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(This is an article / story contributed by a member of the public. This is a work of fiction. All the names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents in this article are the product of the author's imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, and actual events is purely coincidental.)
The journey from Vallabhasseril to Mannarshal temple was a long and tedious trek seven hundred years ago. Today, it is a matter of three hours by public bus or less than an hour by car to traverse the 18 or so odd miles. In her times (time precisely not known, but 15th century AD), our ancestral mother and family and their entourage traveled from her home Vallabhasseril to her favorite temple Mannarshal during the Sarpa-bali festivals, which often took two days with an intermediate camp out in Valiakuzi, which is today’s Pallipad.
With their prestige and power, they acquired considerable property in Valiakuzi and built a rest house there, which became Amma’s adobe after marriage. Vallabhasseril was a very powerful tharavad under Panthalam Raja, which provided him with all the necessary security forces of those times.
Amma was not to be denied, and particularly not humiliated as the mother of traitors. She herself took her case to the Raja himself, and upon realizing the grave injustice done to this magnificent noble woman by his men, she was compensated with substantial tax free properties that span from Karipuza to Karthikppally and Kayamkulam to Haripad.
Amma’s initial encampments were always under the same Banyan tree (Aal) during her piligrimages and upon her settlement in Valiakuzi, her new house came to be known as Alummoottil, which later became our Tharavad name. During subsequent years of turmoil and consolidations, Panthalam and Kayamkulam got absorbed along with other smaller territories into the Travancore kingdom. Reasons are unknown, but Vallabhasseri Tharavad decayed and there is virtually nothing left of it.
However, the present day Thiruvalla derives its name from the Thiru Vallabhasseri Temple, our ancient family Temple.
There are couple of incidents in the life of one of our most prodigious Grandfathers, Shekaran Channar otherwise known as “Kuthakakkaran Appooppan”, that show his resourcefulness as well as brilliance. In his time, the most luxurious travel was of course by “kettuvallam”. Thoppil was the boat marina as well as the boat maintenance facilities. While Appooppan was in Kochi for some errands, there was a foreign ship stranded with grains whose intended recipient merchant defaulted on the payment. Upon hearing this news, he immediately went and made an offer which the shipping agents could not refuse. He promptly gave them an advance and subsequently took possession of the grains. Needless to say, he made a handsome profit through the distribution and retail sales of the merchandise.
It was during his reign our family reached its financial apex as well as fame. Appooppan was well known as ‘Kuthakakkaran Achan’ and his word was considered as good as gold. Appooppan not only made many friends and admirers, but made plenty of enemies also.
In another incident, Appooppan got word that some of his enemies were planning to ambush him on his way back from Thiruvananthapuram. Since walking was the only means of getting to Chacka and to his kettuvallam, this could be a dangerous encounter. Realizing his predicament, Appooppan sent his servants back to the vallam through some back roads. He elected to follow a different approach.
There was a young thandan collecting coconuts for the market in the neighborhood. Appooppan asked him how much he made a day and upon hearing that he could make a profit of 3 chakrams in a day, Appooppan offered him a much better deal. Leave the coconuts in the yard and let Appooppan ride in the basket to Chacka for a handsome amount of 3 panams. The fellow was very pleased at his good fortune and the two struck a deal. He carried Appooppan in the basket as agreed, while shouting “thenga, thenga” all the way to the kettuallam. The waiting enemies were very cleverly fooled.
When the young thandan realized what a valuable commodity he was carrying on his head, he made an attempt to extract more money out of Appooppan for saving his life, but Appooppan’s response was that Alummoottil channar will never renege on his word and he expects others to do the same.
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