Sunday, March 11, 2018

Kanyakumari – History

Kanyakumari – History
The area that comprises the current Kanyakumari district was a part of the old Ay kingdom of the first and second Sangam ages. Ptolemy's geography describes commercial relations between western India and Alexandria, the chief eastern emporium of the Roman Empire. He identified Kanyakumari along with the Gulf of Mannar as a center for pearl fishery. He also identifies Korkai (assumed to be the present day's Tuticorin), a place to the east of Kanyakumari, as an emporium of pearl trade. Another ancient Greek book, the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, contains sailing directions for merchants from the Red Sea to the Indus and Malabar, and even indicates that the coast from Barygaza (Baroch) had a general southward direction down to and far beyond Kanyakumari.
Kanyakumari District consists of those parts known locally as Nanjil Nadu and Idai Nadu. The names of the villages of the district such as Azhagiapandipuram, Boothapandi, Cholapuram and Kulasekaram reveal that these places were governed by several rulers at different periods of time. Many historical assumptions persist in the district and state, which associate sages such as VyasaAgastyaTholkappiyarAvvaiyar and Thiruvalluvar to the district. Nanjilnadu was under the rule of Pandiyans until the early 10th century and then under Cheras. The Kalkulam and Vilavancode taluks were under the rule of the Chera Dynasty. When the power of Chola declined due to the rise of Hoysalas and western Chalukyas, the Venadu (Travancore) Chieftains (descendants of the central Chera family) took advantage of the situation and gradually established their hold on considerable areas in Nanjilnadu.
Veera Kerala Varma, one such chieftain, styled himself as "Nanjil Kuravan". The annexation commenced by Veera Kerala Varma was to a large extent continued by his successors and completed by AD 1115. Following the decline of the Ay kingdoms, the area became Venadu, with its capital Padmanabhapuram located north of Nagercoil. The wealth of the Nanjilnadu beckoned many invaded including the Nayaks and later an Islamist army during the reign of Umayammai Rani. The Venadu region was in anarchy before Marthanda Varma ascended the throne in 1729 AD. Before his reign the Samanthan Nairs ruled the province. Under their rule anarchy was dominant in Kanyakumari region. For about four centuries, the Venadu was ruled by powerful kings who were consistently making incursions into the Pandian territories.
As a result, Vijayanagar kings proceeded against Venadu. In 1609 Kanyakumari fell into the hands of Viswanatha Nayak of Madurai. Consequent to this, there was no serious threat to Nanjilnadu until 1634. During the regime of Ravi Varma and Marthanda Varma, Venadu was disturbed by the internal strife. Sanda Sahib of Arcot took advantage of this situation and attacked Nanjil Nadu. Although Marthanda Varma was victorious in the battle of Colachel and defeated the Dutch armouries who helped the local feudatories, he could not cope with the threat from Sanda Sahib, which forced him to withdraw from the battlefield.
However, Marthanda Varma brought a sense of disorder under control by annexing the nearby territories, putting down the feudal lords and establishing the strong state of Travancore. He had also bought some portions of Kanyakumari from the then viceroy making it the southern boundary. Under his rule, the district improved in a social context as well as economically. The famous battle of Colachel took place in the district. Later, the maharajahs of Travancore built the forts at Aramboly to prevent any invasion from the Carnatic. Key elements of Velu Thampi Dalawa's revolt occurred in the area and the English East India company's army under Col. Leger broke through the fortifications and entered Travancore in 1810.
After Marthanda Varma, Venadu had weak rulers and as a result there was frequent interference by the British (who knew it as Kanyakumari) whose control was completely established over Venadu and continued until 1947. From 1947 to 1956, it was under the personal rule of Maharaja of Travancore. Later it was reoccupied and merged with Tamilnadu. In the year 1949, the area became a part of the reestablished Travancore Cochin state. The people of Agastheeswaram, Thovalai, Kalkulam and Vilavancode taluks, which formed the southern divisions of the former district of Trivandrum, were predominantly Tamil speaking people. An extreme agitation by Tamil speaking residents under the leadership of Marshal Nesamani took place for including Kanyakumari within Tamil Nadu. Eventually the merger happened in 1956 based on language reorganization of states. The district is also the birthplace of Ayyavazhi.
Merger of Kanyakumari with Tamilnadu:
The present-day Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu state in India was originally a part of the Travancore – Cochin state. Between 1945 and 1956, especially after the Government of India announced plans to reorganize states along linguistic lines, the people of Tamil-majority Kanyakumari campaigned for its inclusion in the Madras State (later Tamil Nadu) instead of the Malayalam-majority Kerala state. In Tamil, the campaign is also known as Therkku Ellai Porattam ("South Frontier Struggle"). The campaign was successful: AgastheeswaramKalkulamThovalaiVilavancode and half part of Shenkottai taluks were merged with Madras as per the States Reorganization Act, 1956. The first four were combined to form the present-day Kanyakumari district, while Shenkottai was merged with the Tirunelveli district.
Tamils lived in large numbers in the ThovalaiAgastheeswaram, Kalkulam, Vilavancode, Neyyatinkarai, Sengottai, Devikulam and Peermedu taluks of erstwhile Travancore State. In the Tamil regions, Malayalam was the official language and there were only a few Tamil-medium schools. So, the Tamils met many hardships. Travancore State Government continued rejecting the requests of Tamils. During that period 'Travancore State Congress' favored the idea of uniting all the Malayalam speaking regions and the formation of an 'Unified Kerala'. In protest against this idea, many Tamil leaders vacated the party. They gathered together at Nagercoil on 16 December 1945 under the leadership of Sam Nathaniel and formed the new political party 'All Travancore Tamilian Congress'.
The newly formed party was continuously compelling for the merger of Tamil regions in Travancore with Tamil Nadu. In the working committee meeting of Tamilian congress at Eraviputhur on 30 June 1946, the name of the political party was changed to 'Travancore Tamil Nadu Congress' (T.T.N.C). T.T.N.C was popular among the Tamils living in Thovalai and Agastheeswaram Taluks. Mr. Ma. Po. Sivagnanam (Ma.Po.Si) was the only leader from Tamil Nadu who functioned in favour of T.T.N.C. After the independence of India, State Assembly Elections were announced in Travancore. As a consequence, T.T.N.C improved its popularity among Tamils.
A popular and leading advocate from Vilavancode Mr. A. Nesamani organised a meeting of his supporters at Allan Memorial Hall, Nagercoil on 8 September 1947. In that meeting it was declared that they must achieve their objective through their political organization, the T.T.N.C. And T.T.N.C started gaining strength and momentum in Kalkulam - Vilavancode Taluks. During the election propaganda campaign, clashes occurred between the majority Nadar community and the dominant Malayali Nair community at various places in Kalkulam - Vilavancode Taluks. Malayali police force suppressed the agitating Tamilians. On February 1948 police opened fire and two Tamilians were killed.
T.T.N.C won in 14 constituencies in the election to the State Legislative Assembly. Mr. A. Nesamani was elected as the legislative leader of the party. Then under his leadership, the awakened Tamil population was prepared to undergo any sacrifice to achieve their goal. In 1950, a meeting was held at Palayamkottai to make compromises between state congress and T.T.N.C. The meeting met with failure and Mr. Sam Nathaniel resigned from the post of president of T.T.N.C Mr. P. Ramasamy Pillai, a strong follower of Mr. A. Nesamani was elected as the New President. The first general election of Independent India was held on 1952. T.T.N.C won 8 legislative assembly seats. Mr. A. Chidambaranathan became the minister on behalf of T.T.N.C in the coalition state government formed by the Congress.
In the parliamentary Constituency Mr. A. Nesamony was elected as M.P. and in the Rajya Sabha seat. Mr. A. Abdul Razak was elected as M.P. on behalf of T.T.N.C. In due course, accusing the Congress government for not showing enough care the struggle of the Tamils, T.T.N.C had broken away from the coalition and the Congress government lost the majority. So fresh elections were announced. In 1954 elections, T.T.N.C gained victory in 12 constituencies. Pattom Thanu Pillai was the chief minister for Thiru - Kochi legislative assembly. He engaged hard measures against the agitations of Tamils. Especially the Tamils at Devikulam - Peermedu regions went through the atrocities of Malayali Police force. Condemning the attitude of the police, T.T.N.C leaders from Nagercoil went to Munnar and participated in agitations against the prohibitive orders. The leaders were arrested and an uncalm atmosphere prevailed in South Travancore.
On August 11, 'Liberation Day' celebrations were held at many places in South Travancore. Public meetings and processions were organised. Communists also collaborated with the agitation programmes. Police opened fire at the processions in Thoduvetty (Marthandam) and Puthukadai. Nine Tamil volunteers were killed and thousands of T.T.N.C and communist sympathizers were arrested in various parts of Tamil main land. At the end, Pattom Thanu Pillai's ministry was toppled and normalcy returned to the Tamil regions. The central government had appointed Fazal Ali Commission for the states reorganization based on language. It submitted its report on August 10, 1955. Based on this report, Devikulam - Peermedu and Neyyattinkara Taluks were merged with Kerala state.
On 1956, Nov 1 - four Taluks Thovalai, Agastheeswaram, Kalkulam, Vilavancode were recognized to form the New Kanyakumari District and merged with Tamil Nadu State. Half of Sengottai Taluk was merged with Tirunelveli District. The main demand of T.T.N.C was to merger the Tamil regions with Tamil Nadu and major part of its demand was realized. So, T.T.N.C was dissolved thereafter.
Indian Ocean Tsunami:
Kanyakumari district was one of the worst affected districts in India in the tsunami that ravaged the coasts of various countries in South and South-East Asia, on 26 December 2004. There were nearly 900 deaths and several hundred missing and injured. Social organizations from several countries and the Government have since been working on rehabilitating the affected people and property.