28th December 2009, 10:18 PM
[tscii:b39e621880]“Travancore - the Footprints of Destiny” the memoirs of Sree Padmanabhadasa His Highness Uthradom Tirunal Marthanda Varma will be released by His Excellency Dr A P J Abdul Kalam at 3.30pm, Tuesday on 5th January 2010 at the Sree Vaikuntam Kalyana Mandapam.

The book is a fine blend of historiography and autobiography, covering early history of Venad and Travancore; the oneness of the royalty with the Sree Padmanabhaswami Temple. Sree Uthradom Tirunal has witnessed from close quarters the reign of his brother Sree Chithira Tirunal, the transition of power and the post independence era. When India became free, Travancore was a progressive and well-developed Princely State and it stood ahead of other princely states in the country.

The book takes us through the traditions, rituals and practices of the Travancore royals who are known for the intense worshipful reverence for the family deity, Lord Anantapadmanabha. Major events in the state's history like the accession to the Indian Union, the epochal Temple Entry Proclamation and landmark administrative decisions that had a lasting impact on the course of future developments in the state. The whole work took three years, with regular recording sessions, with His Highness. His Highness narrated the content to Uma Maheswari, a Freelance Journalist, who penned the book, as a first person account.

The content is supported by photographs of archival relevance including a fairly large number taken by His Highness Uthradom Tirunal.

The book designed by Dushyanth Parasher is published by Konark Publishers, New Delhi. Printed in multicolor and on art paper, the book is Priced Rs 2000/- and will be available at a discount rate of 1200/- on the day of release.


3rd January 2010, 07:27 PM
Travancore: A princely state that set a 'progressive precedent'
New Delhi News.Net
Saturday 2nd January, 2010 (IANS)

Book: 'Travancore: The Footprints of Destiny' - Autobiography: Uthradom Tirunal Marthanda Varma, the former king (as told to Uma Maheswari); Publisher: Konark Publishers; Price: Rs.2,In 1924, when Mahatma Gandhi asked young Chithira Tirunal, the 12-year-old prince of the erstwhile princely state of Travancore in Kerala, if he would remove untouchability and throw open the temples to all castes when he became king, the boy answered, 'Of course'. And he lived up to his word.

The former princely state of Travancore in Kerala, a staunch Hindu bastion, has always stood apart from the rest of 19th century royal India for its progressive ideas and non-alignment which were way ahead of its time.

Uthradom Tirunal Marthanda Varma, 88, the last ruler of Travancore, gives many glimpses of life as it was then in the first-ever autobiography of a former ruler from the erstwhile princely state, in 'Travancore: The Footprints of Destiny'.

When Chithira Tirunal met Mahatma Gandhi in 1924 at the Pattom Palace, the prince was accompanied by his regent mother Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bayi. As promised, on his 25th birthday, Nov 12, 1936, the prince issued the Temple Entry Proclamation, which was a landmark event in the history of India.

C. Rajagopalachari, who paid a visit to Travancore, watched the working of the proclamation and was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude.

'The enthusiasm of the Harijans, the absence of all opposition to their entrance to the farthest limit permissible and the hearty cooperation show the utter genuineness of the sweeping reforms,'observed the Mahatma, who visited 24 temples in the erstwhile kingdom.

The momentous decision that allowed devotees cutting across caste lines to enter an upper caste Hindu shrine set a precedent in India.

The popular feeling at the time that the 'epochal decision should be commemorated with a permanent memorial was well-received'.

A public meeting at Thiruvananthapuram Dec 10, 1936, decided to 'donate liberally for the installation of a statue of his highness - the king'.

The autobiography, which chronicles all the major events in India and in Kerala since the birth of the surviving former 'Rajah' throws rare insights into Kerala's engagement with the rest of the country - and the 20th century world at large - during the British Raj and post- Independence.

It is also a testimony to Kerala's rich cultural heritage through detailed descriptions of the state's festivals, palace rites, religion and life inside the portals of the ornate palace.

The former princely state is also the home of noted painter-prince, Raja Ravi Varma, who was born in 1848.

Central to the book, however, is the spiritual driving force of the 12th century (former) royal state - a temple of Lord Padmanabha, an incarnation of Mahavishnu - the presiding deity of Travancore.

The city of Thiruvananthapuram is named after the presiding deity of Padmanabha.

The Padmanabhaswami temple, which towers high over the city, is one of the 108 Divya Kshetras (holy pilgrimages) in the country. The 18-foot idol made up of 12,500 'saligramams (black stones)' bears the images of 33 crore (330 million) gods and goddesses in the Hindu pantheon, says the book.

The book, which has a foreword by former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, is divided into 11 chapters that covers Travancore and its heritage, the Vishnu temples and its rituals, birth and childhood of the Uthradom Tirunal Marthanda Varma, the life of his parents, Travancore's military tradition, the royal weddings and the power shift to democracy.

The short texts are accompanied by rare pictures from the royal archives and blurbs to highlight important events.

The book, dictated by the 88-year-old former king to Kerala-based journalist-writer Uma Maheshwari, will be released by Abdul Kalam Jan 5.

Maheshwari, whose forefathers migrated to Thiruvananthapuram centuries ago to serve the temple of Padmanabhaswami, says 'humility was the hallmark of the erstwhile Travancore royalty'.

Citing the centuries-old non-partisan outlook of the Travancore royals, Abdul Kalam says in the foreword, 'It is interesting to read how the first Chera king Perumchotudayan Cheralathan, the ancestor of the Travancore ruler, had participated in the battle of Kurukshetra and had fed the soldiers without taking sides. The act was the world's first message of non-alignment.'

The former south Indian principality, one of the most ancient in India dating back to the Chera dynasty, was spread across 7,625 sq miles with a coastline 168 miles.

5th January 2010, 06:53 AM
The book has been released. Here's a write-up from The Hindu


5th January 2010, 10:07 AM
NO Badri

the book will be released only today at 3 30 pm
the story in Hindu is by a correspondent PTI

THE book is my (uma maheswari) first work and will be released only today.

5th January 2010, 10:20 AM
oh! I am sorry! must have mis-read it!

So, you are Uma Maheshwari???

Congratulations on your book, Madam! So, where is the release? At Thiruvananthapuram?

Is the Sri Vaikuntam Kalyana Mandapam in Thiruvanantapuram?

5th January 2010, 06:26 PM
I am uma maheswari -the author of this book
the ceremony went off very well. Dr Kalam spoke very well and i had the opportunity to share the dias...the royal function-had all the splendour......
have no words to describe
so look out for the links in newspapers tomorrow

sree vaikuntam kalyana mandapam is in Thiruvananthapuram near the southern entrance of the Temple of Sree Padmanabha-and close to my house..


6th January 2010, 03:06 AM
Dear Ms Uma!! That must have certainly been a wonderful and proud moment for you, especially with this being your first book.

It must certainly have been an exciting time for you.

And we at the Hub too are proud that one of our Hubbers is an author. On behalf of the entire Hub and all its members, I convey my (our) hearty congratulations to you on this endeavour. May you rise to greater heights and be widely recognised as a result of this work.

And perhaps, you might also be inclined to share some snippets of your book in the Hub?

6th January 2010, 07:10 AM
I am truly humbled by this gesture.
soon, i will post some snippets and personal anecdotes.
I could share the dias with DR Kalam the members of the royal family and Shri B R Shetty. Spoke to Kalam and i am glad to say that he really liked the work and apprecilated me fulfilling the task.

It was B R Shetty who received the first copy from Dr Kalam. shri Shetty bought the 100th and 142 floors of BURJ DUBAI for 122 crores.. Unassuming personality, very simple..It was
the Shetty brothers who enacted the role of ANIZHAM TIRUANL MARTHANDA VARMA AND KARTHIKA TIRUNAL DHARMAJA-- the two great rulers of Travancore for our Documentary, which is yet to be released.

We saw the compering skill of Former Ambassador Shri T P SREENIVASAN. He spoke very well. In a day or two I will post a few photographs
By the Grace of Lord Padmanabha every thing went off very well.

6th January 2010, 09:50 PM
[tscii:2c37b4f2b2]Dear "Boswell" Uma, :o

Congratulations on your book. Hope the books were sold out yesterday. :D

Following is the text of my presentation on HH's autobigraphy at the
book release by HE Dr. Abdul kalam on Jan 5, 2010 :D


Your Excellency Dr. Abdul Kalam,
Your Highness Sree Uthradom Tirunal Marthanda Varma Maharaja,
Members of the royal family,
Mr. B.R.Shetty,
Mrs. Uma Maheswari,
Mr. K.P.R.Nair,
Distinguished guests,

This is a moment of fulfillment for all of us. For His Highness, this
is a moment of fulfillment of his duty to history, having chronicled
his life and times for posterity; for His Excellency Dr. Abdul Kalam,
an icon of modern India, a moment to pay a tribute to what he calls,
“the oneness of the Maharaja, the State and the temple-forming an
integrated soul”; for Mr. B.R.Shetty, the prominent businessman from
the Gulf, a moment to savour his special links with Kerala and the
Maharaja; for Mrs. Uma Maheswari, the fulfillment of having completed
a labour of love successfully, for Mr. K.P.R.Nair, the eminent
publisher, the fulfillment of his grand vision to create a volume
worthy of its subject, and for me the joy of having been entrusted by
His Highness to welcome you and to introduce his book to you. I am
sure that you too will have a sense of fulfillment at the end of this
event, having been witness to the making of history. May I welcome you
all, on behalf of His Highness and the royal family?

The book being released today, H.H.Uthradom Tirunal Marthanda Varma’s
‘Travancore-the Footprints of Destiny, My Life and Times Under the
Grace of Lord Padmanabha’ as told to Uma Maheswari’, (that is the
title of the book) published by Konark is no ordinary book either in
appearance or in substance. The quality of production, the choice of
paper, the value of the photographs, the quaint charm of the drawings
by young Sharath Sunder and the elegance of styling make the volume
worthy of any coffee table or library. In substance, it is history
written by one of its major actors, the hero and the author combining
to create a masterpiece.

The narrator, the hero, often recedes into the background and gives
pride of place in the narrative to Lord Padmanabha, the deity on whose
behalf the dynasty has ruled Travancore since AD 1750 and to his elder
brother and mentor, Sree Chithira Tirunal Balarama Varma. Many have
faith in Lord Padmanabha, many have adored Sree Chthira Tirunal, but
no one else has felt the divine presence more intensely, no one else
has known Sree Chthira Tirunal more closely. The book, therefore,
presents the most intimate portrait of Sree Chthira Tirunal and the
divine hand that guided him.

The author summarizes the reforms and measures of Sree Chthira Tirunal
in one sentence: “The Temple Entry Proclamation, the abolition of
capital punishment, adult franchise, free and compulsory primary
education, mid –day meals, the establishment of the Travancore
University, procuring food grain to prevent famine, nationalization of
road transport, development of an airport, the establishment of the
Pallivassal hydro-electric project, the victory of the Mullaperiyar
case, the establishment of the Swati Tirunal Music Academy and the
Sree Chitra Art Gallery and rapid industrialization were some of the
reforms, measures and projects.” For a monarch, who assumed power at
the time when the State was “in the grip of an economic depression of
unprecedented severity,” these were no mean achievements. But the
abiding image that emerges of Sree Chithira Tirunal is as “the epitome
of utter gentleness, humility and nobility.”

As personal memoirs of the Elaya Raja and later the inheritor of a
hoary heritage, the book is a model autobiography, as it is devoid of
self-congratulation or glorification. Throughout, there is an effort
to demystify himself in the narration, performing a secondary and
supportive role to the Maharaja, sometimes even as a foil to him.
Instances of his own human weaknesses are narrated to contrast with
the superhuman tolerance and nobility of his elder brother. The way
how, at the age of ten, the Elaya Raja beat up a servant and he was
made to apologise to the servant publicly, how he retaliated to Sir
C.P.Ramaswami Iyer for flinging a file at the Maharaja in the tennis
court and how he confronted an editor, who published unwarranted
allegations against the palace are in contrast to the Maharaja, who
was the paragon of perfection.

The author’s sense of humour is matched only by his compassion with
which he describes everyone around him. For the erudite and learned
person that he is today, his first encounter with his British teacher
was disastrous. “Do you like to study?’ was the first question. “No”
he said emphatically. “How about reading?” “Not at all” he replied
promptly. “Hmm. I hope you like playing?” The answer was an equally
emphatic “Yes” The teacher pulled out a ping-pong ball from his pocket
and said “Come, Let us play” The young prince was delighted. Since
there was no racquet anywhere around, the teacher suggested that they
should use the hard cover of the books that he brought along. After a
delightful game of ping pong in which the prince defeated the teacher,
the teacher said: “Look, if the mere cover of this book is so strong,
imagine what the power and the strength of its contents would be?”
That revelation turned the playful prince into an avid reader. His
love for horses, watches, cameras and cars is described with similar
anecdotes. It is amusing to read that the celebrated dentist, Dr.
G.O.Pal (actually Dr. Gopalan) used to drive from Statue Junction to
East Fort in reverse gear just for the thrill of it. I was reminded of
a story in Moscow that the Egyptians used to order their tanks with
four reverse gears to run away from the Israelis. When they once asked
for a single forward gear, the Soviets were happy that they had
finally decided to fight. But the Egyptian General clarified: “Suppose
they come from behind?”

The pen portraits of the royal family, celebrities and others, drawn
with deep understanding, compassion and affection are an attraction of
the book. Amma Maharani, Regent Maharani, the author’s father, Sri
Ravi Varma Kochu Koil Thampuran, his sister, Karthika Tirunal, Sir
C.P.Ramaswami Iyer, Colonel Goda Varma Raja and others come alive in
the book. It is heartening to read how these great personalities
shaped and reshaped the mind of the author as he assumed different
roles in the family and the State. The most sensitive and tender
portrait is of his own consort, Shrimati Radha Devi, starting from the
moment he saw her arresting face in a wedding album to her demise in
2005. “There were four distinct phases in those years,
namely—attraction, attention, adoration and abandonment”, he writes.
His description of her justifies his cryptic remark: “Radha Devi was
an ideal partner” In a touching farewell, he says, “The grief is
strong, I am unable to come to terms with the reality—that unavoidable
and inescapable part of life.’ The book also contains affectionate
references to the Mahraja’s talented children, nieces, their husbands
and children.

His Highness’ encounters with the celebrities of the world are another
attractive feature of the book. Agatha Chritie, Lord Mountbatten,
Dr.Radhakrishnan, Eleanor Roosevelt, Uday Shankar, Jacqueline Kennedy,
R. Venkataraman, Nizam of Hyderabad, Swami Sivananda, Sringeri
Madadipathi, Bhagawan Satya Sai Baba, Maa Ananda Mayi, Swami
Chinmayananda, the Dalai Lama, JRD Tata and many others find a place
in the book. The most amusing one is the anecdote about Eleanor
Roosevelt. After a visit to Kaudiar Palace, she wrote in the Life
magazine, “I went to Travancore, where I met Chithira Thirunal, the
Maharaja. He introduced me to the Maharani, who was not his wife, but
his mother, and the heir apparent, who was not his son, but his
brother…I have not understood the system. But I am glad that the power
is vested with the women.”

Speaking of the power of women, one must say a word about Uma
Maheswari, the woman behind this book. Like Boswell to Dr. Johnson and
Lytton Strachey to Queen Victoria, Uma has rendered a great service to
His Highness by taking notes diligently and putting them together into
a cohesive, readable and interesting account of a remarkable life and
its times.

Shri KPR Nair, the publisher also deserves a word of appreciation for
creating a volume worthy of its contents.

The book that His Excellency will release today is just not history.
It will make history. The readers of the book, however much they may
believe in democracy and equality of men, will realize that there is
something in what is called “blue blood”, which sets apart the rajas
from the prajas. It is not pomp and grandeur, but humility, dedication
and commitment to the people.

Thank you,
T.P. Sreenivasan,
Former Ambassador of India,
Director General, Kerala International Centre, Thiruvananthapuram.
Member, National Security Advisory Board, New Delhi
Cell (91) 9847721656

T.P. Sreenivasan,
Former Ambassador of India,
Director General, Kerala International Centre, Thiruvananthapuram.
Member, National Security Advisory Board, New Delhi
Cell (91) 9847721656


8th January 2010, 09:41 AM
Congratulations, Padmanabha (Ms. Uma Maheswari)! We are proud of you :)

8th January 2010, 02:16 PM
Thank you very much.

16th April 2010, 03:31 PM
dear all,

I am glad to inform you that, the Dubai launch of my first book TRAVANCORE THE FOOTPRINTS OF DESTINY will be held at 4 30 pm on 26th of this month, at Burj Khalifa.