Tales of freedom struggles unfurl in these Kerala sites


Pazhassi Raja museum

Pazhassi Raja Museum

Pazhassi Raja Museum which was established in the official residence of collectors in British Malabar preserve the reminiscences of both British rule and the ancient megalithic age. The artefacts representing at least 8000 years past upto British era are well preserved here.

The museum has been renovated recently and provides digital access to information for the visitors regarding the antiquities stored. Visitors can obtain details of artefacts via touch screen, scanning QR codes or through YouTube channel, without the aid of instructors.

The museum, set up in the name of Pazhassi Raja, who led the first organised struggle against the British empire in Malabar is located at East Hill in Kozhikode.

Artefacts at Pazhassi Raja museum

Punnapra- Vayalar Memorial

Raising slogans ‘Hurl Americans and British agents into the Arabian sea’, a communist movement received momentum in the Travancore princely state in 1946. They were protesting against Diwan CP Ramaswami Iyer’s proposal to make Travancore an independent nation, without joining the Indian union. The locals were already agitated with the government due to the famine which claimed the lives of thousands of peasants in Alappuzha in the same decade. In order to retaliate the attacks unleashed by the communists against the officials and police, CP Ramaswamy Iyer declared martial law in Alappuzha in October 1946.

Punnapra- Vayalar memorial

By isolating Vayalar, Tranvancore army was sent to massacre the communists. The spears made of arecanut tree stems (‘varikundams’) of the protestants turned futile when the army opened fire at them. On records, 470 peasants were killed in the uprising held in Vayalar against the Diwan and his governance.

Later, Punnapra- Vayalar memorial was erected in Alappuzha to commemorate the resistance against the anti-national moves adopted by the Diwan.

Wagon Massacre Memorial

The memorial in Tirur is a reminder of a shocking incident which revealed the barbaric face of British rule in Malabar. Due to the negligence of the British police, 70 prisoners died inside a closed wagon while transporting them from Tirur to Bellary in the Madras presidency. The prisoners were arrested following the Mappila rebellion, a movement organised against the British in Malabar region. 64 prisoners in the wagon were spotted dead, when the officials opened the wagon at Podanur station. The remaining 6 persons also died later while undertaking treatment.

Wagon tragedy memorial in Tirur

Guruvayur Satyagraha Memorial

Guruvayur Satyagraha was launched for entry for all Hindus in Guruvayur temple, irrespective of their castes. Kerala witnessed one of the prominent Renaissance movements when the satyagraha began on November 1, 1931. The protest was led by a committee headed by Mannath Padmanabhan and K Kelappan. During the period of protests, the temple remained closed for 27 days. K Kelappan who started a hunger strike had to drop it after 12 days following the intervention of Mahatma Gandhi and Indian National Congress.

K Kelappan speaking to protestors of Guruvayur Satyagraha

Noted leaders of independence movements and social reformation, including AK Gopalan, P Krishna Pillai and NP Damodaran Nair, participated in the Guruvayur satyagraha, held in 1931-32. However, the Temple Entry Proclamation was issued only in 1936 in the erstwhile Travancore and all Hindus were allowed to enter into the temple on June 2, 1947, after the Madras government passed the bill.

Guruvayur Satyagraha memorial

Kallara- Pangode Memorial

The Government of India has enlisted Kallara- Pangode struggle as twenty sixth among the 39 major independence movements which shook the British empire in India.

Diwan CP Ramaswamy Iyer’s decision to collect more taxes for selling the agricultural products irked the farmers who were hitherto enlightened by the educated youth, trading communities and ex-soldiers against British rule. The struggle was considered to be in allegiance with the Civil Disobedience Movement proceeding at pan India level under Mahatma Gandhi. An open clash of the famers and public with the Diwan’s police led to bloodsheds and custodial tortures of the leader Kochappi Pillai. British police hunted and killed several agitators who fought at the forefront of the movement.

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