(Last Updated on : 05/11/2014)
Marthanda Varma (1706-1758) is considered as the "founder of Kingdom of Travancore" who belonged to the feudal kingdom of Venad. Marthanda Varma was crowned in his twenties. He suppressed the feudal lords, defeated the local kingdoms of Attingal, Kollam (Desinganad), Kayamkulam, Kottarakara (Ilayidathu Swaroopam), Pandalam, Ambalapuzha, Kottayam, Changanassery, Meenachil, Karappuram and Alangad. He also fought numerous battles against the Dutch and the kingdom of Cochin. In the Battle of Colachel (1741), Marthanda Varma's army defeated the Dutch East India Company. He also defeated the Zamorin of Calicut in a battle at Purakkad. Ramayyan Dalawa was the Prime Minister (1737-1756) of Marthanda Varma who played an important role in the consolidation and expansion.
Marthanda Varma was born in 1706 to the junior queen of Attingal. He was an intelligent lad. On his advice Raja Rama Varma signed a treaty with the Madurai
Nayaks which helped them secured a foreign force in the country to check the activities of the Ettuveetil Pillamar and other rebellious chieftains. Prior to this he also signed a treaty with the English that made him the "Prince of Neyatinkara" in 1723 which angered the eight Lords thus bent upon murdering the prince. Marthanda Varma had to flee the capital for the safety of the northern states. He was travelling from one place to another in order to escape his enemies.
Military career of Marthanda Varma
Marthanda Varma was a shrewd tactician and an able general as well. He was ably assisted by Ramayyan Dalawa in his military campaigns. In 1731 he defeated Quilon that was ruled by a branch of the Venad family and was made to sign a document allowing the annexation of his kingdom by Marthanda Varma after his death. Marthanda Varma next turned his attention towards Kayamkulam. In 1734, several battles were fought against Kayamkulam and Quilon without any crucial effect. In the final battle the king of Kayamkulam was killed and succeeded by his brother. In 1734, Marthanda Verma annexed the Kottarakara kingdom.
One of the most decisive wars was the Battle of Colachel (1741) that resulted in complete disappearance of Dutch from Kerala
. Kayamkulam was annexed by a final war in which the king fled to the Kingdom of Cochin. Thereafter Ambalapuzha, Kottayam and Changanassery were also annexed to Travancore by 1753. Meenachil principality was also annexed. In 1755, the Zamorin of Calicut was also defeated at a battle in Purakkad. He was supported by the armies of other local kings and this made all the Kings of Kerala face down before the power of Marthanda Varma.
Reforms were brought in the revenue system, budgetary system and public works by Marthanda Verma. The Padmanabhaswami temple
was renovated and ceremonies such Murajapam, Bhadra Deepam were introduced by him. He also instituted a new knighthood for his loyal Nair officers known as Chempakaraman Pillai. The Kingdom of Travancore was dedicated to the Lord Sri Padmanabhaswamy ad Marthanda Verma ruled the kingdom as the servant of that deity.
He also paid special attention regarding agriculture of the kingdom. Nanjil Nadu was considered the granary of Kerala as it had extensive cultivation of paddy. The fertility of this area was due to the irrigation facilities introduced by him. New canals were dug during his rule, single crop paddy fields became double crop fields under the rule of Marthanda Verma. Pallikondan Dam, Chattuputhoor Dam, Sabari Dam,Kumari Dam and Chozhanthitta Dam were constructed on the River Pazhayaru in the vicinity of Nagercoil, by him and are operational. Puthan Dam that was built by him near Padmanabhapuram, provided drinking water to that region.
The demise of Ramayyan Dalawa in 1756 saddened Marthanda Varma. His health started deteriorating since then and he died two years later in 1758. He was succeeded in 1758 by his nephew Maharajah Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma Dharma Raja.