RAJA KESAVA DAS (1745-1799)
Kesavadas, the architect of modern day Allappuzha had a
very humble beginning. He was born at Kunnathur on March
17, 1745 in the erstwhile state of Travancore as the son
of a peasant woman and a police constable. His parents named
the boy Kesavan. Very little is known about his early childhood.
Though he lacked a formal education he exhibited high degree
of shrewdness, intelligence, honesty and industriousness.
A local merchant named Poku Moosa Marackar was so impressed
by the young boy's diligence and temperament that he employed
him as a tally clerk in his firm.
As Poku Moosa was a rich and influential merchant he made
periodic visits to the royal palace. It so happened that
the young Kesavan once accompanied Pokku Moosa to the royal
palace. Poku Moosa was on very cordial terms with the then
Maharaja of Travancore, Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma, who
was affectionately called by his subjects as Dharmaraja.
The Maharaja was very much impressed by the intelligence
and hardworking nature of Kesavan that he soon promoted
him in his service and conferred on him more and more responsibilities,
which Kesavan carried out in the most efficient manner.
The trust and faith that the king reposed in Kesavan was
fully justified. Dharmaraja found in him a God sent emancipator
for saving the country from the prevailing troubles and
turmoil. The joining together of Dharmaraja and Raja Kesavadas
was an epoch making event in the history of Venad.
Kesava Pillay had a very fast rise while in the service
of the king and reached its culmination point when the king
by a proclamation, made him the Valiya Divan in the year
1789.The then British Governor, Lord Mornington conferred
on him the title of Raja in appreciation of his administrative
talents. But out of humility he linked his name with the
word Dasan and liked to be called Raja Kesava Dasan with
his own name at the centre. He was also a well trained solider
and led the army several times under Captain Dillanoi. After
the death of Dillanoi, Raja Kesava Das became Army Chief
of Travancore and was credited with victory over Tipu Sultan
in the battle of Kaladi.
His greatest achievement, however, was his contribution
in Making Alappuzha one of the busiest ports of the time
and developing a system of inland canals for transportation
and navigation. He found Alappuzha very suitable, because
of geographical and oceanic reasons. Being a far-sighted
statesman he knew the importance of having a port town to
trade with the western countries. Raja Kesavadas was unique
in having such a splendid vision, much far ahead of his
time. He became very successful in materialising his dream
and the first ship embarked at Alappuzha in 1786.
Raja Kesavadas made further headway in attracting business
men from various parts of the country including those from
Bombay, Gujarat, Rajasthan etc. He encouraged them to settle
in the land and bestowed upon them every favour that they
required for setting up their business and for building
up their industrial empire.
Two parallel canals, commercial canal and vadaicanal with
the ramifying system of waterways were built for the easy
transportation of goods to the port as well as to the western