Monday, June 9, 2008

A Princess leaves her land

Her Highness Karthika Thrirunal Lakshmi Bhai, sister of Sri Chithira Thirunal, the former Maharaja of Travancore passed away at Trivandrum yesterday. (‘Karthika Thirunal’ indicates the star under which she was born, a customary usage.) She was 92. In an era where royals are ordinary citizens, her last rites were conducted with State honors.

What was special about Karthika Thirunal? She was a blend of tradition and modernity, sports and music, sternness and compassion. The horse riding, racquet wielding Princess who was an expert of classical music and dancing, and could handle Malayalam, Sanskrit, English and French with equal ease, was the pride of her people.

When Karthika Thirunal married the the handsome, dashing sportsman Col. Goda Varma Raja of Poonjar Palace, it was a dream wedding. Tragedy struck when their first born, Sri Avittam Thirunal died at a tender age. The famous SAT Hospital at Trivandrum, the State capital, was built in his memory.

In the second half of the 1940s, a new movie house, Sree Kumar, came up in Trivandrum. It had a royal box, and showed mostly English pictures. (Malayalam movie industry was then in its infancy.) The royal couple used to occasionally watch a late show there.

Something here about ‘Thirumeni’ as Col. Goda Varma was affectionately known. He was not just the consort of Karthika Thirunal, but was a man of stature in his own right. No one has contributed more than him to the development of sports and tourism in the State. His achievements in these fields would run into a long list.

The last I met Thirumeni was at the Delhi Airport. Mathew Marattukalam, the promoter of Apollo Tyres and I were waiting for an early morning flight to Madras (now Chennai) when we saw Thirumeni with his inseparable tennis racquet. We talked for a while. He was on his way to Kulu.

At Madras we heard the shocking news that Col. Goda Varma Raja had died in a helicopter crash. I think that was on 30th April 1971.

Ends.

Also see: The last of the Travancore Maharajas

11 comments:

RAJI MUTHUKRISHNAN said...

A very nice tribute to a very elegant Princess.

Abraham Tharakan said...

raji, glad to know that you liked the post

Ashvin said...

I will always remember her graciousness,her polished charm... When I last touched her feet around a year back just prior to leaving India, did not think at the time that I would not be seeing her again. It's strange how we expect and hope some things never change.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Ashvin, during my school days in Trivandrum, the Princess was an idol of the people.

Ashvin said...

Mr. Tharakan, when we meet, I will tell you the name of someone in Tvm who you MIGHT know... passed away a year or so back. My wife's uncle. Apparently he and his friends used to wait for Maharani to pass by on her daily rides to admire her...

Abraham Tharakan said...

Ashvin, I'm waiting to hear more.

jk47 said...
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Abraham Tharakan said...

jk47, thank you for the comment. I am glad that I wrote about the remarkable lady and you and many others appreciate that post.

However, I do not endorse your view of Princess Gayathri Devi.

I have not come across any book on Thirumeni. If I do, shall certainly write about it.

jk47 said...
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Abraham Tharakan said...

The royals of Travancore and Cochin were enlightened people who were concerned about the welfare of their people, and lived in simplicity. The same cannot be said about the rulers in the North.

I too have heard rumors about H.H. Chithirathirunal's private life but am not in a position to make any comments except to say that it did not in any way affect his people.

I would appreciate if you read my post From Venad to World Focus: The Travancore Royal Family (http://parayilat.blogspot.in/2011/07/from-venad-to-world-focus-travancore.html)

jk47 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.