life of Swathi Thirunal was an offering in music to God. A rare renaissance
personality, Swathi Thirunal was a king among musicians and musician among
kings. His musical compositions and his life were a mutual translation of
his devotion to LordPadmanabha, the presiding deity of the Travancore Royal
Thirunal Rama Varma
was a progressive ruler who lived ahead of his times and was committed to
the welfare of the people. Being an able administrator his far sighted reforms
were responsible for introducing modern medicine, English education and a
humane judicial system in Kerala....
Director, Travancore Observatory
Tirunal was interested in astronomy and modern science even from a young
age. Col. Welsh’s Military Reminiscence refers to young Swati sketching
the figure related to Euclid’s 47th proposition and thereafter
mentioning that the world Geometry is derived from the Sanskrit word “jyamithi”
(to measure earth). He came to know that one Mr.Caldecott who was working
in Alleppy as East India Company’s Trade representative, had a collection
of astronomic instruments and he was a knowledgable person in the field.
Swati invited Caldecott to Trivandrum and held a discussion with him,
based on which, in 1837,The Travancore Observatory (Thiruvithamcour Jyothishalayam)
Director, Travancore Observatory
was established in Trivandrum, opposite the present Kanakakkunnu, in an
area which is considered tallest in the city. Caldecott donated some of
his instruments to the Observatory.
| Some instruments
like Theodolite and Telescope were purchased from him by the Government.
Caldecott was made the first Director of the Observatory. Caldecott was
succeeded by Allen. J. Brown F.R.S Who took the Observatory to greater
fame. Currently the Observatory is under the University of Kerala (www.keralauniversity.edu)
of J. Caldecott at the English Church,Trivandrum
In 1835, it is seen
that irumbedukkunna saadhanam was brought by Caldecott and was taken
from the port to Thekke Theruvu and then to Kanyakumari in 20 vehicles.
In 1837, the Government estimated that Rs 27,000 may be reprieved to buy lenses
etc for the Observatory. (Payment of Rs. 11505 was made later). Caldecott’s
assistant Ananthacharya from Chennai was appointed for a salary of Rs 150 and
three clerks at Rs 3 ½, two “classukar”at Rs 6/- each , two writers at Rs. 20/-
and Rs. 15/- one “raayasakkaran” at Rs. 12/- (monthly expense of 224 ½) were
permitted. In 1840, it is seen that Caldecott was paid a salary of Rs. 600/-
and 25 people worked under him and the expense for their pay was Rs. 77126/-
per year. When Caldecott went to London in 1841, he has been paid the salary
for a year and
a travel allowance. His salary was increased to Rs. 1000/- in the year 1845.
Spursh Needer working under him was transferred as Government press superintendent
and one Mr. Narasu working under him passed away and four of his dependants
were sanctioned pension.
Caldecott was a great friend of Uthram Thirunal, Swathi's brother who learned
and even practised European medicine. It is known that Caldecott taught Uthram
Thirunal fundamentals of Chemistry.
Click here to
read an article on the observatory by the present officer–in-charge
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