One of India’s lesser known and earliest leaders during the Indian Independence Movement is Pazhassiraja Kerala Varma. Descedent of the Kottayam royal family he is known for the Pazhassi Revolt against the British East Indian Company in the late 1700s. He fought to defend his land not only from the British but also the neighbouring region of Mysore. He fought against the British in major battles twice in 1793 and 1800.
The first war was fought because of malpractices of administration and harsh taxation rules at Kottayam by British and Kerala Varma’s uncle Vira Varma. Kerala Varma succeeded in his victory due to the support of nearby regions who held him in great respect. In the second battle, Kerala Varma had to defend the territory of Wayanad from British encroachment after the fall of Tipu Sultan. By 1801, driving his revolt Kerala Varma became a wanderer in the forests of Kottayam and Wayanad. British killed many close aides of Kerala Varma in an effort to draw him out. It was only in 1805, that he was caught in a surprise attack led by British office Thomas Harvey Baber.
His death is shrouded in mystery; it is unclear as to whether he was shot at the attack, committed suicide or was killed by traitors. Today there is a museum and an art gallery instituted in his name in Kozhikode. Managed by the State Archaeology Department, the museum has mural paintings, antique bronzes, ancient coins, models of temples, umbrella stones, dolmenoid cists (quadrangular burial chambers with capstones), and similar megalithic monuments. The art gallery is home to celebrated artist Raja Ravi Varma and his uncle Raja Raja Varma’s works.
In Mananthavady, Wayanad there is also a memorial dedicated to Kerala Varma, which is very close to the Pulpally cave where he took refuge until he was captured by the British.
How to reach there
By Air: Karipur International Airport, Kozhikode
By Rail: Kozhikode is well connected by rail.
By Road: Distance between Kozhikode and Cochin is 181 kms and the distance between Wayanad and Kozhikode is 85 kms.
Where to stay
Some of the well known hotels include Taj Gateway Beach Road Calicut, Kadavu Resort & Ayurveda Center and Westway Hotel Calicut.