Ancient History


According to archeological evidences, Wayanadd area has been inhabited for more than 3000 years. Evidence of new Stone Age civilization is available in the hills of the adjoining parts of South east Nilgiris ( present day Wayanad district) , the Edakkal caves in Sultan Bathery is the clear evidence for’ the presence of prehistoric civilization in Wayanad. But so far no historical findings or archeological evidence has been found in south east Nilgiris whichcould shed light in to the ancient histories.


The local legend ascribe the area was ruled by Vedar (Hunter) Kings but no traces found on the existence of the Vedar Kings.

According to Sangam literature, Wayanad was ruled by Chera Kings. Village names like Cheranpadi (Cherambadi) and Cherankoduindicate the Chera dynasty’sexistence in the Nilgiris. From AD280 to AD305 the area was ruled by the Chera King named CheramanVanchan ( AKA Anjan). His territory was known as Paayal Nadu later the name transformed to Wayanadu. No other referencehas been found in history about CheramanVanchan except in the narration bythe poetThiruthamanar in the Purananuru. The capital of CharamanVanchan’s kingdom is unknown but the poet Thiruthamanar referred to it as “Perumpeyarmuthoor” which means “Renownedancient village” in Tamil.Vanchanbelonged to a place called AanchanKunnu which was later calledAnjukunnu. Anchukunnu still exists in Wayand District of Kerala( nearPanamaram)

Medieval History:

Recorded history of Wayand is only available from 10th Century, In 930 AD Wayanad was then a part of the well-known Ganga dynasty of Mysore after the Emperor Erayappa of Ganga dynasty conquered the area. Due to the nature of the area they called it Bayal Nadu meaning “Land of swamps” later the name transformed to Wayal Nadu or Wayanad.Some historians believethat thename “Wayanad” transformed from the name “Wana Nadu” means “Land of forests” which later reformed to Wayanad

After Erayappa, his sons Rachamalla and Battunga fought for the new kingdom, Rachamalla was killed and Battunga become the king. In 12th Century Kadamba dynasty got hold of Wayanad.

In early 16th Centaury the country was under the control of Vijayanagar Dynasty. Later Vijayanagara dynasty was defeated by Deccan kings.Raja Wodayar of Mysore seized Vijayanagara from the Kings of Deccan and Wayanad came under Mysore rule.

During 18th century the Kurumbrnad Rajas ruled the South-East Wayanad (Nilgiri- Wayanad) and the tiny country was known as Parakkumeethil. The other part of Wayanad was under the control of Kottayam Rajahs. As a result of a dispute between the Kurumbrnad and Kottayam Rajas, Kurumbarnad Raja gave up his country and Kottayam Rajas controlled Parakkumeethil and Wayanad. Later Tippu Sultan seized Wayanad from the Kottayam Raja.

Under British Raj:

In 1799 after the fall of Srirangapatnam, Wayanad was ceded to British empire, but Kerala Varma Raja (Pazhassi Rajah) resisted all attempts of the company to take possession of the country. From 1796 to 1806, duringPazhassi Raja’s struggle against the East India Company a series of watch posts had been established on the top of high peaks to trap and fight the Pazhassi Rajah’s supporters . One of these military post was established in Nelliyalam which was manned by small parties of East India Company soldiers. In 1805 Pazhssi Raja was killed by British army and with the death of PazassiWayand fully come under the control of British Raj.

The first record of European presence in the Nilgiris was in 1602, when a Syrian Christian priest and a deacon visited Nilgiris to investigate the existence of lost tribe of Christians. After the fall of Srirangapatnam in 1799, Marquis of Wellesley - the then Governor General of India decided to survey the annexed land.From the year 1799 to 1819 the Nilgiri plateau was under the control of British administration, East India company made arrangements to collect revenue from the area. In 1812, Mr.Garrow - Collector of Coimbatore appointed a surveyor named William Keys to survey Nilgiris and succeeded by Mr. J.Sullivan collector of Coimbatore

The Pandalur Area of the Wayanad is known as South-East Wayanad,Lower Nilgiris or Nilgiri-Waynaad , In 1877 this section of Wayanad (CherankodeAmsam) was transferred to Nilgiri District for administrative purpose.

Most of the land in this area was the property of theNelliyalamArasuand Janmis (Landlords) of Nilambur Kovilagam. The Nelliyalam Rani administered the region behalf of Mysore Maharaja and enjoyed the highest rank in society. The remains of the Nelliayalam Rani’s fort can still be viewed at Kottakunnu (fort hill) in the Nelliayalam village (8 KMs from Pandalur).

References

  • Wynad, Its Peoples and Traditions -; C.Gopalan Nair;1911; Page 10.
  • Purananuru 398
  • Purananuru Texts and Explanation - AvvaiDuraisami Pillai
  • History of Chera Kings.
  • The Nilgiris ;W.Francis; 1908; P105
  • Narrative of a Journey to the Falls of the Cavery;1834 by Smith Elder
  • Civilizing Natures: Race, Resources and Modernity in Colonial South India; Pg:43;Kavita Philip
  • Sport on The Nilgiris and in Wynaad; FWF Fletcher