Velu Nachiyar, the queen of Sivagangai, presently parts of Tamil Nadu was the first queen to fight for the freedom from the British in India. She was trained in martial arts, use of war weapons, archery, and horse riding. She was an expert in Silambam (fighting using stick).
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Amongst the unsung heroines of Indian Independence Movement is Rani Velu Nacchiyar (3 January 1730 – 25 December 1796) , the queen of Sivagangai, presently parts of Tamil Nadu. She is the first queen in the history of India to wage a successful war against the British! She is known by Tamils as Veeramangai ("brave woman").
Velu Nachiyar was the daughter, the only child of King Chellamuthu Sethupathy and Queen Sakandhimuthal of Ramnad kingdom, Tamil Nadu.
Velu Nachiyar was trained in martial arts, use of war weapons, archery, and horse riding. She was an expert in Silambam (fighting using stick).
She was a scholar in many subjects like taxation policies. Several reforms and laws were enacted by her that promoted democratic institutions just like that of sangam cholas.other development activities included constructing roads, canals waterways,libraries, schools and other educational institutions. During her time the tiruvavduthurai adheenam opened a branch in kadayanallur. she is known to have revised , revamped and redesigned several taxation policies like kandacharam,ecchoru,virpidi(tax on arms),sungam(toll tax), perammu, makamai, devasthanam related taxes .She also made several reforms in foreign trade in the lines of sangam age kingdoms famous for sea trade.Nanadesi multinationals like ayirattu ennurruvar, moovayiravar, nalpattiyennayiravar etc who find mention and praise in earliest of sangam works(12th cent. B.C.E)enjoyed patronage and set up posts in singapore, malaya etc.
On 4 April 1765, she tithed a complete village bereft of taxes near madurai with craftsmen, barbers, cooks, engineers and others, sivacharyas and 4 veli of land, sheep etc towards 6 daily worship services in ancient kasi viswanath temple at varanasi.
War Against British
She married the king of Sivagangai, with whom she had a daughter. When her husband, Muthuvaduganathaperiya Udaiyathevar, was killed by British soldiers and the son of the Nawab of Arcot, she was drawn into battle. She escaped with her daughter and lived under the protection of Palayakaarar Kopaala Naayakkar at Virupachi near Dindigul for eight years.
During this period, she formed an army and sought an alliance with Gopala Nayaker and Hyder Ali with the aim of attacking the British, whom she did successfully fight in 1780. When Velu Nachiyar found the place where the British stored their ammunition, she arranged a suicide attack: a faithful follower, Kuyili, doused herself in oil, set herself alight and walked into the storehouse. Velu Nachiyar formed a woman's army named "udaiyaal" in honour of her adopted daughter, Udaiyaal, who died detonating a British arsenal. 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 first queen to fight for the freedom from the British in India. She granted powers to the Marudu brothers to administer the country in 1780. Velu Nachiyar died a few years later,on 25 December 1796.
Floral tributes were paid to ‘Veeramangai’ Velu Nachiyar, the first Indian queen who fought against the British, on the occasion of her birth anniversary.
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