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It was a time of corruption and despotism in the state of Travancore. Balarama Varma, the Maharaja, was a helpless teenager who watched his Diwan take advantage of his inexperience to impose crushing taxes on the people and pocket the money himself. It was Velu Thampi who led a rebellion and overthrew the Diwan. The grateful Maharaja proclaimed him the Diwan and the people enjoyed a period of justice and firm administration. But then a greater foe awaited Velu Thampi, the British East India Company, which had begun to interfere with the internal affairs of Travancore.