(Last Updated on : 12-12-2015)
History of Alappuzha District
unfolds its wonderful past. The present Allepey town owes its existence to the sagacious Diwan Raja Kesavadas in the second half of 18th century. Kuttanad, the rice bowl of Kerala with the endless stretch of paddy fields, small streams and canals with lush green coconut palms, was well known even from the early periods of the Sangam age. Alappuzha had trade relations with ancient Greece and Rome back in the middle Ages.
Alappuzha District was formerly connected with Kottayam and Kollam districts, but on 17th of August, 1957, alleppey was formed as an individual district. And later it was adapted as 'Alappuzha'. The area transferred from the former Alappuzha district to Pathanamthitta district is Thiruvalla taluk as a whole and part of Chengannur and Mavelikkara Taluks. Thus the present Alappuzha district comprises of six taluks namely Cherthala, Ambalapuzha, Kuttanad, Karthikappllly, Chengannur and Mavelikkara.
The history of the Alappuzha District in the Paleolithic age is not that much known to anyone. It is presumed that the coastal taluks of Cherthala. Ambalapuzha and Karthikappally might have been under water and these areas were formed afterwards by the accumulation of silt and sand than the other parts of the district. In the early periods of the Sangam age, there was a well-known place called Kuttanad. The early Cheras, who had their home in Kuttanad were called 'Kuttuvans' named after this place.
The literary works like "Unninili Sandesam" give some insight into the ancient period of this district. Christianity had a strong foothold in this district even from the 1st century A.D. The church located at Kokkomangalam or Kokkothamangalam was one of the seven churches founded by St.Thomas who was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ. It is believed that he landed at Maliankara in Muziris Port, presently known as Kodungallur in 52 A.D and preached Christianity in South India. The district flourished in the field of religion and culture under the second Chera Empire during 9th to 12th century AD.
During16th century small princedoms like Kayamkulam which is presently known as Karthikappally and Mavelikkara taluks, Purakkad which was often called Ambalappuzha or Chempakasseri but presently known as Ambalappuzha and Kuttanad taluk and Karappuram comprising of two lands, called Moothedath and Iledath presently known as Cherthala Taluk emerged into power. In the political scene of the district, the Portugese came into prominence at that period. Christianity became popular and they built several churches all over the districts of which Churches located at Purakkad and Arthungal are well known.
The kingdom of Chempakasseri was at its zenith during the reign of Pooradam Thirunal Devanarayana. He was a great scholar and the author of 'Vedantha Retnamala', which was a commentary on the first verse of Bhagavat Geetha. It is said that Sreekrishna Swami temple at Ambalappuzha was constructed at that time where the idol of Lord Krishna was installed religiously. It is believed that Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri, Sri Neelakanta Deekshithar and Sri Kumaran Namboothiri were some of the eminent scholars who patronized his court.
In the 17th century the Portuguese power declined and the Dutch had a predominant position in the principalities of this district. They built so many factories and warehouses in various places of it for storing pepper, ginger because of the fact that several treaties were signed between the Dutch and the Rajas of Purakkad, Kayamkulam and Karappuram. In course of time they also derived in the political and cultural affairs of the district. At that time Maharaja Marthandavarma, who was the 'Maker of modern Travancore' intervened in the political affairs of those princedoms.
The scenario, which, was made with the annexation of the Kingdoms of Kayamkulam, Ambalappuzha, Thekkumkur, Vadakkumkur and Karappuram to travancore, gave the Dutch a setback from the political scene of the district. Marthandavarma Maharaja had a remarkable role in the internal progress of the district. He also gave special attention to the development of Mavelikkara as an administrative as well as a commercial centre. During this period the Krishnapuram plalace, was constructed which is now a protected monument of the State Archaeology department. The great and talented poet Kunjan Nambiar was placed in the court at Trivandrum at that time.
The district was improved by all means during the reign of Dharmaraja. The then Diwan of Travancore Raja Kesava Das, popularly known as the 'Maker of modern Alleppey' made Alappuzha a premier port town of Travancore.
He constructed several roads and canals to improve communications and built warehouses. He also gave all facilities to merchants and traders from far and wide. He is the chief architect of Alapuzha town. He found Alappuzha to be a perfect location for a port. Two parallel canals were constructed for bringing goods to the port. He also offered infrastructural facilities to merchants and traders from Surat, Mumbai and Kachchh in order to start industrial enterprises, trading and cargo centres. During the reign of Balaramavarma Maharaja, Velu Thampi Dalava took keen interest in the development of the town and port. He promoted coconut cultivation in the whole area of the island Pathiramanal and paddy cultivation on the large tracts.
In the 19th century the district arrived at progress in all spheres. One of the five subordinate courts opened in the state in connection with the reorganization of the judicial system by Colonel Munro. This was located at Mavelikkara. The first post office and first telegraph office in the former Travancore state was established in this district. The first manufacturing factory for the coir mats was also established here in 1859. In 1894 the town Improvement Committee was set up.
Alappuzha District played a prominent role in the freedom struggle of the country. The historic struggles of Punnapra and Vayalar in 1946 constrained the attitude of the people against Sir C.P.Ramaswamy Iyer, who was Diwan of Travancore. This ultimately led to his exit from the political scene of Travancore. A popular Ministry was formed in Travancore on 24th March 1948 after India's independence, and on 1st July 1949 Travancore and Cochin states were integrated.