Rani Mangammal – The Courageous Queen of Tamilnadu
Mangammal was a famous queen who ruled the Madurai territory during the peak of 17 th century AD. His father name was Tupakula Lingama Nayaka, the prime general of Madurai ruler Chokkanatha Nayak. When Rani mangammal came to age, Chokkanatha Nayak married her and she became principal queen of Madurai. After the consequent events, Chokkanatha died in 1682 and Mangammal took over the crown. During her rule, she concentrated on laying the roads and avenues. Even built the temples and choultries for the purpose of poor people and devotional activities. Her skills in military campaigns was very admirable, as same she showed in diplomatic summits. She ruled the Madhurai kingdom during 1689-1704 for 15 years with influencial adminiatrational skills from the capital of Tiruchy.
Rani Mangammal’s son Rangakrishna Muthu Virappa Nayak came to throne under the guidance of his mother at the age of fifteen. He was very brave warrior and defied the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and participated in various battle fields with courageously. Unfortunately, he died in 1689 AD, when his wife was pregnant. At these complicate situations, Rani Mangammal started to look after the kingdom. When the queen gave birth to a son, she committed Sati even Mangammal opposed the orthodox custom. So Mangammal made her grandson Vijaya Ranga Chokkanatha as the heir of the throne at the age of only three months old. Since then she had been ruled Madhurai behalf of her grandson till 1705 AD.
As a ruler Mangammal faced threats from the neighbouring kingdoms usually. She never step back to face the enemies in wars. As a woman ruler, with strong determination, faced the Marathas, Mughal Army with the Deccan Sultans and Thanjavur Kingdom. Especially, in the South, the Travancore Rajas defy Mangammal to pay the tribute to Madhurai Kingdom. However, Rani Mangammal solved all the complicated affairs with political wisdom and diplomatic skills. She never lose her temper at any dangerous situation and strongly administrated the kingdom to strengthen at its peak.
She strongly fought with Travencore rajas, Raja Ravi Varma and Marathas. Even she didn’t hesitate to collaborate with Mughal army to submerge few regions in Madhurai region. However, she had a strong blowout and major lose was happened in her last campaign in 1702. In 1702 she started a campaign against the Sethupathi and ended the war with defeat. During the war the Madurai’s famous Dalavoy Narasappaiah lost his life in the battle. This was a major blow to Rani Mangammal and never did any campaign under her leadership.
Rani Mangammal was a good administrator, even today we can see her development works like laying the roads and Choultries around Madhurai city. She concentrated on irrigation works to develop the cultivation in order to avoid the starvation.
Her construted irrigation channels were repaired and still in force. The famous Cape Comorin highway was first built during her period and now the road is famous as Mangammal Salai. Still the Choultries near present day Madurai railway station are the standing monuments to recall her memories. During her life, she live in Tamukkam Palace, which is now the place for Mahatma Gandhi Museum. The palace has Tamukku Maidanam, where the elephant fights and other entertainments performed to appease the royal families.
Mangammal was a religious tolerate ruler. Although, she belonged to Hindu religion, even she equally treated the other religious devotees. She encouraged to built the mosques and churches. The queen moved very friendly with all religious groups, even she grant villages to a Dargah in Tiruchirapalli. She was the devotee of Madurai Meenakshiamman, donated precious gems, valuable jewels and palanquins. She contributed a lot to built numerous temples in her kingdom. Celebration of Unjal festival in Meenakshi temple was first held by Rani Mangammal during the Tramil month of Ani. During the celebrations, the all royal families visit the temple and pay tribute to Meenakshi Amman . Even today we can see her contemporary portrait in the Unjal Mandapam.
still, her death is a mystery. When her grandson came to age, he stress on Mangamal to step down from the throne. But, she didn’t obey his desire and wanted to rule for few more years. Then, he and his general planed to dethrone her and succeeded. She kept in prison, there she followed the starvation and lost her final breath in 1704. Really, she was a famous queen and made strong influence on the Tamil people till today.