Elevation 165 m
|State Tamil Nadu|
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
Nerkattumseval ( also Nelkattanseval, called Nellitangaville by the British ) is traditionally recognized as one of the 72 palaiyams of Madura, already in existence in the days of Nagama Nayaka and his son Visvanatha Nayaka. It falls under the sankarankovil taluk in Tirunelveli District of Tamil Nadu.
This Maravar palaiyam was located in the Sankarankovil taluk, in the former Tirunelveli province of the Nayak kingdom of Madurai
Its polygar, known by the hereditary title of the Puli Thevar belonged to the Kondayam-Kottai subcaste of the Maravar. He is known to be the First Freedom Fighter of India. His territories were of small extent, but his influence throughout the whole of the western part of Tinnevelly (Tirunelveli) was immense.
History and Resistance towards the English
In 1754, after Muhammed Ali had finally established himself as the Nawab of Arcot, Col. Alexander Hamilton was appointed to lead the troops that would establish his rule in Tirulneveli. Many polygars paid their arrears and acknowledged the nawab’s suzerainty, but the Maravas’ Western Bloc of polygars, led by the Puli Thevar and Ondiveeran Pagadai of Nerkattumseval, refused to do so. No amount of British force could make them submit and, having tasted independence, … were averse to the idea of being dependent once again. All the Marava polygars in the West (except Sivagiri) formed a coalition to defend their independence. Other Madurai polygars supported the coalition. But no attempt was made to include Marava kaval chiefs who had also become independent, and the Nayak polegars of the Eastern Bloc refused until 1759 to join the coalition as the result of old animosities between the two groups. Puli Thevar enlisted the aid of Hyder Ali and the Raja of Travancore and for seven years led the war against the Anglo-Nawabi forces. He was finally forced to submit in 1761 and allowed to retire to Ramnad. “It is possible that after the death of Yusuf Khan, Puli Thevar might have returned to his Palayam. However, he was not the Puli Thevar of 1761, and Campbell captured Nerkattumseval in 1767.” For many years he had stood as the leader of the Marava confederacy against the troops of the Nawab and the Company. “To the courage of the Marava warrior he added the wiliness of the Maratha. He had a shrewd insight into the political situation of the time and was a veritable thorn in the side of the Nawab’s agents.”
At the end of the First Polygar War in 1799, the then Puli Thevar of Nerkattumseval surrendered two forts and 100 armed men to Major J. Bannerman. At the time of the general settlement of 1802, the palaiyam, now known as Avudaiyappuram, consisted of only three villages. It survived into the 19th century as a zamindari. It went through numerous subdivisions and sales and the heirs of the first sanad-holder no longer own any part of the ancient zamindari.
Nerkattumseval has a museum for Puli Thevar erected by the Tamil Nadu Government.