|Palaiyakkarar of Panchalankurichi|
Kattabomman memorial at Kayathar.
|Reign||2 February 1790 – 16 October 1799|
|Full name||Veemaraja Jagaveera Pandiya Kattabomma Karuthayya Nayakkar|
|Born||3 January 1760|
|Died||16 October 1799|
|Place of death||Kayathar,Tamil Nadu|
Veerapandiya Kattabomma Karuthayya Nayakkar (also known as Kattabomman) was a courageous 18th-century Palayakarrar ('Polygar') chieftain from Panchalankurichi of Tamil Nadu, India. His ancestors migrated to Tamil Nadu from areas in present day Andhra Pradesh during the Vijayanagara period. Also known as Kattabomma Nayakkar he was among the earliest to oppose British rule in these regions. He waged a war with the British six decades before the Indian War of Independence occurred in the Northern parts of India. He was captured and hanged in 1799 CE. His fort was destroyed and his wealth was looted by the British army. Today his native village Panchalankurichi in present day Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu is a historically important site. Some polygars families also migrated to vedal village in Kanchipuram District, India.
Fight against British
Kattabomman refused to accept the sovereignty of British East India Company. He did not pay adequate tax and instead opted to fight against them. In 1799, he was captured by the British and hanged at Kayattar in Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu. His younger brother, Umaidurai and other relatives were arrested and prisoned at Palayamkottai. In February 1801, Umaidurai escaped and mobilised local people to form an army and continued his fight till October 1801 when he and his companions in fight Chinna and Periya Marudu of Sivagangai were defeated and hanged by British. The Panjalankuricci fort was "razed to ground, the site was ploughed over and sown with castor seed.."(cited in Dircks 1993,22)
After being betrayed along with six other veerars by the then ruler of the kingdom of Pudukottai Vijaya Raghunatha Tondaiman to the British on 1 October 1799,Kattabomman was subsequently arrested by the British and brought to a building at Kayathar.He was then interrogated by the british till 16 October 1799,where he was sentenced to public hanging at about 10am on the 16th October 1799.
Legend and folklore
In subsequent years, a good deal of legend and folklore developed around Kattabomman and the Marudu Brothers. Kayatharu, where Kattabomman was executed has remained a place of political pilgrimage.
In his Tinnevelly Gazetteer of 1917, H. R. Pate notes the presence, in Kayatharu, of "a great pile of stones of all sizes, which represents the accumulated offerings by wayfarers of the past hundred years. Folk songs recalling the heroism of the Poligar leaders remain alive in Tamil Nadu to this day..."
The popular Tamil slang for a traitor or committing treason is Ettapa or Ettapan, courtesy the Ettayapuram Polygar whom the British later conferred the title of Raja. But it is disputed whether Ettapan ever committed a treason at all because Kattabomman was arrested by the King of Pudukottai. The Campa Cola ground in Chennai belongs/belonged to Ettappan family. In recent times, there is an outcry over the unflattering portrayal of Ettappan in the 1959 Tamil language film, Veerapandiya Kattabomman, in which legendary Tamil thespian, Sivaji Ganesan, played the titular character.
The Ettappan character was enacted by an equally talented character actor, V.K. Ramasamy.
Honor and Monuments
Kattabomman's story is celebrated in many legends and epic poetry in Tamil. Kattabomman is today recognised by the government as one of the earliest independence fighters opposing the British.
- In 1974, the Government of Tamil Nadu constructed a new Memorial fort. The Memorial Hall has beautiful paintings on the walls depicting the heroic deeds of the saga which gives a good idea about the history of the period. A cemetery of British soldiers are also seen near the fort.
- The remnants of the old fort are protected by the Archaeological Survey of India.
- At Kayathar, near Tirunelveli on the present day NH7, the place where he was hanged, there is another memorial for Kattabomman.
- A statue of him is put up in Wellington, Tamil Nadu to commemorate his bravery.
- To commemorate the bicentenary on 16 October 1799 of Kattabomman’s hanging, the Government of India brought out a postal stamp in his honour.
- India's premier communication nerve centre of the Indian Navy, at Vijayanarayanam, about 40 km from here, is named as INS Kattabomman.
- Till 1997, the state transport buses of Tirunelveli District was named Kattabomman Transport Corporation.
- Veerapandia Kattabomman Panpattu Kazhagam (Veerapandia Kattabomman Cultural association) is an organisation named in his honour.
- The district administration celebrates `Veerapandia Kattabomman festival' at Panchalankurichi on his anniversaries.
Much of the modern currency of the legend comes from the 1959 motion picture starring Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan in lead role portraying the life of Veerapandiya Kattabomman. The Movie was directed by B.R. Panthulu and Nadigar Thilagam Sivaji Ganesan got a wide international recognition and earned many international awards for his epic performance and this particular film is one of the most remembered in his 45 years of filmdom. The film received ubiquitously positive reviews and adjudged the best film at the Cairo International Film Festival and Sivaji received the prize for best actor from Col. Nasser, the then president of Egypt
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