The Arakkal Museum

The Arakkal Ali Rajas the only Muslim royal family of Kerala came into power after the reign of the Kolathiri Rajas in 1772. Dedicated to the only Muslim royal family in Kerala, the Arakkal Museum is the only part of the Arakkalkettu (Arakkal Palace).

The Government of Kerala has converted the durbar in the palace into a museum. It was inaugurated as early as in July 2005 and is still owned by the Arakkal Family Trust and not under the Archaeological Survey of India. One of the earliest records of the Arakkal family has been traced as early as 12th century AD.

Unlike most matrilineal dynasties in Kerala, the Arakkals were led by the senior most members, irrespective of their gender. If the ruler was male, he was referred to as Ali Raja and if the ruler was a lady, she was referred to as Arakkal Beebi. The Arakkal Ali Rajas the only Muslim royal family of Kerala came into power after the reign of the Kolathiri Rajas in 1772.

Arakkal – the island of Minicoy which is the southernmost island of the Lakshadweep, owes its heritage to the Arakkal Ali Rajas, which is now a part of the Maldives. The Ali Rajas surrendered the island to the British upon returning back to independent India.

The Kolathiri Rajas and the Arakkals helped the Portuguese when they arrived in the Malabar region in the 15th century. After 100 years of existence, the Dutch sold the St. Angelo Fort to the Arakkal for a princely sum of one lakh rupees in 1770 AD. The Arakkals gained importance in the Malabar region after they secured fort and their association with the kings of Mysore.

But with the arrival of the British, everything changed. From start they were against the kings of Mysore and following the first war of Mysore in 1790 the British General Abercomby defeated the Arakkal family and seized the St. Angelo Fort. Since the Arakkals wanted peace, an agreement was made between the British and the Arakkals. They received the title of Sultan during the 15th century, and their dynasty came to an end byAugust 1947.

Dedicated to the only Muslim royal family in Kerala, the Arrakkal Museum is the only part of the Arakkalkettu (Arakkal Palace). The Government of Kerala has converted the durbar in the palace into a museum. It was inaugurated as early as in July 2005 and is still owned by the Arakkal Family Trust and not under the Archaeological Survey of India.

With an entrance fee of Rs.5 and camera fee Rs.50, a trip to Arakkal Museum is a must. At the reception, you can purchase a copy of ‘The Ali Rajas of Cannanore’ by Dr. KKN Kurup (under the Publication Division University of Calicut), priced at Rs. 100.

There are quite a few items on display that reveal the nature and the lifestyle of the Arakkals. Archaic telephones, telescopes are the highlight of the museum. As you enter you will be welcomed with the genealogy of the Arakkals which is quite interesting.

The Arakkal Museum is situated right opposite to a petrol pump. It is not very far from the St. Angelo Fort. You can take an auto to the museum as it is located on the main road with a petrol pump right across the street.

A Travel Series written for Yatra.com.

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