30th November is celebrated as the 201st anniversary of the heroic martyrdom of the great hero of history of Kerala. Pazhazi Raja is literally described as the Roaring lion of the Freedom struggle history of Kerala.
His resistance to the British rule is one with no similarities. He raised his voice and arms against British at a time when they had very well spread terror in the minds and hearts of every ruling Kings of India. ‘A small man with a smile’ that is what Walter Ivor, a member of the British court of directors described this great hero.
Kerala Verma Raja popularly called Pazhazi Raja was one of the younger generation of ‘Kottayam Thamburans’ family of Pazhazi Kotta (Pazhazi fort ) near ‘Mattanor’ ruling the areas of Kottayam and Wayanad. Pazhazi Raja is said to be of an agitating character right from his younger age. His rise against the British had a commendable impression on the history. The British who turned out to be bitter enemies were once in good relations with the King.
They came to his aid when Tipu sultan and Hyder Ali moved their forces against Malabar. But before long, he understood that the British were using him as a tool to fulfill their designs and that they would turn against him once Tipu and Hyder fell.
But British were clever enough to sense the agitation in the Kottayam fort. Hence they signed the treaty of Sreerangapatanam with Tipu sultan in 1792 by which the British were given the control over Malabar. The British very well knew that Pazhazi could be a dangerous customer. So they transferred the control of Kottayam and Kurumbanad areas from Pazhazi fort to the ‘Raja of Kurumbanad’. These decisions of British proved fatal to themselves. Pazhazi felt insulted and was very angry and furious about the decision that he ordered every citizen of his kingdom not to pay the taxes levied by the British.
Pazhazi knew that the british were not going to sit with their hand in their in their mouth hearing about his order so as a precautionary measure he built a strong and trained ‘nair pattalam’ (nair army) ro face the British forces. As expected on 1796 April 19, a troop of British soldiers lead by James Gordon surrounded the fort to capture Pazhazi raja but the king made a dramatic escape and fled to ‘Manathana Kotta’.
Pazhazi very well knew that facing British force on the land or water is not going to be easy. Hence he organized a strong and trained troop of ‘nair’ and ‘kurichier’ tribe men of wayanad and developed a well organized gorilla warfare system. The force lead by many great warriors such as Thalakkal Chandu, Adachana Kunkan etc proved a real headache to the british officials.
To add to the difficulties the dangerous hills, wild forest, deep trenches of wayanad made it impossible for them to detect the source of attack and to combat it efficiently. Thus the worst fears of the British of their one time-friend came true. He had turned out to be the hardest wall to break in malabar.
Colonel Arthur velesly was sent to Malabar with the sole aim of capturing Pazhazi Raja alive or dead.
Colonel decided to cut off the support lines of the king. He brutally punished and killed any one who assisted the king or his troops. He also announced a grand prize of 3000 pagodas to whoever helps in capturing the king. However, nothing turned out for a long two years.
1804 November 1, the black day in the history of this hero, it was when Thomas Harvey Baber took charge of the wayanad regiment under the sub collector. He spread the force and its spies to every nook and corner of the hilly region. The food suppliers of the hiding troop was detected and destroyed. Thus compelling the king and his force to retreat to the forests of ‘Pulpalli’. But the network of local spies of the British force succeeded in finding out of his hiding grounds.
A troop of 200 British soldiers surrounded ‘Mavilanthodu’ on the banks of ‘Kabani river’ were the Pazhazi and his ten followers were resting. The lion was not ready to give up even at such an impossible situation. He fought back but obviously the 200 guns won over the 10 local weapons. The hero was shot!
805 November 30, the hero had his last breath and away he went to the paradise leaving back in our hearts his inspiring memoirs for ever.