Pudukkottai state

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Kingdom of Pudukkottai
Princely State of Pudukkottai
புதுக்கோட்டை சமஸ்தானம்
Kingdom (Subordinate to Ramnad until 1800).
Princely state under the paramountcy of the British Raj (1800–1948)


Flag Coat of arms
Map of Pudukkottai
Capital Pudukkottai
Languages Tamil, English
Religion Hindu
Government Principality
 -  (first)1680–1730 Raghunatha Raya Tondaiman
 -  (last)1928–1948 Rajagopala Tondaiman
 -  Established 1680
 -  Earliest records 1680
 -  Disestablished 1 March 1948
Today part of Tamil Nadu, India
1913 map of the Madras Presidency showing location of Pudukkottai State

Pudukkottai (Tamil: புதுக்கோட்டை சமஸ்தானம் Pūdūcōtai samasthānam) was a princely state in the Madras Presidency, British India which existed from 1680 to 1948. From 1800 to 1923, it was one of the five princely states that were under political control of the Government of Madras. From 1923, when the Madras States Agency was abolished till 1948, it was under the political control of the Government of India.

The kingdom of Pudukkottai was founded in about 1680 as a feudatory of Ramnad and grew with subsequent additions from Tanjore, Sivaganga and Ramnad, itself. One of the staunch allies of the British East India Company in the Carnatic, Anglo-Mysore and Polygar wars, the kingdom was brought under the Company's protection in 1800 as per the system of Subsidiary Alliance. The state was placed under the control of the Madras Presidency from 1800 till 1 October 1923, when it was brought under the direct control of the Government of India.

The princely state covered a total area of 1,178 square miles (3,050 km2) and had a population of 438,648 in 1941. It extended over the whole of the present-day Pudukkottai district of Tamil Nadu, India (with the exception of Aranthangi taluk). The town of Pudukkottai was its capital.


HH Subbamma Bai Sahib Rani of Pudukottai by Raja Ravi Varma

Pudukottai means New Fort and seems to refer to a fort built in early 18th century in what became the capital city of the kingdom. During the Sangam times, Pudukkottai had been ruled by the Chola kings. Later, it was under the occupation of an obscure people called the Kalabhras. From the 6th to the 14th century AD, Pudukkottai was successively ruled by the Mutharaiyars, Cholas and the Pandyas. When the Pandya kingdom was conquered by Malik Kafur, Pudukkottai came under the rule of Muslim sultans who held power for about 50 years before being vanquished by the Vijayanagar kings. When the Vijayanagar kingdom disintegrated, Pudukkottai came under the rule of the Nayaks of Madurai from whom Raghunatha Kilavan, the sethupathi of Ramnad wrested the country in 1680 and appointed Raghunatha Tondaiman as the viceroy.

Raghunatha Raya Tondaiman was the first ruler of Pudukottai. The land surrounding Pudukottai was given to him as an honour for his services to Sri Ranga Raya, King of Vijaynagar on his trip to Rameswaram.[1]

The Pudukkottai kings were staunch allies of the British East India Company and provided crucial logistic and military support during the Carnatic Wars, the Anglo-Mysore Wars and the Polygars Wars. As a result, while the Ramnad and Sivaganga kingdoms were annexed to British India, Pudukkottai was allowed to remain independent. In 1800, Pudukkottai was inducted as a princely state under the paramountcy of the British Raj and a resident was appointed to represent the Madras government.

Pudukkottai saw rapid growth under the prime-ministerships of A. Seshayya Sastri and Alexander Tottenham. The Pudukulam Lake was constructed and the capital, Pudukkottai was completely rebuilt. The Pudukkottai palace, which currently served as the residence of the Tondaiman kings, was constructed in the 1820s and a representative assembly was set up in 1902. On 1 March 1948, the state of Pudukkottai was annexed to the Dominion of India and became a part of Madras state in 1950.


The state of Pudukkottai extended from 10 degrees 7' to 10 degrees 44'N latitudes and 78 degrees 25' and 79 degrees 12' E longitudes.[2] and covered a total area of 1,178 square miles (3,050 km2). It extended for 52 miles (84 km) from east to west and 41 miles (66 km) from north to south.[3][4] The state was bounded by Trichinopoly district to the west, Tanjore district to the east and south-east and Sivaganga estate of Madura district to the south.[5]

The kingdom did not have fixed boundaries originally and was called "Tondaiman country" or "Tondaiman's woods" until the end of 18th century. The kingdom started to have fixed boundaries since early 19th century. The easternmost point of Pudukkottai state was located 12 miles (19 km) from the sea. When the Pudukkottai district was formed in 1974 long after its incorporation into the Republic of India, the coastal Aranthangi taluk was detached from Tanjore district and merged with the new district.

For administrative purposes, the state was divided into three taluks: Alangudi, Kulathur and Thirumayam, each under the authority of a Tahsildar who was responsible for land revenue.[6] There was also a few semi-autonomous zamindaris : Karambakadu, Nagaram, Palayavanam, Senthankudi and Seriyalur.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1871 316,695 —    
1881 302,127 −4.6%
1891 373,097 +23.5%
1901 380,440 +2.0%
1911 411,694 +8.2%
1921 426,813 +3.7%
1931 400,694 −6.1%
1941 438,648 +9.5%

As of 1931, the princely state of Pudukkottai had a total population of 400,694 with a population density of 340 people per square mile.[7][8] Ponnamaravathi firka was the most densely populated with 498 people per square mile while Nirpalani was the most sparsely populated with 213 people per square mile.[8] There were 435 towns and villages - 426 of them with a population less than 5,000 and nine - Pudukkottai, Ponnamaravathi, Varpet, Ramachandrapuram, Arimalam, Thirumayam, Alangudi, Kiranur and Pillamangalam-Alagapuri with population greater than 5,000.[9] The male literacy rate was 21.62 percent and the female literacy rate, 1.87 percent.[10] Between 1925 and 1929, the population of the state dropped by over 65 percent as more than 53,000 people left Pudukkottai for neighbouring districts due to widespread plague and famine.


The kingdom was predominantly Hindu. However, there were significant Muslim and Christian populations. The affairs of Hindu temples was administered by a Devasthanams Department established in 1897.

According to the 1901 census, there were 353,723 Hindus who formed 93% of the state's population. Muslims who numbered 12,268 formed 3.2% of the population while the Christians numbering 14,449 formed 3.8% of the population.[6] In 1931, there were 367,348 Hindus (91.7 percent), 15,194 Muslims (3.8 percent) and 17,960 Christians (4.5 percent).[11]


The majority of the population spoke Tamil as their mother tongue. According to the 1931 census, Tamil was spoken by 378,741 people or 94.52 percent of the population as their mother tongue.[12] Other languages spoken as mother-tongue included Telugu (12,250 speakers, 3.05%), Kanarese (5,118, 1.27%), Hindusthani or Urdu (1,993, 0.49%), Saurashtri (1,172, 0.29%), Marathi (660, 0.16%), Malayalam (522, 0.13%), Hindi (187, 0.04%), Arabic (23, 0.005%), English (22, 0.005%), Danish (2, 0.0005%), Malay (1, 0.0003%), Sinhalese (1, 0.0003%), Konkani (1, 0.0003%) and Spanish (1, 0.0003%).[12] The natives of Pudukkottai spoke Tamil which was also an official language of the state alongside English. Telugu-speakers were descendants of military chieftains who had migrated during the rule of the Vijayanagar Empire and the Madurai Nayak kingdom. Telugu language had official status in the kingdom till the early 19th century and was held in prestige even after it was replaced with Tamil. Kanarese or Kannada was spoken largely by the Kuruba shepherds who had migrated from the Mysore kingdom.[13] However, the Kurubars spoke a Kanarese dialect of their own with a heavy admixture of Tamil words.[13] Hindusthani or Urdu was used by Pathani Muslims while Saurasthri and Marathi were spoken by the Saurashtra and Thanjavur Marathi migrants.


Puddukotai Durbar painted by Raja Ravi Varma

The Raja of Pudukkottai was the paramount head of the state and no bill became law without his assent.[14] He was assisted by a Prime Minister designated as Sirkel till 1 July 1885 and Diwan from 1 July 1885 till 17 November 1931 and Administrator from 17 November 1931 till 1948. The Diwan was assisted by a Councillor and the Diwan acting with the assistance of the Councillor was known as the Diwan-in-Council.

A representative assembly of 30 nominated members was created in 1902.[14] Elections were introduced in 1907 and from then on, 18 out of the 30 representatives were elected.[14] The number of elected members was reduced to 13 in 1913 but was raised to 25 in 1916.[14] The representative assembly was replaced by the Pudukkottai Legislative Council in 1924 and its first session was inaugurated by C. W. E. Cotton, the Governor's agent for the Madras states on 29 September 1924.[15] At the time of the dissolution of the state in 1948, the assembly had a total of 50 members of whom 35 were elected and the rest, nominated by the government.[15] However, as per the Pudukkottai Legislative Council Resolution of 1924, the creation of the council did not affect the right of the Raja to enact laws and issue proclamations on his own; nor did it allow its members to debate on the activities of the royal householld.[15]

The Government of Madras was represented by a political agent. From 1800, when the first Political agent was appointed, till 1840, the Political Agent was usually the District Collector of Tanjore, from 1840 to 1865, the Agent was the Collector of Madurai and from 1865 to 1947 the agent was the Collector of Trichinopoly. All the decisions made by the Diwan are passed to the Madras Government for approval before they become the law.


Revenue stamp issued by the princely state of Pudukkottai with a portrait of Martanda Bhairava Tondaiman

The Pudukkottai Electric Supply Corporation was incorporated on 1 March 1924. Its first Chief Engineer was N. Vembu who had trained in Germany. According to the Pudukkottai Electricity Regulation (Regulation VII) of 1925, the Pudukkottai Electric Supply Corporation was authorized to provide electricity to Pudukkottai town. The company did not generate power but purchased electricity from the Trichinopoly-Srirangam Electric Corporation Ltd. Another registered power distribution company was the privately-owned Brahmavidyambal Electric Supply Corporation Ltd. which was based in Ramachandrapuram and met the power requirements of a few surrounding Nattukkottai Chettiar villages. Later, another power distribution company was started in Ponnamaravathi.

Pudukkottai town was connected with Trichinopoly by two roads - one through Kiranur and the other through Iluppur and Viralimalai. It was also connected by rid with Tanjore, Budalur, Aranthangi, Pattukkottai and Gandharvakottai in Tanjore district and Melur in Madura district. The first motor bus services were introduced in 1910 with the neighbouring city of Trichinopoly. In 1944, there were motor bus services to Trichinopoly, Tanjore and Aranthangi. The proposal of a railway line linking Pudukkottai and Trichinopoly was repeatedly considered and shelved. A railway linking Trichinopoly and Karaikkudi in Madura district and passing through Pudukkottai was completed in March 1926.

Sri Brihadamba State Press was the government's official publication company. It published government periodicals, official gazettes and the proceedings of the Pudukkottai Legislative Council. The main press was located in Pudukkottai town. It also published other official and Hindu religious literature. The Sri Brihadamba State Press was the largest of the six printing presses in the capital.

Water supply for agriculture and drinking purposes was obtained from the Kaveri River through a network of irrigation canals. There were many state-run schools and college, the most important of which was the H. H. The Rajah's College set up in 1859. A school for girls was started in 1883.

The Superintendent of police in Trichinopoly District was the ex officio Superintendent of the force within the State. In 1909, the police force of Pudukkottai state consisted of one chief inspector, 5 inspectors, 28 head constables, and 229 constables. There were 23 police stations.


When the state submitted to Subsidiary Alliance with the British East India Company in the 18th century, it had a standing army in excess of 1,000 horse and 3,000 foot. This army was drastically reduced as responsibility for the state's defence was transferred to the Madras Army. Since then, the state maintained a small token army to preserve law and order and guard the state from internal security threats.

As of 1901, the army of Pudukkottai numbered 22 officers, 90 privates including gunners and 16 troopers of the Raja's Bodyguard. The forces were headed by a commandant. The army had a band of 30 performers.


The judiciary of the state in under the control of the Dewan. There was one Chief Court in Pudukkottai town and ten Small Cause Courts in rural areas of Pudukkottai. Europeans were not subject to the jurisdiction of the courts. Offenses involving Europeans were handled by the Political Agent.

Prior to 1813, justice in Pudukkottai was delivered by three types of courts - Nyaya Sabha or civil court, Danda Sabha or criminal court and Mudra Sabha which dealt with civil cases of lower order than the Nyaya Sabha. The Nyaya Sabha consisted of four judges and Danda Sabha was made of three judges. Later, a Kotwal's office was inistituted at the capital which replaced the functions of a police station, magistrate's court and civil court rolled into one. In the 1840s, attempts were made to reform the judiciary along European lines. The Town Small Causes Court was established in 1844 followed by the Huzur Adalat in 1845. Munsiff's Courts were set up in all the three taluk headquarters and the sabhas were all abolished in 1860. The functions of the Nyaya and Danda sabhas were amalgamated into a Civil and Sessions Court consisting of three judges while an appeal court was established with an appeal judge.


1 amman cash coin (1889-1906) from Pudukkottai

In 1903–04, the revenue of the State amounted to Rs. 11,28,00 while the total expenditure was Rs.20,21,000. The chief products of Pudukkottai were silk, cotton, rush mats, bangles, bell-metal vessels and perfumes. The chief exports of Pudkkottai were perfumes, groundnuts, Nux vomica seeds, avaram blocks used for tanning leather and acacia bark used in distilleries. The chief imports are salt, rice, European piece-goods, and tobacco.

The currency of the state was the British Indian rupee, but apart from British Indian coins, local coinage called Amman kasu were also used. One amman kasu was equivalent to one-sixteenth of an anna. The coin bears on one side the motif Vijaya, the Telugu word for "victory", while on the other side of the coin is representation of goddess Brihadamba. Till 1888, the coins were locally minted but since then, they were minted by a firm based in the United Kingdom.

The revenue of the state increased from rupees three and quarter lakhs in 1878-79 to Rs. 11 lakhs in 1898-99 and Rs. 16 lakhs in 1918-1919. In 1940, the revenue of Pudukkottai was Rs. 20 lakhs while expenditure was Rs. 16.5 lakhs.

As of 1 April 1936, there were 27 companies registered in Pudukkottai state.[16] Limited companies which were operating in Pudukkottai state included The Chettinad Corporation and Bank Ltd, M. C. T. M. Banking Corporation Ltd, The Pudukkottai Trading and Banking Corporation, the Hindu Karur Bank which had a branch in Pudukkottai town, Diwan Bahadur Subbiah Chettiar's Trading and Banking Company, Mena Chena Mena Mena Bank, Janopkara Motor Service Company which had a branch in Ponnamaravathi], The Sun Bank Ltd, The Modern Bank Ltd (Pillamangalam-Alagapuri), Pudukkottai branch of the Indo-Commercial Bank Ltd and the Pudukkottai branch of the Travancore National Bank Ltd.[16] Registered companies which carried on industrial or trading businesses in Pudukkottai included The Pudukkottai Brick and Tile Manufactory, Sri Murugan Company, The Pudukkottai Trading and Banking Company, Sambandam & Co., Diwan Bahadur Subbiah Chettiar's Trading and Banking Company, T. V. Sundaram Aiyangar & Co. and South Indian Corporation Ltd.[17]

List of kings of Pudukkottai[edit]

Ramachandra Tondaiman, king of Pudukkottai, at his durbar, ca. 1858

List of Diwans of Pudukkottai[edit]

President of the Council of Administration[edit]




  • The Imperial Gazetteer of India, Volume XX. London: Clarendon Press. 1908. 
  • Trichinopoly District Gazetteer, Volume I. London: Clarendon Press. 1907. 
  • B. Dirks, Nicholas (1993). The Hollow Crown: Ethnohistory of an Indian Kingdom. University of Michigan. ISBN 0-472-08187-X, ISBN 978-0-472-08187-5. 
  • Ayyar, K. R. Venkatarama (1940). The Pudukkottai State Manual. Sri Brihadambal State Press.