The Kingdom of Travancore ( /ˈtrævəŋkɔər/; Malayalam: തിരുവിതാംകൂര്, tiruvitāṁkūr ? [t̪iɾuʋit̪aːɱkuːr]) was a former Hindu feudal kingdom (till 1858) and Indian princely state that had been ruled by the Travancore Royal Family from the capital at Padmanabhapuram or Thiruvananthapuram. The Kingdom of Travancore at its zenith comprised most of modern day southern Kerala, Kanyakumari district, and the southernmost parts of Tamil Nadu.
The official flag of the state was red with a dextrally-coiled silver conch shell (Turbinella pyrum) at its centre. The king of the state was accorded 19-gun salute, the second highest among the honorary gun salutes that were granted by the British Empire to honour the heads of the princely states. The state government took many progressive steps in the socioeconomic front and the state was one among the best of princely states, with reputed achievements in education, political administration, public work and social reforms.
King Marthanda Varma (1729–1758) founded the modern Kingdom of Travancore by militarily expanding the Kingdom of Venad. He hailed from the Kingdom of Thrippappur, one of the branches of the Venad royal family, who trace their origin back to the Ay kingdom and the Later Chera kingdom.
In 1741, Travancore won the Battle of Colachel against the Dutch East India Company, resulting in the complete eclipse of Dutch power in the region. In this battle, the admiral of the Dutch, Eustachius De Lannoy, was captured; later he was utilized to modernize the Travancore army by introducing better firearms and artillery.
The Travancore-Dutch War (1739–1753) is the earliest example of an Asian state overcoming a European power in war. Travancore became the most powerful state in the Kerala region by defeating the Zamorin of Calicut in a battle at Purakkad. Ramayyan Dalawa, the Prime Minister (1737–1756) of Marthanda Varma, also played an important role in this consolidation and expansion. Travancore often allied with the English East India Company in military conflicts.
During the reign of Dharma Raja, Marthanda Varma's successor, Tipu Sultan, the de facto ruler of Kingdom of Mysore and the son of Hyder Ali attacked Travancore as a part of the Mysorean invasion of Kerala; this led to the famous Third Anglo-Mysore War, as Travancore had already allied with the British to seek protection from the potent assault from Tippu. In 1808 Travancore witnessed an armed rebellion against the British under the leadership of Velu Thampi Dalawa, the Prime Minister of Travancore, but was successfully quelled with the help of the British.
Chithira Thirunal, the last king of Travancore, made the Temple Entry Proclamation in 1936 abolishing the ban on low-caste people from entering Hindu Temples. At the same time, C. P. Ramaswami Iyer, Chithira Thirunal's Prime Minister, is remembered for the ruthless suppression of a local struggle organised by the Communists, known as the Punnapra-Vayalar uprising.
When United Kingdom accepted demands for a partition and announced its intention to quit India, the king of Travancore, Chithira Thirunal, issued a declaration of independence on June 18, 1947. The declaration was unacceptable to the Government of India; many rounds of negotiation were conducted among the diwan, C. P. Ramaswami Iyer, and the Indian representatives.
In July 23, 1947 they decided in favour of the accession to the Indian Union, pending approval by the king. An assassination attempt on the diwan by the Communists on the July 25, 1947 caused to hasten the accession of Travancore state to the Indian Union. Travancore and the princely state of Cochin merged on 1 July 1949 to form the Indian state of Travancore-Cochin. Later Travancore-Cochin joined with the Malabar district of the Madras State (modern day Tamil Nadu), on 1 November 1956, to form the Indian state of Kerala.
Travancore (and Venad) was located at the extreme southern tip of the Indian subcontinent. Geographically, Travancore was divided into three climatically distinct regions: the eastern highlands (rugged and cool mountainous terrain), the central midlands (rolling hills), and the western lowlands (coastal plains).
History of Travancore
Venad was a former feudal state at the tip of the Indian Subcontinent, traditionally ruled by the rajas, known as Venattadis. Till the end of 11th century AD, it was a small principality in the Ay Kingdom. The Ays were the earliest ruling dynasty in southern Kerala, who, at their zenith, ruled over a region from Nagercoil in the south to Thiruvalla in the north. Their capital during the first Sangam age was in Aykudi and later towards the end of the 8th century AD, was at Kollam.
Though a series of attacks by the resurgent Pandyas between 7th and 8th centuries caused the decline of Ays, the dynasty was powerful till the beginning of the 10th century. When the Ay power diminished, Venad became the southern most principality of the Second Chera Kingdom Invasion of Cholas into Venad caused the destruction of Kollam in 1096. However, the Chera capital, Mahodayapuram, also fell in the subsequent Chola attack, which compelled the Chera king, Rama varma Kulasekara, to shift his capital to Kollam.
Thus, Rama Varma Kulasekara, the last emperor of Chera dynasty, is probably the founder of the Venad royal house, and the title of Chera kings, Kulasekara, was thenceforth kept by the rulers of Venad. Thus the end of Second Chera dynasty in the 12th century marks the independence of the Venad.
In the second half of the 12th century, two branches of Ay Dynasty, Thrippappur and Chirava, merged in the Venad family and thus setting up the tradition of designating the ruler of Venad as Chirava Moopan and the heir-apparent as Thrippappur Moopan. While Chrirava Moopan had his residence at Kollam, the Thrippappur Moopan resided at his palace in Thrippappur, 9 miles north of Thiruvananthapuram, and was vested with the authority over the temples of Venad kingdom, especially the Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple.
A number of kings such as-:
- Kodai Kerala Varma,
- Udaya Martanda Varma (1175–1195),
- Vira Rama Kerala Varma,
- Ravi Kerala Varma,
- Ravivarma Kulasekhara (1299–1314),
- Vira Marthanda Varma
ruled over the kingdom. After the 14th century, the Venad rulers gradually intermarried with the Namboothiris, and sometimes with the Nairs, adopting the custom of matrilineal descendency.
Formation of Travancore
Later in the 16th century the Chirava Moopan became the ruler of Kollam (Desinganad) and Thrippappur Moopan became the Venad king, then known as Thrippappur. During this time, Venad was weak and paid an annual tribute to the Nayaks of Madurai, whose general would annually visited the capital Padmanabhapuram (near Nagercoil of Kanyakumari District) to collect the tribute.
The temple trustees and the feudal landlords (Ettara Yogam) too were quite powerful and the kings and queens of Venad could not easily control their activities. The rulers of Venad (and later, those of Travancore) were Malayala Kshatriyas followed a matrilineal system of inheritance known as "Marumakkathayam".
The history of Travancore began with Marthanda Varma, who inherited the kingdom of Thrippappur, and expanded it into Travancore during his reign (1729–1758). He expanded the kingdom of Venad, through a series of military campaigns, from Kanyakumari in the south to the borders of Kochi in the north during his 29 year rule. He signed a treaty with the British East India Company and with their help, destroyed the power of the eight feudal land lords called Ettuveetil Pillamar and "Ettara Yogam" who supported the Thampi sons of the previous king of Venad, Rajah Rama Varma.
After achieving internal stability in his kingdom, Marthanda Varma set out to conquer the neighbouring kingdoms. In successive battles, Marthanda Varma defeated and absorbed the kingdoms right up to Cochin kingdom including Attingal, Kollam, Kayamkulam, Kottarakara, Kottayam, Pandalam, Poonjar and Chempakassery.
He succeeded in defeating the Dutch East India Company during the Travancore-Dutch War (1739–1753), the most decisive engagement of which was the Battle of Colachel (10 August 1741) in which the Dutch Admiral Eustachius De Lannoy was captured.
On January 3, 1750 AD, (5 Makaram, 925 Kollavarsham), Marthanda Varma virtually "dedicated" Travancore to his tutelary deity Padmanabha of Padmanabhaswamy Temple (the Trippadidaanam) and from then on the rulers of Travancore ruled as the "servants of Padmanabha" (the Padmnabha-dasans).
In 1753, the Dutch signed a peace treaty with Marthanda Varma. With Battle of Ambalapuzha (3 January 1754) in which he defeated the union of the deposed Kings and the king of Cochin kingdom, Marthanda Varma crushed all opposition to his rule. In 1757, after the Cochin Travancore War (1755–1756), a treaty was concluded between Travancore and Cochin kingdom, ensuring stability on the northern border.
Marthanda Varma organised the tax system and constructed many irrigation works in his kingdom. Admiral Eustachius De Lannoy, who was captured as a prisoner of war in the famous Battle of Colachel was appointed as the Senior Admiral ("Valiya kappittan") and he modernised the Travancore army by introducing firearms and artillery. Ayyappan Marthanda Pillai served as the "Sarvadi Karykar" (Head of the Army). Marthanda Varma introduced titles such as Chempaka Raman and honours such as Ettarayum Koppum to honour the lords and his relatives who had remained faithful to him during his internal problems with the Ettuveetil Pillamar. His able Prime Minister during his entire military career was Ramayyan Dalawa.
Mysore invasion of Kerala
Marthanda Varma's successor Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma (1758–1798) who was popularly known as Dharma Raja, shifted the capital in 1795 from Padmanabhapuram to Thiruvananthapuram. Dharma Raja's period is considered as a Golden Age in the history of Travancore. He not only retained the territorial gains of his predecessor Marthanda Varma, but also improved and encouraged social developments. He was greatly assisted by a very efficient administrator, Raja Kesavadas, who was the Diwan of Travancore.
During Dharma Raja's reign, Tipu Sultan, the de facto ruler of Mysore and the son of Hyder Ali attacked Travancore in 1789 as a part of Mysore invasion of Kerala. Dharma Raja had earlier refused to hand over the Hindu political refugees from the Mysore occupation of Malabar, who had been given asylum in Travancore. The Mysore army entered Cochin kingdom from Coimbatore in November 1789 and reached Trichur in December.
On December 28, 1789 Tipu Sultan attacked the Nedunkotta (Northern lines) from north, resulting in the Battle of the Nedumkotta (1789). The six thousand strong Travancore army, trained in the European mode of warfare by Eustachius De Lannoy, held up the French trained war-hardened, fourteen thousand strong army of Tipu Sultan till April 1790, inflicting heavy causalities (local legends state that one of the Mysorean commanders, who happened to be Tipu's own cousin was killed in the fighting and that, following an ambush, Tipu himself was wounded and his personal effects captured by the Nairs of the Travancorean army).
Tipu's army finally broke through the Nedumkottah and reached the banks of Periyar river but the floods in Periyar river (according to the local legends, the Travancorean commanders blew up a dam, causing the flash floods, but historians have not provided any evidence for this) prevented the Mysorean army from marching further south. The English East India company now declared war on Mysore Third Anglo-Mysore War in support of Travancore. Finding themselves unable to proceed further and on getting information that British forces were marching on his capital, Tipu and his army retreated back to Mysore. Though the battle of the Nedumkotta was tactically a Mysorean victory, strategically, Travancore had profited since the Mysorean army could not hold on to their hard won conquests.
Velu Thampi Dalawa's rebellion
On Dharma Raja's death in 1798, Balarama Varma (1798–1810) took over crown at the age of sixteen. A treaty brought Travancore under the East India Company protection in 1795.
The Prime Ministers (Dalawas or Dewans) started taking control of the kingdom beginning with Velu Thampi Dalawa (Velayudhan Chempakaraman Thampi) (1799–1809) who was appointed as the divan following the dismissal of Jayanthan Sankaran Nampoothiri (1798–1799). Initially, Velayudhan Chempakaraman Thampi and the English East India Company got along very well.
A section of the Travancore army mutinied in 1805 against Velu Thampi Dalawa and he sought refuge with the British Resident and later used English East India Company troops to crush the mutiny. Velu Thampi also played a key role in renegotiating a new treaty between Travancore and the English East India Company. However, the demands by the East India Company for the payment of compensation for their involvement in the Travancore-Mysore War (1791) on behalf of Travancore, led to tension between the Diwan and the East India Company Resident. Velu Thampi and the diwan of Cochin kingdom, Paliath Achan Govindan Menon, declared "war" on the East India Company.
The kings of both kingdoms, Travancore and Cochin, did not support the Prime Ministers openly. Initially, the rebel forces of Velu Thampi Dalawa and Paliath Achan Govindan Menon were successful and on December 18, 1808, they stormed the Residents house in Cochin. The situation changed when an assault on Cochin itself by the rebels on January 19, 1809 was forced back with heavy losses. Col. Leger led an army of the East India Company's soldiers through the Aramboli Ghat and occupied the forts of Udayagiri and Padmanabhapuram on February 19, 1809. Following this development, the king of Travancore who till then had refused to take any open part in the civil war, turned against his Prime Minister.
Adoption Durbar, Trivandrum
The East India Company forces defeated Paliath Achan in Cochin on February 27, 1809. Paliath Achan surrendered to the East India Company and was exiled to Madras and later to Benaras. The Company defeated forces under Velu Thampi Dalawa at battles near Nagercoil and Kollam and inflicted heavy casualties on the rebels, following which many of his supporters deserted and went back to their homes.
The allied East India Company army and the Travancore soldiers camped in Pappanamcode, just outside Trivandrum. Velu Thampi Dalawa now organised a guerrilla struggle against the Company, but committed suicide to avoid capture by the Travancore army. After the mutiny of 1805 against Velu Thampi Dalawa, most of the Nair battalions of Travancore had been disbanded, and after Velu Thampi Dalawa's uprising, almost all of the remaining Travancore forces were also disbanded, with the East India Company undertaking to serve the king in cases of external and internal aggression.
19th and early 20th centuries
Balarama Varma was succeeded by Rani Gowri Lakshmi Bayi in 1810–1815 with the help of the British. When a boy was born to her in 1813, the infant was declared the King, but the Rani continued to rule as the regent. The British Colonel Munro served as her Diwan. On Rani Gowri Lakshmi Bayi's death in 1815, Maharani Gowri Parvati Bayi followed her as regent. Both of the regencies saw great progresses in social issues and in education. Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma assumed the throne in 1829. He was a famous exponent of Carnatic and Hindustani music. He abolished many unnecessary taxes, and started an English school and a charity hospital in Trivandrum in 1834.
In Travancore, the caste system was more rigorously enforced than in many other parts of India. The rule of discriminative hierarchical caste order was deeply entrenched in the social system and was supported by the government which had transformed this caste-based social system into a religious institution.
In such a context, the belief of Ayyavazhi, apart from being a religious system, served also as a reform movement in uplifting the downtrodden section of the society, both socially and as well as religiously. The rituals of Ayyavazhi conducted a social discourse. Its beliefs, mode of worship and religious organisation seem to have enabled the group to negotiate, cope with and resist the relation of authority.
The hard tone of Vaikundar towards this was perceived as a revolution against the government. So the King Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma imprisoned Vaikundar but later released him. In fact, it is notable that, in one way or another after the release of Vaikundar (in 1839–40), the caste-based discrimination by the Kingdom underwent a remarkable change.
The next ruler Maharajah Uthram Thirunal Marthanda Varma AD 1847–1860, abolished slavery in the Kingdom in 1855, and restrictions on the dress codes of certain castes in 1859 following the recommendation of the Protestant clergy. His acts on these social issues won him praise and was copied by the neighbouring State of Cochin. The maharajah started the postal system in 1857 and a school for girls in 1859. He was succeeded by Ayilyam Thirunal 1860–1880, during whose rule, agriculture, irrigation works and road ways were promoted.
Humane codes of law were enforced in 1861 and a college was established in 1866. He also built many charity hospitals including a lunatic asylum. The first systematic Census of Travancore was taken on May 18, 1875. he also introduced vaccination in the country. Rama Varma Visakham Thirunal ruled from 1880–1885. He became the first Indian Prince to be offered a seat in the Viceroy's Executive Council and also authored a number of books and essays. He reorganised the police force, and abolished many oppressive taxes.
The reign of Sri Moolam Thirunal Sir Rama Varma 1885–1924 saw the establishment of many colleges and schools. When Jawaharlal Nehru visited the area in the 1920s, he remarked that the education was superior to British India. The medical system was reorganised and Legislative Council, the first of its kind in an Indian state, was established in 1888. The principle of election was established and women too were allowed to vote.
Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bayi, Regent of Travancore (1924–1931) Sethu Lakshmi Bayi ruled as the regent from 1924–1931. She abolished animal sacrifice and replaced the matrilineal system of inheritance with the patrilineal one. She ended the Devdasi system in Temples and was commended by Mahatma Gandhi for spending a fifth of the state revenue on education.
The last ruler of Travancore was Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma AD 1931–1947. He made the temple entry proclamation on 12 November 1936, which opened all the Kshetrams (Hindu temples in Kerala) in Travancore to all Hindus, a privilege reserved to only upper caste Hindus till then. This act won him praise from across India, most notably from Mahatma Gandhi.
The first public transport system (Trivandrum – Mavelikkara)and telecommunication system (Trivandrum Palace – Mavelikkara Palace) were launched at the reign of Sri. Chithira Thirunal. He also started the industrialisation of the state. However, his prime minister Sir C. P. Ramaswami Iyer was unpopular among the general public of Travancore.
When the British decided to grant independence to India, the minister declared that Travancore would remain as an independent country, based on an "American model." The tension between the local people, led by the Indian National Congress and the Communists, and Sir. C.P. Ramaswami Iyer led to revolts in various places of the country.
In one such revolt in Punnapra-Vayalar in 1946, the Communists established their own government in the area. This was crushed by the Travancore army and navy leading to hundreds of deaths. These events led to further disturbances in the State, leading to more killings. The minister issued a statement in June 1947 that Travancore would remain as an independent country instead of joining the Indian Union, and subsequently, an attempt was made on the life of Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer following which he resigned and fled to Madras, to be succeeded by Sri PGN Unnithan. After these events, Sardar Patel threatened military action against Travancore should she not agree to join India, and the Maharajah, facing both internal agitation and external pressure, complied.
Cessation of the practice of mahādanams
The Maharajas of Travancore had been conditionally promoted to Kshatryahood with periodic performance of 16 mahādānams (great gifts in charity) such as Hiranya-garbhā, Hiranya-Kāmdhenu, Hiranyāswaratā, and Tulāpurushadānam in which each of which thousands of Brahmins had been given costly gifts apart from each getting a minimum of 1 kazhanch (78.65 gms) of gold.
The Nambudiri Brahmins had stipulated that Rajas of Travancore could retain their dignity of Sāmantan Nair permanently but the Samanta Kshatriyhood conferred on them by the yāgās and mahādanams would be valid only for 6 years and thus latter purchased kshatriyhood at a heavy recurring cost. During 1848, Lord Dalhousie the then Governor general of British India was appraised that the depressed condition of the finances in Tranavcore was owing to mal-administration and practices of treasury by the ruling elite.
Lord Dalhousie, who was indignant at the colossal wasteful expenditure of Travancore state treasury through mahādanams among others, instructed Lord Harris Governor of Madras, warn the Rāja under the ninth article of the treaty of 1805. On 21 November 1855, Lord Harris dispatched a strongly worded communication to the then Rāja of Travancore alias Martanda varma (Uttram Tirunal 1847–1860 AD) that if he did not put a stop to his periodic re-incarnation as Kshatriya by squandering away huge sums of taxpayer´s money, among others, his state administration would be taken over by the Madras government. This led to the cessation of the practice of mahādanams and the Rājas of Travancore were unable to purchase their Kshatriyahood further.
The movement for the unification of the lands where Malayalam was spoken as the mother tongue took concrete shape at the State People's Conference held in Ernakulam in April 1928, and a resolution was passed therein calling for Aikya Kerala ("United Kerala").
On July 1, 1949, the State of Travancore-Cochin was established, with the Maharajah of Travancore as the Rajapramukh of the new State. A number of popular ministries were elected and fell and in 1954, the Travancore Tamil Nadu Congress launched a campaign for the merger of the Tamil speaking regions of Southern Travancore with the neighbouring area of Madras.
The agitation took a violent turn and some police and many local people were killed at Marthandam and Puthukkada, irreparably alienating the entire Tamil speaking population from merger into Kerala. Under the State Reorganisation Act of 1956, the four southern taluks of Travancore, namely Thovalai, Agasteeswaram, Kalkulam and Vilavancode and a part of the Chencotta Taluk was merged with Madras state. The State of Kerala came into existence on November 1, 1956 with a Governor, appointed by the President of India, as the head of the State instead of the Maharajah.
The Maharajah was stripped of all his ranks and privileges according to the twenty-sixth amendment of the Indian constitution act of July 31, 1971 He died on July 19, 1991.
Rulers of Travancore
- Rani Umayamma (Regent) 1678 – 1684
- Ravi Varma 1678 – 1705
- Unni Kerala Varma III 1705 – 1718
- Aditya Varma 1718 – 1721
- Rama Varma I 1721 – 27 Jan 1729
- Anizham Tirunal Marthanda Varma 1729–1758
- Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma (Dharma Raja) 1758–1798
- Balarama Varma 1798–1810
- Gowri Lakshmi Bayi 1810–1815 (Queen from 1810–1813 and Regent Queen from 1813–1815)
- Gowri Parvati Bayi (Regent) 1815–1829
- Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma 1829–1846
- Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma 1846–1860
- Ayilyam Thirunal Rama Varma 1860–1880
- Visakham Thirunal Rama Varma 1880–1885
- Sree Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma 1885–1924
- Sethu Lakshmi Bayi (Regent) 1924–1931
- Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma 1931–1947
Styles and titles
The ruling prince: Maharaja Raja Ramaraja Sri Patmanabha Dasa Vanchi Pala (personal name) Varma, Kulasekhara Kiritapati Manney Sultan Bahadur, Shamsher Jang, Maharaja of Travancore, with the style of His Highness.
The Heir Apparent: Maharajkumar (personal name) Varma, Eliya Raja of Travancore. The Heiress: Sri Patmanabha Sevini Vanchi Dharma Vardhini Raja Rajeshwari Maharani (personal name) Bai, Senior Maharani of Travancore, with the style of Her Highness.
The Second Heiress, if mother of the ruling prince: Sri Patmanabha Sevini Vanchipala Dyumani Raj Rajeshwari Maharani Maharani (personal name) Bai, Junior Maharani of Travancore, with the style of Her Highness.
The consort of the ruling prince: (mother's house name) Ammachi Panapilla Amma Srimathi (personal name) Pilla Kochamma.
The sons of the ruling prince: Sri (mother's house name) (personal name) Tampi. The daughters of the ruling prince: (mother's house name) Ammaveetil Srimathi (personal name) Pilla Kochamma.
NB: all members of the ruling family receive two names, an official personal name and a name associated with the star under which they are born. The latter usually end with the suffix Tirunal.
Travancore was characterized by the popularity of its rulers among common men. The kings of Travancore, unlike their counterparts in the other Princely States of India, spent only a small portion of their state's resources for personal use. This was in sharp contrast with some of the northern Indian Rajas.
Since they spent most of the state's revenue for the benefit of the public, they were naturally much loved by their subjects. This was so even in the context of the high-handedness of some of their Prime Ministers (called Dewans). The trend of a popular ruler started with Marttanda Varma, who declared himself as "servant" of god Vishnu and virtually ruled Travancore "owned by Vishnu" according to the god's wishes.
Religious and social tolerance was another of notable feature of the rulers of Travancore. Unlike the situation in many parts of British India, religious- and caste-based violence was very rare in Travancore, apart from a few incidents in 1821, 1829, 1858 and 1921, which themselves, when compared to similar riots elsewhere, were very mild. This tolerance of different religions was equally applicable when it came to social and ideological matters.
Most of the political ideologies (such as communism) and social reforms were welcomed in Travancore. The universality of education and temple entry permission for those considered as 'untouchables' were unique to this part of India. Although tolerant rulers, the Travancore royal family were devout Hindus; they also donated land and material to the construction of Christian churches and Muslim mosques. This patronage was appreciated by local Christians who actively supported the devout Hindu Marthanda Varma during the Tranvancore-Dutch battles against a Christian power, and by the Muslims who joined his army.
Unlike in the rest of India, in Travancore (and in Malabar and Cochin), the social status and freedom of women were high. In many communities, the daughters inherited the property right up to 1925, were educated, and had the right to divorce and remarry
List of Diwans of Travancore Dalawas
- Arumukham Pillai 1729–1736
- Thanu Pillai 1736–1737
- Ramayyan Dalawa 1737–1756
- Martanda Pillai 1756–1763
- Warkala Subbayyan 1763–1768
- Krishna Gopalayyan 1768–1776
- Vadiswaran Subbrahmanya Iyer 1776–1780
- Mullen Chempakaraman Pillai 1780–1782
- Nagercoil Ramayyan 1782–1788
- Krishnan Chempakaraman 1788–1789
- Raja Kesavadas 1789–1798
- Odiery Jayanthan Sankaran Nampoothiri 1798–1799
- Velu Thampi Dalawa 1799–1809
- Oommini Thampi 1809–1811
- Dewan Rajah Sir T. Madhava Rao
- Col. John Munro 1811–1814
- Devan Padmanabhan Menon 1814–1814
- Bappu Rao (acting) 1814–1815
- Sanku Annavi Pillai 1815–1815
- Raman Menon 1815–1817
- Reddy Rao 1817–1821
- T. Venkata Rao 1821–1830
- Thanjavur Subha Rao 1830–1837
- Ranga Rao (acting) 1837–1838
- T. Venkata Rao (Again) 1838–1839
- Thanjavur Subha Rao (again) 1839–1842
- Krishna Rao (acting) 1842–1843
- Reddy Rao (again) 1843–1845
- Srinivasa Rao (acting) 1845–1846
- Krishna Rao 1846–1858
(from Oct 1923, also Agents for Cochin)
- 8 Oct 1788 – 1800 George Powney
- 10 May 1800 – 4 Mar 1810 Colin Macaulay (b. 1760 – d. 1836)
- 23 Mar 1810 – 24 Jan 1819 John Munro
- 23 Apr 1819 – 7 Nov 1820 S. MacDowall (d. 1820)
- 7 Nov 1820 – 1May 827 David Newall (d. 1827)
- 11 May 1827 – 1834 Edward Cadogan
- 1828 – 1829 Morrisom (acting for Cadogan)
- 24 Jun 1833 – 1836 James Archibald Casamajor (b. 1784 – d. 1863)
- 12 Jan 1836 – 1838 James Stuart Fraser (b. 1783 – d. 1869)
- 15 Aug 1838 – Nov 1839 A. Douglas
- 1 Nov 1839 – Sep 1840 Thomas Maclean
- 8 Sep 1840 – 11 Jan 1860 William Cullen (d. 1862)
- 11 Jan 1860 – 1 May 1862 F.N. Maltby
- 1 May 1862 – 7 Apr 1864 W. Fisher
- 15 Apr 1864 – 26 Feb 1867 Henry Newill (1st time) (d. 1869)
- 26 Feb 1867 – 26 May 1867 Atholl MacGregor (1st time)
- 27 May 1867 – 25 Mar 1869 Henry Newill (2nd time) (s.a.)
- 25 Mar 1869 – 1870 G.A. Ballard (1st time)
- 31 Mar 1870 – Jun 1871 J.I. Minchin
- 22 Jun 1871 – Jul 1874 G.A. Ballard (2nd time)
- 13 Jul 1874 – 14 Oct 1874 A.F.F. Bloomfield
- 14 Oct 1874 – Apr 1875 G.A. Ballard (3rd time)
- Apr 1875 – Oct 1875 Woulfe Hay
- 11 Oct 1875 – 1877 Atholl MacGregor (2nd time)
- 10 Mar 1877 – Feb 1878 Henry Edward Sullivan (acting)
- 20 Feb 1878 – Mar 1879 John Child Hannyngton (1st time)
- 28 Mar 1879 – Mar 1881 Atholl MacGregor (3rd time)
- 1 Apr 1881 – May 1883 John Child Hannyngton (2nd time)
- 6 May 1883 – Feb 1884 W. Logan (acting)
- 25 Feb 1884 – Aug 1884 R.W. Barlow (acting)
- 15 Aug 1884 – Jul 1887 John Child Hannyngton (3rd time)
- 7 Jul 1887 – Oct 1887 H.R.N. Prendergast (acting)
- 7 Oct 1887 – Jul 1890 John Child Hannyngton (4th time)
- 16 Jul 1890 – Nov 1891 Henry Bidewell Grigg (1st time) (d. 1895)
- 5 Nov 1891 – Nov 1892 John Child Hannyngton
- 8 Nov 1892 – Apr 1895 Henry Bidewell Grigg (2nd time) (s.a.)
- 15 Apr 1895 – Jul 1895 John David Rees (1st time) (b. 1854 – d. 1922)
- 12 Jul 1895 – Aug 1896 J. Thomson
- 8 Aug 1896 – Dec 1896 John David Rees (2nd time)(acting)
- 15 Dec 1896 – Jul 1897 F.A. Nicholson (1s time)(acting)
- 17 Jul 1897 – Aug 1898 John David Rees (3rd time)
- 22 Aug 1898 – Jul 1899 F.A. Nicholson (2nd time)
- 11 Jul 1899 – Nov 1904 Gordon Thomas Mackenzie
- 19 Nov 1904 – Mar 1906 James Andrew
- 16 Mar 1906 – May 1908 R.C.C. Carr (1st time)
- 24 May 1908 – Feb 1909 J. Davidson (acting)
- 23 Feb 1909 – Sep 1910 R.C.C. Carr (2nd time)
- 8 Sep 1910 – Feb 1912 A.T. Forbes (1st time)
- 11 Feb 1912 – Mar 1913 R.A. Graham (1st time)(acting)
- 20 Mar 1913 – Mar 1915 A.T. Forbes (2nd time)
- 25 Mar 1915 – Feb 1917 R.A. Graham (2nd time)(acting)
- 15 Feb 1917 – Dec 1920 H.L. Braidwood
- 2 Dec 1920 – Jun 1923 H.H. Barkitt
- 26 Jun 1923 – May 1926 C.W.E. Cotton (1st time)
- 4 May 1926 – Nov 1926 H.A.B. Vernon (acting)
- 9 Nov 1926 – Apr 1928 C.W.E. Cotton (2nd time)
- 19 Apr 1928 – Dec 1929 C.G. Crosthwaite
- 14 Dec 1929 – Oct 1930 A.N. Ley-Carter
- 21 Oct 1930 – Nov 1932 H.R.N. Pritchard
- 21 Nov 1932 – Feb 1935 Donald Muyle Field (b. 1881 – d. ....)
- 22 Feb 1935 – Nov 1936 W.A.M. Garstin
- 20 Nov 1936 – 1940 Clarmont Percival Skrine (b. 1888 – d. 1974)
- 1940 – 1944 George Francis Murphy
- 1944 – 1945 H.J. Todd
- 1945 – 1946 Cosmo Grant Niven Edwards (1st time)
- 1946 – 1947 A.A. Russell
- 1947 Cosmo Grant Niven Edwards (2nd time)
Main article: Maharaja of Travancore