Nelliyalam Royal Family

Major portion of South east Nilgiri was belonged to ThachirakavuThirumalpadRajas of Nilambur Kovilagam, Landlords of Naduvathumana (near Wandoor in present Malappuram district in Kerala) and Mysore Maharaja. Landlord form Nelliyalam royal family administered the area behalf of the Mysore maharaja and they wereJenmis (Landlord) of almost 9000 Acres of landincluding Rockwood , Emarald , Susex and part of Glenrock. These Janmies leased out their lands to various people bound by the provisions of Malabar Tenancy Act cover Malabar District which include the Nilgiri Waynad. Bujangaraj Royal was the first known landlordfromNelliyalam royal family based at Kottakunnu in the Nelliyalam village. The Landlord Bujangaraj was known as Nelliyalam Raja. Their origin was from Maduvanalli near Kollegal in present Karnataka state, belonging to the Lingayathcommunity.

Bujangaraja died in 1856, leaving behind his only son LingarajaArasu. LingarajaArasu had two wives. His first wife was RaniBowrammiah from Ummathoor royal family. Later Raja decided to marry again as he didn’t have any heirs from his first. LingarajaArasu was blessed with a son named “Bujangaraja-II” from his second wife. LingarajaArasu died in 1887 and in 1890 his son Bujangaraja-II toodied in a young age.

The early death of the only descendent triggered a royal squabble and conflict over the properties. The conflict was brought under the court’s attention. In 1892 the court of the subordinate Judge , Ootacamund (Ooty)presided over the case with Rani Bowrammiah, Murugendra Raja (aka Belliah) and PuttaiahOdayar as defendants.

Later, in 1893, a compromise deed was passed in the suite whereby Rani Bowrammiah retained the ownership of the property while the Murgendra Raja’s share was also recognized. All the NelliyalamArasu properties were registered in the joint name of Rani Bowrammiah and MurugendraRaja. PuttaiahOdayar died in June 1894 and MurugendraRaja died in 1896.

Rani established herself in the local community and was known as Nelliyalam Rani. Rani was not able to manage the huge property. Her fame started to diminish and the land lords was literally isolated from the society. Later she started to dispose the properties and gifted a big number of herds to the locals.

In 19th Feb 1943 , Rani Bohrammiah died and her death again triggered the conflict between her relatives over the properties. They conspired to take hold of the inheritance. Later the property was managed by her heir and caretakers, unfortunately they were only interested in disposing the property for throw away prices.Many of the locals exploited the situation and benefited from the sale. After Rani’s death ,Rani Puttaveeramani and her son Chandrasekar Raja , Puttaveeramani’s daughter Rani Gawramani become the sole owner of the Nelliyalamarasu properties. After the death of Rani Gawramani her son Raja Sankar Royal Yesuvanna Bahadur became the Last Jenmi and Raja of Nelliyalam.

During 1920 -1930 , the Nelliyalam family started to lease out huge portion of their land to big planters like Rookwood, Emerald Estate companies. Rapidly, the landlords witnessed a complete downfall and Rani and most of the royal family shifted back to Mysore. Their servants and distant relative were designated as care takers of the Nelliyalam Fort, their mismanagement literally abandoned and spoiled the fort.

The ruins of the Nelliyalam Rani’s fort is still visible in the area. The fort was a huge structure designed in the Mysore architectural style with a lounge and pool in the middle of the fort and a royal swing in the lounge where the Queen Bohramma always used to sit. The fort was left abandoned and it was reduced into debris due to lack of maintenance and sheer negligence. The survived stone pillars, antique wooden structures and furniture’swere purchased by some unknown antique collectors from Kerala in the year 2005. The only remains of the so-called famous fort of a great dynasty is a Shiva lingam and a Small Nandi statue and a Devi’s effigy in the midst of a ruined temple structure.