Travelogue or travel writing is one of the most favourite collections readers are generally fond of. People are always interested to know about a land, its inhabitants, their life styles and social circumstances. And is one of the reasons why travelogues are very popular among readers.
Like other languages, in Malayalam also travelogues occupy a prominent place. The first travelogue written in Malayalam is Varthamana Pustakam or Romayatra by Paremakkal Thoma Kathanar (1736-99). Supposed to have been written between 1790 and 1799, the travelogue was published in 1936. But the first printed travelogue book is that of Gee Varghese Mar Gregorious’ (Parumala Tirumeni) book Urslom Yatra Vivaranam (1895). The Malayalam version of Yohanan’s Portuguese book titled Oorslem Thira Yatra was published in 1880. Poems on travel were also published during this period. They were published before the 18th century.
The first travel-poem was Fabir Mohan Senapathy’s Ulkal Bramanam. Some others who were active is this field were Vaikkom Pachu Moothathu, Kodungalloor Kunjikuttan Thampuran, Naduvathachan Namboothiri, Venmani Mahan, Kottarathil Sankunni, K.C. Kesava Pillai.
Travelogues received a new lease of life with the development of Malayalam prose. Kadayattu Govinda Menon’s Kasi Yatra Report published in 1872, is a remarkable travelogue. G. P. Pillai’s London and Paris was published in 1877. The first book of poetry and travel is the one on Dharmaraja’s Rameshwaram Journey (1784) by an unknown writer.
S. K. Pottekkatt is one of the most famous travel writers in Malayalam. Unlike today when there were not many amenities for travel and stay, he visited many foreign countries and wrote about the places. Others who were prominent in the field of travel-writing were K. P. Kesava Menon, Mannathu Padmanabhan, M. V. Kutti Krishna Menon, K. M. Panicker, N. V. Krishna Warrier, Dr. K. M. Geroge, Dr. J. Kattakkal, Dr. K. Bhaskaran Nair, K. C. Chacko, M. T. Vasudevan Nair, E. M. S., K. P. S. Menon, V. R. Krishna Iyer, Pavanan, Nithya Chaithanaya Yati etc.
With modern facilities travel-writing as a branch of literature has flourished. Today, travelogues occupy significant places in Malayalam literature.