The late 18th century was a time of wars for the British in India. In the south, Tipu Sultan of Mysore who also ruled over north Kerala was fighting a loosing battle against the British. It was at this time that Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja revolted against the British in Kerala. His revolt was not a freedom struggle, but was directed against the unpopular and unjust tax policies imposed by the British.
When Tipu ruled Kerala from Mysore, taxes were collected directly from the farmers bypassing the landlords. The British changed this and decided to collect taxes directly from the Kings. The amount fixed as tax by the British was unreasonable and people did not have the capacity to pay that much. Faced with revolts from the people, the kings were unable to collect the taxes.
Pazhassi Raja, who was loved by his people, stopped collecting taxes and this upset the British.
The Raja further threatened to cut down all the black pepper vines in his kingdom if they persisted in revenue collection. Since the king was popular, they had to stop collecting tax for sometime.
An unsuccessful effort was made by the British to capture the Raja in his own palace at Pazhassi but he had already escaped to the mountains of Wayanad.
The British strategy was to isolate the Raja from his supporters and they succeeded and he was left roaming in the forests with his wife and few supporters.
Very soon the British troops captured, surrounded and shot the Raja dead in an encounter. With the death of Pazhassi Raja, the resistance movement in north Kerala came to an end. His body was taken back with respect by the British and cremated