Paliath Achan

that figured prominently in the history of the region.


The Paliath Achans were hereditary prime ministers to the Rajah of Kochi from 1632 to 1809 [cite web | title = Synagogue set to showcase history | publisher = The Hindu |date=March 1, 2005 | url = | accessdate = 2006-07-06 ] and second only to the Rajah in power and wealth in the central Cochin area during that period. He was also a considerable land owner, one of the largest in the state. [cite book |last=Milford |first=Humphrey |title=Some South Indian Villages |year=1918 |publisher=Oxford University Press |location=Kerala |chapterurl=|pages=129, 253] Historical records show that the Paliath Achans became major players in Kerala history with the arrival of the Portuguese. In recognition of the Paliath Achan's services, the Kochi Rajah granted him Vypin Island. At about the period, the land of "Villarvattom" came into his possession as well. [cite book| last=Milford |first=Humphrey |title=Journal of Indian History |year=1941 |publisher=Oxford University Press| location=Kerala| chapterurl=| page=129] In 1681, the Kochi Raja conferred upon him, the title of "Sarvadhyakshan" (literally translated, "Supreme presider over all affairs"), and in 1731, the Paliath Komi Achan was appointed to the post of Prime Minister of the Kochi Raja. Around 1775, the position of the Paliath Achan was recorded by the Dutch as follows:

Paliath Achans have also figured in many battles against colonial rulers such as the British, and staged numerous rebellions for the benefit of the downtrodden in society.

The family home ("tharavadu") is located in the village of Chendamangalam, in Ernakulam district. After the passing of the Land Reform Ordinance, the family lost a lot of land that it owned. The ordinance set a ceiling on how much land an individual or family could own. As a result, the family wealth and property was partitioned in 1952. The number of members at the time of partition was 213 and the deed was registered in 1956. In addition to being the largest Joint-Hindu family, the deed was the biggest partition deed of Travancore-Cochin/Kerala.

As of 1999, there were 443 members. The family follows the marumakkathayam, or matrilineal system. Female members of the family are wed primarily to Namboothiri Brahmins, members of the Cochin Royal family, members of other Royal Families of erstwhile Travancore and Malabar areas, and members of other prominent Nair tharavads.


The origins of the Paliam family are not very clear. One view is that the Paliam family is descended from the Villarvattom Royal family in Chendamangalam. The family traces its lineage to Kunjikaavu and Kochukutty, two sisters from the town of Elankunnapuzha who were married into Villarvattom. All members of the Paliam family fall into one of two lineages. The other view is that the Paliam family is linked to the Cochin royal family or Perumpadappu Swarupam. It is thought that when the last Perumal departed, the Chera kingdom of Mahodayapuram split with one segment leaving for Vanneri near Chowghat. It is thought that the powerful feudal chieftan, Paliath Achan also left with this segment. Until recently, a "Paliam Parambu" (Paliam Grounds) was found there. Quite possibly, Paliath Achan moved with the Perumpadappu Swarupam to Thiruvanchikulam due to the Zamorin's invasion. The flood of 1341 brought the Perumpaddappu Swaroopam to Kochi, and Paliath Achan may have moved with them as well.

The tharavadu

") is approximately 450 years old, and is maintained by the Paliam Trust. The "Kovilakam" houses a large number of artifacts including ancient documents, religious sacraments, swords, rifles, and gifts brought by foreign dignitaries. Several other buildings, like the Paliath Achan's "Kovilakam" (which was built by the Dutch, and also known as the Dutch palace) exist adjacent to the tharavadu. The buildings in the area date anywhere from 60 to 300 years.

ignificance in Kerala history

The Zamorin invaded Cochin in 1757. Due to the diplomatic efforts of the Paliath Achan, the Kingdom of Cochin was saved. During Hyder Ali's conquest of the south of India in 1776, the Paliath Achan was able to effect a treaty between Hyder Ali and the Cochin Raja.

In 1808, the British were trying to create divisions between the Raja of Kochi's men. They had succeeded in getting the support of Nadavarambu Kunhikrishna Menon. Paliath Govindan Achan was provoked by this. [cite book| last=Daniel |first=D| title=Struggle for Responsible Government in Travancore, 1938-1947|year=1985 |publisher=Raj Publications| location=Kerala| pages=17] He took with him 600 Nair soldiers and attacked the Head Quarters of Colonel Macaulay, the British Resident, who was forced to flee. [cite book| title=Imperial Gazetteer of India, Provincial Series, Madras II| year=1908| chapterurl=| pages=442] [cite book| title=The History of Freedom Movement in Kerala| last=Menon| first=P. K. K. |year=1970| publisher=Government of Kerala| location=Kerala| page=27] Following the attack, Paliath Achan and his men broke open the jails and set free prisoners. [cite book| title=The Modern Review| last=Chatterjee| first=Ramanada| year=1907| publisher=Prabasi Press Limited| location=India| pages=264] The Paliath Achan later joined the Travancore alliance of Velu Thampi Dalawa. [cite book| title=Kerala District Gazetteers| last=Menon| first=A. Sreedhara| publisher=Superintendent of Government Presses| location=Kerala| year=1962| pages=88] During 1809 and 1810, Paliath Achan, allied with Velu Thampi Dalawa, fought the British on Travancore soil. [cite book| title=A Survey of Kerala History| last=Menon| first=A. Sreedhara| year=1967| location=Kerala| publisher=Sahithya Pravarthaka Company| pages=322, 323, 324, 325] However, the British Divide and Rule policy succeeded in isolating him from the rest of the alliance. His family threatened by the British, and due to his defeat, the Paliath Achan was forced to surrender, and defected to the British side. [cite book| title=Kerala and Her History: An Introduction| last=Kareem| first=C.K.K.| publisher=St. Joseph's Press| location=Kerala| year=1971| pages=22] [cite book| last=Daniel |first=D| title=Struggle for Responsible Government in Travancore, 1938-1947|year=1985 |publisher=Raj Publications| location=Kerala| pages=17] [cite book| title=The History of Freedom Movement in Kerala| last=Menon| first=P. K. K. |year=1970| publisher=Government of Kerala| location=Kerala| page=32] After the rebellion, the British deported him to Madras, where he was kept prisoner at Fort St. George for 12 years. [cite book| title=A Survey of Kerala History| last=Menon| first=A. Sreedhara| year=1967| location=Kerala| publisher=Sahithya Pravarthaka Company| pages=322, 323, 324, 325] He was then taken to Bombay and remained a prisoner there for 13 years, finally passing away at Benares 1832. Paliath Govindan Achan was the last Paliath Achan to occupy the position of Prime Minister in the Kingdom of Cochin.

Another notable Paliath Achan includes Komi Achan I. Komi Achan I resisted the attempts by the Portuguese to impose their power on the Cochin Family. He allied himself with the Dutch, travelling to Colombo to sign a treaty with them. He also supported the Dutch against the Portuguese. In recognition of his efforts, the Dutch built him a palace (the "Kovilakam") at Chendamangalam. [cite book| last=Menon| first=A. Sreedhara| title=Cultural History of Kerala| publisher=East-West Publications| location=India| chapterurl=| pages=121] [cite book| title=History of South India| last=Chopra| first=P. N.| publisher=S. Chand & Company| location=India| chapterurl=| pages=24]

Between 1730 and 1740 the status of the Cochin kingdom dwindled due consolidation of power in Travancore under Marthanda Varma combined with the waning influence of the Dutch and a large-scale invasion by the Zamorin from the north. Using his amicable relationship with the Travancore Kingdom to his advantage, Paliath Komi Achan was able to effect a treaty between the Cochin and Travancore Kingdoms. [cite book| title=A Translation of Record, Grandhavari, In the State Archives| year=1973| location=Kerala| publisher=State Archives Department, Government of Kerala| pages=23] [cite book| title=A Survey of Kerala History| last=Menon| first=A. Sreedhara| year=1967| location=Kerala| publisher=Sahithya Pravarthaka Company| pages=280, 293] [cite book| title=Mediaeval Kerala| last=Raja| first=P. K. S.| year=1966| location=Kerala| publisher=Navakerala Co-op publishers| pages=201] [cite book| title=Rama Varma of Travancore: His role in the consolidation of British Power in South India| last=Sobhanan| first=B.| year=1978| publisher=Sandhya Publications| location=Kerala| page=17] This treaty facilitated the defeat of the Zamorin. [ [ A Primer in Cochin Royal Family History] , ""]

Chendamangalam, under the Paliath Achans, was a model of religious tolerance. It is the only place in the world where places of worship from the four major religions (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism) exist within a one kilometer radius. Paliath Komi Achan donated land in the Vallarpaddom area to the Christians there, after their church was destroyed in the flood of 1676. He also provided a sanctuary lamp that has been lit daily for over 300 years. The oil for the lamp was provided by the Paliam family until 1947 after which the practice was stopped due to the aftereffects of the Land Reform Ordinance. The practice was re-established in 1994, when senior members of the Paliam family visited the church to rekindle the 300-year old lamp.Fact|date=October 2007 The Chendamangalam Jews sing "The Song of Paliathachan" in which they mention the mention "Nayar Noblemen" who bestowed upon the Jews "gifts and books to all those who come, and titles to foreigners". [ [ The Chennamangalam Synagogue: Jewish Community in a Village in Kerala] , ""] [cite book |title=The Jews of India: A story of Three Communities| last=Slapak| first=Orpa| year=1995| publisher=UPNE| location=Bene-Israel| chapterurl=| isbn=9652781797| pages=28]

The Paliath Achans (and other members of the Paliam family) were also literary patrons. The "Vishnu Vilasa Mahakavya", written at the close of the 18th century by the poet "Ramapanivada" says in its closing verse that the poem was written under the patronage of Ramakubera, Valiyachan of Paliam:

:"ശ്രീമദ്‌ രമകുബേര നാമ സുമതി ശ്രീപാലിയ ശ്രീപതി-":"പ്രീതി സ്ഫിത തമോദ്യമേന കലിതം കേനാപി നാനാരസം":"കാവ്യം വിഷ്ണുവിലസനമ കമലാജാന: കഥാവര്‍ണ്ണനം":"പൂര്‍ണ്ണം ഹന്ത ജയന്തമംഗല ഹാവിഷ്ണോ: ക്യവനുഗ്രഹാല്‍"

:"Sreemad ramakubEra naama sumathi SreepAliya Sreepathi-":"preethi sfitha thamOdyamEna kalitham kEnApi nAnArasam":"kAvyam vishnuvilasanama kamalAjAnaha kathhAvarNNanam":"poorNNam hantha jayanthamamgala mahAvishnO: kyavanugrahAl"

In the "Vishnuvilasam Hamsappattu", a Malayalam poem about the life of Vishnu (as spoken by a swan), the poet (Kunjan Nambiar) makes a reference to a Paliath Achan named Kuberan: [cite book| last=Sharma| first=V. S.|title=Makers of Indian Literature: Kunchan Nampyar| publisher=Sahitya Akademi| location=India| chapterurl=| pages=9]

:"ശ്രീ കുബേരാഖ്യഗനം പാലിയാധീഷരന്റേ":"ശ്രീ കുലാഡംബരം ചെമ്മേ വരൊത്തൊന്ന":"ശ്രീ കാന്തദേവന്‍ ജയന്താലയേശ്വരന്‍":"ശ്രീ കണ്ഠ്സേവിതന്‍ ശ്രീന്യസിംഹാക്യതി":"ശ്രേയസ്സു നല്‍കും നിനക്കിന്നു ഹംസമേ!"

:"SrI kubErAkhyaganam pAliyAdhIsharantE":"SrI kulADambaram chemmE varoththonna":"SrI kAnthadEvan jayanthAlayEaSvaran":"SrEyassu nalkum ninakkinnu hamsamE!"

Kochu Sankaran Muthat of Vatakketam in Triprayar was a student of Manorama Thampuratti of Calicut. He lived at Paliam, teaching students there. He wrote a commentary named "Prasika", on the eleventh book of the Bhagavad Gita, based on earlier commentaries of his student, Paliath Achan:

:"നിജശിഷ്യ പാലിയേശ-":"പ്രാര്‍ത്ഥനയാ ശങ്കരഖ്യ ശിവവിപ്ര:":"ദാഗവതൈകാദശഗാ:":"പ്രാക്തനവിവ്യതീ: സമുച്ചിനോമ്യദ്യ"

:"nijaSishya pAliyESa-":"prArththhanayA Sankarakhya Sivavipraha":"dAgavathaikAdaSagAha":"prAkthanavivyathIha samuchchinOmyadya"

The Paliam family had a rich collection of manuscripts in Sanskrit and Malayalam. At the time of family partition, this collection was donated to the Kerala University Manuscript Library and the Hill Palace Museum at Thriponithara. [ [ Hill Palace Museum, Thriponithara, Kerala] ]

Paliam satyagraha was a movement in 1947-48 to allow entry for Hindus of lower castes in the roads surrounding the Paliam family home in Chendamangalam and the temples. The success of this and similar movements led to the temples in Kochi being opened for all Hindus in 1948. [cite book| last=Gopalan| first=Avillath Kutteri| title=Kerala, Past and Present| publisher=Lawrence and Wishart| year=1959| location=Kerala| pages=25]

List of Paliath Achans

ee also

*History of Kerala
*History of Kochi
*Cochin Royal Family

External links

* [ History of Cochin]
* [ Paliam Online]


* P.J.Cherian : Perspectives on Kerala history – The Second Millennium
* Akhilavijnanakosam Malayalam encyclopaedia, Vol.4, D.C. Books (1990)
* Prof. M. Radhadevi : Paliam Family, Saga of Paliam Family
* Dr. K. Kunjunni Raja : Literary Patronage By Paliam Family, Saga of Paliam Family

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