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Puli Thevar

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?– 16 October 1755

Kayalkani Nachiyar

Sivagnanam Nachiyar

British Rule

Chitraputra Thevar


A sketch of Puli Thevar (1715-1768) who ruled Nerkattumseval and notable for  fighting against East India Company at 1757 in India

Chitraputra Thevar, Sivagnanam Nachiyar

1 September 1715, Nerkattumseval, Madurai Nayak kingdom (Modern Day Tenkasi, Tamil Nadu, India)

c. 1767 (aged 42), Tenkasi, Arcot (Modern Day Tamil Nadu, India)

Ondiveeran, Veerapandiya Kattabomman, Dheeran Chinnamalai

Puli thevar history

Puli Thevar was a poligar (palayakarar) who ruled Nerkattumseval situated in the Sankarankoil taluk, Tirunelveli Tamil Nadu.


Puli thevar history indian freedom fighter s history


An illustration of Puli Thevar holding a sword and standing beside a tiger which is the meaning of his name in Tamil

Puli Thevar was involved in a vendetta with the Nawab of Arcot who was supported by the British. Thevar's prominent exploits were his confrontations with Marudhanayagam, who later rebelled against the British in the late 1750s and early 1760s me.

Nelkatumseval was the headquarters of Puli Thevar.

The author of the Thirunelveli District Gazetteer, H.R. Pate, observes as follows:

A statue of Puli Thevar located in Nerkattumseval Palace holding a sword and armor and garland placed around his neck

Nelkatumseval is chiefly memorable as having been in the eighteenth Century stronghold of the redoubtable Puli Thevar, who figured for many years as the leader of the Marava Confederacy against the troops of the Nawab and the Company. He had a shrewd insight into the political situation of the time and was a veritable thorn against the side of the Nawab's agents.

An illustration of Puli Thevar leading a crowd to a battle

Pulithevar remains one of the illustrious figures in the chequered history of palayakarars. The vivacity of his character gave him an ascendancy over the western palayakarars, while his determined resistance to the Nawab's overlordship made him a potential enemy of the Wallajahs. He was the principal architect of the coalition of the palayakkars organised against the Nawab. The Nawab acknowledged his victory by presenting him with a gold plate and sword.

Puli Thevan War

A sketch of Puli Thevar ready to fight while holding a sword and armor

There were a number of revolts by local powers in the South, the first being as early as 1757. When Mohammed Ali, the Nawab of the Carnatic, supported by the Company, attempted to extend his control over the "Madurai" and "Thirunelveli" districts, the poligars rebelled. The western poligars, led by Puli Thevar of Nelkatumseval, forged individual alliances and then a grand alliance as they revolted against Mohammed Ali. Of necessity, Ali had to seek assistance from John Company, and, though battles were won and lost, the revolt was put down in 1761 by Yusuf Khan, who had been nominated the Governor of "Madurai" and "Thirunelveli" in 1758 by the British, despite Nawab Mohammed Ali's objections.

Western confederacy by Nel Kattum Sevval

An illustration of Puli Thevar smiling with mustache and topless while wearing gold jewelry on his arms, neck, ears, and an embroidered hat

"Nel kattum sevval" literally translates to "Rice tribute paying place", but after its ruler Puli Thevan's successful (initially) attempts at defying Mohammed Ali, the name changed to nel kattan sevval ("place which doesn't pay rice tribute"). These palayams declared their independence in 1757. Yusuf Khan, or Marudhanayagam, was sent by the British to bring the poligars under control and make them pay kisthi. Earlier campaigns in 1755 by Mahfuz Khan were unsuccessful in subduing the poligars' partly because of their sticking to each other and partly because British troops had to be withdrawn to raise the French siege of Madras (by Lally). Yusuf Khan effectively subdued the eastern poligars before turning his attention towards Pooli Thevan. This led to a succession of sieges on the forts under Pooli Thevan's control, culminating in the destruction of the Nerkattansevval fort by British artillery. Puli Thevan was apprehended but managed to escape while being transported for imprisonment. Subsequent to his capture and escape, there are no reliable historical records detailing his fate.


Puli Thevar Wikipedia

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