There are a few important things when we look at Calicut –
1. The capital city was never taken
2. It has reduced two global colonial powers to mere jokes in it’s area of operations
3. Even till the last day, the king and his principal vassals are competent field commanders.
4. Calicut collapsed exhausted, not because it’s not capable to run the show. Continuous war from 1500 and fighting three wars at the same time in 1765 finally took the toll on the kingdom.
5. Hindu-Muslim bonhomie. There were never serious riots even though killing of Brahmins and cows was punishable by death. The ease with which the Muslims helped Calicut fight the Europeans and the alliances they help made – with Egypt, Ottomans, Persia, Gujarat, Bijapur – is a proof of the secular nature of the empire. Sadly it weakened when the Europeans started ganing ground.
6. The main reason for the fall of Calicut and the problems which Kerala is still facing is because of Hyder Ali. That was the first time Hindus and Muslims were forced to choose sides. Till then, they were almost always on the same side.
7. The role Cochin played in destroying Malabar. What would have happened, had Cochin not rebelled?
Calicut history can be broadly split into four sections
1. Pre-Portuguese Period – Calicut was on an expansion spree without any opposition
2. Portuguese Period – The Portuguese posed a serious challenge, but were not able to sustain
3. Dutch Period – The Dutch put up a serious fight but were never a challenge
4. Mysore Period – Calicut finally collapsed because of war on three fronts. The king committed suicide taking down the fort with him, which stood unconquered till then, the royal family escaped to Travancore and Calicut was a medley of petty nobles trying to eject the Mysoreans. But, all the nobles, whatever they did, they wanted restoration of Zamorin. After Mysore, came the British who put a formal end to Calicut pretensions and pensioned off the king.
Cheraman Perumal’s partition gave the Calicut ruler, Ernad and a small bit of land on the coast. He converted that small bit of land on the coast into a seaport and seeing his power growing, Polnad, ruled by the Poralatiri made the first move. The Zamorin, based in Panniankara invaded Polnad directly, laying siege to the capital for 48 years before he resorted to treachery. Through bribery, where the Zamorin was able to buy nobles, the Chief Minister and even the queen(may be, a queen out of many) of the Poralatiri, the kingdom was conquered and the king escaped. He then moved his capital to Vikramapuram which he built on the conquered territory but it became famous as Kolikkottu – Calicut. It can originate from Koli – hen or Koil – Palace – hencoop or fortress.
This incident is estimated to have happened in 1042. Ibn Battuta is the first person to write about Calicut. By virtue of being the centre of a powerful and expanding empire with a king protecting the interests of the traders – both business and religious, Calicut, in no time, became the principal port of North Malabar and the main exchange bazaar for the east and the west. Ease of access to pepper country was another major advantage.
Next major conquest was Tirunavayi. By this time, Chaliyam, Cranganore, Beypore, Parappanad and Bettet have already been subjugated. This initially started as a religious schism between Panniyurkurs and Chovarakkurs where the rulers took sides. When Tirumanasserinad was invaded by Arangot and Perumpatappu, Calicut took it’s side and Vellatiri joined the opposing party. The war was concluded in Zamorin’s favour when two princes of Vellatiri family fell in the battle. Ponnani was ceded and Tirunavayi was annexed, and along with it, the right for Mamakam. However, folklore says, the Calicut Koya, jealous of the pomp and pageantry at the Mamakam festival, annexed the land to his master. Mamakam was held without break till 1755, the last one before Mysore conquest.
The sanguine war with Vellatiri dragged on and there was no clear victor, though the Zamorin generally was on the upper hand, with his lands extending till Malappuram and Nilambur. Nedunganad was taken without a fight. With rare exceptions, the vanquished was returned a part of his territory and was allowed to rule, with the Zamorin taking the rest. Nedunganad was such an exception and the territory was assigned to Erlapad. Talapalli was also taken in a civil war, with the Zamorin supporting the Punnattur faction. Cochin was made a subsidiary in this timeframe, again due to a civil war. The attack was carried out with Cranganore as his base and with the help of Idappalli and reclariant princes. Trichur was sacked and occupied, the king was deposed and the Zamorin’s choice was made a subordinate. All rights were pepper trade were lost and they had to be carried out through Calicut only. It is interesting to place a timeline for this since this happened before the Portuguese came to India. But, the rulers of Cochin were not submissive vassals and had to be browbeaten time and again.
Next to fall was Taruva and Natuvattam in the centre of Palakkad. As a special favour to his son, who was the commander of the invasion owing to the completeness of victory, he granted his left anklet to him. There is a reference to the prince in Tantrasamuchchaya written in 1427 as a contemporary, placing this battle around 1400. As compared to the rest of the Kerala rulers, the Zamorin held it primary to uphold the rights of Brahmins. This has been used as a reason to launch wars. For example, the main reason for attacking Cochin and Taruva is the same one. He advanced till Kartikapalli in Odanad to punish the ruler who surrendered before the war reached his core territory.
In the north, a prince of Kolathunad eloped away with a Calicut princess and moved towards Chirakkal. An enraged Zamorin occupied the vice-regal seat of Pantalayini Kollam and the Kolathiri asked for terms before he was about to advance into Chirakkal. Whatever the Zamorin occupied were permanently ceded, the princess was to be based at Nileswaram as a ruler and the princess will and her descendants will lose right to the throne.
This was an age where the Zamorin was the most powerful in North Kerala. Things slightly changed with the advent of the Europeans – slightly, not much, since the Zamorin literally came out unscathed.
Vasco da Gama left Lisbon in July 1497 and after many hardships, reached Melinde on the African coast, completely lost. He was escorted to Calicut by a Konkani pilot on the orders of the local Sultan. He hit Calicut with 4 ships in May 1498, completely outside the business season. Completely unlike the hyped up accounts, it looks like he was treated not so greatly, both because of the way he behaved and because of the quality of stuff he brought(copper and brass bracelets, pewter etc). It is interesting to note that he decamped away without paying the customs duties, kidnapping some people from Calicut. He reached Portugal in Sep 1499. The Portuguese grandiose can be seen from the fact that the king granted himself the title of “Lord of the Conquest, Navigation and Commerce of Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia and India.” He granted Gama a pension and duty free spice import mandate. The next mission was already constituted with 13 ships and plans were made –
If the Zamorin would not quietly consent or give sufficient lading to the ships, he should make cruel war upon him. It the Zamorin consented to the establishment of a factory and trade, the general was secretly to request him not to allow any of the Moors of Mecca to remain or trade in Calicut or any other harbour in his dominions, and promise that the Portuguese should supply all such commodities as used to be brought by the Moors, of better quality and cheaper price than theirs.
The Portuguese, under Pedro Alvares Cabral, were washed away to Brazil before reaching Calicut one and half years later. The Zamorin was receptive but Cabral demanded hostages for their safety – people as high as the Kotwal of Calicut and Ernad Menon. Even this time, it is seen that their goods didn’t have any demand. At their departure, the Zamorin, due to temporary shortage of pepper, allowed them to search the Moorish ships and buy pepper from them at market rates. This was because of their help in capturing a ship trying to escape customs. However, the Portuguese preferred to loot a ship loading pepper in the dead of the night. In retaliation, the factory was stormed with only 25 surviving it and above 50 killed and captured. In spite of the fact that the Zamorin placed guard, the Portuguese seized 10 ships in the harbor, killed 600 Moors and bombed the city before decamping. Cabral, then, burnt the captured ships and set them afloat.
Once this is done, Cabral sailed to Cochin and offered the throne of Calicut to him in return for support. When he encountered a Calicut fleet sent to destroy the Portuguese fleet, Cabral, without even taking his men on shore and allowing the locals aboard to disembark, simply ran away.
In response to this, a fleet of 20 ships was sent under Vaso da Gama again. A pilgrim ship of the brother of the Koya was intercepted. After 8 days of resistance, it sunk with 380 people. The total loot was 12000 ducats in cash and 10000 ducats in goods. After conducting a treaty with Chirakkal, Gama reached Calicut with the terms that all Muslims were to be ejected. After three days, he opened fire on the city. A fleet of merchant ships from Mangalore was captured, hands, ears and noses of 800 men were cut, their teeth were broken and were loaded onto a boat set on fire. Having a part of his fleet to blockade Calicut, he forced Cochin to give trade monopoly to the Portuguese and loaded his ships for return journey.
The Zamorin first tried diplomacy with Cochin to avert war but, the Cochin king rejected with the Portuguese strength. With the war coming, Gama simply decamped, leaving Cochin in lurch and escaping a Calicut fleet scouting for the Portuguese. The Zamorin assembled an army of 50000 at Ponnani and asked for surrender again. The king of Cochin, Unni Goda Varma rejected it, even though people preferred surrender.
In a swift war, Cochin city itself was taken but the king escaped to Vaipin. The advent of another Portuguese fleet ensured that Cochin is not annexed. In response to this was built the first Portuguese fort in India. In Idappalli, he captured two Italians with whose help, he cast 400 heavy cannon. Since the Zamorin was not yet ready to neck out the Portuguese from Cochin, he ordered a general boycott of the Portuguese. They tried to raid the coast but were not successful. The Zamorin offered them some pepper to depart so that he may conclude his fight with Cochin. But, as is their wont, they looted the ship. On the advent of a massive Calicut force, they simply decamped, leaving a token force. The force of 6 ships, somehow, held off the Calicut forces before the monsoons forced the operations to halt. A fresh Portuguese fleet joined the operations. In an ambush, the Calicut fleet was destroyed in Cranganore.
With the Haj trips and Muslim trade involved, this escalated rapidly, with a threat to block pilgrims to Jerusalem if Portuguese depradations didn’t stop. The Zamorin solicited help from Egypt, Gujarat and Persia for this. Portugal responded to this by setting up a permanent base in India – forts at Anjediva, Cochin and Cannanore. The fleet was sent in 1505 with Almeida as the Viceroy for 3 years. The Zamorin invaded Chirakkal in response, but the fleet was defeated by the Portuguese. Exactly at the time, the king of Chirakkal died and his successor declared war on the Portuguese due to some outrage(they sank a ship, sewed the bodies in sacks and dumped them in sea). The Zamorin sent a force to support him. The siege was lifted only after another Portuguese fleet came from Europe. Ponnani was sacked in retaliation. In the meanwhile, an Egyptian fleet appeared and was subsequently reinforced by a fleet from Gujarat. In the ensuing Battle of Chaul, the Portuguese detachment, led by the Viceroy’s son was completely destroyed. The main Portuguese fleet set sail next year in response and defeated the Ottoman-Calicut force at Diu the next year.
The Portuguese, under Albuquerque, decided to attack Calicut itself. In 1510, the fleet set sail from Cochin when the Zamorin is not in town and was led by the viceroy in person. The plan went awry from the start – they landed in the wrong place but captured the stockade. The head of the fleet, a cousin of the viceroy ordered his troop to advance on the palace directly. But, the walk in the sandy beach under sun wearing heavy armour was taxing enough for them. Both the parties trudged on, burning the Jumma Masjid. They surprised the palace guard but their natural penchant for loot led to people scattering. The fleet commander, fatigued dozed off for sometime before the Calicut forces started attacking them. Though the Portuguese burnt the palace to give them a chance to retreat, the retreat turned to rout with great losses including that of his cousin. Though the Portuguese gave 80 killed on their side and a 1000 on the Calicut side, the Moors gave it to be around 500 killed and a considerable number drowned. The Kotwal of Calicut was killed along with two other prominent nobles while the Portuguese escaped to Cochin.
In spite of this, they sent the below message to Vijayanagar to solicit help. The envoy was instructed to inform “him that its (of Calicut) palaces and the city itself had been all burnt, and the inhabitants put to the sword, and all its artillery captured, and that the Zamorin did not venture to succour the city, but kept himself aloof in the hill-country, which is over against Calicut and on the borders of his kingdom, until he ‘knew that we had withdrawn from the place.” (The Commentaries of Alfonso Albuquerque, Vol. II, p 75.)
The Zamorin understood that he cannot take Portuguese in open sea and decided to harass them in coastal waters where the big ships of the Portuguese are powerless. Cannanore to Cochin sea link was completely cut off. Unable to take the pressure, within three years, the Portuguese concluded peace with Calicut. Their desperation can be seen from the fact that they even tried to influence the Erlapad to poison the Zamorin. This is what the viceroy wrote to Lisbon –
I hold it for certain, that the Nampiadiri slew the Zamorin with poison, because in all my letters 1 bid him to kill the Zamorin with poison, and that in a peace treaty I will come to an agreement with him.
Actually, for his relief, the Zamorin passed away naturally. As a part of the treaty, they built a fort at the south bank of Kallayi river. As like their won’t, the Portuguese tried whatever they can to test the patience of the Zamorin. After the viceroy, Albuquerque passed away in 1515, his successor, Lopo Soares ordered the Zamorin to get the fort repaired and wait upon him. The Zamorin refused but his captains refused to start a war. In 1517, he tried to kill the Zamorin. Cochin invaded Chetwai in 1519 but was crushed and the king was chased back to Cochin city itself. Besides, once the fort was completed, they blocked every Muslim ship and extorted money at will disregarding their own passports. The Muslims started retaliating Cochin and Cranganore were raided, in 1524, with a fleet of 200 ships under Kutti Ali of Tannur, they bombed the Portuguese fort of Calicut. In 1524, there was a street brawl in the streets of Calicut. The fight came in open when the Portuguese launched an invasion in 1525. Ponnani was taken and the fleet was destroyed, Pantalayini was taken after a hard fight, unable to attack Calicut, they put it on a siege. The siege was broken but the Zamorin was not able to confine the Portuguese to their ports.
The Calicut fort was invested and after seven months the siege was broken by the main Portuguese fleet. The Portuguese understood that they can never hold the fort against the Zamorin and abandoned it. The Moors continued the act by sinking every Portuguese allied ship which they can. This was a tit-for tat with one party attacking the other. Kutti Ali’s fleet was destroyed in 1526 in a raid on Banacore, another fleet of his was ambushed in 1528 and was captured; Portuguese siege of Chetwai collapsed due to a storm and the fleet was destroyed.
Bettet blinked in 1504 when the Zamorin was facing reverses but didn’t dare an open rebellion. In 1528, he refused to surrender the Portuguese from a wrecked ship and then, allowed a fort to be built near Tanur but the fleet bringing materials is lost in a storm. Then, they selected Chaliyam and goaded the ruler to allow the construction. But, they selected the site of an ancient mosque and petitioned the Zamorin. The Raja of Chaliyam surrended unconditionally and but the Raja of Bettet tried to defy. In 1532, the Zamorin sent an army to crush Bettet. All lands near Ponnani and Chaliyam are permanently annexed to Calicut. In 1534, Bahadur Shah of Gujarat asked the Zamorin to join forces to take down the Portuguese. Because there is no overt act of hostility, the Zamorin waited. In 1536, the Portuguese helped Cochin to recover the sacred items seized by the Zamorin in 1503 war. Using this, Portuguese built a fort at Cranganore and they were uninterested in a war for Cochin and asked the kings of Bettet and Cranganore to dissuade him from fight. Portuguese sign a treaty with the Zamorin in 1540. This treaty is a proof of their weakening fortunes. While in the first, they were in a position to support their allies, this treaty demands they stay strictly neutral. In 1550, in a war between Portuguese supported Cochin and Pimenta, the Raja of Pimenta, who is fourth in line to the Calicut throne is killed. Calicut launched an all out war with at least 18 vassals acting as field commanders. Three kings of Cochin are killed in the war(1561, Jan 1565 and Feb 1565). Parallel to this, a war in sea between the Muslims and the Portuguese was always raging. After the war started, the Portuguese raided Pantalayini, Tikkoti, Ponnani and Chetwai. In 1569, envoys came from the Deccan Sultanates on the West Coast for a joint theatre of operations against the Portuguese. Nizam Shah will attack Chaul, Adil Shah, Goa and Zamorin, Chaliyam. Chaliyam was invested in 1571 – it was a jihad where Muslims came from all over the world and was unconditionally surrendered in less than 3 months. The refugees are allowed to go to Cochin.
The Portuguese, even after being crushed, still tried to gain ground. They raided Chaliyam in 1572 and Parappannangadi in 1573. When the Sultan of Bijapur sent an emissary in 1578 congratulating him on destruction of Chaliyam and to renew the alliance. The frightened Portuguese waited on the Zamorin at Cranganore stating they will give up their war if they allow the construction of a fort at Ponnani. The Zamorin, instead, offered Calicut, which they were not ready to go to. They, then, goaded the king of Cochin to invade Cranganore but the attack was a failure. In 1584, they approached the Zamorin – the Zamorin allowed a factory, not fort, at Ponnani and in return for free access to Moors. In 1588, they got a permission for a factory in Calicut and in 1591, permission to build a church. Kunhali Marakkar turned against his master by setting up his kingdom of Kottakkal and the Zamorin had to use the help of the Portuguese to beat him down. The condition of the pact was that Kunhali Marakkar was to be held in honourable captivity by the Portuguese but they hanged him like a common criminal. This made the Zamorin angry and he turned against the Portuguese. He took it upon as a personal insult. Cochin, all the time, was trying for a rupture between Calicut and the Portuguese. They raided a feudatory of Calicut but were pushed back by the Zamorin. Since the Portuguese didn’t stop Cochin as they are supposed to be, the Zamorin decided to expel them from Cranganore.
At this time, came the Dutch in 1604. They were permitted to open a factory at Ponnani and at Calicut in return for expelling Portuguese from Kerala. The Dutch, like the Portuguese, didn’t act on their promises. Another mission came in 1608 but they didn’t act even this time. In 1614, there was a rupture between Cochin and the Portuguese. Using this, the Zamorin laid siege to Cranganore. The Dutch supported it but sailed away when a Portuguese relief came. Same happened with the British who turned up in the same period. The Portuguese tried to sue for peace in 1623 but to no avail. The siege dragged on for 40 years. The Portuguese, then planned for a civil war in Cochin, ejecting the rightful claimant who approached Calicut in 1658 and the king of Cochin was able to knit up a confederacy. In response, two of the brothers of the king of Cochin were killed and the king shut himself in the royal palace which the Zamorin destroyed and the king was driven out. In 1661, the Dutch came again in support of the Zamorin. Palliport fell but before the conclusion of the siege, the Dutch left. They returned in 1662. First fell Palliport and then Cranganore. They then concluded a treaty with the Zamorin – they were to have monopoly on pepper trade and to cede Vaipin and Cranganore to Calicut on the fall of Cochin.
The Zamorin, then, marched into Cochin. The king and two princes were killed in the war. The prince who approached Calicut was installed on the throne. Then, the Portuguese fort was put under siege and was finally taken on 7 January 1663, marking the end of Portuguese in Kerala.
The Dutch were no different than the Portuguese. They found it easier to replace the Portuguese than to act upon the pact with the Zamorin. They refused to cede Cranganore and Vaipin, and took the side of Cochin in this war. With the instigation of the Dutch, Cochin refused to pay the war indemnities and seeing that, the Zamorin invited the British to set up a factory at Calicut in 1664. The Dutch responded by raiding Thiruvanchikulam and the Zamorin responded by invading Cranganore. The war escalated and the Zamorin launched a full war against the Dutch in 1666. In 1670, the Dutch raided the Zamorin’s camp near Cranganore on 27 March 1670 which led to the destruction of Cheraman sword. The destruction of the sword is supposed to bring down Calicut and we see that the kingdom itself collapsed in just above a century. The Zamorin already sick, retired from the battlefield and the Cranganore bastion of the Dutch was taken by the Erlapad. It was taken back by the Dutch in 1673 and the Zamorin handed it over to them along with Chetwai in 1678 after negotiations. The Dutch encouraged the Cochin king to adopt a heir, bypassing the rightful heir. In 1691. There was an open rebellion and the Dutch went to the Zamorin to save the day. He gave them a 12 year truce in return for Chetwai and sent forces to contain the rebellion. The Dutch, slowly, started moving towards Calicut and Cochin tried to create a rupture, first through polictics and then through a raid but to no avail. The successor, Rama Varma declared he will be crowned by the Dutch, that too at their ancestral seat Pookaita which is actually, under the control of the Zamorin. The Dutch didn’t blink.
After the experience with the Portuguese, the Zamorin started to isolate the Dutch by bringing in kingdoms to his side. Fearing this, the Dutch offered to mediate in the dispute between Cochin and Calicut in 1701 but the Zamorin responded by an invasion of Cochin in 1702. In 1707, the Zamorin penetrated into Kodasseri and Muriyanad which forced the Dutch to join the war directly. But, they opted for peace in 1710. The new Zamorin, who came to throne in 1711 protested the Dutch fort near Chetwai on lands claimed by both Cochin and the Zamorin. The Dutch didn’t heed and the fort was taken down by Calicut in an ambush. The reinforcements were also cut down in an ambush. The Zamorin, then invaded Cranganore. To prevent it, the Dutch attacked the fortifications of Pappinivattam in 1716 but unsuccessfully. Then, they responded by a blockade of coast from Calicut to Chetwai. At the end of the year, a Dutch relief force from Batavia launched an attack on Pappinivattam and was able to take the fort after a sanguine battle, advanced till Urakam and called for peace in 1718. The Zamorin was to pay a war indemnity, cede Chetwai and Pappinivattam, dismiss his commander, Tamme Panikkar. Since Chetwai is important for his southern communications, the Zamorin negotiated for it’s return which the Dutch are not interested in. The other grouse the Dutch carried out was the presence of the British in Calicut. The Dutch high command at Batavia ordered the expulsion of the British from that area way back in 1667.
The Dutch occupied Inamakkal in 1735, Cochin, always ready, raided Chittur in 1740 but the Zamorin didn’t respond. In 1742, the king of Cochin provoked again and the Erlapad burnt Mangalam. The Dutch intervened and forced the king of Cochin to back off.
It’s not as if the Zamorin was pre-occupied with these Europeans; there were other battles as well, for example, like the relief of Chunganad from Vellatiri in 1743. But, the real damage wrought by the Europeans was the rupture between the Zamorin and the Muslims which is haunting Kerala even today. The first Moplah rebellion of 1745-48 at Tirurangadi.
When the Zamorin sent forces in support of Kolattiri against Valunnavar, the Dutch turned aggressive but the Zamorin crushed them at Inamakkal in 1752 and occupied most of the lands ceded to the Dutch. There was a brief lull when the Mangat Achan defected and was brought back. Payancheri fell in 1755 and Alangad switched sides to join the Zamorin.
In the meanwhile, Martanda Varma of Venad was consolidating his position – he crushed the Dutch and forced them into a treaty, some southern vassals of Calicut like Kayankulam, Tekkanur and Vatakkankur fled to Calicut. Cochin was defeated at Purakkad, the Dutch won’t interfere and the King of Cochin had to ask the help of Calicut. Calicut agreed, provided Cochin bear the war expenses. The Dutch, still, won’t fight and forwarded Zamorin’s offer to Venad, now renamed as Travancore. They haven’t forgotten Colachel, it looks like. With this information, the Travancore forces blocked Calicut forces at Arukutty and before they were able to force their way through, Cochin switched sides. An exiled Cochin prince, fearing the proximity of two major forces near Cochin coaxes Martanda Varma to sign a treaty of friendship with the Zamorin.
Parallel to this, the action against the Dutch was still going on; Pappinivattam fell and Pulikkara was fortified, Dutch evacuated Matilakam and finally, Chetwai in October 1757. The Zamorin, then, turned towards Cranganore. To use them as a buffer against Travancore and to divert his attention towards the Mysorean raids, the Zamorin concluded a disadvantaged treaty against the Dutch ceding Matilakam, Puttanchira, Chetwai, and Pappinivattam and pay some money the next year.
The Zamorin who followed him was not as capable – Mangat Achan retired and two major commanders rebelled. Using this opportunity, Cochin and Travancore invaded in 1762 and advanced till Thrichur. But, the Travancoreans had to go back to face an invasion from Carnatic from the South. Peace was concluded with the Zamorin himself going to Padmanabhapuram.
The first real threat Calicut ever faced was Mysore. Like the locals, the Europeans turned out to be irritants and Travancore’s forces were overstretched to effect anything meaningful. Mysore invaded Calicut on the invitation of the Raja of Palaghat four times – 1732, 1735, 1737 and 1745. Though some battles were fought, they were mere raids. Zamorin’s reaction towards this forced the Raja of Palaghat to declare himself a Mysore vassal leading to a major incursion under Haider Ali, the Fauzdar of Dindigul in 1756. Calicut was already fighting two wars – with Travancore and the Dutch and wanted to conclude the peace with all three parties to gain time. Hence the unequal treaties with the Dutch and Travancore. The Zamorin agreed to pay some money to the Mysoreans to buy them off as he was tied up with other wars. He was not able to pay the money because the southern wars dragged on till 1763. In the meanwhile, Haider Ali seized the throne of Mysore and to shore up his funds, demanded the Zamorin he was supposed to pay. Unluckily for Calicut, the ambassadors came at a period when the treasury was empty because of the Southern wars. An angry Haider led a major force to punish the Zamorin. This is the first time in the history of Kerala, there was an open rupture between Hindus and Muslims. Although there was an unease from the time of the Portuguese, the Mysorean invasion, led by a Muslim king changed the equations of loyalty. Besides this, the open rebellion of Cochin with the support of the Portuguese made the Kshatriya subordinates like Bettet and Cranganore aloof.
This is the first time we see Calicut itself was invested. Advancing through Chirakkal, the only Muslim kingdom of Kerala, in a sanguine battle, Haider defeated the Calicut army led by the Zamorin in person at Perinkolam and fell back on Calicut. Calicut, held by the Erlapad was put to siege by the Ali Raja by sea with the local Moplahs supporting Mysore. The Zamorin decided to surrender, but the terms offered by Haider(1 crore gold mohurs) was impossible for the Zamorin to fulfil. When Haider reached Calicut and the siege became rigorous, he sent the Erlapad and the Princesses of the family to Ponnani and committed suicide by lighting the fuse to a powder keg destroying the fort, till then, unconquered, with him. The Erlapad, now the Zamorin ordered a guerilla war from Ponnani and unable to take it, Hyder left for Coimbatore leaving a token force. Calicut rebelled immediately, Raja Ali, the Fauzdar of Madukkarai was sent to quell the rebellion, but he himself was trapped with imminent death. Hyder himself had to descend and crushed the rebellion, with a massacre of Calicut forces at Putiyangadi, where they, after retreats converged. Hyder decided to crush Calicut for good – he ordered Nayars should salute the Cherumas, the lowest of the castes, any weapon bearing Nayar was to be killed and that any Nayar converting to Islam will have his privileges restored. None of them worked and Hyder made Manjeri his base of operations to stamp out the rebellion among massacres. But, a Maratha invasion forced Hyder Ali back. Hyder’s deputy in Kerala, Madanna salvaged the situation by asking the Nayar chiefs to reimburse the army expenses in return for their exit. It’s interesting to note that unless Hyder comes back with a force, the Mysore garrisons would have been massacred to the last man, had they not acceded. The Zamorin agreed to pay an annual tribute but didn’t pay. Six years later, in 1774, Hyder sent another force to occupy Calicut under a Brahmin, Srinivasa Rao. Calicut asked the French, the allies of Mysore to intervene, but Srinivasa Rao brushed them away. The Dutch was not ready to receive the Zamorin, he left to Trivandrum with his family. Ravi Varma, a prince of the blood led the rebellion. Terms were discussed in 1779 between Ravi Varma and the Ali Raja for reinstatement of the Zamorin but the talks failed when the prince sensed some personal harm.
Rama Varma sided with the British in the Anglo-Mysore War of 1782. The Mysore army stationed at Tirurangadi was chased till Palaghat. Crown Prince Tipu Sultan who was sent to tackle the menace had to turn back owing the death of his father and his accession as the king of Mysore. The British promised Calicut restoration and surrender of Palaghat if they supported them. Palaghat fell, but Tipu laid siege to the fort. Tipu came as victor in the war and the Calicut forces retreated from Palaghat. Calicut forces made all lands south of the city their base of operations. There was a rebellion of a Moplah leader near Manjeri. Mysore forces were not able to suppress the rebellion and solicited the help of Rama Varma. Tipu gave him a Jagir and a pension in 1786 for this. Negotiations were started to restore the Zamorin and the Erlapad was in Srirangapatna for negotiations, the terms being Calicut’s help in crushing Travancore. The Erlapad acceded but publicly repudiated the treaty once back in Calicut. This led to an open war with the Muslim converted Raja of Parappannad and Nilambur trying to coax Nayars to convert, Rama Varma and the Erlapad making arrangements for almost 30000 Brahmin families to escape to Travancore, and an open rebellion. Tipu himself came down in 1789 and invaded Travancore. The British joined the side of Travancore and Calicut and possibly, this is the first time whole of Kerala united after Cheraman Perumal. Tipu was finally stopped at Nedumcottah and with the help of Calicut, all Malabar was cleared of Mysoreans. The British came to an agreement with Calicut to restore the Zamorin and he ascended the throne without notifying the British. Even while the negotiations were in progress, the British decided to depose him – his weaker military position, the Zamorin’s highhandedness over destruction wrought by Muslims in his territory and possibility of a Muslim rebellion. They set him up as an ordinary Zamindar with the right to collect revenue and hand it over to the British and nothing more. Later in 1793, pensions for royal family members were decided upon. The British attempts to prop up the Prime Minister of the Zamorin, Swaminatha Pattar as a counterbalance to the Zamorin led to his assassination. The Zamorin, in the meanwhile, tried to maintain a semblance of order in his territory, but the wars for 30 years, his diminished prestige and reduced status made it impossible and he surrendered power for good in 1798. But for all practical purposes, treat the end of Calicut as 1766 when the Zamorin, unable to stop the invasion, committed suicide, bringing down the fort along with him.