The Temple states of Medieval Kerala

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Sanketams of Malabar

Starting from the time when the Chera Empire and its powers declined, new forms of governance came up as lands split into multiple Swaroopams, Nadus, Desams and so on. Local chieftains administered the land with the help of the Lokars or Nairs, and came under the local Swaroopam suzerain’s umbrella. In return, they provided the services of foot soldiers comprising Nairs in the time of a war between the swaroopams. But in between all that, temple states also sprung up in parallel and some of them became very powerful. Some were small, like Pallavur in Palghat, which was just 2 square miles and where I hail from, others were very big, comprising many hundred square miles like Padmanabhapuram in Trivandrum. The Peruvanam Kshethra Sanketham for instance, extended approximately 25 miles in all directions, to Kuthiraanmudi (peak) Ayyappa temple in the east, Kodungalloor Oozhakam Sastha temple in the south, Edathiruthy Ayyappa temple near Thriprayar in the west and the Akamala Sastha temple in the north.