Queen Velu Nachiyar – The First Freedom Fighter in India

Velu Nachiyar Early Life

Velu Nachiyar was a famous Princess of the Ramnad Kingdom in Tamil Nadu. She was born on January 3, 1730, in Ramanathapuram, Tamil Nadu, India. Her father was Raja Chellamuthu Vijayaragunatha Sethupathy, and her mother was Rani Sakandhimuthal. The couple had no Male heir to the throne, so they raised the princess as a boy. Even they made her learn horse riding and well-trained in archery and administrative skills. She also trained in martial arts, such as Silabam, using the Valari. Nachiyar studied several languages and got command over English, French, and Urdu. However, she was famous as a beautiful prince like Draupathi, the concert of Pandavas in Mahabharata.

Nachiyar married Muthuvadugananthur Udaiyathevar, son of Sivagangai’s King Sasivarna Periya Udaya, at 16. In the beginning, Periya Udaya did as an administrator of the Sivagangai. Later, he became the ruler of the Sivangangi Kingdom and continued the administration until he died in 1772. The couple had a daughter named Vellachi.

War Against the British Rule

Although she stayed in Virupachi, she didn’t stay in the dark. Velu Nachiyar did every work to gather solidarity to fight against the British. She seeks support from Gopala Nayaker and Hyder Ali, the ruler of Mysore in South India. She met Sultan Hyder Ali, conversed in Urdu and impressed him greatly. This made Hyder Ali understand the courageousness and vengeance of Velu Nachiyar. Then he allowed her to stay in Dindugal Fort, even supported by monthly sending 400 pounds of Gold to maintain the army. In such a way, she gathered 5000 cavalry and 5000 infantry from the supports to fight the British.

Velu Nachiyar, the First Freedom Fighter

Finally, she began the fight against the British in 1780 as the first freedom fighter in India. She was also famous as a suicide bomb user at the time of demolishing the ammunition store of the British. She used Kuyili, the loyal follower, as the Suicide Bomber; she drenched herself with ghee on the entire body, lit the fire, jumped into the armoury, and blew it up. Few historians believed that Kuyili was the adopted daughter of Nachiyar, so the Tamils called Nachiyar Veeramangai, which means brave woman.

Another adopted daughter, Udaiyaal, also sacrificed her life in the fight against the British. Then the Nachiyar was built up entirely with women and named udaiyaal. She recaptured the Sivaganga estate in the war and ruled for ten years. She made her daughter Vellacci the heir of the estate.

Rani Velu Nachiyar Death

She gave great gratitude to Hyder Ali for their support in restoring power. So that as gratitude, she built a Mosque and Church on the estate and treated him as a brother. Even she maintains the same relationship with Tipu Sultan. She had suffered from heart ailments and also went to France for treatment. However, her health worsened, and she died at age 66 on December 25, 1796. Since then, Velu Nachiyar was famous as a great patriot, the first freedom fighter against the British and the courageous woman ruler in India.