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Updated: November 28, 2012 13:00 IST

Showing the best part of the past

Special Correspondent
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A photograph of the boathouse at Vallakadavu, the hub of cargo and passenger transport in the erstwhile Travancore State. The picture will be on display at the exhibition being organised by the Association of British Scholars and British Council in Thiruvananthapuram on December 1 and 2
A photograph of the boathouse at Vallakadavu, the hub of cargo and passenger transport in the erstwhile Travancore State. The picture will be on display at the exhibition being organised by the Association of British Scholars and British Council in Thiruvananthapuram on December 1 and 2

An exhibition of photographs and documents on Travancore-British ties to be held

The evolution of the historical ties between the erstwhile princely state of Travancore and the British empire will be the highlight of an exhibition of photographs and documents to be held here on December 1 and 2.

The exhibition is the first phase of a project launched by the Association of British Scholars and British Council (ABS-BC), to bring out the history and legacy of the British collaboration with Travancore, one of the most powerful kingdoms in British India.

The head of the ruling family of erstwhile Travancore Uthradam Tirunal Marthanda Varma, himself a historian and a renowned photographer of yesteryears, is contributing data about the past glory of Travancore, the healthy connections with the British empire and the role of British officials in shaping the ties during the reign of various kings and queens of the kingdom.

The decision to organise the event was formalised last year when Paul Sellers, Director, British Council, south India, visited the palace and held discussions with Mr. Varma. The exhibition, to be held at the Rangavilasam Palace here, will have around 200 pictures and documents on display from the time the British set up the first business establishment at Anchuthengu near Thiruvananthapuram. Mr. Sellers is slated to preside over the inaugural function.

The photo exhibition will throw light on how the ties with the British helped shape the progress and heritage of Travancore. “The exhibits will be circulated to various schools and colleges for students to get them acquainted with the history of the interactions between Travancore and Britain,” Y.M. Fazil Marickar, president, ABS said.

Second phase

The next phase of the project involves recognising the descendents of the British leaders who shaped the ties between Travancore and the British empire and thereby nurtured the progress of the princely state during the period. “This will be done through the British council in the UK,” Dr. Marickar added

ABS-BC is also planning a meeting of these descendents with Mr. Varma at Thiruvananthapuram. “At this meeting, Mr. Varma will present the British queen or her representative (British High Commissioner) with three large portraits of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert from his collection,” said Oommen V. Oommen, secretary, ABS.

British Council and the ABS are also planning a heritage project under which hundreds of pictures taken by Mr. Varma during the Travancore era would be digitised and preserved.

Also on the cards is a proposal to publish a book on the historical importance of the common legacy.

ABS is an organisation of Indians who have studied or trained in the U.K. and who now work in Kerala.

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