Queen Velu Nachiyar - first woman from Tamil Nadu to rattle the British before Sepoy Mutiny!!

Queen Velu Nachiyar of Sivaganga, TN istampgallery.com

Queen Velu Nachiyar of Sivaganga, TN youtube.com
Among the countless  woman patriots of India who fought against the British hegemony, a handful of them made a permanent  mark and left a legacy behind them. In the 18th century  Queen Velu Nachiar of a small kingdom called Sivaganga in South Tamil Nadu  protested against the atrocities committed by the British Company. Despite facing defeat and loss of her husband, after a long exile, she came back like a Phoenix bird from the ashes and seized her kingdom from the British and their alley Arcot Nawab. 
Dilapidated Sivagangai palace, Sivagangai postcard.news
At a time when the wily East India company was trying to lay a strong foundation in Tamil Nadu through a combination of brute force, dishonesty and diabolism, it was Velu Nachiyar, the queen of Ramnad who  took a vow to stop their southern expansion. The British knew the knack of hanging on to the traitors  and using  them to create a wedge among the small princely rulers. Her skirmishes and war against the British would go down in 'Indian colonial  history' as one of the greatest moments.  Her fight against the oppressive EIC is an inspiring one, a saga of bravery, skill and military strategy.  The European powers operating here had an added advantage as there was lack of unity among the small princely states. Consequently, the atmosphere was charged with intrigues, treachery and treason, as they changed their alliance with the princely  states to gain advantage over other European competitors. Their sole aim was to gain more territories. Being smart as she was, Velu Nachiyar never fell a prey to them and resisted their advances to control her land.
Daughter of king Sellamuthu Sethupathi of Ramanathapuram, queen Velu Nachiyar was born in 1750 and Sakkandhi was one of the palayams of Sivagangai  where she grew up  as a courageous and talented women. She was a polyglot  and was well versed in many languages - Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, French and English. The major Tamil literary works that attracted her very much included Sillapathikaram and Manimakalai, besides the great epics the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Queen Valu Nachiyar was also well trained in the area of military warfare, administration of the kingdom, etc  as part of her family tradition. Married to Muthuvadukanathar, son of Sasivarna Periya Udaya Thevar (first ruler of independent Sivaganga), the couple were blessed with a daughter. Her husband ruled the kingdom from 1730 to 1750, the longest reign in the history of this state until he was killed in Kalayarkovil in 1772.  He could not fight against the British forces led by Col. Smith; the most tragic incident in the history of this region. 
Velu Nachiyar palace. rstored. peopleofindia1868-1875photos.blogspot.com
To avoid further onslaught, Queen Velu Nachiyar fled Kalayarkovil along with her daughter accompanied by her trust-worthy associates Marudu brothers. Along with some bodyguards she sought asylum with Gopal Nayaakkar at Virupakshi palayam. Subsequently, she had a meeting with Hyder Ali of Mysore at Dindikal. Her kingdom now came under the control of Arcot Nawab who had an alliance with the British Company. The alliance with Hyder Ali, his arch enemy, gave shudders to Arcot Nawab. The patriotic and loyal people of Sivagangai defeated the efforts of the British company and Arcot Nawab to control the land. After a lapse of eight long years with support from Hyder Ali and her loyal associates she waged a war against the British and his allies and recaptured Sivaganga in 1780. At last, the flag of Arcot Nawab was lowered from the flag post of Sivaganga fort and there went up the flag of Hanuman, the official flag of Sivaganga kingdom. As per a compromise made by the British, Vengan Periya Udaya Thever became the king of Sivaganga, but velu Nachiyar's adopted son Padamathur Gowri Valluba Thevar fled to Arantangi (now in Pudukottai dist.) to avoid arrest. After the unexpected demise of her daughter, Velu Nachiyar became weak and grief-stricken. As Sivagangai did not suit her, she came back to Virupaksh Palayam and stayed there till her death on 25 Dec. 1796.
Velu Naxhiyar statue, Soorakulam  thehindu.com/
Above image: Floral tributes were paid to ‘Veeramangai’ Velu Nachiyar, the first Indian queen who fought against the British, on the occasion of her birth anniversary in the first week of January 2016. 
The ministers from the ruling Tamil Nadu Government garlanded the statue of  Velu Nachiyar at her memorial in Soorakulam in Kayalayarkoil block and paid homage at a brief function organised by the State government. The 18th century queen of Sivaganga (1730-1796) was the first revolutionary who revolted agaist  the British far ahead of the Sepoy mutiny of 1857. Also participated in the function were  Collector S. Malarvizhi, MP and MLA from this  area and others ...... https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/Floral-tributes-paid-to-Velu-Nachiyar/article13980263.ece

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