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HindustanTimes Tue,21 Oct 2014

Head of Travancore royal family passes way

PTI  Thiruvananthapuram, December 16, 2013
First Published: 09:35 IST(16/12/2013) | Last Updated: 23:48 IST(16/12/2013)

Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma, head of Travancore royal family which ruled south Kerala before Independence, died of cardiac arrest at a private hospital early on Monday morning.

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91-year old Varma, chairman of the Trust running the famous Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, was hospitalised last week following gastro-intestinal bleeding and the end came in the wee hours, his family said.

He is survived by his son and daughter. His wife predeceased him.

Though he was shifted to a ward from the ICU on December 14, he was again put on ventilator support after his condition worsened, they said.

People from different walks of life paid homage to Varma at Levi hall in the city, where his body was kept.

A witness to India's transformation from imperial rule to a democratic polity, Varma was chief patron of many charitable institutions and religious and cultural organisations.

Known for a simple lifestyle and humility, he was a common presence in the social and cultural scenario of the city.

Unlike many of his counterparts in other states, Varma had kept away from party politics in the state.

Varma became head of the royal family after elder brother Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, the last princely ruler of Travancore, passed away in 1991.

Known as 'Sreepadmanabha Dasas', the royal family and Padmanabha Swamy temple shot to fame with the discovery of jewellery worth crores of Rupees in the temple vaults in 2011.

Varma had said the wealth was in the vaults for centuries and the royal family was aware of it."It is the wealth of Lord Padmanabha and we never ever felt any interest in it.It should be preserved as God's wealth in future also," he had said.

Even in his ailing medical condition, he had met Prince Charles during his recent visit to Kerala last month.

An avid traveller, Marthanda Varma had visited almost all countries in the West except USA Switzerland was his favourite country. He was also a passionate photographer.

His friends' list, especially those of royal lineage, read like a veritable who's who of world leaders, including King Mahendra and Birendra of Nepal, Shah of Persia, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and so on.


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