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Puli Thevar: Wikis


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Puli Devar or Pooli Devar was a poligar (or palayakarar, this is a local chieftain) who ruled an area called Nelkatumseval or Avudayapuram situated now in the Sankarankoil taluk of Tamil Nadu.

He is recognised as one of the earliest opponent of the British rule in South India. He was involved in a vendetta with the Nawab of Arcot who in turn was supported by the British. His prominent exploits were his confrontations with Marudhanayagam, who later on rebelled against the British himself. All this happened in late 1750s and early 1760s, way before Kattabomman appeared on the scene. However little importance is given to these details.

Puli Devar was known for his astute diplomacy, cunningness and war strategy though he was much maligned by the British historians as a deceitful person who never kept his word. He remained invincible. He defeated a battalion of British and Nawab Soldiers on the banks of Thamirabarani. But he fell prey to the cunningness of the Nawab of Arcot. He was arrested by the British and led in a procession when he wanted to worship at the Sankaran kovil temple. So he was left alone in the Sanctum sanctorum. He sang lyrics praising the female deity. Then there was this sound of the handcuffs getting broken. When the troops rushed in, all they were able to find was the broken handcuffs and chains. The invincible hero turned invisible into the history.

Nelkatumseval was the headquarters of Puli Thevar, the first chieftain in Tamil Nadu to resist the British.

The author of the Thirunelveli District Gazetteer, H.R.Pate, observes as follows: "Nelkatumseval is chiefly memorable as having been in the eighteenth Century stronghold of the redoubtable Puli Thevar, who figured for many years as the leader of the Marava Confederacy against the troops of the Nawab and the Company. He had a shrewd insight into the political situation of the time and was a veritable thorn against the side of the Nawab's agents".

Pulithevar remains one of the illustrious figures in the chequered history of palayakkars. The vivacity of his character gave him an ascendancy over the western palayakkars, while his determined resistance to the Nawab's overlordship made him a potential enemy of the Wallajahs. He was in fact the principal architect of the coalition of the palayakkars organised against the Nawab. The Nawab acknowledged his victory by presenting him with a gold plate and sword.

Pulithevar is regarded as the First Ruler in Indian History, who sowed the seed, by his gallant resistance, to expel the foreigners from the soil. His services to the nation is honoured in many respects and the government of Tamilnadu has erected a memorial for him in Nelkattumsevval where there are the remnants of his palace.


Puli Thevan War

The scale of the revolts by local powers in the South, the first being as early as 1757. When Mohammed Ali, the Nawab of the Carnatic, supported by the Company, attempted to extend his control over the "Madurai" and "Thirunelveli" districts, the poligars rebelled. The western poligars, led by Puli Thevar of Nelkattumsevval, forged local alliances and then a grand alliance as they revolted against Mohammed Ali. Of necessity he had to seek John Company assistance, and, though battles were won and lost, the revolt was finally put down in 1761 by Yusuf Khan, who had been nominated the Governor of "Madurai" and "Thirunelveli" in 1758 by the British, despite Nawab Mohammed Ali's objections.

The western confederacy by nel kattum sevval. "nel kattum sevval" literally translates to "Rice tribute paying place", but after its' ruler puli Thevan's successful (initially) attempts at defying Mohammed ali, the name changed into nel kattan sevval ("place which doesn't pay rice tribute"). In effect by 1757, these paLayams had declared their independence.

Into this situation came yusuf khan aka mar
udhanayagam sent by the British to bring the poligars under control and make them pay kisthi. Earlier campaigns in 1755 by Mahfuz khan (mohammaed ali's brother;yusuf khan was a subordinate) were unsuccessful in subduing the poligars' partly because of their sticking to each other and partly because British troops had to be withdrawn to raise the french siege of Madras (by Lally). Yusuf Khan quickly intimidated the eastern poligars (no major details of the capitulation of panchalamkurichi is known) and moved against Pooli thevan. A series of sieges of Pooli Thevan's forts followed and eventually Nerkattansevval fort was reduced by British artillery. Puli thevan was captured and escaped/encountered on the way to incarceration. No verifiable records are found about him after his capture/escape. The rise of Western Poligars of south Tamil Nadu is literally the first war of Indian Independence and not the 1857 sepoy mutiny as written by Savarkar.


See also

[Thevar|Thevar Community]




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