The 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 House....
Swathi 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....



Mr. J.Caldecott(1800-1849)
Director, Travancore Observatory

Swati 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)
Mr. J.Caldecott(1800-1849)
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 (


Tomb of J. Caldecott at the English Church,Trivandrum

Observatory- Foundation stone laid by Swathi
Slidr clock Transit telescope Transit telescope

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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