Sunday, 12 August 2007
Pulpally Day 6
Leaving the site of the Rajah's last battle we followed very much the same route that down which the Rajah's body had been carried in Thomas Baber's palanquin, on it's way to the Rajah's final resting place near Manantoddy.
Entering the small town of Pulpally, I got the sense that it is still in many ways a frontier town, full of new settlers who have arrived in the last fifty years to break in this new land in the Wayanad as plantations. It stuck me, in it's buildings and layout as being more akin to the towns that I visited in Australia or New Zealand, than to the older Indian towns that I have been to.
The cross roads at Pulpally.
I was looking for the spot that Thomas had used to pursuade the local inhabitants to inform him of the wherabouts of the Rajah and his supporters.
I before said that one of my objects by getting in the inhabitants of Pulpilly (Pulpalli) was to obtain accurate information of the rebels. This I did not think prudent to commence upon too early lest they should take alarm. I preferred trying all my persuasive means to gain their confidence and to wean them from their connections. For this purpose I had them before me and took every opportunity of representing the folly of countenancing a body of men so truly contemptible, and who had no other end than to involve them in one common ruin. I pointed to them in the strongest colours the power and lenity of the British Government, and at last, what with exhortation and occasional presents, had succeeded in inducing several of these, who had been of most essential service to the Raja’s party, to send their Paniyars (Paniyar – agricultural labourers) out in quest of information. I took the precaution of swearing all whom I employed to secrecy.
With many agents, I could not fail of success in some of them. On the 30th ultimo, three of them at last brought me intelligence of the Pyche Raja and all the rebel leaders with the exception of Palora Jamen (Pallur Eman) being then in the opposite side of the Kangara river, a short distance in Mysore, and this so unequivocally that I determined to act upon it...
Had this been an open area at the crossing of two tracks in the old village?
I don't suppose it will ever be possible to know for sure.
It is difficult to determine where the old centre of the town was. There is however a temple of considerable antiquity just outside the town, which Mr. Johnny believed to be the site of the original temple.
Mr. Johnny was anxious that I should not approach the temple too closely, as apparently it still has a reputation for militancy. Not wanting to upset the locals, I was more than happy to remain at a little distance.
This temple had been called the Pulpalli Pagoda in the correspondance of the period, and was where Edachenna Kungan had first assembled 3,000 men to resist the East India Company in late 1802. In October 1805, the troops under Sub-Collector Pearson had reported that the rebels were using the temple once again as a rallying point.
Shortly afterwards, Pearson had fallen ill and had had to return to the coast, and Thomas Baber was moved up from the coast to take over operations in the Wayanad.
Mr. Johnny told me that he thought that the East India Company troops had camped in the field between the temple and the cross roads. I was unable to find out why this should be believed, but it is quite possible that this was so.
Knowing that the East India Company troops often made camps, I later looked up the area on Google Earth, only to be presented with a very real puzzle.
In the aerial photo, the temple complex can be seen at the bottom of the photo. Like so many temples, this one has a tank for ritual washing and water storage.
Look however at the tank more closely.
What are the light green lines in the water contained in the tank?
Do they not look very like the drowned footings of a previous temple or structure.
Was this perhaps a Jain Temple on the same site?
Many Jain temples remain abandoned or in ruins in the area.
At this point, Mr. Johnny asked if we should have lunch, and took us into a restaurant up a flight of stairs just off the cross roads. On entering the building my heart sank, for I knew it would be extremely rude to refuse to eat there, but I dreaded the state my sons and my stomachs afterwards, for it looked very unhygenic.
However, I really should have known better, for we had one of the very best of meals that we experienced during our stay in Kerala. My hosts made sure that we had a really authentic, no holds barred Wayand meal. It was fun to observe the way they ate the meal mixing in curds into the curry, rice and chilli sauces, to a point where they were not nearly as ferocious as they would have been eaten as they had appeared in their little dishes.
Both Richard and I really enjoyed our Pulpilly lunch, and our tummies remained completely unaffected by the experience, except for the pleasure of having eaten a memorable meal in good company.
It was with a great deal of regret that we dropped Mr. Johnny back at Sultan Bathory, before motoring on to Manantoddy.