Alappuzha Knowledge Guide
In the early first decade of the 20th century the Viceroy of the Indian Empire, Lord Curzon made a visit in the State to Alleppey, now Alappuzha. Fascinated by the scenic beauty of the place, he exclaimed, Here nature has spent up on the land her richest bounties. Alleppey, the Venice of the East. Kuttanad, the rice bowl of Kerala, with its paddy fields, small streams and canals with lush green coconut palms, was well known even from the early periods of the Sangam age. History says Alappuzha had trade relations with Greece and Rome in the Middle Ages. The early Cheras, who had their home in Kuttanad, were called `Kuttuvans`, so named after this place. Pliny and Ptolemy of the 1st and 2nd centuries had mentioned places like Purakkad or Barace in their classical works. Literary works like "Unnuneeli Sandesam" give some insight into the ancient period of this district. Archaeological antiquities, such as the stone inscriptions, historical monuments found in the temples, churches, and rock-cut caves, also emphasise the historic importance of Alappuzha District. Christianity had a foothold in this district, even from the 1st century AD. The church located at Kokkamangalam was one of the seven churches founded by St. Thomas, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ. It is generally believed that he landed at Maliankara in Muziris Port, presently known as Cranganore or Kodungallur, in 52 AD and preached Christianity in South India. The district flourished in religion and culture under the second Chera Empire, during 9th to 12th centuries AD. The literary work, `Ascharya Choodamani`, a Sanskrit drama written by Sakthibhadran, a scholar of Chengannur, enables us to know many pertinent facts. Further, the temple on Lord Ayyappan, in Mukkal vattam near Muhamma in Alappuzha District, is called Cheerappanchira, for the Kalari from which Lord Ayyappa learnt his martial arts. A recent album by P. Unni Krishnan on Lord Ayyappa, titled 'Sabarimalai Va Charanam Solli Va', has songs illustrating the history of this temple and Lord Ayyappa's stay here before he went to conquer the Mahishi Demon.Since landing in Calicut in 1498, the Portuguese started playing an influential role in Alappuzha. They began by spreading Catholicism and converting already existing Christians into Catholics. The famous St. Andrew's Basilica was built by them during this period. In the 17th century, as the Portuguese power declined, the Dutch gained a predominant position in the principalities of this district. They built many factories and warehouses for storing pepper and ginger, relying on several treaties signed between the Dutch and the Rajas of Purakkad, Kayamkulam and Karappuram. In course of time they also delved into the political and cultural affairs of the district. At that time Maharaja Marthanda Varma (1706–1758), who was the 'Maker of modern Travancore', intervened in the political affairs of those princedoms. Travancore Dewan Ramayyan Dalawa (d. 1756) resided in Mavelikkara where he had a palace built by Marthanda Varma. After the death of his wife, Ramayyan consorted with a Nair lady from Mavelikkara of the Edassery family (PGN Unnithan, a member of this family, later became the last Dewan of Travancore in 1947). After his death Ramayyan's descendants left Travancore to settle in Pudukkottai in Tamil Nadu. His Nair consort was given gifts and presents and special allowances from the Travancore government in recognition of his services to the state while his own descendants were bestowed with the honorific title of Dalawa. In the 19th century the district saw progress in many spheres. One of the five subordinate courts opened in the state in connection with the reorganisation of the judicial system by Colonel George Monro was located at Mavelikkara. The first post office and first telegraph office in the former Travancore state were established in this district. The first manufacturing factory for the coir mats was established in 1859. In 1894 the city Improvement Committee was set up. The district played a role in the freedom struggle of the country. The struggles of Punnapra and Vayalar in 1946 arrayed the people against Sir C. P. Ramaswami Iyer, who was Dewan of Travancore. This led to Ramaswami Iyer's exit from the political scene of Travancore. A popular Ministry was formed in Travancore on 24 March 1948 after India's independence. Travancore and Cochin states were integrated on 1 July 1949. This arrangement continued until the formation of Kerala State on 1 November 1956, under the States Reorganisation Act 1956. The district came into existence as a separate administrative unit on 1 August 1957.