Koottumkal Family Origin

In Kerala, most syrian christians claim that they are descendants of the Brahmins who were converted to Christianity by St. Thomas, the apostle, when he visited Kerala 2000 years ago. There is no believable evidence to this claim.In fact, there is no historical evidence that St. Thomas had visited Kerala or Brahmins existed in Kerala before 2000 years. The historical texts (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Kerala) say Brahmins inhabited Kerala, much later than Christians.

Even today, almost all syrian christian families in Kerala take pride in their supposedly Brahmin roots. Koottunkal family is no different. Since there is no evidence to this ancestral lore, a more plausible theory is required.

One belief is that, three or four centuries ago one ancenster from "Kallarackal Kadavu" family of Pallippuram founded "Koottunkal" family at its current location. Where the family was founded, there was a large cocunut warehouse ("Thenga Koot") that belonged to a local landlord. The name "Koottunkal" was coined from the words "Koot" and "ankal" which jointly means "the place where the cocunut warehouse stands". I have personally seen such large cocunut warehouses in the vicinity till a few decades ago.

Please comment and contribute your knowledge to this topic.


  1. Kootumkal story is very interesting. I am also intersted to know the age of the tharavadu. My mother told me that it is 1000 years old and in the cellar there were large 'bhrarani' were people can hide during war time.

  2. Tomy,

    I have this question asked to many people, people senior enough to have retained some of the oral traditions that have been passed on from generation to generation. I will write a detailed note on these inquiries and answers sometime later. The consensus among the people whom I had these discussions with is that Koottunkal Tharavadu is about 1400 years old. The Tharavadu House, of course, is (sadly, now, was) of very old antiquity. There is also wealth of data about the genealogy of all the Christian families that populate the area which is neatly enclosed within the Palluvelil Road and the Vayalar Back Waters in Chennam Pallippuram. They all trace their origin to Koottunkal family. I'll do some research and come back with some data on this.

  3. Today I had a better glance over the the blog. It is very beautifully done and the response is also very fast. It is an incredible achievement to put up a site like this. Congratulations to Kunjachan and all those who has brought this up from ideation.

    Most of the pleasant days of my childhood was spent in Pallippuram. Also due to the geographical seclusion of the land many of a country art forms are still intact in Pallippuram, I believe.

  4. Tomy,

    When you mentioned art forms, what comes to mind immediately is "Sarpam thullal" and "Gandharvan Thullal". These are still performed with lot of festivities in some family owned shrines at Pallippuram.

    I think this is a subject that requires another post itself. I will post more on this subject later. Keep reading..

  5. Antiquity of Koottunkal Tharavadu

    We could count back from memory 7 generations of the family from now. Or, four generations from the year 1919 (The year my father was born), even though I cannot remember the names (which can be searched and found).

    1. Generation 4: Varghese (my father)
    2. Generation 3: Mathan (Grandpa)
    3. Generation 2: Great Grandma*
    4. Generation 1: Great-great Grandpa

    * The great-great Grandpa had only a daughter, and so, Great Grandpa was married into the Family (from Indamthuruthu, Vaikom) and continued the family line. Men marrying into rich, landed families which did not have a male progeny, to continue the family line was a practice prevalent in the patriarchal society of Kerala.

    That itself goes back about 100 years from 1919, back to the beginnings of 1800s. In the beginning of the 1800s, the family was already thriving and well established, and wealthy, and had extensive landed property.

    Even before that time, many generations would have lapsed after branches of Koottunkal family, like Vazhathara family, split from the stem of the family tree and branched out. For example, Vazhathara family itself has an extensive, rather tall family tree of its own.

    A rudimentary reckoning on the above lines takes us back at least 350 years.

    That the Koottunkal family had branched out from Kallarackal Kadavu family is accepted. What extent of time lies between that particular beginning and the period mentioned above?

    The history of the Pallippuran Church, claimed to be 2000 years old, is intertwined with the history and genealogy of the families who were part of the church/ parish (at least those who had not come from elsewhere, but were native to Pallippuram). The Christian population in the eastern parts of Kerala (Kottayam, Idukki etc) was originally migrants from the coast (many of these families maintain a tenuous link with their ancestral houses on the coast), and not vice versa. Most of the families who were members of the parish under Pallippuram church were native to the village.

    Catholicism of these families itself is historically more than 450 years old. These families, or their original parent, existed before the advent of Catholicism in Kerala, and particularly in Pallippuram. Look at the non-Catholic architecture of the small ancient church near the ferry at Thavanakkadau. The typical traditional vilakku and the architectural motifs would be considered sacrilegious, idolatrous, in a Catholic church of those years (1500s, the years of Catholic intolerance of St. Xavier and other missionaries). It is easily proved that this shrine is of pre-Catholic era of the Syrian church. In fact Pallippuran Church is historically numbered among the pre-Catholic Syrian churches.

    The origin of Kallarackal Kadavu family and Koottunkal family belongs to the pre-Catholic era of Syrian Christian Church in Kerala.

    I hope these random thoughts put some perspective on the antiquity of the Koottunkal family tree.

  6. I remember, peediye chittapan once telling that Great-great grandpa had two daughters. And it was a "matta-kalyanam" (Exchange Marriage, I am not sure whether the term is correct. Or was it called "Dhathu Kalyanam"?). The elder daughter married the elder brother from Indamthuruth. The younger brother (great grandpa, Varkey Mathan) married Great-Grandma and settled at Koottumkal.

    The younger brother revered the elder brother very much. So, when the elder brother at times, interfered in the administration of koottumkal family and took away some of the revenue, the younger brother turned a blind eye, causing disquiet and complaints among others.

  7. any relation to the pala ...koottumkal..

  8. 4 families are there behind the origin of pala..erakonny, vayalil,koottumkal, maliyekkal etc..can u find out ....the relation with these family..in the historical books and sites this is stated. really confucing..

  9. am from kallarackal family my gradpas name is ouseph 1947 we came to wayanad b4 they wer staying in nera to kolenchery any 1 have the idea please contact sherin.k.yohannan@gmail.com,9605892146

  10. am from wayanad am a syrian jacobitend my grandma told that your ancestral roots from syiria they came along with knayi thomman nd came to kodugallor port we r traders kodugallor raja gave a pattom to my great great grandpa is kallarackal tharu tharakan nd now also our family peoples are looking like syirian peoples.have any idea about this