Rulers of Kochi
In 1500, during the reign of Unni Rama Koil I, the Portuguese naval commander, Cabral, reached Kochi. Five years lat er, during the rule of Unni Rama Koil II, India’s first Portuguese Viceroy, Francisco De Almaida, reached Kochi.
The Portuguese built the Mattancherry Palace in 1555 and presented it to the then ruler, Veera Kerala Varma. The most popular ruler, Kesava Rama Varma, ruled Kochi from1565 to1601 and it was during his period that the Jews settled in Kochi and built Jew Town and the synagogue here. Rama Varma also gave the Konkinis land in Mattancherry.
The first British ship reached Kochi in 1609, during the reign of the next king, Veera Kerala Varma II. Goda Varma II was king when the Dutch captured Cochin Fort in 1663.
The only woman ruler of Kochi, Queen Gangadhara Lakshmi who was crowned by the Portuguese, came to power in 1656.
Rama Varma V, better known as Sakthan Thampuran, came to the throne in 1790. He was a powerful administrator and diplomat who could ensure economic and trading prosperity in the country. Sakthan Thampuran spearheaded many modernizing efforts till his death in 1805. He was also instrumental in ending the feudal era in Kochi with his strong measures against feudal lords. The English era of the Kochi kingdom began during his reign.
It was during the rule of Rama Varma XIII that the expansion of the Cochin Harbour was successfully completed and the High Court opened. However, the credit for these modernizing measures in administration goes to the British empire and the king’s minister, Shanmugham Shetty who was an efficient administrator.
The last King of Kochi was Parikshith Thampuran who ruled only for a year before the merger of Cochin and Travancore in 1949.
Apart from these rulers, there was many a king whose reign was of no particular historical significance.