Travancore - Encyclopedia

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TRAVANCORE, a state of southern India, in political relation with Madras. Area, 7091 sq. m. In 1901 the population was 2,952,157, showing an increase of 15% in the preceding decade. The state stands sixteenth among the native states of India in area and third in population. Travancore extends more than 150 m. along the west coast as far as Cape Comorin, the southernmost point of the peninsula. The Western Ghats rise to an elevation of 8000 ft. and are clothed with primeval forest; they throw out spurs towards the coast, along which there is a belt of flat country of about 10 m. in width, covered with coco-nut and areca palms, which to a great extent constitute the wealth of the country. The whole surface is undulating, and presents a series of hills and valleys traversed from east to west by many rivers, the floods of which, arrested by the peculiar action of the Arabian Sea, spread themselves out into lagoons or backwaters, connected here and there by artificial canals, and forming an inland line of smooth-water communication for nearly the whole length of the coast. The chief river is the Periyar, 142 m. in length. Other important rivers are the Pambai and its tributary the Achenkoil, the Kallada, and the Western Tambraparni. Iron is abundant and plumbago is worked. Elephants are numerous, and tigers, leopards, bears, bison and various kinds of deer abound in the forests. Travancore has an abundant rainfall, with every variety of temperature. The principal ports are Alleppi, Quilon and Paravur; but there is no real harbour. The state has a fine system of roads, and the Cochin-Shoranur and the Tinnevelly-Quilon railways pass through it. The Periyar irrigation project conducts water through the ghats in a tunnel to irrigate the Madras district of Madura, for which compensation of Rs. 40,000 is annually paid to Travancore. Trade is large and increasing, the chief exports being copra, coir and other coco-nut products, pepper, tea, sugar, areca-nuts, timber, hides, coffee, &c. The capital is Trivandrum. The revenue is £670,000; tribute, f80,000; military force, 1360 infantry, 61 cavalry and 30 artillery with 6 guns. The maharaja of Travancore claims descent from Cheraman Perumal, the last Hindu monarch of united Malabar, whose date is variously given from A.D. 378 to 825. Though he is a Kshatriya, the succession follows the local custom of inheritance through females; consequently his sand y of adoption authorizes him to adopt sisters' sons. For some generations the rulers have been men of education and character, and the state is conspicuous for good administration and prosperity. Education, and female education in particular, is more advanced than in any other part of India. The two dominant sections of the population are the Namburi Brahmins and the Nairs or military caste. Native Christians, chiefly of the Syrian rite, form nearly one-fourth of the whole, being more numerous than in any Madras district.

See V. Nagam Aiya, Travancore State Manual (Trivandrum, 1906).

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