M. Raman Namboodiri, 89, who passed away on Tuesday in Tripunithura, leaves behind a rich legacy of historical research.
People remember him as an exemplar of dedication to the discipline of history, which he displayed through an irrepressible eagerness to share history’s secrets with all.
Citizens of the old royal capital town recall him as an affable man, who did not hesitate to discuss the aspects of the history of Kochi, on which he had incomparable knowledge, with anyone who wanted to know better.
He took history out into the open, helping people visit its labyrinth without the hassles of a formal framework.
He had encyclopaedic knowledge of the history of the erstwhile kingdom of Kochi.
Even his former employer, the Archaeological Survey of India, consulted him on certain aspects of Kochi’s history. He was a prolific writer, eager to share his knowledge with his readers.
Born in Piravom in 1924 to Myalpalli Mankkal to Raman Namboodiri and Sreedevi Antharjanam, his tryst with history began even before he entered the services of the Archaeological Survey of India.
The last word
His signal contributions include a recent translation of a travelogue, which was published in English by King Veera Kerala Varma, who ruled Kochi between 1851 and 1853. The translation is due for publication soon.
He was the last authentic word on the royal history of Tripunithura, through his research and his association with the royal family, says M. R. S. Menon, a cultural and social activist in Tripunithura.
There are only a few others who remember much through their experience and their association with the royal family, but Mr. Namboodiri’s knowledge of historical facts comes along with his academic interest and work, said Mr. Menon.
Mr. Namboodiri had written a series of articles about royal families in Kerala in Mathrubhoomi weekly at the behest of its then Editor M.T. Vasudevan Nair. One of his official works that was close to his heart was the conservation of the Mattancherry palace.
This work had also led to very detailed historical and archaeological account in his book titled “Mattacherry Palace”.
There is a very detailed description of the murals in the palace.
Besides, Mr. Namboodiri had written quite a few articles on the historical accounts of Tripunithura. Many of his articles and research papers remain unpublished. He remains the unsung historian even though people had sought his views on various historical and archaeological aspects concerning Kerala.
His own house, called the Bungalow Palace that he refused to modify to make it conditioned for modern living, set him apart for his desire to be connected with history. It is perhaps the oldest building in Tripunithura, dating back 250 years.
Preserving the past
He had told The Hindu about three months ago how he and his son had strived to preserve the paintings on the walls of one of the two rooms in the house. He had said that he was among those who had called for government grant to conserve the heritage buildings of Tripunithura in private family holdings.