Thiruvananthapuram: As the country celebrates its 66th Independence Day, a monument that stood witness to arguably the first homegrown revolt in Kerala against the British empire is falling into decay due to neglect. The Attingal Palace complex, about 32 km from here, was a mute witness to the Attingal revolt in 1721. The revolt, triggered by the malpractice of the British traders who camped at Anchuthengu under General Gyford, was also one of the first-ever united rebellions against the British rule.
The protest was sparked by the British traders’ unilateral decisions on the pricing of black pepper. On a momentous night in 1721, a British team, which headed to the palace to present the queen with annual gifts, was attacked by the locals led by Ettuveettil Pillais, the local landlord in which 133 Britishers were killed. The locals also took control of the Anchuthengu fort for nearly six months till more troops arrived from Thalasserry. However, the history of Travancore discounted the revolt and the queen of Attingal entered into a treaty with the British.
The palace complex which sprawls over 12 acres is now under multiple ownerships with major portions under the control of the Travancore Devaswom Board. The main edifice of the palace now houses the Kshethra Kalapeedam, TDB’s training centre in percussion instruments. The edifice and the building in the complex are in a dilapidated condition with little attention given to preservation work. The murals inside the palace complex too are in a bad condition. “We had planned some maintenance activities but didn’t make any headway as contractors were reluctant to take up the work,’’ said TDB Commissioner N Vasu.
However, historians call for serious government attention to the issue. “It’s an injustice to the history of the state and the country,’’ said historian Malayinkeezhu Gopalakrishnan. “This is a monument which should be projected as a major landmark in the country’s struggle for independence. If this is left to ruin, it’s a shame to the country,’’ he laments.