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Arakkal Palace--An eminent Historical monument

Among all monuments in Kerala, the historical Arakkal Palace is an eminent one. Situated 3 km from Kannur town, the Arakkal Palace is distinguished as the only royal residence of Muslims in Kerala. Another famous monument in Kerala, the Kannur Fort, belonged to the Arakkal family for some time.
The Arakkal family was the only Muslim royal family of Kerala that reigned over parts of the coast and even Lakshadweep. The Arakkal family did not discriminate between the male and female members of the family when it can to governing the land. The eldest member of the family was made the head and ruler. The male rulers were known as Ali Raja, while the female rulers were called Arakkal Beevis.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/a/a2/Arakkal_Beevi.jpg/180px-Arakkal_Beevi.jpg <--Previous ruler Sultana Aysha

The Arakkal Palace and Kannur Fort are located in close proximity and are presently under the supervision of the Archaeological Survey of India. Places of interest near the palace and the fort are the Moppila Bay Harbor and the Arakkal Mosque.

Story behind Arakkal family:

Centuries ago, Kolathu Nadu (present Kannur district) was ruled by Chirakkal Raja. While bathing in the Chirakkal kulam (pond), his daughter started drowning. Her friends cried and shouted, but they were unable to rescue her. At the same time a Muslim boy was walking nearby and heard the shouting, so he went to see what was happening. He saw a girl drowning in the pond. He knew it was the princess, but he hesitated to save her because in that time untouchability was practiced in Kerala (meaning that if a lower-class person touched an upper-class person it was considered a sin possibly punishable by death).

The boy decided to jump into the pond anyway and he saved her. Since the girl was naked, the boy gave her his mundu (a long cloth used to cover the lower part of the body).

When the news reached the Chirakkal Raja, he called his daughter and the Muslim boy to him. The boy was afraid that he would lose his life.

Custom in that day said that if a man gives a "pudava" (a long cloth used for covering body) to an unmarried woman, they are considered to be married. The elders and religious people told the Raja that since his daughter was touched by a Muslim, she was no longer allowed to enter the palace. However, the boy had given her his "pudava" so she was married to him as well.

As per the custom the king had no other choice but give his daughter to the Muslim boy. The Raja was unhappy to give his daughter to a poor family, so he made the boy ruler of part of the country.The area given to the boy was known as Arakkal and his family was called the Arakkal family. The ruler's daughter was known as Arakkal Beebi.

Many people believe that the place where the Chirakkal kulam was still exists today as the locality called Chirakkalkulam. It is located between Thayatheru and Kannur City.

Another story:
The Arakkal family followed a matriarchal system of descent. The eldest member of the family, male or female, was its head and ruler. While male rulers were called Ali Rajah, female rulers were known as Arakkal Beevis. Matriarchy is a gynocentric form of society, in which power is with the female and especially with the mothers of a community. The term "matri-archy" expresses its tough tie with family rule: its root is "matri" ("mother"). The main semantic load of the term is not only "power of female" but also "power of female as a mother". Woman's power is given to female only because of her motherhood and her maternal status in community. It means that primarily "matriarchy" is a family rule.
Sultana Aysha Aliraja was the ruler till her death on the morning of September 27, 2006.

The more acceptable story goes like this:
Around 17th century, one of the Padanair (General) of Kolathiri Arayankulangara Nair converted to Islam due to the influence of the Arab merchants of Kannur. His wife was a daughter of Kolathiri, later they known as Arrakkal. Around this time, a lot of Muslim merchant families became financially influential in Malabar region. When the Arakkal family took control of Lakshadweep, they almost achieved royal status. Later on, they received support from Mysore also.

Arakkal Museum:

The recently opened Arakkal Museum is a place of interest for tourists. A part of the Arakkalkettu (Arakkal Palace) has been converted to a museum and it houses artifacts from the times of the Arakkal dynasty. The durbar hall section of the palace has been converted into a museum by the Government of Kerala. It was opened in July 2005 after a Rs. 9,000,000 renovation.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/5/55/Arakkal.JPG/180px-Arakkal.JPG
Although renovated by the government, the Arakkalkettu is still owned by the Arakkal Family Trust and does not fall under the control of the country's archaeology department, the Archaeological Survey of India. The government had taken a keen interest in preserving the heritage of the Arakkal Family, which had played a prominent role in the history of Malabar. A nominal entry fee is charged by the Arakkal Family Trust from visitors to the museum.

To know more about Arakkal palace: http://roopesharakkal.com/_wsn/page4.html

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