The British Residency at Thycaud, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala - a classic British bungalow

British residency, Thiruvananthapuram

Above image: The British Residency at Thycaud, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.   A classic example of  design style of  the official British bungalow/ residence with a ground floor and first floor protected by wide verandah in the facade. (Courtesy: Zacharias D’Cruz; British Library, Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections. Shelfmark).........................

Kerala state.

Upon the death of  Dharma Raja in 1798, Balarama Varma (1798–1810), an inexperienced ruler and a minor took over the reigns of Travancore at the age sixteen.  Under  Subsidiary alliance, a treaty  was signed between the English company and the ruler in 1795 for a mutually agreed annual fees that could be hiked up  at will by the English company.  It meant Travancore became a sort of British protectorate and was entitled to British military  protection against their enemies; their primary enemy being Tipu Sultan of Mysore. Thus the British gained  profitable access to the Malabar region directly and Kochi and Travancore indirectly through the local rulers. Subsidiary alliance was more a trap than a reliable  alliance. Anyway, the state became a vassal of Madras Presidency

Over a long period, rulers of Travancore, affable as they were, had developed a close rapport with ESI that was governed from the capital of Madras Presidency. The British kept a watch on the princely state through their representative stationed in the capital. Thus British resident became a prominent official between the EIC rule and the ruler of the state. 

"The British residency" acted both as a residence  for the officiating British resident  and  a meeting place between the British officials and the ruler. The British, as part of the treaty with the ruler, would manage a small British army near the residency. Resident acts as an intermediary between the English government and the active ruler of the state. 

Resident Gen John Munro

Above image: General John Munro (June 1778 – 25 January 1858)  a Scottish soldier and administrator employed by the East India Company.  He served as Resident and Diwan of the States of Travancore and Cochin between 1810 and 1819 and was responsible for various reforms that helped the poor and downtrodden. His involvement in the donation of Hindu temple lands to the churches became a controversial issue................

Colonel John Munro (June 1778 – 25 January 1858), who  served as a Resident and Diwan of the States of Travancore and Cochin between 1810 and 1819, took the initiative and had two residencies built both in native Kerala style architecture with bungalow style design plan.  One came up near Thiruvananthapuram  at Thycaud   and the other one was built in Kollam. 

The structure of this residency at  Thycaud, is very much similar to the one at Kollam; both are two-story structures featuring colonade in the verandah. A series  of high columns support the sloping roof in the front on the upper and ground floors. The  portico in the center  connects  the long verandah with columns. The verandas are covered with what is called rattan (a kind of thin palm s or thin bamboo stems). The blinds allow the air to flow inside and at the same time reduce the glare from the sun. They can be rolled up and down if need arises. They are something like Thatti ( in Tamil) mostly made of thin  horizontal  bamboo stems or sticks set  closely.  Like the residency  building in Kollam, this one is  apsidal  and has a large descending ''hipped roof ''that forms a central conical profile which is typical of  Kerala-style design that  easily drains out the rain water falling on the roof . The tall porch has parapet wall with masonry balusters so is the outer part of the verandah on the ground floor. The wide verandah is  an archetypal feature of british bungalows and this concept was borrowed by the Europeans from the plan of village huts in Bengal to keep indoors cool and comfortable during the  hot season.