Dheeran Chinnamalai

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Dheeran Chinnamalai (தீரன் சின்னமலை)
Chieftain of Kongu Nadu
Dheeran Chinnamalai.jpg
Portrait of Dheeran Chinnamalai
Reign Koolayar Kulam
Successor British Rule
Full name
Chinnamalai Theerthagiri Gounder
Father Rathnasamy Gounder
Mother Periyatha
Born 17 April 1756
Melapalayam, Erode, Tamil Nadu
Died 31 July 1805
Sankagiri, Tamil Nadu
Burial Odanilai, Erode, Tamil Nadu

Dheeran Chinnamalai (Tamil: தீரன் சின்னமலை born as Theerthagiri Sarkkarai Mandraadiyaar or Theerthagiri Gounder on April 17, 1756) was a Kongu chieftain and Palayakkarar from Tamil Nadu who rose up in revolt against the British East India Company in the Kongu Nadu, Southern India. Kongunadu comprised the modern day districts of Coimbatore, Nilgiri, Tirupur, Erode, Salem, Dharmapuri, Karur, Namakkal and parts of Dindigul District and Krishnagiri District of Tamil Nadu state.

He was born in Melapalayam, near Erode in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu.[1] He is held with high regard by the Gounder community who continue to revere him as a symbol of Independence for the community. Even today, numerous authors publish books highlighting his bravery as a ruler.

Statue of Dheeran Chinnamalai at Odanilai

He was one of the main leaders in the Polygar Wars and commanded a vast army, notably during the Second Polygar War that took place in 1801–1802. A thousand-strong army under him took French Military training in modern warfare alongside Tipu's Mysore forces to fight against the British East India company. They helped Tipu Sultan in his war against the British and were instrumental in victories at Chitheswaram, Mazahavalli and Srirangapatna. He was the first south Indian to oppose the British rule in India.

After Tipu's death, Chinnamalai settled down at Odanilai in Kongu Nadu and constructed a fort there and defeated the British in battles at Cauvery in 1801, Odanilai in 1802 and Arachalur in 1804. Later, Chinnamalai left his fort to avoid cannon attack and engaged in guerrilla warfare while he was stationed at Karumalai in the Palani region. He was captured by the British who hanged him at Sankagiri Fort on 31 July 1805 (Aadiperukku day).[2][3][4]

Honors and monuments[edit]

  • Statues and memorials commemorating Dheeran Chinnamalai exist in Chennai, Tiruchirappalli and Arachalur, Erode.[5][6]
  • In July 2005, a commemorative postage stamp on him was issued.[7]
  • Until 1997, the state transport corporation headquartered at Tiruchirapalli was known as 'Dheeran Chinnamalai' Transport Corporation.
  • Until 1996, Karur district was known as 'Dheeran Chinnamalai Gounder' District.
  • Erode Collector office is housed in 'Dheeran Chinnamalai Maaligai'.
  • In April 2012 the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Jayalalithaa, announced that a memorial for Dheeran Chinnamalai would be built at the place where he was hanged.[8]
  • A Dance drama about Dheeran Chinnamalai has written by kavimugil Na.GopalaKrishnan and is being staged by Nagai.Na.Balakumar at chennai on 29th December of 2013 and in some other places.


  • Dheeran Chinnamalai Gounder by Pulavar S. Rasu, Samba Publications, 1996.
  • Kongu Nattu Lion - Singham Dheeran Chinnamalai by Kavignar Magudam Manickam, Sakunthla Publications, 2001.