Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma, head of the royal family of the erstwhile Kingdom of Travancore, died of cardiac arrest at a private hospital here at 2.20 am on Monday. He was 91.
The mortal remains were placed at Levee Hall, East Fort, for public homage at 6.30 am. By 3 pm, the body was taken in a cortege to the Kowdiar Palace. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, ministers, MLAs, top officials and thousands of laymen paid him their last respects. The mortal remains were consigned to flames with full state honours on the Palace premises in the evening. His wife Radha Devi had predeceased him. He is survived by son Padmanabha Varma and daughter Parvathi Devi.
Uthradom Thirunal was the heir apparent when the princely state of Travancore joined the Indian Union. Born on 22 March 1922, he was the second son of Maharani Sethu Parvathi Bayi and Ravi Varma Kochu Koi Thampuran. He was the younger brother of Travancore’s last Maharaja Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma and great-nephew to renowned painter Raja Ravi Varma.
He was anointed head of the royal family and was serving as the custodian of the Sree Padmanabha Swami Temple since the demise of Chithira Thirunal in 1991. Uthradom Thirunal secured BA Honours with first class in 1943 from the then Travancore University. Politics, History and Sanskrit were his specialisations. He was the recipient of the university gold medal for the best Sanskrit student. He had served as Hon Lt-Col of The Maharaja’s Bodyguard in the Travancore-Cochin State Forces until 1954.
He married Radha Devi, daughter of Madras Government Hospital Superintendent Colonel Krishna Gopinath Pandala in 1945. After completing higher education in London he joined the Plymouth Automobiles in Bangalore in 1952. As head of the royal family, he was residing at the Thulasi Hills Palace, Pattom, with his family.