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Sugandha Valli, the Maharaja’s love was a Bharatanatyam dancer who came to his court with the famous Guru Vadivelu from Tanjavoor. Vadivelu was a prominent member of the art group in Swathi’s court. Swathi Thirunal who saw Sugandha Valli’s Bhratanatyam performance was profoundly impressed by her mastery over the art form. Soon the relationship was to blossom into mutual appreciation and love.
Different views of Thanjaoor Ammaveedu
Maharaja accepted her as a consort and the Tanjavoor Amma Veedu was constructed
to house his beloved. It is a beautiful wooden building with two courtyards
and elaborate wood carvings. It is believed that this house was once a place
that echoed of music and dance incessantly. Sugandha Valli lured the Maharaja
more and more into the world of arts and Swathi who was tired of the British
dominance might have been only too glad to concentrate in his music and the
dance of his beloved. But this was not acceptable to the close family members
and courtesans. The story goes that the powerful people inside the family
ordered Sugandha Valli out of Travancore without the Maharaja coming to know
about it. And she left without being able to explain anything to her lover.
This incident might have had a deep and saddening impact on Swathi’s mind.
The Maharaja did not live long. And nobody knows anything further about what
might have happened to Sugandha Valli.
This story is orally transmitted from generation to generation, but nobody knows for sure the truth of the enchanting love affair between a Maharaja and a dancing girl. The forlorn Tanjavoor Amma Veedu exists even today as a store house of mysteries and stories. Another building which is believed to have been built later in front of the original complex of the Mitra Niketan, an NGO based in Vellanad, Trivandrum.
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