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Rani Gauri Parvatibai was a queen regent of the Princely State of Travancore during her brief reign of 1814 to 1829. Some of the credit for the high literacy rate prevailing in present-day Kerala is attributed to her.

She was preceded by her sister Rani Gauri Lakshmibai, who had been regent for her minor son, Parvatibai’s nephew Swati Thirunal, from 1810 to 1814 and had managed to carry out some very integral reforms in the fields of administration and social work. Rani Gauri Parvatibai had the vision that without mass education no reform can be permanent; hence she carried out reforms with zeal in the field of education. She was counseled in her projects by her brother-in-law Raja Raja Verma of Changansery and by her husband who was of the royal family of Kilmanoor. Her mother was the senior queen of the Attingal dynasty.

The first thing she did was appoint a new dewan and declare the state to be the monopoly trader in pepper and tobacco to raise funds for her ambitious plan of reform. She carried on many of the reforms of her sister and gave more freedom to Christians and low castes. Then in 1817 she passed the Travancore Education Bill, a landmark piece of legislature that fostered the spread of education and literacy in Kerala. She gave tax relief to the farmers and had a code of conduct for tax officers. She restricted the practice of dowry among Brahmins and tried to bring about equality between all classes. She facilitated the founding of presses both by missionaries and private enterprise. She opened schools for both boys and girls, and was hospitable to Christian ideas of education too. Her programmes were carried on even after 1829 when her nephew Swathi Thirunal ascended the throne. His reign is known as the golden age of Travancore, and it was built on the foundation of his aunt’s farsighted policies.
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