Kavalappara palace, Shornur (Kerala) and vast historical records of K. Swaroopam remain abandoned - Is there any remedy?

 Kavalappara palace, Shornur, Kerala timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Above image:  Kavalappara palace, Shornur,Palakkad District, Kerala.  Once an amazing palace built in an 8 acre land, now it has become a dilapidated place where poisonous snakes  and other unwanted  critters roost. Reason: Long-drawn legal  battle  (since the 1960s) over the ownership of this palace and other properties. Caught in the litigation are 10,000-odd records of Kavalappara Swaroopam  owned by one of  erstwhile landlords of Malabar. They are also facing slow destruction. The palace still remains a fine piece of architecture of Kerala style. ................................


That the historic Kavalapara Palace, Shoranur  in the state of Kerala, once a glorious palace known for  a fine piece of  Kerala style architecture  was turned in a mound of rubble and dust is a sad story and the heritage  enthusiasts of this state were sore over the  loss of another heritage site due to utter negligence and  lack of periodic repairs.  A major portion of Malikachuvadu, one among the remaining structures in the eight-acre complex, caved in  during  heavy  summer  downpour that lashed Shoranur in April, 2017. In 1980 the main palace was demolished.

Kavalappara palace, Shornur (Palakkad Dt.) cumaps.net

Kavalappara palace, Shornur (Palakkad Dt.) thehinduimages.com

Above image:  Kavalappara palace, Shornur (Palakkad Dt.) Note the wild growth of bushes. Moving through the  dense thicket to access the palace is not an easy task. Hidden  deep in the wild growth  of  grass  may be  a serpent den or pit. 

Damaged Kavalappara palace, Palakkad Dt. Kerala

Kavalappara palace, Shoranur, Kerala  markazhi.com

The remaining part of the structure is slowly decaying on account of prolonged court litigation in the civil court of Palakkad district among the family members  over the ownership. In a situation like this, the  site being in a legal wrangle, no conservation efforts are  possible unless the disputing parties make a compromise in order to save the remaining structures. The  site   is under receiver administration appointed by the court and it has no legal  power to get the restoration work started.  Except  Agrasala,  the rest were pulled down for good.  This place  with  chequered history of over 400 plus years now stands abandoned.

In the absence of interest among the litigants, intervention from the government or any other  civil authority, the site has been in a state of ruin  in the midst of wild growth of plants and bushes. The palace once symbolic of   opulence and and grandeur of the ruling land lord of the Nair family has lost every thing their forefathers stood for centuries down the line.

What is quite shocking is over 10,000 rare historical records  (of  Kavalappara Swaroopam --  a confederation of 96 desams) of the ancient ruling Mooppil Nair landlord family,  who owned the palace and big chunks of land under Valluvanad  and erstwhile Cochin state, are also facing slow decay. It is on record that  the  Nair  family owned / rather ruled   over 31.079 sq.km of land of different terrains  around  present Shoranur. This big swathe of fertile land was granted to the family by the legendary ruler of Malabar-  Cheraman Peumal. The nair family administered the vast lands with managers for a long period. 


Prolonged legal dispute since the 1960s among the descendants of the Kavalapara Mooppil Nair family Mooppil Nair family, absence of reconciliation on their parts coupled with  properties in question  under court receiver's  care have   pushed this once a glorious structure into a pathetic state of  damages and destruction imparting the look of a haunted place. Chaos descended on the family upon the death of  the head of the family, Karakkat Kumaran Raman Kochunni Mooppil Nair, over the control of the properties among the successors. Since 1967 the legacy of the popular Nair family has been  at stake.  Greed among the litigants took precedence over the legacy of the popular family.

Demands by the locals and others to save the palace and the priceless records  fell on the deaf ears of the government officials. In 2007 the govt of Kerala deputed an official from the archives department from Kozhikode  office. Though the  official  reported the pathetic condition of the estate,  matter. no action was taken after that.  As of today the same situation continues.  No steps were taken  either to save the heritage site or preserve the historical record in thousands. Now they are  turned into fodder for the moths roaming around there.

“It is high time the Archaeological Department intervened to convince the courts about the need to protect the palace. Any lapse will destroy a vast pool of resources throwing light on the medieval history of Kerala,” said Prasad K. Shornur, a local social worker.

Kavalappara palace, Shoranur, Kerala   flicker.com

The biggest festival in Malabar used to take place at Arayankaavu temple of Shoranur that  was owned by Mooppil Nair family. Still the festival is celebrated  in the Malayalam month of Meenam . people say the festival has lost its glitter and pomp  owing to  the decline of the the popular Nair family in the aftermath of  introduction  of land reforms by the communist government. Now 96 villages once part of the erstwhile Kavalappara Swaroopam family  participate in the annual festival. It shows that how the Nair family is still being held with great esteem and respect  by the people despite the drastic  change of political scenario over the decades. Further it is a clear indication that  the cultural ethos of the Nair family has stood the test of time, not withstanding their decline in power and wealth.


The Kavalappara,  an aristocratic Indian Nair family was a popular landed nobility  in medieval Kerala, the memebers were dedicated to the  t service of the rajas of the area, first that of Palghat and then later that of Cochin. Based at Kavalappara Desam in Karakkat, Valluvanada, their holdings extended to areas such as Kailiad and Panayur.

The Kavalappara Moopil Nayar, also referred to as the Karakkattu Kumaran Raman, were one of the four chiefly dynasties or perumpata nayar of ancient Nedunganad. They became independent from the chieftainship of Nedungethiri in the 15th century, soon after the arrival of the Zamorin of Calicut to Nedunganad. Based at Eruppe Desam near Karakkat, Nedunganad, their holdings included some ninety-six villages. (Wikipedia)