Velu Nachiyar also known as Veeramangai, she was one of the unsung hero of India

Velu Nachiyar – India’s Unsung Women Freedom Fighter

Rani Velu Nachiyar was the primary queen to fight against British colonial power in India. She did this in 1780, 77 years before the primary War of Independence (1857). 

Rani Velu Nachiyar was popularly referred to as ‘veeramangai’ (brave woman). She also devised the primarily recorded bombing in history, together with her Dalit commander-in-chief Kuyili.

Early Life

Velu Nachiyar was the princess of Ramanathapuram. She was the sole child of Raja(King) Chellamuthu Vijayaragunatha Sethupathy and Rani(Queen) Sakandhimuthathal of the Ramnad kingdom.

Nachiyar was trained in war match weapons usage, martial arts like Valari, Silambam, horse riding, and archery. She was a scholar in many languages and she or he had proficiency with languages like French, English, and Urdu.

Velu Nachiyar married the king of Sivagangai, with whom she had a daughter. When her husband, MuthuvaduganathaperiyaUdaiya Thevar, was killed by British soldiers and therefore the son of the Nawab of Arcot, she was drawn into battle. She escaped together with her daughter.

During this era, she formed a military and sought an alliance with Hyder Ali to attack the British, whom she did successfully fight in 1780. 

When Velu Nachiyar found the place where the British stored their ammo, she arranged a suicide attack successfully. 

Nachiyar was one of the few rulers who regained her kingdom and ruled it for ten more years. In 1790, the throne was inherited by her daughter Vellacci.

Velu Nachiyar was the primary queen to fight for liberty from the British in India. She granted powers to her Daughter with the Maruthu Brothers to assist the administration of the country in 1780. Velu Nachiyar died a couple of years later, on 25 December 1796.

Struggle Against British Rule

Sivagangai was invaded by the troops of the Malay Archipelago Company in association with the son of the Nawab of Arcot in 1772. Muthuvadugananthur Udaiyathevar was killed during a subsequent battle (the Kalaiyar Koil war) with Col. Smith. The war didn’t even spare women and youngsters, many of whom were killed mercilessly marking one among the foremost ruthless incidents of these times. 

A number of well-known people including the trustworthy Marudhu brothers and Thandavaraya Pillai managed to flee the war. Nachiyar was in Kollangudi at that point. 

Following the death of her husband within the battle, she fled together with her daughter to Virupachi near Dindigul, where she took refuge for eight years under the protection of Palayakaarar Kopaala Naayakkar.

During her stay in Virupachi, she gradually built a strong army to fight against the British. In her mission, she earned essential support from Gopala Nayaker and Hyder Ali, the Sultan and therefore the de facto ruler of the dominion of Mysore in southern India. 

Seeking his help, she met the latter in Dindugal. As she spoke with him in Urdu, the queen highly impressed Sultan Hyder Ali together with her strong and courageousness. 

The Sultan gave his word to help the queen in her campaign to reclaim her kingdom. She was also allowed to remain at Virupakshi or Dindugal Fort by the Sultan where she was honored and treated as a Royal Queen.

Monthly support of 400 pounds (Gold) was also sent to her by the Sultan. She sought 5000 infantry and 5000 cavalries from the Sultan to fight British and kept on confusing her enemy by frequently changing her base. 

Sultan Hyder Ali also equipped her with necessary weapons so that she could put up a troublesome fight against the British.

In 1780, she came face-to-face with the British, and with this became the primary queen in India to fight for freedom against the British. She came to understand about the ammunition store of British. 

With this information, the noble queen, known by Tamils as Veeramangai, (“brave woman”) then plotted and arranged a suicide attack on the ammunition store. 

A military commander and a loyal follower of the queen, Kuyili, came forward to hold out the mission. Kuyili drenched herself with ghee then set herself ablaze before jumping into the armory and blowing it up, thereby procuring a victory for the queen. Kuyili, who many consider as an adoptive daughter of Nachiyar, is considered the primary woman terrorist.

Nachiyar also had an adopted daughter, Udaiyaal, who gave her life exploding a British arsenal. The queen built up a woman’s army and named it ‘udaiyaal’ after her adopted daughter.

After recapturing the Sivaganga estate, Nachiyar ruled the nation for the following decade while making her daughter Vellacci the heir to the throne. 

In 1780, she also bestowed powers to the Marudu brothers to administer the country. Following the restoration of her kingdom, Nachiyar expressed her deep gratitude for the support given by Sultan Hyder Ali by constructing a Mosque and Church at Saragani. 

The Sultan earlier conveyed his true friendship by building a temple inside his palace. Nachiyar also maintained good relation with Tipu Sultan, the son of Hyder Ali, whom she considered a brother. 

She sent Tipu Sultan a golden tiger as a present. Nachiyar’s daughter Vellacci succeeded her to the throne in 1790 because the second queen of the Sivaganga estate and ruled till 1793.

Nachiyar, the valiant queen breathed her last on December 25, 1796, at the age of 66 years in Sivaganga, Tamil Nadu, India. Consistent with sources, the queen was affected by heart ailments within a previous couple of years of her life and also underwent treatment in France. Her last rites were performed by her son-in-law.

Appreciation Of Velu Nachiyar

Rani Velu Nachiyar was first to fight against British in 1780

As a part of his album ‘Tamilmatic’, Tamil-American hip-hop artist Professor A.L.I. dedicated to Velu Nachiyar a song titled ‘Our Queen’.

On New Year’s Eve, 2008, a stamp was released in her remembrance.

A grand ballet performance was presented by the OVM Dance Academy of Chennai. It narrated the biography of the lionhearted queen.

Another grand ballet performance was held in Naradha Gana Sabha in Chennai. The director of the performance, Sriram Sharma, researched her for a few decades.

The late J. Jayalalitha, former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, inaugurated the Veeramangai Velu Nachiyar Memorial in Sivagangai on 18th July 2014.

A six-feet bronze statue of the queen was also erected and it had been announced that January 3 would be celebrated because of the birth anniversary of the undaunted queen who shattered gender roles as early because of the 18th century.

Also Read about Pandita Ramabai Saraswati

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