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Travancore (originally called Thiruvithaamcoore, in Malayalam) is one of the three princely states - the other two being Cochin (or Kochi) and Malabar - which were merged on November 1, 1956, to form the state of Kerala in India. Travancore is located in Southern Kerala. According to native legend, Kerala was formed when Parasurama threw his axe into the sea. The rulers of this state were named Sree Padmanabhadasar, after the deity Padmanabha Swamy or Vishnu.

The state is built up of three natural divisions - a coastal area dotted with lagoons to the west, a midland in the centre and mountain peaks as high as 9,000 feet on the east.

The modern history of Travancore begins with Marthanda Varma who ruled the state during 1729-1758. He succeeded in defeating a Dutch expeditionary force at the battle of Kolachel and annexed many neighbouring principalities. His successor Rama Varma who was popularly known as Dharma Raja, shifted the capital in 1795 from Padmanabhapuram to Thiruvananthapuram. On his death in 1798, Balarama Varma took over at the age of sixteen. During his reign Velu Thampi emerged as an able divan or minister. But the British resident Colonel Macaulay managed to engage the ruler in treaties which effectively made the state a protectorate of the East India Company and ended its autonomy. The British defeated Velu Thampi who resisted their moves and he was forced to commit suicide. Balaramavarma was succeeded by Rani Gowri Lakshmi Bai in 1810 with the blessings of the British. When a boy was born to her in 1813, the infant was declared the King, but the Rani continued to rule as the regent. On her death in 1815 Rani Parvathi Bai took over as the regent. Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma assumed the throne in 1829. He was a famous exponent of Carnatic and Hindustani music. The next notable ruler of Travancore was the last ruler before Indian independence, Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma. He made the temple entry proclamation in 1936 which opened the Hindu temples in Travancore to all Hindus, a privilege reserved to only the upper caste Hindus till then. This act won him praise from across India, most notably from Mahatma Gandhi.

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