Trikkulam and the Demise of History
A team from Calicut Heritage Forum, led by Dr.Oliver Noone visited Trikkulam, near Tirurangadi, looking for traces of the bloody battle that took place there between the British forces from Venkitikkotta (present Kottakkal) and the forces of Tipu. We were looking for traces of a Fort which Tipu had built there. No one - including the history professors of the local college- had heard of such a fort in Trikkulam. But, our local guide, the indefatigable Gopi would not give up. He contacted the Village Officer, Shekharan (another history buff, he turned out to be) who confirmed that there was indeed a mention in revenue records of a Fort on a large piece of land on the banks of the Parakkadavu River.
The land described in the records as 'Kottapparamba' does not have any trace of a fort today and is dominated by some garish bungalows surrounded by a couple of old tiled houses. The plain ground where the battle took place is now a large coconut grove, but the approach to the river showed clearly a strategic eye. There was a story of an underground path to the river but we could not explore the environs in greater detail, as the place was being used as a bathing ghat by women.
While we could not obtain much by way of tangible evidence of Tipu's Fort, we stumbled on living proof of how neglect and prejudice can destroy our history and heritage. The history professor took us to some graves of British soldiers who had laid down their lives in the 1921 revolt.
The grave of the young 28 year old Assistant Superintendent of Police, Palghat was in front of the Taluk Office and appeared to be fairly well- protected, although weeds were gradually taking over the tombstone.
The epitaph read: William John Duncan Rowley, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Palghaut, who was killed at Tirurangadi by a mob of mappilas at the outbreak of the Mappila Rebellion on August 20, 1921 - aged 28
The local Tahsildar mentioned that the Tirurangadi Taluk Office (built in 1906) was being vacated and the building will then be handed over to the Archeology Department for conservation. He hoped that along with this, the grave of Rowley in front of his building would also be preserved by the department.
But the two other soldiers (the professor narrated the barbaric way in which they were cornered and lynched by a violent mob) were not so lucky. Their graves were also
protected by iron fencing but gradually, the fencing had been stolen presumably by scrap dealers and the tomb stones themselves have been dislodged. We could dig up one of those but the other one in the same enclosure was too deeply buried in rubbish dumped over the last 70 odd years.
The Professor recounted the touching story which he had heard from locals of how the mother of one of the young soldiers had travelled all the way to Trikkulam from Britain to build the monument for her young boy. Presumably, what remained of the two young soldiers was buried together, for there is only a single epitaph for the two soldiers which reads:sacred to the memory of No.5718896 Pte.F.M.Eley and No.5718762 Pte. H.C. Hutchings 2nd Bn Dorset Regt died of wounds received in action against the moplahs at Tirurangadi 22.8.1921
One wishes a body like the Commonwealth Graves Commission takes care of these neglected and vanishing pieces of history.With the present resources all that Calicut Heritage Forum can do is to highlight the plight of such monuments!