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Vaikom Satyagraha: An Overview


Recently, India commemorated the centenary of Vaikom satyagraha, a pivotal movement in India’s history that challenged untouchability and caste oppression.


GS I: History

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Vaikom Satyagraha: An Overview

Vaikom Satyagraha: An Overview

Location and Duration:

  • Vaikom Satyagraha was a nonviolent protest that occurred in Vaikom, Travancore (present-day Kerala) from March 30, 1924, to November 23, 1925.

Purpose and Trigger:

  • The movement aimed to challenge and eradicate the deeply rooted practices of untouchability and caste discrimination in Indian society.
  • The agitation began due to the ban on people from oppressed classes, particularly the Ezhavas, from using the roads near the Vaikom Mahadeva temple.

Negotiations with Authorities:

  • Leaders attempted to negotiate with the Maharani Regent of Travancore to open the temple roads to everyone.

Significance in Indian History:

  • Vaikom Satyagraha was the pioneering temple entry movement in India, paving the way for similar movements nationwide.
  • It emerged alongside the broader nationalist movement, emphasizing both social reform and political aspirations.

Key Figures:

  • The movement was spearheaded by notable leaders like Ezhava leader T K Madhavan, K.P. Kesava Menon, and K. Kelappan.
  • E.V. Ramasamy, also known as Periyar or Thanthai Periyar, played a pivotal role by mobilizing volunteers, delivering speeches, and enduring imprisonment, earning the title ‘Vaikom Veerar’.
  • Mahatma Gandhi’s visit to Vaikom in March 1925 strengthened the movement as he engaged in discussions with leaders from various caste groups.

Strategies and Methods:

  • Initially, the satyagraha focused on the temple’s surrounding roads’ accessibility to all castes.
  • The movement’s leaders adopted nonviolent protest methods, drawing inspiration from Gandhian principles.


  • The Vaikom Satyagraha resulted in significant reforms, with three out of the four roads near the temple being opened to people of all castes.

Aftermath and Legacy:

  • In November 1936, the Maharaja of Travancore issued the Temple Entry Proclamation, lifting the age-old ban on marginalized castes’ entry into Travancore temples.
  • The movement’s legacy is multifaceted, with some viewing it as a Hindu reformist movement and others as a struggle against caste-based discrimination.
  • To commemorate its significance, memorials like the Vaikom Satyagraha Memorial Museum and Periyar’s Memorial were established.

-Source: Indian Express

May 2024