Travancore royal family

The Travancore royal family was the ruling house of the Kingdom of Travancore. They lost their ruling rights in 1949 when Travancore merged with India and their remaining privileges were abolished in 1971. The family are descended from the Ay/Venad family, Cheras, Pandyas and Cholas. The ruler in that bloodline was Maharaja Sree Moolam Thirunal, as the family of Maharaja Chithira Thirunal and successors.

House of Travancore
CoA Travancore 1893.png
Parent houseChera dynasty
FounderMarthanda Varma
TitlesMaharaja of Travancore

The royal family is alternatively known as the Kupaka Swaroopam, Thripappur Swaroopam, Venad Swaroopam, Vanchi Swaroopam etc. It has its seat today at Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, India. The last ruling Maharajah of Travancore was Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, died on 20 July 1991 after a stroke. Sree Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma, the younger brother of the last ruling monarch of the Kingdom of Travancore, Maharajah Chitra Thirunal Rama Varma, died at a private hospital in the early hours on 16 December 2013. He was succeeded by Sree Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma, son of Maharani Karthika Thirunal Lakshmi Bayi and Lt. Col. Goda Varma G. V. Raja.[1]

History and legends of the dynastyEdit

Installation of Bhanu Vicrama as King of Kerala by Parashurama

The family descends from ancient Kings.[2] The first recorded inscription of the Venad chiefdom that later became Travancore is in the copper-plate grants of land and privileges on Jewish & Christian tradesmen.[3] The grants were made by the rulers of Kerala, the Perumal Viceroys of South Indian Kingdoms of the East Coast who were deputed to rule Kerala and witnessed by Nair Chiefs[4] including the Chief of Venad.[5]

In the beginning, when aristocratic lineages rose to power,[6] as in the case of small group broken away from its earlier tharavad through conquest.[6] When they acquired office, these groups seem to have severed ties with their former lineages and clans and to have conferred on themselves, a higher ritual rank as independent castes.[6] These myths are likely to have been created to add to the aura of the dynasty.

According to existing myths, the founding members of the Travancore royal family[7] are said to have come to Kerala, from the banks of the Narmada river. Another claim is that Parashurama himself crowned the first official ruler in the dynasty although there is no evidence of this person historically. There is a claim that their history can be traced back to 820 C.E, which is based on the claim of descent from the Later Cheras of the three southern Indian Mandala Kingdoms namely Chera Mandalam, Pandya Mandalam and Chola Mandalam. According to another legend, a branch of the Chera family was sent to the extreme north of the Kerala region, where they settled and came to be known as the Mooshika royal family, or the later Kolathiris, while another branch was deputed to go south to grapple with the Pandyan invasions. One of the two branches of the Chera dynasty shifted to Venad / Quilon where it merged with the Ay kingdom. Sangramadhira Ravivarman Kulaśēkhara (1266–1314) was the most famed ruler of this Chera Ay dynasty.Numerous places are named after this Chera-Ay dynasty. Ravi Varman invaded the territories of the Pandyas and Cholas and performed imperial coronations at Madurai and Kanchipuram and thus threw off the Pandyan hegemony in the region.[8] However his success was short lived and after him his successors could not hold on to these acquisitions of the Pandyas and Cholas. Sangramadhira Ravivarman Kulaśēkhara adopted two princesses from the related Kolathiri dynasty called Attingal and Kunnumel Ranis in 1305 C.E. The line of kings after Ravi Varman followed the Marumakkathayam law of matrilineal succession.[9] The royal family continued thus in the female line. Whenever there were no females to take forth the line, princesses were adopted from the Kolathiri family, the latest adoption being in 1994.[10] Umayamma Rani who reigned towards the end of the 17th century was a prominent ruler. Marthanda Varma, the "maker of modern Travancore" and Dharma Raja were powerful rulers who re-established the power of monarchy in the state and destroyed that of the nobles. By the early 19th century the kingdom became a princely state under the British. The British government accorded the Maharajah of Travancore a high 19 gun salute outside Travancore, whereas locally and for all temple festivals, the highest salute of 21 guns were fired.Swathi Thirunal was one of the most popular rulers of the 19th century. He made contributions both in the field of administration as well as music. The reign of Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma brought about revolutionary reforms like the Temple Entry Proclamation, Free and Compulsory education for all etc. He was referred to as the Father of Travancore industrialization by A. Sreedhara Menon. V. P. Menon in his book stated that, under Chithira Thirunal's reign, Travancore had become the second most prosperous Princely State in the British Empire.[11][12][13]

Merger of AttingalEdit

The women of the family were popularly referred to as Attingal Queens. Attingal was also considered as the ancestral homes of Travancore royals. Historians like V. Nagam Ayya, A. Sreedhara Menon etc. say that Attingal was never a separate Kingdom but the estates and provinces given to the royal women by the male head of the family (King). As the Kings of Travancore were the sons of Attingal Queens, the latter were held in high respect by the royal family as well as the public. This respect and high status led to the wrong notion that Attingal Queens were once sovereigns which was further compounded by the writings of many foreign historians and travellers. Even if they had any power, it was taken away by Maharajah Sree Anizham Thirunal Veerabaala Marthanda Varma. Many Attingal Queens misused their status and signed potentially dangerous treaties with foreign forces, without even consulting with the reigning Travancore Kings. Maharajah Sree Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma, anticipating the threat to the Kingdom's security, removed the powers of the Attingal Queens permanently and brought them under the complete control of the King. Thus, the Attingal Queens lost all private rights in the family properties, their power limited to the role of just a supervisor of such properties.[14][15]

Kerala historian, Prof. A. Sreedhara Menon wrote: "Early in his reign Marthanda Varma assumed direct control over the so-called Attingal 'Queendom.' This was not an annexation or conquest, but "the amalgamation of Travancore with Attingal." The theory that the Ranis of Attingal exercised sovereign powers is incorrect. The fact is that in political matters, the Ranis exercised no sovereign rights. Any grant of rights over immovable property by the Ranis required the King's previous assent or subsequent confirmation for its validity. The so-called Queendom of Attingal had its origin in the 5th century when two Princesses were adopted into the Venad family and the revenues from certain estates in and around Attingal were assigned to them. Since then, the female members of the ruling family of Travancore had come to be known as Attingal Ranis. It was only the male children of these Tamburatties who could inherit the throne. When Marthanda Varma decided to assume direct control over the estates of Attingal, he was not interfering in the affairs of a sovereign State. As the head of the royal family and the ruler of the State, he had every right to interfere in the affairs of a part of his kingdom. The Rani had neither territory nor subjects. What she possessed was nothing more than the control over the revenues of the estates, powers she exercised were delegated to her by the sovereign of the State."[15][16]

Thrippadidaanam and Sree PadmanabhadasaEdit

Padmanabhaswamy Temple dedicated to the patron deity of the family
Maharaja Marthanda Varma making over the Kingdom To Padmanabha Swamy

Maharajah Sree Anizham Thirunal dedicated the Kingdom of Travancore to his family deity Sri Padmanabhaswamy in 1750 January 3 and after that he was referred to as Sree Padmanabhadasa Vanchipaala Maharajah Sree Anizham Thirunal Veerabaala Marthanda Varma Kulasekharaperumal. The Kings of Travancore, taking the title of "Sree Padmanabhadasa," ruled the kingdom as the servant of that deity. This important donation of the Kingdom to the Temple was known as "Thripadidaanam."[17] Travancore as a whole, thus became the property of Sri Padmanabhaswamy, the deity of the Travancore royal family or in other words "God's Own Country."[18] It is erroneously believed that use of the title "Sree Padmanabhadasa" before royal male members' names came into being after Thrippadidaanam, but this title was in use even in the 16th century. During the first birthday ceremony of Maharajah Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma (Dharmaraja) in 1725, he is referred to as "Sree Padmanabhadasa" which was much before the Thrippadidaanam (1750) by Maharajah Anizham Thirunal Veerabaala Marthanda Varma. The title of "Sree Padmanabhadasa" is prefixed to the name of every Travancore King while the royal women are "Sree Padmanabhasevinis." In order to get the eligibility for attaining the title of "Sree Padmanabhadasa," certain rituals must be completed at the birth of new royal male members. On the first birthday of every royal male members would be put on the 'Ottakkalmandapam' of the Sree Padmanabhaswami Temple and holy water from the temple will be sprinkled on the baby and only after completion of this ceremony, the royal child is proclaimed as "Sree Padmanabhadasa." The female members also have a ritual called "Padiyettam" which is conducted only after their "Pallikettu" (wedding of Travancore Princesses and Queens). Only those male and female members who complete these ceremonies are allowed in the temple affairs and are also provided respect as well as the titles associated with temple as well as the royal family.'[19][20]


Maharani Bharani Thirunal Lakshmi Bayi was adopted from the related Kolathiri royal family

The females of the royal family are styled as the "Queens of Attingal" with the titles of Attingal Mootha Thampurati (Senior Queen of Attingal) and Attingal Elaya Thampurati (Junior Queen of Attingal) and Attingal Kochu Thampurati (First Princess of Attingal).[21] The first adoption to the Travancore royal family was in the early 14th century from the Kolathiri family because the Kolathiris are considered a sister dynasty by the Travancore Royalty.[22] This adoption resulted in the branching of the royal family into four families namely the branch at Trivandrum, another at Kottarakara known as Elayadathu Swaroopam, the Peraka Thavazhi branch of Nedumangad and the Quilon branch. The later two branches died out into the 18th century whereas the last Rani of Kottarakara fled after battle with Maharajah Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma.[23] In 1630 two males were adopted from the Cochin royal family[24] sowing the seed of dissension between the branches of the royal family. Later in 1684 one male and two females were adopted from the Kolathiri family, from which family all subsequent adoptions were made, by Umayamma Rani.[25] In 1688 two males, including Rajah Rama Varma, and 2 females were adopted and the famous Travancore King Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma was born to one of these princesses.[26] In 1718 a princess was adopted, whose son was the later King Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma Dharma Raja. In 1748 again four princesses were adopted and Balarama Varma (1798–1810) belonged to this line.[27] The next adoption of 1788 brought forth the famous Maharanis, Gowri Lakshmi Bayi and Gowri Parvati Bayi and all the male rulers up to 1924, the last ruler in this line being Maharajah Moolam Thirunal.[28]

In 1857 two princesses, including Rani Lakshmi Bayi, were adopted from a branch of the Kolathiri family residing at Mavelikara since the 1790s, but by 1901 both these princesses and all their issue died.[29] These adoptions were against the Travancore laws of succession [30] Harper Collins, India 2016. </ref> In 1900 again two princesses were again adopted from Mavelikara, granddaughters of Raja Ravi Varma, Sethu Lakshmi Bayi and Sethu Parvathi Bayi (gave birth to the last ruling monarch of Travancore, Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma).[31] The latest adoption occurred in 1994 by Princess Aswathi Thirunal Gowri Lakshmi Bayi who adopted a princess named Lekha Parvathi Bayi.[32] She currently travels between India and abroad.

Titles and precedenceEdit

All members of the ruling family receive two names — an official personal name, and a name associated with the 'star' or 'Thirunal' under which they are born (e.g.: Maharajah Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma).

Aayilyam Thirunal Maharani Gowri Lakshmi Bayi – The only Queen of Travancore to have ruled the kingdom in her own right.
Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma – The last ruling Maharajah of Travancore
  • The senior most male or the Valiya Thampuran is the head of the royal family, born in the female line, to a Queen of Attingal, becomes King with the title of Sree Padmanabhadasa Vanchi Paala (Personal Name) Varma Kulasekhara Perumal Kiritapathi Manney Sultan Maharajah Raja Ramaraja Bahadur, Shamsher Jang, Maharajah of Travancore.
  • The Heir Apparent is known as the Maharajkumar (personal name) Varma, Eliya Raja of Travancore.
  • The senior most female of the royal family is the Attingal Mootha Thampuran and is known as Sree Padmanabhasevini Vanchidharma Vardhini Raja Rajeshwari Maharani (personal name) Bai, Senior Maharani of Travancore, with the style of Her Highness. The Junior Maharani is the Attingal Elaya Thampuran and if mother of the ruling prince is known as Sree Padmanabhasevini Vanchipala Dyumani Raja Rajeshwari Maharani Maharani (personal name) Bai, Junior Maharani of Travancore, with the style of Her Highness. The First Princess is known as Kochu Thampuran and is known as (personal name) Sree Padmanabhasevini Vanchidharma Vardhini Attingal Kochu Thampuran.
  • Prince Consorts of the Senior and Junior Maharani are known as the Valiya Koyi Thampuran and Kochu Koyi Thampuran respectively, selected from one of four or five royal houses (or 'palaces') who were closely related to the ruling family. Kerala Varma Valiya Koil Thampuran, consort of Maharani Bharani Thirunal Lakshmi Bayi, and Col. G. V. Raja, consort of Maharani Karthika Thirunal Lakshmi Bayi, went on to become famous in their own terms.
  • Consorts of the Maharajahs are usually Nair women, and from Ammavedu, and hence, are ranked as nobility, and not royalty. They are known as Ammachi Panapillai Amma and hold the title of (mother's house name) Ammachi Panapilla Amma Srimathi (personal name) Pilla.. The Maharajahs are only allowed morganatic marriages so as to maintain Marumakkathayam. The Travancore Maharajahs' children do not succeed to the throne under the Marumakkathayam Law, as they belong to their Nair mother's family and are not royalty. Instead they get a title of nobility, namely Thampi and Kochamma. The sons of the ruling Kings are known as Sri (mother's house name) (personal name) Chempakaraman Thampi. The daughters of the Kings are known as (mother's house name) Ammaveetil Srimathi (personal name) Pilla Kochamma. The descendants of Ammachis get the title of Thankachi (female) & Thampi (male).[33]


The Travancore royal family follows the Matrilineal inheritance. Marumakkathayam or the matrilineal system with inheritance and succession through the sisters' children in the female line.[34][35]

  • The surviving younger brothers or cousins of the Maharajah, according to age.
  • The sons of the sisters (direct or cousins) of the Maharajah, according to age. If there were more than one sister, the first born male child of that generation would be the heir, regardless of whether his mother was older or younger than other sisters.[citation needed]

Marriage and other customsEdit

The marriages of the princesses are known as Pallikettus[36] while those of the Maharajahs are known as Pattum Parivattavum Chaarthal. The form of marriage is Sambandham and the consorts of the Princesses are from certain select families of Koyi Thampurans came from one of four or five royal houses or 'palaces' who were closely related to the royal family whereas the consorts of the Maharajahs belong to four houses known as Ammaveedus. The spouses of the Maharajahs and Maharanis are not considered members of the royal house owing to the prevalent Marumakkathayam Law. However they received many privileges owing to their position as consorts.[citation needed] An exception to this rule of selection and status of Prince Consort was made when Sree Сhithira Thirunal chose Colonel Godavarma Raja of Poonjar Royal House (not from the normal select royal houses) as the Consort for his only sister, Maharani Karthika Thirunal Lakshmi Bayi in 1934. Col. G. V. Raja went on to become a resourceful ally of Maharajah Sree Chithira Thirunal, made pivotal contributions to Kerala's infrastructure development as well as sports and tourism.

Cessation of the practice of mahādanamsEdit

Marthanda Varma entering the golden tub during Hiranyagarbha ceremony
Marthanda Varma performing Thulapurusha Danum ceremony

The kings of Thiruvithamkoor though nairs[37] had been conditionally promoted to Kshatryahood with periodic performance of 16 mahādānams (great gifts in charity) such as Hiranya-garbhā, Hiranya-Kāmdhenu,and Hiranyāswaratā in which each of which thousands of Brahmins had been given costly gifts apart from each getting a minimum of 1 kazhanch (78.65 gm) of gold.[38] In 1848 the Marquess of Dalhousie, then Governor-General of British India, was appraised that the depressed condition of the finances in Thiruvithamkoor was due to the mahādanams by the rulers.[39] Lord Dalhousie, instructed Lord Harris, Governor of the Madras Presidency, warn the then King of Thiruvithamkoor Martanda Varma (Uttram Tirunal 1847–60) that if he did not put a stop to this practice, the Madras Presidency would take over his Kingdom's administration. This led to the cessation of the practice of mahādanams. All Travancore Kings including Sree Moolam Thirunal conducted Hiranyagarbham and Tulapurushadaanam ceremony. Maharajah Chithira Thirunal is the only King of Travancore not to have conducted Hiranyagarbham or Tulaapurushadaanam as he considered these as an extremely costly ceremonies.[40]

Family membersEdit

Prince Aswathi Thirunal Rama Varma is a noted Indian classical musician, vocalist, veena player and writer

The eldest son of Amma Maharani Sethu Parvathi Bayi was the last King of Travancore, Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, who signed the instrument of accession and amalgamated his Kingdom into the Union of India in 1949. The royal family consists, in the line of Sethu Parvati Bayi, the last Maharajah Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma (unmarried), his brother Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma, and of their late sister Maharani Karthika Thirunal Lakshmi Bayi (married to Col. Godavarma Raja/G. V. Raja of the Poonjar royal family). Princess Karthika Thirunal and Col. Godavarma Raja had two daughters (Pooyam Thirunal and Aswathi Thirunal) and two sons (Avittom Thirunal(died at the age of six) and Moolam Thirunal) (current head of the family and titular Maharajah). Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma married Ammachi Panapillai Amma Shrimathi Radhadevi Pandalai of Kayamkulam (the daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Krishnan Gopinathan Pandalai, MB, CM, FRCS, LRCP, Madras), and has a son, Ananthapadmanabhan Thampi and a daughter, Parvathidevi Kochamma. He used to reside at Pattom Palace, Trivandrum, till his death on 16 December 2013.[41][42]

The current head of Travancore royal family is Sree Padmanabhadasa Sree Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma, born on 12 June 1949 at Kowdiar Palace as the youngest son of Maharani Karthika Thirunal Lakshmi Bayi by her husband, Lieutenant-Colonel P.R. Godavarma Raja/G. V. Raja of Poonjar Palace. He became the Titular Heir Apparent or Elaya Rajah on 20 July 1991, after the death of Maharajah Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma. Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma is a Physics graduate from Mar Ivanios College, Trivandrum and also studied business management in London. After his education, he joined Aspinwall and Co Ltd in Mangalore 1971, and served as a consultant and in various executive positions like Additional Director 2004–2005, Director of Planning 2005–2007, Executive Director Aspinwall & Co (Travancore) Ltd since 2005, Member of Aspinwall Promoter Group since 2005, managing director of Aspinwall and Co Ltd in Mangalore since 2008. In 1976 he married Ammachi Panapillai Amma Srimathi Rema Varma of Kilimanoor Palace but divorced in 2002.[43][44] Sree Rama Varma then married Ammachi Panapillai Amma Srimathi Girija Thankachi of Vazhuthacadu, alias Dr. Girija Rama Varma, former radiologist based in London and has a daughter from her first marriage. The couple after their wedding in 2002 used to live in Mangalore till 2013. After he assumed the Titular Maharajah's position, the couple moved to Kowdiar, Trivandrum, and has settled down there.

Princess Pooyam Thirunal Gowri Parvathi Bayi is married to Sri Chembrol Raja Raja Varma and has two children, Prince Aswathi Thirunal Rama Varma and Princess Thiruvathira Thirunal Lakshmi Bayi. Lakshmi Bayi married a well-known journalist and writer, Prof. M.D. Nalapatt (son of famous writer Kamala Das). As Princess Thiruvathira Thirunal Lakshmi Bayi's marriage was not as per the tradition, Lekha varma of Mavelikkara Palace was adopted by Princess Aswathi Thirunal Gowri Lakshmi Bayi in 1996 into the royal family to continue in the female line and became Bharani Thirunal Lekha Parvathi Bayi, but against the 'pathivu shasanam' of Anizhom Thirunal Marthanda Varma. Classical Musician, Prince Aswathi Thirunal Rama Varma remain unmarried till date.[citation needed]

Princess Aswathi Thirunal Gowri Lakshmi Bayi was married to Late. Sri Sukumaran Raja Raja Varma of Palikkara West Palace, Thiruvalla. He died from injuries after a car accident, at the Ochira District Hospital, Kerala, 30 December 2005. The couple has three children: Prince Pooruruttathi Thirunal Marthanda Varma, Prince Avittom Thirunal Aditya Varma, and Princess Bharani Thirunal Lekha Parvathi Bayi(adopted). Prince Pooruruttathi Thirunal Marthanda Varma married Ammachi Panapillai Amma Srimathi Gopika Nair[45] alias Kalaimamani Gopika Marthanda Varma or Gopikavarma, the Mohiniyattam dancer as well as Director of Dasya Dance School, Member Advisory Board of the Ability Foundation in Chennai etc. they have a son, Sri Vishnu Thampi. Prince Avittom Thirunal Aditya Varma married Shrimathi Resmi Varma of Mariapalli Palace, Kottayam in 2000.[46] They have twin daughters, Gowri Varma and Prabha Varma. Princess Bharani Thirunal Lekha Parvathi Bayi married Anoopkumar Varma and has a daughter Princess Swathi Thirunal.[citation needed]

Maharani Pooradam Thirunal Sethu Lakshmi Bayi had two daughters, Princesses Uthram Thirunal Lalithamba Bayi and Karthika Thirunal Indira Bayi. Revathi Thirunal Balagopal Varma, the grandson of Maharani Pooradam Thirunal, is the titular Elayarajah of Travancore.

The Constitutional Amendment of 1971 terminated the status of the Maharajahs of the erstwhile princely states as rulers and abolished their rights to receive privy purses. However the other clauses of the agreements signed between the Government of India and the Princes in 1947 legally still hold. The royal family of Travancore has no administrative authority since 1971. Till 1956 Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma served as Rajpramukh of Thiru-Kochi. Later in 1971 while the family lost their privy purse and other privileges, the rights of the family in the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple were respected and the current head of the family, Sree Padmanabhadasa Sree Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma, fulfills his duty towards the temple as the Titular Maharajah of Travancore and as the Trustee of Sree Padmanabhaswami Temple, Trivandrum, even though he has no part in the administration of the temple.[47] The allowances of all the family members born prior to 1949 are also still paid by the Government of Kerala.

Some prominent members of the Travancore royal family today include Princess Bharani Thirunal (Rukmini Varma), Princess Aswathy Thirunal Gowri Lakshmi Bayi, Prince Punartham Thirunal Shreekumar Varma, Princess Makam Thirunal (Dr Lakshmi Raghunandan) and musician Prince Aswathi Thirunal Rama Varma (disciple of Vechoor Harihara Subramania Iyer and Dr. Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna).


Padmanabhapuram Palace
Kowdiar Palace, The official residence of the descendants of Sethu Parvathi Bayi

The Padmanabhapuram Palace was the main residence of the Travancore Maharajahs whereas the Ranis of Attingal resided at that place in their own palaces. Later the royal family moved to Trivandrum wherein the females resided at the Sree Padam Palace and the men in many other Palaces like Thulsi Hill Palace, Rangavilaasom Palace, Kuthiramalika Palace etc.

The branch of Sethu Lakshmi Bayi had sold all their properties in Kerala in the late 1940s and early 1950s itself and moved outside the State. Most of them are settled at places like Chennai, Bangalore, also in foreign countries like United States of America, Australia, South Africa etc.[48]

After the Constitutional Amendment of 1971, the properties and estates of the royal family were partitioned and divided into two equal halves among the branches of Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bayi and Maharani Sethu Parvathi Bayi. However certain legal disputes continued between Balagopala Varma (the grandson of Sethu Lakshmi Bayi) and Maharajah Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, regarding the ownership of the Stalemond Palace in Poojapura. According to the verdict given by the Supreme Court of India in the matter, the terms of division of properties was accepted by all members of both branches of the royal family. But later Balagopal Varma(Revathi Nal), who at the time of property division was a minor, accused that Sree Chithira Thirunal had unlawfully taken away a property, Poojappura Stalemond Palace, that rightly belonged to his grandmother, Sethu Lakshmi Bayi . Sree Chithira Thirunal had given away this Palace to the Government of Kerala to construct a new Medical Centre, the now famous, Sree Chitra Thirunal Institute of Medical Sciences and Technology, in 1974. Balagopala Varma(Revathi Nal) also accused that Sree Chithira Thirunal had unlawfully taken away the traditional holdings of Sethu Lakshmi Bayi, as Senior Rani of Attingal. The court also dismissed this argument while giving the final verdict in 1991. Sethu Lakshmi Bayi's case was presented to the then Viceroy of India in the 30s but was dismissed by him, as former Maharajah of Travancore, Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma had already removed all the powers of Attingal Queens in 18th century itself. Revathi Nal Balagopala Varma took his grievance first to the High Court of Kerala and later to the Supreme Court of India. However, at both courts, the verdicts came in favour of Sree Chithira Thirunal and the appelant, Revathi Nal's, case was dismissed in the final judgement of 1991 by the Supreme Court of India.[15] The Maharajah had donated the Stalemond Palace for the creation of Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology, Trivandrum[49] The case was won by Maharajah Sree Chithira Thirunal after the final verdict given by the Supreme Court Of India in 1991.[15]

Presently only the descendants of Sethu Parvathi Bayi live at Kowdiar Palace as it belongs to her legal heirs and their descendants. They are all based in Trivandrum and are also the ones who keep alive the traditions and rituals of their ancient dynasty including the upkeep of the famous Sree Padmanabhaswami Temple.[50][51]

List of Maharajahs of TravancoreEdit

Dutch commander De Lannoy surrenders to King Anizham Thirunal Veerabaala Marthanda Varma (Founder of the Travancore Kingdom) at the Battle of Colachel. Depiction at Padmanabhapuram Palace
  1. Anizham Thirunal Veerabaala Marthanda Varma 1729–1758
  2. Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma (Dharma Raja) 1758–1798
  3. Avittom Thirunal Balarama Varma 1798–1810
  4. Gowri Lakshmi Bayi 1810–1815 (ruled pending the birth of a son, 1810–13; regent for her new-born son, 1813–1815)
  5. Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma 1829–1846 (king from birth in 1813, crowned in 1815, ruled from 1829–1846)
  6. Uthram Thirunal Marthanda Varma 1846–1860
  7. Ayilyam Thirunal Rama Varma 1860–1880
  8. Visakham Thirunal Rama Varma 1880–1885
  9. Sree Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma 1885–1924
  10. Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma (born in 1912, succeeded in 1924, received power in 1931, ruled until 1948, Titular Maharajah until 1971, died in 1991)

Titular Maharajahs of TravancoreEdit

  1. Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma (1991–2013)
  2. Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma (2013–)

Family tree of the Maharajas of TravancoreEdit

First lineEdit

  • The Koil Tampuran of Kilimanur
    • Raghava Varma, Koil Tampuran of Kilimanur (d. 1707). m in 1705 Kartika Tirunal, Senior Rani of Attingal (d. 1728), the adopted daughter of Aswathi Thirunal Umayamma, Senior Rani of Attingal and Regent of Venad (d. 1697)
      •   I. Veerabaala Marthanda Varma (Anizham Thirunal), Raja of Travancore (1706–1758; Raja of Travancore: 1729–1758) known as the "Maker of Travancore"
    • A daughter m. ?
      • Kerala Varma Avargal, Koil Tampuran of Kilimanur (k. November 1728), m. Parvati Bayi, Senior Rani of Attingal
        •   II. Rama Varma (Karthika Thirunal), Raja of Travancore (1724–1798; r. 1758–1798). Known as "Dharma Raja," he was a revered king.

This senior line failed, leading to adoptions from another matriline of the house:

Present family lineEdit

  • Mahaprabha Amma [Chathayam Nal] Tampuratti, of Mavelikara
    • Junior Rani of Attingal
      • Rani Attham Bayi [Chadayam Tirunal]. b. ca. 1759
        •   III. Bala Rama Varma (Avittam Thirunal), Raja of Travancore (1782–1810; r. 1798–1810). Adoptive nephew and successor of Dharma Raja Rama Varma (Karthika Thirunal), the last Raja of the first line.
    • Achamma Tampuratti (Revati Nal)
      • Bharani Nal Tampuratti, of Vattaparambu
        • Mahaprabha Amma Tampuratti [Chathayam Nal]. (d. c.1829)
          • Rani Lakshmi Bayi [Bharani Tirunal], adopted in 1790 as Senior Rani of Attingal. No children.
          • Rani Parvati Bayi [Attam Tirunal], adopted in 1790 as Junior Rani of Attingal. Married in 1790, a Koil Tampuran of Changanasseri from the Parappanad Royal House and had issue.
            •   Gowri Lakshmi Bayi [Aayilyam Tirunal], Senior Rani of Attingal, Rani and Rani Regent of Travancore (1791–1815; Rani of Travancore: 1810–1813; Regent of Travancore: 1810–1815). m. Raja Raja Varma Avargal, Koil Tampuran of Changanasseri (d. 1845)
              •   IV. Rama Varma II (Swathi Thirunal), Raja of Travancore (1813–1846; r. 1813–1846), celebrated poet and composer.
              •   V. Marthanda Varma II (Uthram Thirunal), Raja of Travancore (1814–1860; r. 1846–1860)
              • Gowri Rukmini Bayi [Ayilyam Tirunal], Senior Rani of Attingal. (1809–1837) m. 1819, Rama Varma [Punartham Tirunal], Koil Tampuran of Tiruvalla.
                •   VI. Bala Rama Varma II (Ayilyam Thirunal), Maharaja of Travancore GCSI, CIE (1832–1880; r. 1860–1880)
                •   VII. Rama Varma III (Visakham Thirunal ), Maharaja of Travancore GCSI (1837–1885; r. 1880–1885)
                • Lakshmi Bayi [Pooradam Tirunal], Junior Rani of Attingal (1829–1857). Her death during childbirth caused Maharaja Marthanda Varma to adopt two girls in 1857. She married Raja Raja Varma Avargal, Koil Tampuran, and had issue one son.
                  •   VIII. Rama Varma IV (Mulam Thirunal), Maharaja of Travancore GCSI, GCIE (1857–1924; r. 1885–1924)
            • Gouri Parvati Bayi [Uthrittathi Tirunal], Junior Rani of Attingal and Rani Regent of Travancore (1802–1853; Regent of Travancore: 1815–1829). No children.
        • Bharani Nal Tampuratti, of Mavelikara
          • Bhagirathi Bayi Kockupangi Amma Tampuratti [Pooruruttati Nal] (d. November 1891) m. 1866, Raja Ravi Varma Avargal (1848–1906), the famed Indian painter and portraitist.
            • Mahaprabha Amma Tampuratti [Ayilyam Nal] (1872–1919). m. Kerala Varma Avargal [Kuttan Koil Pandala], Koil Tampuran of Kilimanur (1867–1926)
              • Maharani Setu Lakshmi Bayi [Pooratam Tirunal], Senior Maharani and Regent of Travancore CI (1895–1985; Maharani Regent of Travancore: 1924–1931) m. 1906, Rama Varma Avargal [Makayiram Nal], Valia Koil Tampuran of Harippad (1889–1975)
            • Bhagirathi Bayi Uma Kochukunji Amma Tampuratti [Tiruvadira Nal], of the Utsavamadom branch of the Mavelikara Royal House (b. 1878). m. Paliyakkara Kizhakkekottarathil Thiruvonnam Kerala Varma [Bhagavan Ammavan] (d. before 1959)
              • Maharani Setu Parvati Bayi [Mulam Tirunal], Junior Maharani of Travancore (1896–1983). m. 1907, Ravi Varma Avargal [Thiruvathira Nal], Kochu Koil Tampuran of Kilimanur, a grandnephew of Raja Ravi Varma.
                •   IX. Bala Rama Varma III (Chithira Tirunal), Maharaja of Travancore GCSI, GCIE (1912–1991; Maharaja of Travancore: 1924–1949; Rajpramukh of Travancore-Cochin: 1949–1956; Head of the Travancore royal family: 1956–1991)
                • X. Marthanda Varma III (Uthradom Thirunal), Maharaja of Travancore (1922–2013; Head of the Travancore royal family: 1991–2013)
                • Maharajkumari Lakshmi Bayi (Karthika Thirunal) (1916–2008). m. 1934, Lieutenant-Colonel P.R. Goda Varma Raja Avargal (1908–1971)
                  • XI. Rama Varma V (Mulam Thirunal II), Maharaja of Travancore (b. 1949; Head of the Travancore royal family: 2013–present)
                  • Maharajkumari Gouri Parvati Bayi (Pooyam Tirunal) (b. 1942), m. Chembrol Raja Raja Varma Avargal (b. 1939)
                    • Maharajkumar Sri Rama Varma [Asvathi Tirunal] (b. 1968)
                  • Maharajkumari Gouri Lakshmi Bayi (Asvathi Tirunal) (b. 1945), m. Paliyakkara Raja Raja Varma Avargal (b. 1939)
                    • Maharajkumar Sri Martanda Varma [Pooruruttathi Tirunal] (b. 196X)
                    • Maharajkumar Sri Aditya Varma [Avittom Tirunal] (b. 1970)
                    • Maharajkumari Lekha Parvati Bayi [Bharani Tirunal] (b. 1975), adopted from the Mavelikara branch

[citation needed]

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Menon, P. Shungoonny (1879). A History of Travancore from the Earliest Times. Higginbotham & Co., Madras.


  1. ^ "Uthradom Tirunal passes away". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 16 December 2013.
  2. ^ per Wigram, H., Malabar Law and Custom High Court of Judicature Madras 1900 See Introduction at page xvi. Wigram also comments that they might perhaps be "the oldest aristocracy in the world."
  3. ^ Logan, W., "The Malabar Manual", 1887 at page 265
  4. ^ Gough (1961), pp. 302–303
  5. ^ Gough, K., page Matrilineal Kinship, University of California Press, Berkeley and LA 1962 at page 303
  6. ^ a b c Page 373, K. Gough, Matrilineal Kinship, University of California Press,Berkeley and LA, 1962
  7. ^ SANTHANAM, KAUSALYA (30 March 2003). "Royal vignettes: Travancore – Simplicity graces this House". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  8. ^ Travancore State Manual Vol II by Velu Pillai pages 104–105
  9. ^ Native Life in Travancore Vol I by Rev:Samuel Mateer, AD 1883, pages 388
  10. ^ "The Hindu : New member in Travancore family". 25 November 2000. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  11. ^ Bureau, ET. "Marthanda Varma could have been Kerala's Henry Ford but for family compulsions : "Travancore was the second wealthiest princely state after Nizam's Hyderabad when it joined the Indian union. "". Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. Economic Times (
  12. ^ "During his rule the revenues of the State were nearly quadrupled from a little over Rs 21/20 million to over Rs 91/20 million."-THE STORY OF THE INTEGRATION OF THE INDIAN STATES by V. P. Menon
  13. ^ A. SREEDHARA, Menon (2007). A Survey of Kerala History. Kottayam: D. C. Books. pp. 272–273. ISBN 978-81-264-1578-6.
  14. ^ Kerala District Gazetteers Trivandrum by A. Sreedhara Menon, pages 190 to 192
  15. ^ a b c d N Ojha (28 November 1991). "Revathinnal Balagopala Varma vs His Highness Shri Padmanabhadasa ... on 28 November, 1991". Supreme Court of India.
  16. ^ Kerala District Gazetteers Trivandrum by A. Sreedhara Menon, pages 190 to 192
  17. ^ Travancore State Manual Vol II by Velu Pillai page 348
  18. ^ Gauri Lakshmi Bayi, Aswathi Thirunal (1998). Sreepadmanabhaswami Kshetram. Thiruvananthapuram: The State Institute of Languages. pp. 168–172. ISBN 978-81-7638-028-7.
  19. ^ Aswathy Thirunal, Gauri Lakshmi Bai (1998). Sree Padmanabhaswamy Kshetram. Thiruvananthapuram: The State Institute of Languages, Kerala. pp. 168–170, 179–180, 595–602. ISBN 978-81-7638-028-7.
  20. ^ Travancore State Manual Vol II by Velu Pillai
  21. ^ Travancore State Manal Vol II by Velu Pillai page 121
  22. ^ [1][dead link]
  23. ^ Travancore State Manual Vol II by Velu Pillai page 301
  24. ^ Travancore State Manual Vol II by Velu Pillai page 202
  25. ^ Travancore State Manual Vol II by Velu Pillai page 228
  26. ^ Travancore State Manual Vol II by Velu Pillai page 232
  27. ^ Travancore State Manual Vol II by Velu Pillai page 347
  28. ^ Travancore State Manual Vol II by Velu Pillai page 399
  29. ^ Travancore State Manual Vol II by Velu Pillai page 582
  30. ^ See Manu Pillai Chapter 2 in The Ivory Throne, Harper Collins,India 2016.
  31. ^ Travancore State Manual Vol II by Velu Pillai page 706
  32. ^ "Heir unapparent – Lekha Varma, adopted by Travancore royal family, becomes heiress to its millions". India Today. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  33. ^ Dr. Ivy Peter, Dr. D. Peter (November 2009). Liberation of the Oppressed a Continuous Struggle- A Case Study (since 1822 A.D). Nagercoil: Kanyakumari Institute of Development Studies. pp. 24–26.
  34. ^ Cultural Heritage of Kerala By A. Sreedhara Menon : "The Marumakkathayam system was followed till recently by several Hindu communities like the Kshatriyus, Ambalavasis and Nairs. It should be noted that succession in the Travancore and Cochin royal families took place in the female line, the eldest male member ascending the throne."
  35. ^ Sreedhara Menon, A. (1978). Cultural Heritage of Kerala. Kottayam, Kerala: DCBooks. pp. 233–234.
  36. ^ "Maharani Passed Away". 8 June 2008. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
  37. ^ Pillai, Manu S. "Of cows, courts and princes". The Hindu. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  38. ^ A Social History of India – (Ashish Publishing House: ISBN 81-7648-170-X / ISBN 81-7648-170-X, Jan 2000).
  39. ^ Sadasivan, S.N., 1988, Administration and social development in Kerala: A study in administrative sociology, New Delhi, Indian Institute of Public Administration
  40. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 February 2014. Retrieved 20 February 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  41. ^ "Sree Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma – obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 19 December 2013. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
  42. ^ "An Avid Shutterbug, Driving Enthusiast, Sanskrit Scholar". The New Indian Express. Express News Service. 17 December 2013.
  43. ^ Prince Adithya Varma, son of Raja Raja Varma and Gauri Lekshmi Bhayi, witnessed a wedding at the Palace when he was 5-year-old. It was the Prince's uncle Ramavarma's marriage.
  44. ^ Street, Wedding. "Royal Wedding". Wedding Street. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  45. ^ "Gopika Varma: Exponent of Mohiniattam". Art India.Net. Archived from the original on 10 July 2017. The ancient Travancore royal family has been famed down the age for its patronage of the fine arts. Gopika Varma was married into the family, to Prince Poorurttathi Thirunal Marthanda Varma, descendant of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal, and divorced due to her heartlessness within a few years. Mrs. Vanaja Nair her maternal grand mother initiated her to learn mohiniyattam. Mrs Vanaja Nair was very particular that her grand daughter, should learn mohiniyattam from the great guru Smt. Kalyani Kuttyamma.
  46. ^ "The SRIPADMANABHA Royal Indoor Courts is a dream come true as far as I'm concerned. My wife Reshmi who hails from Mariapalli Palace, Kottayam"- SRIPADMANABHA Royal Indoor Courts, by Prince Aditya Varma
  47. ^ [2] Archived 16 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  48. ^ Raghunanadan, Lakshmi (1995). At the turn of the tide : the life and times of Maharani Setu Lakshmi Bayi.
  49. ^ "Biomedical Technology Wing". Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  50. ^ "Moolam Thirunal anointed as head of Travancore royal house". The Deccan Chronicle. 3 January 2014.
  51. ^ "Moolam Tirunal Rama Varma is Travancore royal family head". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 4 January 2013. Retrieved 13 January 2014.

External linksEdit