Thiruvananthapuram: A museum dedicated to the Kunjali Marakkars, the valiant naval leaders who fought against the Portuguese, is set to get a makeover as the state government has granted an administrative green light for Rs 13 lakhs for measures to conservation. Minister of State for Archives, Archeology and Museums, Ahmed Devarkovil, said during a session organized in connection with the Independence Day theme, “Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav” based on the sacrifice of the Marakkars, that conservation work would begin shortly after the completion of the tender process. “The Marakkars, through their fierce battles, had thwarted the first attempts by the Portuguese to establish their power over the country,” he said. “Only the Kunjali Marakkars could lay claim to the tradition of leading courageous resistance against colonization in India at the very beginning,” Devarkovil said.Also Read – 42-year-old Kerala mother and 24-year-old son pass ‘so inspiring’ Civil Service Commission exam together, internet says
Who were the Kunjali Marakkars?
Known as the very first protectors of the sea, the Kunjali Marakkars or Kunhali Marakkars are credited with organizing the first naval defense of the Indian coast. Also Read – Kerala Congress Councilor Charged in Sexual Assault Case Arrested in Bengaluru
Here are a few things to note about the Marakkars:
- When the hereditary leaders of the Zamorins navy, the royal family of Calicut (Kozhikode) from the 12th to the 18th century, faced Vasco da Gama and his men as business rivals followed by serious battles leading to bloodshed, a wealthy muslim sea merchant, Ismail Marakkar aided the Zamorin and gave its sailors to fight the Portuguese in several battles between 1500 and 1600 AD.
- Kunjali Marakkar I (1520 – 1531), Kunjali Marakkar II (1531 – 1571), Kunjali Marakkar III (1571 – 1595) and Kunjali Marakkar IV (1595 – 1600) had fought eighty years of relentless war against the Portuguese.
- They had no warships, cannons and technology to match the Portuguese; instead, he had brilliant war strategies, platoon leadership skills, and excelled in guerrilla warfare at sea.
- Some of Kunjali Marakkar’s family members who traded had settled in the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu.
- In Madhavan Kurichi, a small village in Thoothukkudi, Tamil Nadu, there is a Perumal temple with a painted image of a ship and the legendary Kunjali is worshiped here.
- According to historical records, the honorary title of “Kunjali” was bestowed by the Zamorin on commanders of its naval force in recognition of their prowess in maritime warfare.
However, some historians take another facet of the history of the Marakkars. According to their view, the records of history indicated that before 1524, the Marakkars were closely associated with the Portuguese – helping them to tackle the tactics of the Zamorin and the main Arab merchants of Calicut. Also Read – Independence Day 2022 Speech in English for Students – Original Speech August 15
Then, in 1524, certain events occurred which turned the Marakkar against the Portuguese. This change was driven by the decision of the Portuguese to trade directly with the native Christians and Hindus. This meant that the Marakkars would no longer be the middle agents of the Portuguese, marking a major turning point in the history of Kunjali Marakkar.
Thus, the Marakkars reached the territory of the Calicut Zamorins. They join forces with the Zamorins and the Arab merchants of Calicut to put an end to the Portuguese presence on the Malabar coast. This is how the Marakkars became part of the history of Malabar.
The legend of the Marakkars has been adapted for cinema screens many times, the latest being directed by Priyadarshan Marakkar: Arabian Sea Lion (2021) with Mohanlal as Muhammad Ali, Kunjali Marakkar IV. It was produced on a budget of ₹100 crore, making it the most expensive Malayalam film of all time. The film won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film at the 67th National Film Awards.