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 3rd January 1730 in Ramanathapuram, Tamil Nadu, India. Her father name was Raja Chellamuthu Vijayaragunatha Sethupathy and mother Rani Sakandhimuthal. The couple had no Male heir to the throne, so they rise up the princess as a boy. Even they made her learn horse riding, well-trained in archery and administrative skills. She also trained in martial arts such as Silabam, using the Valari. Nachiyar profoundly studied several languages, got command over English, French, and Urdu. Although, she was famous as a beautiful prince like Draupathi, the concert of Pandavas in Mahabharata.
Nachiyar got married to Muthuvadugananthur Udaiyathevar, son of Sivagangai’s King Sasivarna Periya Udaya at the age of 16. In the beginning, Periya Udaya did as an administrator of the Sivagangai. Later, became the ruler of Sivangangi Kingdom and continued the administration up to his death in 1772. The couple had a daughter named Vellachi.

War Against the British Rule

In the name of expanding the British Rule in India, the British army had been invading certain weak kingdoms in order to bring under British Rule. Such way, the British also invaded Sivagangai with the support of Arcot Nawab in 1772. During the war, the British troops fight ruthlessly and killed Udaiyathevar in the war. Even they didn’t spare children, women, and nobles. In the Indian History, the war is noted as one of the ruthless war. During the war, Nachiyar stayed in Kollangudi with a daughter. There she received the news of her husband’s death, as soon fled to Virupachi as a refuge for eight years, there Palayakaarar Kopaala naayakkar gave protection to the Princess.
Although she was staying in Virupachi, she didn’t stay in dark. Velu Nachiyar did every work to gather a strong army 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 a lot. This made Hyder Ali understand about the courageousness and vengeance of Velu Nachiyar. Then he allowed her to stay in Dindugal Fort, even supported by sending 400 pound Gold every month to maintain the army. Such 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 a 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 and lit the fire and jumped into the armory and blew it up. Few historians believed that Kuyili was the adopted daughter of Nachiyar. So that the Tamils called Nachiyar as Veeramangai, which means the brave woman.
Another adopted daughter, Udaiyaal also sacrificed her life in the fighting against the British. Then the Nachiyar built up completely with women and named udaiyaal. In the war, she was succeeded to recapture the Sivaganga estate and ruled for the next 10 years. She made her daughter Vellacci, the heir of the estate.

Rani Velu Nachiyar Death

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