Rani Velu Nachiyar was a queen of Sivaganga State from c. 1780–1790. She was the first Indian queen to fight against the British colonial power in India. Known to the Tamils as Veeramangai ("brave woman"), Velu Nachchiyar was an active and talented young leader who fought against the cunning and brutes colonial forces.
Velu Nachiyar was the princess of Ramanathapuram and the only child of Raja Chellamuthu Vijayaragunatha Sethupathy and Rani Sakandhimuthal of the Ramnad kingdom. When her husband, Muthuvaduganathaperiya Udaiyathevar, was killed by British soldiers and the son of the Nawab of Arcot, she was drawn into battle. She escaped with her daughter and lived under the protection of Palayakaarar Kopaala Naayakkar at Virupachi near Dindigul for eight years.
During this period, she formed an army and sought an alliance with Gopala Nayaker and Hyder Ali with the aim of overthrowing the British. Velu Nachiyar formed a woman's army named "udaiyaal" in honour of her adopted daughter.
Nachiyar was one of the few rulers who regained her kingdom from the British and ruled it for ten more years. In 1790, the throne was inherited by her daughter Vellacci. Velu Nachiyar was the first queen to fight for the freedom from the British in India. Before the first war of Indian Independence of 1857 took place or even before the legendary duo of Rani Laxmi Bai and Jhalkari Bai of Jhansi revolted against the British Raj, two women warriors from the South had the audacity to fight for their birthright and gave the colonialists an answer they’d never forget!
Remembering such unsung hero of India on her death anniversary!
Image Courtesy: Mintage World