Uthradom Tirunal Marthanda Varma, head of the royal family of erstwhile Travancore, passed away at a private hospital in the early hours of Monday. He was 91.
The body has been placed at the Levy Hall, situated adjacent to the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, for the public to pay homage. The funeral will take place in the premises of Kowdiar Palace at 2.30 pm, palace sources said.
The state government has announced that Monday will be a public holiday in Thiruvananthapuram district, as mark of respect for the former head of the royal family.
Mr. Varma had stood guard over the age-old traditions, rites and rituals of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple, the abode of the family deity, ever since 1991, when by ritual he was anointed as the trustee and dasa of the temple following the death of his elder brother and the last sovereign of Travancore, Sri Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma.
In keeping with the practice of his ancestors for the last 300-odd years, Mr. Varma used to worship at the temple daily at 7 am, standing in silence and surrendering before the Lord, for a quarter of an hour, till he was hospitalised early this month.
Born as the younger son of Maharani Sethuparvathi Bayi and Ravi Varma Koyi Thamapuran on March 22, 1922, Marthanda Varma was educated in the palace by a group of 14 tutors in various subjects. He later graduated from the then Travancore University with Economics, Politics and History as specialisations in 1943. He was the recipient of the Moncombu Aandi Iyer Gold Medal for the best student in Sanskrit from the varsity. He was respected for his erudition.
Uthradom Thirunal joined the firm of Plymouth and Company at Bangalore in 1952, working there and also studying the functioning of industries at a basic level. He is the Chief Scout of the regional Boy Scout troop, and was also a patron of local hospitals and charities. He married Shrimati Radha Devi, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Krishnan Gopinath Pandalai, MB, CM, FRCS, LRCP, late IMS, sometime Supt. of the Government General Hospital, Madras. He has a son, Anantha Padmanabhan and a daughter, Parvathi Devi. Uthradom Thirunal resided at Pattom Palace, Trivandrum.
A person with varied interests, he has to his credit several trophies won as an amateur horse rider at various places in the country. A keen sportsman, he used to play tennis, hockey, golf, football and polo.
An ardent lover of photography, Marthanda Varma learned photography in 1934 when his brother, Sri Chithira Tirunal Marthanda Varma, presented him with a camera. The Roliflex camera gifted to him by his brother was among his prized possessions. Marthanda Varma had a collection of about 5000 negatives.
His most favourite hobby is motoring. He has to his credit of driving more than 40 lakh miles in his Mercedes Benz 180 D and through crowded roads. He has won several medals from the Benz company at Stuttgart.