KOCHI: A life-size portrait of Rajarshi Rama Varma, the erstwhile ruler of Cochin, was unveiled at a special function organised by the Cochin Royal Family Foundation at Kalikotta Palace in Tripunithura on Saturday.
The said portrait was handed over to Vinu C Koshy, the general manager (projects) of Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL), to be installed at their soon-to-be-opened station at Tripunithura.
The move assumes significance, given how Rama Varma, during his reign, was instrumental in setting up several key rail projects, ensuring connectivity to Cochin and its assets.
When the interest for a rail line beyond Shornur waned among the British, Rama Varma took it upon himself to see it extended to Cochin. This also meant that he had to use his own funds to see the project materialise. Rama Varma was also the force behind the Cochin Forest Steam Tramway, a remarkable feat of engineering which helped harness the abundant forest resources in the kingdom’s highlands.
The transformation that the rail links paved the way to earned the Maharaja the deserved title of ‘the father of modern Kochi.’
However, Dr Sebastian Joseph, professor of history at UC College, Aluva, urged that this label should be amended as ‘the architect of modern Kochi,’ as Rama Varma’s initiatives were also responsible for the social and cultural well-being of his subjects. “The word architect,” he said, “encompasses all the dimensions.”
Inaugurating Saturday’s function, legislator K Babu talked about how it was likely the first time after the integration of princely states that a public commemoration event of an erstwhile ruler was being held.
“Whilst also being a beacon in tribute to the past, the portrait at Metro station could also serve as a torchlight to guide us into the future,” Babu said. Loknath Behera, the MD of KMRL, who addressed the crowd via a video message, had a similar thought. He also expressed his eagerness to do his part to shed light on Cochin history.
Ramabhadran Thampuran, the president of the Cochin Royal Family Foundation, Dr Kocha Varma, the senior member of the Cochin royal family, Rema Santhosh, chairperson of Tripunithura municipality; and Radhika Varma, councillor of Tripunithura municipality, attended the event.
Portrait planned at Vadakkekkotta
This was not the first time a move to install a portrait of Rajarshi Rama Varma at a Metro station was mooted. Apparently, Tripunithura municipality had pushed a proposal some years back, when the Vadakkekkotta station was nearing completion. However, this did not materialise.