Kottayam: Union Minister, Ministry of Culture; Ministry of Tourism; and Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, Shri G Kishan Reddy unveiled the statue of Vaikom Padmanabha Pillai, who is known as the Lion of Travancore, at Gandhi Smrithi Bhawan, Kottayam in Kerala on June 26.
“Vaikom Padmanabha Pillai was a brave fighter, and used traditional martial art of Kerala, Kalaripayat to fight against the national enemies. He also played a key role in defeating Tipu Sultan,” Shri Kishan Reddy said.
In his address, the Union Minister emphasised on the need to celebrate and showcase the lives of unsung heroes of our freedom struggle and how the Union Government is commemorating it through Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.
Vaikom Padmanabha Pillai (1767–1809) was the commander of the army of the erstwhile Travancore kingdom. He ambushed the huge Mysore Army in the Nedumkotta fortifications in December 1789. According to history, “the Battle of Nedumkotta was one of the most daring attacks in the history of Travancore kingdom, in which a handful of fighters infiltrated a well-equipped enemy army and successfully made them retract.” In this attack, Tipu was seriously wounded and went permanently lame.
After their defeat, Mysore army attacked the fort again in 1790. During the second Battle of Nedumkotta, Padmanabha Pillai and fellow soldier Kunji Kutty Pillai deluged Tipu’s army by breaking the walls of a dam at Bhoothathankettu causing heavy flash floods downstream Periyar River. As a result of this tactical move, a large part of Tipu’s infantry was washed away and all the ammunition and gunpowder got wet and Tipu was forced to retreat.
Speaking on the occasion, Shri J Nandakumar, national convenor, Prajna Pravah, said that if Vaikom Padmanabha Pillai did not fight and defeat Tipu, the tyrant of Mysore, the history of Travancore would have been disastrous. “Had Vaikkom Padmanabha Pillai not been there, Travancore would have turned out to be another Malabar, a stage for yet another Hindu genocide,” said Shri Nandakumar.
Shri Nandakumar also remembered Padmanabha Pillai’s role in the Travancore’s fight against the British. “In 1808, Padmanabha Pillai was the one who led the attack against the British Resident Col. Macaulay. But, history did not give him his due only because he defeated Tipu. Leftist historians did not want the vanquisher of Tipu to be celebrated as a great freedom fighter,” he added.
After the aborted attempt at killing Macaulay, Padmanabha Pillai ambushed a party of British soldiers at Pallathuruthy near Alappuzha, in which 13 British soldiers were massacred. His aborted attempt at assassinating Col. Macaulay and the killing of British soldiers resulted in his arrest and public hanging in 1809.