The historical town Ettayapuram, once capital of Ettayapuram samasthanam, Tamil Nadu, S.India - British India

poet Subramanya-Bharathiyar-birth-house,Ettayapuram-www.veethi.
Raja Jagavira Rama Kumara Ettappa and Diwan Ranganadha
Ettayapuram (originally Ilasanadu), a small town in Thoothukudi district ,was once ruled by the Pandya Kings.  When it came under the control of Nayak Kingdom of Madurai, one  Ettappan was appointed as Zamindar under the supervision of Vijayanagar Kingdom. Later the descendants of Ettappan ruled this place for 150 years without any break owing allegiance to the Nayaks.

The vast Ettayapuram estate or Samasthanam
Ettapuram palace, Tamil
was ruled by the Telugu Nayak Balija Naidu dynasty whose ancestors migrated down south from Chandragiri in present-day Andhra Pradesh. During  the invasion of Alauddin Khilji, Kumaramuttu Nayak Balija Naidu, the founder of the dynasty, to avoid arrest and torture  during the  Muslim invasion, came over  to Tirunelveli,  now Tamil Nadu where he was granted the region comprising the later-established Ettaiyapuram estate. The town of Ettaiyapuram was established in 1567.

Ettyapuram  produced a galaxy of  eminent people, being the birthplace of the great Tamil Poet Mahakavi Bharathiar and Ilasai Sundaram, a great Tamil scholar. Muthuswami Dikshitar, one of the trinity of Carnatic music was associated with the ruler here. Dikshitar composed lots of Telugu compositions which are widely used in Carnatic music. Another great scholar was  Umaru pulavar. He was a well-known Tamil Islamic scholar and wrote numerous poems related to the''Quran.'' All these scholars were   patronized by the Ettapuram ruler. First freedom fighter against the British,  Veeran Alghumuthu Konar was born here.       

It is really unfortunate that  the word 'Ettappan' carries a wrong, negative  meaning in the local language - Tamil among the natives here. it is a sort of metaphor for ''squealer'' or ''whistle blower,'' considered the filthiest act by the locals here. Ettappan is synonymous with traitor or betrayer.

In the Indian society, as in many, the most despicable act is stabbing on the back of some body  by the one or ones close to him. By the same token, the act of betrayal of a person close to him is also equally bad. The ruler of Eattaypuram Ettappan was accused of having betrayed the chieftain of Panchlamkuruchi Veera Pandya Kattabomman who, along with his brothers, rebelled against the British for having taken over their lands. In his last war against the British, Kattabomman had a severe setback and at last was hiding in Ettayapuram estate to avoid being caught and tortured.

The wrong conception had been that Kattabomman was arrested and later hanged to death by the East India company because Ettappan acted as a whistle-blower. Incidentally Kattabomman and his younger brother Oomathurai were the earliest freedom fighters against the British, far earlier than the famous ''Sepoy Mutiny'' of 1857 that started off at Meerut city, now Central India over the use of greased cartridges for the Enfield rifles. The grease was supposed to contain pig or cow fat - shunned by both Hindus and Muslims. The soldiers belonging to the above faiths revolted against the British over the use of
greased cartridges.

It was Vijaya Raghunatha Tondaiman, Maharajah of Pudukottai, a close alley of the British, who helped the British  capture Kattabomman under  compelling circumstances. Had Maharajah supported Kattabomman (which he definitely could have done), the British would have stripped the ruler of all his regal powers and taken over his small kingdom. Over night his majesty would have become a pauper had he acted  against the British interest in haste!!


Ettaiyapuram was  in the north-eastern corner of composite Tinnevely  district. The estate covered a vast  area of 570 square miles (1,500 km2) and 374 villages and in 1901, had a population of 154,000. The headquarters of the estate was the town of Ettaiyapuram.