18 January, 2021

Back In Sir CP’s Time

A clear-headed history of the enlightened rulers in modern times

Back In Sir CP’s Time

Travancore, in pre-Independent India, was one of the bigger princ­ely sates, though not big enough to figure in the mnemonic coined by General Wavell, Viceroy, which went like this: Hot Kippers Make Good Breakfast, referring to the 21-gun-salute states of Hyderabad, Kashmir, Mysore, Gwalior and Baroda. What it lacked in pomp was made up—along with its smaller neighbour, Cochin—by bestowing a legacy of social development upon the successor-state of Kerala that is unmatched elsewhere in India.

The story of the house of Travancore, which played a part in Kerala’s evolution, has hardly been told. The family ruled Travancore continuously from the reign of Marthanda Varma (1729-1758) to independence—as a British fief from the early 19th century. Outside of officially commissioned histories and early classics of Malayalam fiction and the novels of C.V. Raman Pillai, the royals remain largely unseen. It is into this recess of Kerala history that Manu S. Pillai trains his attention. Pillai calls it ‘chronicles’, not ‘history’....



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