Puli Thevar was a poligar (or palayakarar) who ruled Nerkattumseval situated in the Sankarankoil taluk of Tamil Nadu. Puli Thevar who belongs to the warrior Maravar community was one of the earliest freedom fighters. He is one of the first Indian kings to have fought and defeated the British in India.Puli Thevar was born on September 1, 1715 in Puli Nadu, a part of Pandya Nadu to Chitraputra Thevan and Sivagnanam Nachiyar. Venni Kaladi was the general of Puli Thevar’s army
He is one of the earliest opponents of the British rule in South India. He 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.
Nelkatumseval was the headquarters of Puli Thevar, the first chieftain in India to resist the British.The author of the Thirunelveli District Gazetteer, H.R. Pate, observes as follows:
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.
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.
Pulithevar is regarded as the first ruler in Indian history, who sowed the seed, by his gallant resistance, to expel foreigners from his native land. His services to the nation are honoured; the government of Tamil Nadu has erected a memorial for him in Nelkatumseval where there are the remnants of his palace.
What happened after is nothing less that divine intervention. Puli Thevar started singing hymns in praise of Mahadeva and all of sudden the sound of the cracking of handcuffs were heard by the soldiers camping outside the temple. Disturbed by the sounds the soldiers rushed inside the temple to see what happened, only to see broken handcuffs and chains with Puli Thevar nowhere in sight and never to be seen again by any mortal. Some say he was taken by the Lord himself to his abode……
Not being a man who would give up or prostrate in front of the British their Muslim lackeys, Puli Thevar was thoroughly maligned by the British historians as a man who never kept his word and was deceitful to the core. While these events occurred in late 1760, the truth of the events was never fully told by the Marxist historians of secular India. Therefore I shall try and tell the tale of the heroic exploits of this man who very few Hindus outside of Southern India have ever heard about