Kayal Raja

Or Krishi Rajan (king of lakes and king of cultivation) came to my mind when the friend who we invited for dinner last night narrated his visit to Nedumangad.

Kayal Raja Murikkan was crowned ‘Krishi Raja’ title by the then prime minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru.

I know the family well as my sister is married to one of Murikkan’s sons. The photo in his house of the day of crowning and taken when the prime minister visited his house has the PM’s daughter sitting saree clad on one side. The young Indira Gandhi draws your eyes in that direction first when you look at the photo.

You look appreciatively at brother-in-law and the album comes out. One another unique item was Murikkan with the Pope. I thought something was strange with the photo. Yes the photo was taken in Pope’s private chamber.

Perhaps he is the only Indian getting an audience with the Pope in the private chamber. 

Murikkan’s and us Vellukunnels has some similarities. Both are of 10 siblings, Murikkan 9 boys and a girl and us 3 girls and 7 boys.

Other similarities include that both families have constructed seven churches each.  Of course Kayal Murikkan had done it single handedly while it’s the total family tree feat for us.

Murikkan’s contribution to make Kuttanad in Kerala the rice bowl is legendary. He reclaimed vembanad lake by building bunds (raised boundary) using mud of the lake. The three cultivating areas Chithira (716 acres), Rani (568 acres) and Maryhandom (674 acres) are mini wonders. 

He planted coconut trees along the bund thus becoming one of the largest coconut producer also. Remember toddy is another product of coconut trees.

The communist government in Kerala wanted a publicity stunt and nationalized Murikkan’s kayals of 1958 acres paying a compensation of Rs.150,000 (about $2200). An appeal to Supreme Court made compensation 150,000 each to the children also making it 1,650,000

Good to break anybody, but not Murikkan,the visionary had purchased 1000 acres and planted rubber in Nedumangad.

Another interesting event was my sister’s wedding. There was a huge shortage of rice in Kerala and the government banned parties for 50 people and above from serving rice products. The wedding lunch had porotta and chicken curry… what an irony for the marriage of the rice king’s son!!

My friend went to Nedumangad to meet a locally unknown but internationally famous gentleman living there, but hailing from Gujarat. My friend is a new entrant to Malayalam cinema production and the Nedumangad resident is involved big time in Hollywood with names like Matrix, Aventures etc 

Then what is he doing in Nedumangad? Well the billionaire searched for the place with the best oxygen and air quality and found Nedumangad.

I must grab my brother-in-law’s longstanding invitation to visit his estate and stay in the estate bungalow. Next time for sure…

Kayal Raja

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