Etymology of Travencore Kingdom
The kingdom takes its name from Thiruvithamcode in present-day Kanyakumari district, Tamil Nadu. The regions had many small independent kingdoms. Later, during the peak time of Chera-Chola-Pandya, this region became a part of the Chera Kingdom (except for the Ay kingdom which always remained independent).
During that era, when the region was part of the Chera empire, it was still known as Thiruvazhumkode. It was contracted to Thiruvankode and anglicised by the English to Travancore. In course of time, the Ay kingdom, part of the Chera empire, which ruled the Thiruvazhumkode area, became independent, and the land was called Aayi Desam or Aayi Rajyam, meaning 'Aayi territory'.
The Aayis controlled the land from the present-day Kollam district in the north, through Thiruvananthapuram district, all in Kerala, to the Kanyakumari district. There were two capitals, the major one at Kollam (Venad Swaroopam or Desinganadu) and a subsidiary one at Thrippapur (Thrippapur Swaroopam or Nanjinad).
The kingdom was thus also called Venad. Kings of Venad had, at various times, travelled from Kollam and built residential palaces in Thiruvithamcode and Kalkulam. Thiruvithamcode became the capital of the Thrippapur Swaroopam, and the country was referred to as Thiruvithamcode by Europeans even after the capital had been moved in 1601 to Padmanabhapuram, near Kalkulam.
The Chera empire had dissolved by around 1100 and thereafter the territory comprised numerous small kingdoms until the time of Marthanda Varma who, as king of Venad from 1729, employed brutal methods to unify them. During his reign, Thiruvithamcode or Travancore became the official name.