Corporation if and places and buildings of archaic
directed by the Council and bring the importance; heritage value and natural
result of it to the notice of the Council; beauty;
II. The Standing Committee for VII. The Standing Committee for Appeal
development deal with matters of dispose of appeals on taxation and give
agriculture, soil conservation, social directions to the Secretary to levy tax in
forestry, animal husbandry, dairy respect of cases which escaped
development, minor irrigation, fisheries, assessment and to reassess under valued
small scale industries, co-operation, cases.
institutional finance and prepare the

Mayors of Cochin

K. K. Somasundara
C. M. Dinesh Mani 01.02.1992 – 31.01. 1994
04.10.1995 – 2000

K. A. Ummer K. J. Sohan
01.02.1991 – 31.01.1992 01.02.1990 – 31.01.1991

C. A. Madhavan T. M. Muhammed
01.02.1989 – 31.01.1990 01.02.1988 – 31.01.1989

K. Balachandran
03.10.1979 – 02.10.1980 Mathew Paily
01.10.1983 – 30.09.1984 04.10.1982 – 30.09.1983

Mayors of Cochin

K. S. N. Menon E. K. Narayanan
03.10.1981 – 03.10.1982 03.10.1980 – 02.10.1981

Jacob Pallath A. K. Seshadri

14.06.1979 – 01.10.1979 31.12.1975 – 14.06.1979

K. M. Hamsakunju A. C. Jose
30.06.1973-31.12.1975 02.06.1972 – 30.06.1973

A. A. Kochunni
T. M. Aboo
02.06.1969 – 04.06.1971
04.06.1971 – 02.06.1972



Cochin, the Queen of the Arabian Sea, has a vibrant cultural past. This
place witnessed the inhabitation of man at least from Neolithic period
onwards. A well documented history of two millenniums will tell us tales
about the intense human occupational activities on this beautiful
landscape. Time has brought in many changes to this land. Its natural
and cultural landscapes have been changed and in the process has
become a living repository of divergent culture and traditions. Though
the Corporation of Cochin has been very earnest in the efforts of
preservation of the cultural heritage of Cochin, for various reasons a
holistic, approach for themanagement of the cultural heritage of Cochin
has not been evolved so far.
It is this realization that led the Corporation of Cochin to establish the
(CSCHC) an institution committed to espouse the cause of the rich and
vibrant cultural heritage of Cochin. The primary objective of the centre
is to develop an integrated approach for the preservation of the cultural
heritage of Cochin for the enrichment and education of present and
future generation. The centre seeks to develop, apply and make available
appropriate methodology for the preservation of cultural heritage through
research, training, field work and exchange of information. The centre
would provide leadership in engaging policy makers, business leaders,
educators and interested citizens in preservation efforts.
The Centre seeks to develop and disseminate necessary knowledge
concerning values, use and conservation of cultural heritage: It will ensure
that Cultural Heritage considerations are taken into account in all
planning processes. In a nutshell, this newly established centre envisages
playing a catalyst role in the preservation, conservation and management
of the cultural heritage of Cochin.

Printed and published by

C. M. Dinesh Mani, Mayor, Corporation of Cochin
for Centre for Studies in Culture and Heritage of Cochin