Hidden histories Metroplus

House of memories

The existing wing of the old Kallaraikkal Veedu in Poovar. Photo: Sharat Sunder Rajeev   | Photo Credit: Sharat Sunder Rajeev

Pokku Moosa Maraykkar, a Muslim merchant who was instrumental in introducing young Kesava Pillai to Karthika Tirunal Rama Varma, is a name that is seldom remembered in popular history. Kesava Pillai began as an accountant in Pokku Moosa Maraykkar’s warehouse. Later, he became a trusted officer to the royals and rose to the position of Dewan. It is said that Raja Kesavadas, as he was later known, had a special place in his heart for his early mentor’s family.

Although Pokku Moosa Maraykkar’s name is often associated with Raja Kesavadas, it seems that Maraykkar was an important person who had sided with Marthanda Varma during one of the most turbulent phase in the history of erstwhile Travancore.

According to local lore, Pokku Moosa was a member of Valiya Kallaraikkal Veedu, a prominent family of traders who operated from Thengapattanam and Poovar. In 1918 A.D., Amshi K. Raman Pillai wrote about Raja Kesavadas and his association with Kallaraikkal Veedu.

Pillai is of the opinion that Maraykkar was the one who supplied goods to Valiya Kottaram in Thiruvananthapuram, and through this connection the merchant entered into the good books of the royals.

Kallaraikkal Veedu, the ancient house of Pokku Moosa, was a landmark structure in Poovar. This structure has now been replaced by a concrete structure. However, local residents still associate the house with Marthanda Varma. It is said that when Marthanda Varma was hounded by the Ettuvettil Pillamar, he had once sought refuge at the Kallaraikkal Veedu in Poovar. Later, after he vanquished his enemies, Marthanda Varma bestowed the family with honours. The patriarchs of the family were granted the title of ‘Maraykkar’, and thereafter they were considered as nobles in their community.

Kallaraikkal family had a branch in Thengapattanam, where an old well, supposedly dug following the order of Raja Kesavadas, was spotted by Amshi K. Raman Pillai.

The ancient buildings associated with the family, unfortunately, fell prey to modernisation.

In Poovar, a stone’s throw away from the site of the Valiya Kallaraikkal Veedu is located a house of a family member who is struggling to keep up with the changing times.

“This house is more than 150 years old,” says Hassan Kannu who occupies the house. According to Hassan Kannu, in olden days the Kallaraikkal family owned many edifices in the locality and his house is perhaps one of the last to survive.

“This house had seen better days when my ancestors had enjoyed royal patronage,” says Hassan, “I still remember my elder brother’s nikâh, when a horse adorned with silver ornaments was sent from the royal stable to take the groom for the procession,” he adds. This tradition has been recorded by Raman Pillai in an article.

The old house, Hassan explains, still retains some traces of its glorious past. The main entrance, a thick wooden door, opens to a spacious yard, with wide verandahs on either side. “Only a small fraction of the house still exists, the padippura, the nalakam, the courtyard wing, and other associated structures have been demolished to make way for new constructions,” says Hassan.

“I don’t know for how long I will be able to maintain the house, but I will do my best,” he adds with a smile.

[The author is a conservation architect and history buff]

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 5:04:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/hidden-histories-pokku-moosa-maraykkar/article7382806.ece

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