If you think, that Lakshadweep is all about unparalleled scenic beauty and stunning bio-diversity, then think again! Apart from its coral atolls, picturesque islands and submerged reefs, Lakshadweep also has an intriguing history to narrate. Like the rest of India, Lakshadweep too had to put up monarchial dominance and colonial rule in the past. Historical records confirm that the island was home to the Cheras before the Pallavas annexed it in the 7th century. By the 14th century, Lakshadweep fell into the hands of Muslim. The Muslim rulers not only governed the place but also left a lasting impression on the culture of the land. Although Lakshadweep came under the dominance of diverse rulers, very few empires managed to influence the land as much as the Muslim traders did. The supremacy of the Arakkal family continued even after the invasion of the Portuguese and the Dutch rulers in the 17th century. Once the British East Indian Company completely took over the region in the 18th century, the Arakkal clan was forced to cede its power to the colonial rulers. To know detailed facts about the history of Lakshadweep, read the article below.
To most of us, it may come as a surprise to know that the Laccadive Islands have a history that goes back to the 3rd century BC. The earliest reference of the island can be found in the Puranuru, an ancient Tamil literature. Sangam literature, Pathitruppaththu, refers to the land as the home of Cheras. According to a few historians, the Pallava inscription of 7th century AD that refers to the island as Dveepa Laksham gives away enough cues on the strong hold of the Pallava dynasty in the region during that time. In the 11th century, the place came under the supremacy of the Chola kings and remained under them before it succumbed to foreign invasion. With its early history predominately referring to Hindu rulers, it is assumed that the local inhabitants of the place were mostly Hindus. However, recent archeological verification has affirmed that the island was also home to many Buddhist settlers in the past.
Muslim And Portuguese Rule
By the beginning of the 14th century, the archipelago saw the upsurge of Islamic merchants, who arrived by sea to the island. Apart from the grave of an Arab mercantile named Ubaidulla in Andrott, which dates back to 661 AD, there have also been a few other Muslim tombstones that confirm the existence of Islamism in the island. During the 17th century, rich Muslim families dominated Lakshadweep. According to a local fable, Chirakkal Raja of the Kolathiri family extended their rule to Lakshadweep islands. It is believed that one of Raja's generals Arakkal, who was married to his daughter, secretly practiced Islam. Another legend states that the Chirakkal Raja's daughter was rescued from drowning by a young Muslim boy who gave her his 'mundu' (a long piece of fabric) to cover herself and so she had to marry him. According to the local traditions, when a single boy gives away his 'mundu' to an unmarried girl, the couple is pronounced as husband and wife. The king was very unhappy as his daughter was married to a poor boy belonging to a lower-caste and made him the ruler of the area, which in turn led to the advent of Muslim rule in the province. In the following years, the Arakkal family became one of the most affluent and influential families in the Malabar Coast and the Lakshadweep islands. The Arakkal family followed the matriarchy system, which meant that the first-born, whether male or female, would rule the province. Meanwhile, the islet saw the growing influences of the Portuguese. The descriptions given by Marco Polo about the islands attracted many Portuguese merchants to the place who profited from the coir trade in the region. Soon the Dutch also followed but there control in the region was short lived as the local inhabitants drove them out.
Just when the Arakkal kings began to monopolize the place, the islands of Amini, Kadmat, Kiltan, Chetlat and Bitra were captured by Tipu in 1787. However, soon the land fell into the hands of the British after the third Anglo-Mysore War. During that period, the islands were a part of South Karnataka. Soon the British seized the remaining islands from the Lakshadweep archipelago from the Arakkal family. The Arakkal clan was given an annual sum in return and all the islands that came to be govern by the colonial officials.
Just like the rest of India, the islands also went through some changes with respect to its territories, post independence. In 1956, the state reorganization act detached the islands from the Malabar Coast. Despite the place being dominated by Malayalis, the Indian government segregated its administrative head from the main sub-continent, making it a separate Union Territory by grouping the isles together and declaring Kavaratti the capital of Lakshadweep islands.