Castes of India
Classification Landlord, Gentry, Scribe
Religions Hinduism
Language Malayalam
Populated States Kerala

Menon is a Kshatriya subdivision of the Nair caste of Kerala and was an honorific hereditary title to be used as an affix to the name and investituted by the Sāmudiri Rāja or some other recognized princely chief of Kerala on certain members of Kiryathil and Akattu Charna classes of Nayars[1]. Some of them are devoted to administrative duties and involved writing and casting accounts.[1] The recipient of the title held it lifelong or his family held it in perpetuity along the matrilineal line, depending on the amount of money known as Adiyara paid for securing the same and as soon as a person was dignified with this title he was presented with an Ola (palmyra leaf for writing on) and a style, the symbols of an accountant.[2]

The royal families of Cochin and south Malabar marry only from Menon families. The Paliam Menon family were among the chief nobles of Cochin, only second to the Cochin Royal Family besides being blood related. Other prominent Menon families in Kerala include Shakthan Thampuran of Cohin and many royals married from this Tharavadu), Thottakkat, Marayil, Kuruppathu etc, who have been aristocrats in Cochin from early ages.



The term Menon is derived from the Malayalam word Melevan (mel means superior and avan, he). Thus the title Menon refers to superior person among Nāyars performing administrative duties.

Position in society

Although some families dignified with the title Menon were initially scribes by profession, most of them assisted Rājās of different counties in pre-democratic Kerala as military generals commanders, administrative officers, ministers etc and included many important personalities of Kerala. Prominent Menon families in Kerala include Kalpalli Pulapra, Korappath, Kuruppathu (Vadakke Kurupathu and Thekke Kurupathu : Women of this Tharavād were involved in hypergamous union with princes such as Shakthan Thampuran of Cochin), Manikkath, Mambalikalam, Ambat, Thottakkat, Marayil, Chempolly Mancheeri, Perumpilavil, Puthezhath, Panickath, Kannanthodath, Menonparambi and so on. In Palakkad Dist some of the traditional Menon families are Tattamangalam Puthillath, Tattamangalam Parakkat, Nallepilly Athickat,Kavilpad mutathil, Variath ,Meleveedu and so on.


It is believed that the title 'Menon' came from the Malayalam words-Melavan , meaning one who is higher in social position and that it is a honour given to those Nairs who performed some extraordinary feat.The Menon title is taken from Mother's side . as per Matrilineal system . that is a person can take the title Menon only if his mother's side has that side and not from his father's side . People belonging to present generation do not use this prefix or title . The title Menon is in general hereditary and only those whose investiture by the Sāmudiri Rāja or some other recognized chief is undisputed, they or their descendants (in the female line), may use it. Those invested pay a small fee to the Sāmudiri Rāja. Those who belong to the sub-clan who owe Lordship to the Sāmudiri Rāja look to him even now to settle their caste disputes, and for permission to perform the tālikettu ceremony. Menons enjoyed a prominent position in the traditional nair society.


Menons are divided into three categories based on the services they render [3]. (1) Charna Menon (2) Menon Panicker (3) Pattola Menon

Palghat Royal Family

Palghat Royal Family is a part of the Menon Panicker subcaste. The present Maharajah is Sri Palakkatsseri Valiyaraja Manikyamelidam Shekhari Varma, who currently resides in Singapore. He is the only son of K. P. Kesava Menon and Akathethara Manikyamelidam Laxmi Nethyaramma. The crown prince is P.A.M.Harigovind Menon.[4]

Diplomats and Secretaries

  • Parakkat Achutha Menon, I.C.S Former Indian Ambassador
  • Parakkat MadhavaMenon I.C.S Former secretary , Ministry of Labour and Employment , Govt of India, Former Director, I.L.O India Office

Writers, journalists and activists

Scientists and academics



Military personnel

Artists and entertainers


  1. a b Nairs of Malabar. Asian Educational Services, by Fawcett. F, NewDelhi. 1990.
  2. Castes and Tribes of Southern India, by Edgar Thurston, page 296.
  3. Sociological bulletin , Band 7-9 by Indian Sociological Society.

See also