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RANI [Queen] Velu Nachiyar History (1780-1789)

Third Rani Of Sivagangai

Sellamuthu Vijaya Regunatha Sethupathy ( 1749-1762) of Ramanathapuram married Muthaathaal Nachiar of Sakkanthi near Sivagangai. A beautiful daughter was born to them. The Sethupathy of Ramanathapuram named his child as VELUNACHIYAR. The parents took proper care in her education and trained her in the administration of the country. They taught her in the martial arts of ruling a kingdom and she was trained as a woman soldier. The young princess Velunachiyar was married to Muthuvaduganantha Thevar, the second Rajah of Sivagangai ( 1750-1772). During the reign of Muthuvaduganatha Thevar, Rani Velunachiyar assisted here busband in the administration of the Sivagangai kingdom. Pradhani Thandavaraya Pillai acted as “ Friend, Philosopher and Guide” to them. Maruthu brothers served in the palace of Sivagangai. Rani Velunachiyar gave birth to a female child. Rajah Muthuvaduganatha Thevar was very happy and named the princess as Vellachi Nachiyar.

The news of the birth of the princess to the Rajah delighted very much the Marudhu brothers. Because they had earlier prayed to God that they would build a temple in the event of a child was born to the Rajah Accordingly, Marudhu brothers built a temple called Thirunganasambanthar temple at Sivagangai at the birth of princess Vellachi Nachiyar to Rani Velu Nachiyar and thus fulfilled their vow of promise to God.

      velunachiyar statue

After effecting a settlement with Thanjavur, Mohammad Ali decided to annex the Marawa States. As charges against them, the Nawab represented to the Madars Council that they occupied circar villages, harboured the most notorious robbers in their woods and that they permitted the Dutch to establish factories in their territory without his consent. He further asserted that despite their subjection to Tiruchirapalli, they paid no tribute, neglected to assist his expedition to Thanjavur and that the ruling Setupati Muthuramalinga Tevar ascended the throne without his approval.

The Madras Council, in consideration of the Company’s alliance with the Nawab, but without examining the merit of the case, decided to support an expedition. In justification of this decision, it dubbed Marawa rulers as dangerous delinquents and declared that unless they were suppressed there was no security for the Carnatic.

In January 1772, the Nawab’s forces marched on Sivaganga. They occupied Tondi, a sea port. The Marawa troops led by Samialinga Pillai sought to expel the invaders, but were driven back. In May 1772, the campaign being resumed, the combined forces of the Nawab and the Company led by Joseph Smith marched on Ramanathapuram.......... Another army led by Abraham Bonjour advanced from Madurai to the eastern borders of Sivaganga and captured Tirupuvanam thereby preventing the troops of Sivaganga from marching to the aid of Setupati. The military operations were thus effectively co-ordinated.

A two -pronged - offensive extinguished the principality of Sivaganga. Joseph Smith from the east and Bonjour from the west threatened Sivaganga in June 1772. The country was very bushy of cockspur thorn, though there were villages and open spaces here and there. Rajah Udaya Tevar in anticipation of the invasions made every possible preparation for defence. He filled up the roads with large trees, dug trenches and erected posts in the woods of Kalayarkoil. Umdut-ul-Umara directed the Rajah to pay one lakh of rupees but the latter evaded and abandoned his capital town of Sivaganga and established himself at Kalayarkoil.

In anticipation of the attack on the capital Sivaganga by the combined forces of the Nawab and the Company, Pradhani Thandavaraya PIllai shifted the capital temporarily to Kalayarkoil which was surrounded by thick and dense forests. He made precautionary arrangements for the safety of the Rajah Muthuvaduganatha Thevar and his second Rani Gowri Nachiyar. His first Rani Velu Nachiyar and her daughter princess Vellachi Nachiyar were at Kollangudi near Kalayarkoil. By some strange saving grace, Pradhani Thandavaraya pillai instead of accompanying the Rajah had stayed behind as protection to Rani Velu Nachiar and the princess Vellachi Nachiyar.

Bonjour, continuing the operations, came into clash with the main body of the troops of Sivaganga. The Rajah with many of his followers fell dead in the Kalaiyarkoil battle. But his widow and danghter fled to Dindukkal, where they were joined by their two able servants and Chinna Marudu, The invading forces plundered the town and collected jewels worth 50,000 pagodas.

The Marudus with the queen had in the meanwhile fled to Dindigal, where they placed themselves under the protection of Haidar Ali. The Nawab renamed Sivaganga as Hussain Nagar. Meanwhile in Sivaganga the versatile former Dewan Thandavaraya Pillai organized opposition against the Nawab.

He was mobilizing the Maravar rebels to give considerable resistance to the Nawab’s administration and to re-establish the Marava rule with one of the members of the Udaya Thevar family as head of the state. The feelings and actions of the inhabitants of Sivaganga were just like those of Ramnad. Their goal was also identical with that of Ramnad. Had there been a possibility of Dhamodaram Pillai living in Ramnad, they could have combined both the armies and restored their rulers. But the rebellious and greedy Mappillai Thevar was trying to make capital out of this issue at Ramnad. Therefore Thandavaraya Pillai sought the aid of Hyder Ali for the restoration of the state to the house of the former ruler. The Mysore chief promised aid for the liberation of the Marava States-9. But Thandavaraya pillai died before this could materialise.

Meanwhile the Court of Directors of the East India Company in London, England in their letter dated 6th May 1781 disapproved the expedition into Sivaganga. The Court of Directors disapprove of the expedition into Sivaganga District as it only helped the Nabob to establish his authority in that country to the prejudice of the widow of the late Poligar, for whose restoration it was originaly intended. They, therefore, desire that she and her family should immediately be liberated from the hands of the Nabob and restored to her government and that Chinna Murdo should be permitted to resume his former functions in that government under condition that would ensure his fidelity to his mistress and the regular payment of tribute to the Nabob.-10

The Collector wrote the following letter to the Commander in Ramnad and Sivaganga about Sivaganga Rajah’s family on 15 th October 1781. The Collector is requested to inform the present situation of the Rani of Sivaganga and of her grand daughter, with a view to report to the Board on the present state of Sivagangai.-11

The former Pradhani Thandavaraya Pillai preferred Virupakshi, a small village on the backside of Kudamuritti River, because it would be a suitable place for the safety of Rani Velu Nachiyar and her daughter Vellachi Nachiyar. The Poligar of Virupakshi gave asylum to Sivagangai Rani and her daughter and also to Thandavaraya Pillai. He introduced them to Syed Sahib, the Captain of Dindigul Fort who was also brother-in-law to Hyder Ali Sahib. The Rani of Sivaganga sought military aid of Hyder Ali Saheb to drive out Arcot Nawab from Maravar territories. He forwarded the request of Rani of Sivaganga to Hyder Ali Saheb to consider it favourably.

On behalf of Rani Velu Nachiyar of Sivagangai, Thandavaraya Pillai wrote a letter to Sultan Hyder Ali on 08.12.1772, stating that the Arcot Nawab by aggressing Ramnad and Sivaganga, causing destruction to those territories. By escaping from that region, he was continuing the rebellion with the help of Kallars, residing in the forests. In his attempt, he requested the help of Hyder Ali to send 5,000 horsemen and 5,000 soldiers to him who’s Bata would be borne by him. He would send army to Madurai to start anti Nawab activities and the poligars would also co-operate with him.-12

Pradhani Thandavaraya Pillai was staying in Tondaiman country at a coconut Thoope at Paaikudi village which was adjacent to Sivagangai Cheemai. He was reporting the daily happenings in Sivagangai Cheemai to Rani Velu Nachiyar at Virupakshi. At the same time, he was sending palm-leaf messages (cudgen) to Naattars of Sivagangai Cheemai. He was attempting to get co-operation and aid from them to recover Sivagangai from alien rule.

velunachiyar statue

Thandavaraya Pillai sent the following message to Naattars of Sivagangai Cheemai to recover Ramanathapuram and Sivagangai. “ Tanjoreans and Tondaimans have jointly agreed to give us army and other things. The army of Haidar Ali the King of Mysore will arrive soon. So I request you to collect army and weapons as far as possible and come to us. We, all unite together can liberate Ramanathapuram and Sivagangai”.

One Amildar of Tondi, a servant of Arcot Nawab seized one such palm-leaf message containing plan to recover Marawar Countries. The East India Company understood Thandavaraya Pillai, the Pradhani of Sivagangai was indirectly engaging himself to recover Marawar Countries. When this news reached Umdat-ul-Umara, the Nawab’s son, acted very carefully. He took pains and worked hard day and night to defeat the attempt of the Pradhani Thandavaraya Pillai. With the help of Commanders Nazeer Khan and Commander Bowshore, he worked actively in arresting rebels as well as repairing forts.-13

Thus Tandavaraya Pillai, the former Dewan of Sivaganga, sought the aid of Haidar Ali for the restoration of this state to the house of Udaya Tevar who died in the battle. The Mysore Chief promised assistance for the liberation of Marawa states, but Tandavaraya Pillai died within a few months-14. The death occurred six months after their flight from Sivagangai.-15

Thandavaraya Pillai sought the aid of Hyder Ali for the restoration of the Sivaganga state. Hyder Ali also promised his help. Velunachi spent seven years in exile at Virupakshi. After the death of Thandavaraya Pillai the Maruthu brothers became prominent.-16 The Maruthus with a small force obtained from Syed Sahib, the General at Dindigul, desolated the Nawab’s territories.-17 Mallari Rayan, the Nawab’s representative in Madurai was killed while blocking the Maruthus’ army. Later the army of the Maruthus reached Mutthanental, where the country people joined Velunachi and Maruthus amidst great rejoicing. -18

sivagangai Aranmanai Entrance

The Nawab with the English forces was waiting at Manamadurai to fight against Velunachi and the Maruthus. When they reached the place, the enemies began to attack them. Many soldiers died on the spot fighting. The Maruthus fought vigorously and scattered the Nawab’s army. Their tents were burnt to ashes. The Rani accompanied by the Maruthus entered Sivagangai and Vellachi, the daughter of Muthuvaduga Thevar was proclaimed Queen of Sivagangai and the Maruthu brothers assumed charge as ministers.-19

“After the death of the Pradhani, the Marudhu brothers who were with the queen became prominent. The Marudhu brothers took a lead in the affairs of the occupied territory. -20 “They had been looking forward to the opportune moment. The opportunity was thrown in the Second Mysore War in 1780. When Hyder Ali fell upon Arcot in 1780, the Marudhus having obtained a small force from Syed Sahib, the general at Dindigul desolated the Nawab’s territories up to Madura” -21 Upon their advance to Sivaganga, the inhabitants joined them and the rebellion spread. The ill disciplined forces of the Nawab stationed in walled towns offered no resistance. The Rani accompanied by the Marudhu brothers entered Sivagangai and Vellachi, the daughter of Vaduganatha Thevar was proclaimed Queen of Sivaganga and the Marudhus assumed the charge as ministers. -22 The Nawab could not send additional troops to Sivaganga due to preoccupation caused by the invasion of Hyder Ali.

This Velu Nachiyar History taken from the book of A STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM IN THE REDSOIL OF SOUTH wrote by Mr.Balakrishnan [Headmaster Retired] and I thank him very much to Mr.Balakrishnan Sir for help me to publish this history in to our website. Anyone want to buy this complete book by parcel mail me @,

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1. Mohammad Ali, letter to Madras Council, received on 3 November 1771, M.C.C. Vol 19 - Page 247.
2. Josias Du Pre in Council 28 Feb 1772, Letter to Court of Directors M.D. to England Vol 7-9.
3. Mohammad Ali 4 March 1772, Letter to Madras Council M.C.C. Vol 21 pages 101 -102.
4. Josias Du Pre and Council 1 June 1772 M.C.Vol 42- Page 442.
5. A History of Madurai - Dr.K.Rajayyan page 260-261.
6. Josias Du Pre and Council July 1772, M.C.Vol 42 Page 607.
7. A General History of the Pudukottai State - S. Radhakrishna Aiyyar - page - 254
8. Persian Records Bundle 47 No 65 Madras Record Office, Madras.
9 Munshi Venkataram - 12 th Decem 1772 - Letter to the Nawab of Arcot, copy to Military Country correspondence Vol pages 282 -283.
10. Madras District Records Letter dated 6 th May 1781 of the Court of Directors of the East India Company London, Vol 1108 page 73-79.
11. Letter dated 15 th October 1781 from Collector of Madurai to the Commander in Ramnad and Sivaganga - Madura Dist. Records Vol 1105 page 25.
12. Seermigu Sivagangai Cheemai (T) - By Dr.S.M. Kamal page - 78.
13. Seermigu Sivagangai Cheemai (T) - By Dr.S.M.Kamal page 80
14. Military Country Correspondence 12 Dec-1772 Vol 21. Pages 282-283
15. Lushungton 24 Decem 1800- Report on Ramanathapuram as quoted by Sanjeevi op cit page -197
16. Military Country Correspondence Vol XXI 1771 pages 282-283
17. Military Consultations, Vol XLIII, 1772 page 1033
18. Somale op cit page 336 19. Military Consultations Vol XLIII, 1772 page 27. 20. Narigudi Chatram Records - Unpublished. 21. Correspondence on the Permanent Settlement of the Zamindaries 1799-1803 - p 28 22. Ibid page 27


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