The Pandalam royal dynasty and their legacy ''Sri Ayyappa temple'', Sabarimala

 Historically, the Pandalam  royal  dynasty  evolved   during the Kollam era  from a branch of Pandya kingdom  of Madurai.  Because of internal dispute in the royal family between two brothers  coupled with raid from the Delhi Sultanate, a branch  of the Pandya family  came  over to Kerala where  they were given land and status by Kaipuzha Thampan (Kunjunni Varma Thampan) of Nilambur Kovilakam, a landlord who lived in Amanthur Palace at Kaipuzha, Kottayam Kerala. Today Pandalam is part of Pathanamthitta, Kerala, India. The story of Lord Ayyappa of Sabarimala is closely entwined  with the Pandalam royal family.

Pandalam territory, Kerala.

When  Pandya Kingdom with capital at Madurai (now in Tamil nadu) was plundered and looted by army chief  Malik Kafur  of Alauddin Khalji of Delhi, the Pandya brothers, already in  succession dispute, could not face the huge army and they fled the Pandya kingdom - one group moved into Kerala   via the Western Ghats mountainous regions and settled in Poonjar in Kottayam and established the Poonjar kingdom. The other branch of the Pandya royal family  (Chembazhannur) had to keep shifting their place  then and there facing hardship and finally settled  in Pandalam. Earlier, they had settled  in Valliyur (near Tirunelveli) and enjoyed a privileged position in the society. 

Pandalam, kerala. /

The second branch faced severe hardship  wherever they settled  down because the Pandya royal members refused to have   matrimonial alliance with the  Nayaks  (vassals of  Vijayanagara kingdom) who became the ruler of Madurai. The infuriated Nayaks rulers  in order to take revenge on them, never allowed them to settle down in Tamizhagam. So, Pandyas  chose to move westward Chera Nadu.    Travelling  via Achankovil, Aryankavu, Kulathupuzha, etc finally  settled in Konni by c. 79 ME (according to copper deed issued by the ruler of Venad. 

Ayyappan temple, Sabarimalai,

Having settled down there, the royal family had a temple built for their daily worship in Konni  dedicated to God Shiva - Muringamangalam Sreemahadevar Temple. Apart, they built  several  Mutts, Manas and Koyikkalls and  over a period of time won the appreciation of the locals  who accepted them as the ruling class known as Chembazhanji kovilakom.

Political scenarios changed and the raid by Chola rulers on Travancore forced the Chembazhanji kovilakom  to leave Konni (the family lived there for roughly 100 years) and later settle down in Pandalam which later became their capital (up to 1820).  Here a kingdom was established   around c. 370 ME (1194 CE). Kunjunni Varma Thampan (Kaipuzha Thampan) of Amanthur Kovilakam at Kaipuzha was of great help and the royal family got the lands from him. Thus the ruler of Venadu played no less role in the establishment of Pandalam family.

The rulers of Pandalam family besides being visionary, were well versed in  the nuances of administration of the kingdom and how to take care of the welfare of their subjects. People enjoyed  a peaceful atmosphere and ideal life under them.  As per  Travancore state manual, Pandalam kingdom kept friendly relations with the rajas of Travancore.  Relation between Kaipuzha Thampan and Maharaja of Travancore was extremely cordial. Pandalam Raja established a good relation with Maharajah of Travancore through Kunjunni Varma Thampan who was a close friend and advisor of Maharajah of Travancore.

Peaceful coexistence with neighboring rulers was their primary goal so that progress of the kingdom could be made, so they had cordial relationship with   Maharajahs of Travancore. Particularly, the relationship between  Kaipuzha Thampan and Maharajah of Travancore was extremely warm and affable.  The exclusion of Pandalam  when Marthanda Varma, the ruler of Venad established the kingdom of Travancore in 925ME(1749AD) is a testimony  to  their friendly relationship.  Pandalam continued to be  independent.  After 1789) Pandalam was annexed with Travancore state, the rulers of Pandalam  still  enjoyed all the privileges, trapping  and rights befitting their royal status. They were given pension to maintain their family and retinue. The Ayyappan temple came under the Travancore and after independence the Tranvancore Devaswom board took control over it. Pandalam has long ben associated with the Ayyappan temple of Sabarimalai and the land is a blessed one,. According the local lore it was Pandalam ruler Raja Rajasekara Verma discovered the divine boy and brought him up as his child. Later the boy attained divinity and a temple was built in Sabarimala. Even today foe the annual mandala puja the golden jewels in the pandalam family is reverentially taken to Ayyappan temple o be worm by the lord. 

The Pandalam administration then covered over 1,000 square miles mainly eastward and covered the mountain ranges, consisting of 18 holy hills including Sabarimala. The principality was also known as Airur Swarupam. The Raja also used a title ' Airur Sree Veerasreedhara Kovil Adhikarikal'.The Kshatriya families in Kerala belong to 'viswamithra gothra', as for Pandal royal family, their gothra is the 'bhargava '