Travancore, a historical gem nestled amidst Kerala’s lush landscapes, found itself ensconced between the formidable Ghats mountains and the Arabian Sea. This natural topography endowed it with fertile terrain, ideal for cultivating an array of valuable products like pepper, rice, and cotton. The intricate network of rivers, once lifelines of trade, facilitated the transportation of abundant pepper yields to bustling coastal harbours.

From ancient times, Kerala was a nexus of trade, captivating the interests of Greeks, Romans, and later Arabian merchants. In the 15th century, the Portuguese entered the scene, dubbing the region Malabar, driven primarily by the allure of pepper. Subsequently, the Dutch, French, and English followed suit, forging pepper-related pacts with local rulers, granting them trade privileges in exchange for safeguarding princely realms.

Amidst this mosaic of shifting allegiances, 17th-century Kerala was fragmented into four kingdoms: Zamorin’s Calicut, Kolathiri, Cochin, and the sprawling realm of Travancore. These royal dominions, intricately connected through alliances, laid the foundation for the southern kingdom of Travancore, encompassing territories like Quilon and Kayamkulam.

This exploration delves into the era spanning 1671 to 1758, a pivotal period in which Travancore metamorphosed into an early modern state. Central to this transformation was Martanda Varma (1729-1758), a pivotal figure whose strategies and leadership propelled Travancore’s evolution.