History of Valluvanad
Extracted from an article titled Valluvanad Vamsam by K. C. Jayarajan Raja
(Sreevidya - January 1998) and translated by Sri M.C.K.Raja
(The complete article can be read from www.varma.net)
Valluvanad was an erstwhile princely state in the present state of Kerala in South India, that extended from the Nila River (Bharathapuzha River) in the South to the Panthaloor Mala in the North. On the west, it was bounded by the Arabian Sea at Ponnani and on the east by the Attapadi Hills (Silent Valley). The capital of erstwhile Valluvanad was at the present day town of Angadipuram, which is now famous for the Thirumandhamkunnu Temple. During the British period, the capital was moved to Perinthalmanna. The trade centre of Angadipuram was formerly called Velluthangaadi. Valluvanad Rajavamsam is considered to be a very ancient family of kings. Unnu Neeli Sandesham and Unni Yadi Charithram contain a mention of Vallabha Kshiti (Home of Vallabha), which, by all indications, is likely to be Valluvanad. In most records, the hierarchy was called "Arangot Swaroopam".
The history of valluvanad takes us to the antiquating days of the Second Chera Empire. Valluvanad Rajavamsam is considered to be a very venerable family of kings. There is a belief that the Valluvanad Rajas are the descendants of the Pallavas of Tamil Nadu, which makes evident that they were migrants from Tamil Nadu. Between B.C. 300 and A.D.300 the Pallavas, headquartered at Kanchipuram, had a branch ruling from Sreevilliputhur to increase the stability of their kingdom. The kings were supremely noble and valiant. Bhadrakaali and Sreevalli were their family Deities. After the spreading of Aryan culture to the South, one young Raja named Sreevallabha, became a devotee of lord Krishna which eventually made him to contrive a big vishnu temple there, after he became the ruler of Sreevilliputhur. This temple became very famous in the due course.
However, the prosperity of the area kept deteriorating. Seeking a way of deliverance, famous astrologers were invited to find a solution by conducting an act called "Prashnam". The outcome was that, although the temple would flourish due to the presence of lord Vishnu, but Raajavamsham would deterioate owing to the small deviation made in the norms of temple construction. The entire Vamsam were asked to vacate the place as a solution to the problem. Just like any other place, this land was also not free from superstitious beliefs and false notions, and the devotees of Bhagavathi, believed that this was the result of giving a higher importance to lord vishnu than to Bhagavathi.
Soon the Vallabha King and followers (including the entire family) left Sreevilliputhur and travelled a long distance to reach the banks of Bharathapuzha and slowly became the rulers of Valluvanad.
At one point of time the Valluakonathiri exercised sovereign powers over a considerable portion of South Malabar. After some years, the Saamoothiri of Calicut became a major force on the western coast and he captured several lands from Valluvanad. Till then, Valluakonathiri was the strongest of the kings and he had the right of presiding over the "Maamaanka Festival" held once in 12 years at Thirunaavaaya. This right was usurped by Samoothiri, when he captured the town in the latter half of the 13th century.
(Maamaamkam was a festival which was held on the banks of the Bhaarathapuzha River, once in 12 years. It was to Kerala what the Olympian and Pythian festivals had been to ancient Greece. Kings, nobles, brahmins, traders (Arabs, Chineese, Marwarris, Chettis, etc.) artists constituted the crowd on the sands of Thirunaavaaya. It was an occasion of joy and excitement to one and all).
The people of Valluvanad wanted to take back this right. It was with this purpose that the "Chaver Pada" (The Suicide Squad) was organised. The Raja never compelled anyone to join this "Pada". The people voluntarily came forward to save this right of Valluakonathiri. The Raja blessed them in their valiant endeavour and prayed for their victory. The patronage of Maamaamkam was known as Rakshaa Purusha Sthaanam. It was a position of great honour and prestige. Valluvakonathiri was the Patron of Maamaamkam before the Saamoothiri usurped it. This was a great blow to the self-respect of the people of valluvanad. Therefore every time the Zamorin took his position as Rakshapurusha at the Maamaamkam, the Suicide squad or chaver pada of Valluvanad reached there to fight against him. Death was a certainty, but still they came, ready to die, to uphold the prestige of their ruler.
There were four Nair families under Vellaattiri who used to send their heroes to fight and die in the Maamaankam festival. These were Chandratt Panicker, Puthumana Panicker, Kokat Panicker and Verkot Panicker. Along with them went a number of soldiers drawn from 'arms - bearing' Nair castes, sometimes including Muslims who opted themselves to die. Most of these Chaver soldiers had lost their relatives or elders in previous wars with the Samoothiri, and were incited also by the blood feud against him. They came from various parts of Malabar, assembled at Thirumaandhaamkunnu under Vellaattiri, and were led by commanders from one of the four houses.
The Maamaankam festival of 1683 is vividly described by William Logan in his Malabar Manual - "Amid much din and firing of guns the Morituri, the Chaver Nayars, the elect of four Nayar houses in Valluvanad, step forth from the crowd and receive the last blessings and farewells of their friends and relatives. They have just partaken of the last meal they are to eat on earth at the house of the temple representative of their chieftain; they are decked with garlands and smeared with ashes. On this particular occasion it is one of the houses of Puthumanna Panikkar who heads the fray. He is joined by seventeen of his friends - Nayar or Menon or other arms-bearing caste-men - for all who so wish may fall in with sword and target in support of the men who have elected to die."
The last Maamaankam was celebrated in 1766. During this Maamaankam, when Valluakonathiri did not find anybody volunteering for this heroic act, he himself prepared for the Chaverpada. He arranged for a special puja at Thirumandhamkunnu Bhagavathy Temple. After the puja when he reached Vadakke nada (the Northern entrance) he found an 18 year-old boy coming to him with 12 of his followers. They obtained the blessings of Valluakonathiri and proceeded to Thirunavaya for Maamaankam. This boy fought through the warriors of Samoothiri and reached the "Nilapatuthara" (stage) and swung his sword at Samoothiri. But he missed his target and hit a big bronze lamp, putting it out. At that moment, Mangaattachan struck at the boy and killed him. That was the last Maamaankotsavam. The lamp's going off was considered an ill omen. Later in due course, the entire Malabar area deteriorated in all spheres and reached its present state.
Later, at the time of Mysore invasion, Valluakonathiri sought asylum in Travancore. On the cessation of Malabar to the British by Tipu Sultan, Vellaattiri entered into an agreement with the former, and became a pensioner.
• Read about History of Valluvanad in www.wikipedia.org
• Read the full story of Valluvanad, Maamaankam and Thirumandhamkunnu Temple in www.varma.net