Travancore, a subsidiary native state of British India, occupying the S. W. extremity of the great Indian peninsula, terminating on the south in Cape Comorin, and bounded N. by the native state of Cochin and the district of Coimbatore in Madras, E. by the Madras districts of Madura and Tinnevelli, and S. and W. by the Indian ocean; area, 6,653 sq. m.; pop. about 1,400,000. The capital is Trivan-drum, on a small river in the S. part of the state, about a mile and a half from the sea; other important towns are Aleppi, Quilon, and Anjengo, all on the coast. The surface slopes seaward from the Western Ghauts, which form its E. boundary, and at the N. E. corner reach an altitude of upward of 8,000 ft.; and the country is generally hilly, elevated, and well wooded, except on the coast. A large portion of the coast is low and sandy and fringed with cocoanut palms, but in the south the heights approach the sea and form a bolder shore. There is a good roadstead at Aleppi, and since 1871 Kolachul, near Cape Comorin, has been used as a port by the coffee planters, whose large ships have there found safe anchorage in still water. Travancore is drained by numerous westward-flowing streams, whose waters form extensive shallow lagoons or backwaters parallel with the coast.
The largest river is the Perryaur, in the north, about 140 m. long, which is known as the Al wye near the sea. The rainfall of the western half of the country exceeds 100 inches per annum, but it is not more than 52 inches among the mountains or at Cape Comorin. The climate is hot but not unhealthful; at the capital the temperature rarely exceeds 90° at any time, or 75° during the S. W. monsoon, when the most rain falls. The soil is nearly everywhere productive, and very rich in the lowlands, where excellent rice is raised. The most valuable crops are coffee, which is very successfully cultivated in the hills, cocoanuts, areca nuts, and pepper, all of which are largely exported; ginger, cinnamon, nutmegs, indigo, and cardamoms are also grown. The forests furnish timber for export in great abundance and variety. Cinchona plantations have been established under government auspices. The fauna of Travancore corresponds closely with that of Malabar. The mineral resources are as yet undeveloped; but salt is made, and there are known to be deposits of iron.
There are but few manufactures. - Travancore is a Hindoo principality, and Hindoos constitute the largest and most influential part of the population, but the aboriginal element has been largely won over to Christianity. This element is most prominently represented by the Shannar tribe, among whom three English missionary societies have labored for many years, until as many as 90,000 of them are Christians living in Tin-nevelli and Travancore. In North Travancore there are said to be 250,000 Roman Catholic converts, under one of the vicariates of southern India which originated in the Madura mission. There is a college of high standing at Trivandrum, affiliated with the Madras university, to which it sent 28 students in 1871. In 1872 - '3 there were 16 other schools, at which English was taught to 808 pupils, 29 vernacular schools, and 138 village schools. The rajah maintains an astronomical observatory under the direction of a European astronomer. Many excellent roads and other public works have been constructed, and Travancore is one of the best governed and most prosperous native states in India. In 1872-'3 the total revenue of the government was £957,577,' including £165,992 proceeds of the land tax and £130,-421 from customs, while the total expenditure was but £549,365. - About the middle of the 18th century the many chieftains under whom Travancore was formerly parcelled out were subjugated by an ancestor of the present rajah, who ruled till 1799, and who adhered to the British in the war with Tippoo Sultan. In 1795 he entered into a subsidiary alliance with the Bombay government.
The subsidy has been increased to £80,000 per annum, and the state is now supervised through the government of Madras. According to the fundamental Hindoo law of Travancore, the succession to the throne descends only through the female line. The sister of the present rajah, Rama Wurma, died in 1857, and as it was apparent that the line would otherwise become extinct, the British authorities guaranteed him the right of adoption.