A 292-year-old piece of Travancore’s history lies in a house at Suchindram

A 292-year-old piece of history of erstwhile Travancore has been lying in a corner of a house in Suchindram in Kanniyakumari district.

The rectangular stone slab used as a bed by Ramayyan Dalava, the Dewan of Travancore, after destroying the houses of Yogakkar, the administrators of the Suchindram Thanumalayaswamy temple, is still preserved in the house known as Thekkuman Madam.

Late historian K.K. Pillai, the author of the monograph, The Suchindram Temple, had recorded that the incident took place in 1729.

The stone is five feet long and three feet wide. “Our ancestors preserved it inside our ancient house before shifting it to the southern region of the present house around 70 years ago,” said Pradeep Neelakantaru, the scion of the Thekkumun Madam family.

According to K. K. Pillai, the desire of Marthanda Varma, the architect of modern Trvancore, to weaken the excessive power of the Yogakkar of the great temple coupled with his eagerness to suppress corruption rampant among them and to enhance the revenue of the government had resulted in the confrontation.

The occasion had come when the King was camping in Krishnankoil. He had conveyed his intention of visiting the temple that night to Uranmaikkar (Yogakkar). But they had conducted the pooja earlier than the regular timings and closed the temple’s door before the arrival of Marthanda Varma.

A. K. Perumal, the author of a book on the temple in Tamil, said Marthanda Varma became furious after hearing the news and ordered demolition of the houses of Yogakkar before noon the next day.

Ramayyan Dalava, who was commissioned with the task, set out the next morning with his troops. “But the Uranmaikkar escaped before the arrival of the royal forces. Ramayyan Dalava and the troops demolished the houses of all Yogakkars, except the Thekkumun Madam,” Mr Perumal said.

The Thekkumun Madam family had left behind an old woman.

K. K. Pillai had explained the popular version of the incident corroborated by the petition of the Thekkumun Potri to the King.

“Tired after their exertions, Ramayyan and his men finally reached Thekkumun Madam. The woman, however, was all kindness and solicitude for the party, and offered them food, which they readily partook. Reluctant to harm the house that afforded hospitality, Ramayyan spared the Thekkuman Madam,” K. K. Pillai had said.

Making a special reference to the stone slab, K. K. Pillai had recorded that “It is believed that Ramayyan Dalava had stretched himself on this slab, after partaking of the gruel (kanji) which was offered by the lady.”

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