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)



Coat of arms

Map of Pudukkottai
Capital Pudukkottai
Languages Tamil, English
Religion Hindu
Government Principality
 -  (first)1680–1730 Raghunatha Raya Tondaiman
 -  (last)1928–1947 Rajagopala Tondaiman
 -  Established 1680
 -  Earliest records
 -  Disestablished 1948

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.


The state of Pudukkottai comprised most of the modern district of Pudukkottai in Tamil Nadu and extended from 10 degrees 7' to 10 degrees 44'N latitudes and 78 degrees 25' and 79 degrees 12' E longitudes.[1] It is bounded on the north and west by Tiruchirapalli district, on the south by Madurai district and on the east by Thanjavur district.[2] The kingdom did not have fixed boundaries 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. It extended for 52 miles (84 km) from east to west and 41 miles (66 km) 41 miles from north to south and encompassed an area of 1,178 square miles.[3][4] The easternmost point of Pudukkottai state was located 12 miles (19 km) from the sea.


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.[5]

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. In 1948, the state of Pudukkottai was annexed to the Dominion of India and became a part of Madras state in 1950.


Most of the state was covered by plains. The western and the southern parts were interspersed with hills and fast-flowing rivers. The Piranmalai Hills formed the south-western frontier.


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. 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. 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. The male literacy rate was 21.62 percent and the female literacy rate, 1.87 percent. 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.

According to the 1901 census, there were 353,723 Hindus who formed 95% 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]


HH Subbamma Bai Sahib Rani of Pudukottai by Raja Ravi Varma
Puddukotai Durbar painted by Raja Ravi Varma
Revenue stamp issued by the princely state of Pudukkottai with a portrait of Martanda Bhairava Tondaiman

The Raja of Pudukkottai was the paramount head of the state and no bill became law without his assent. 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. Elections were introduced in 1907 and from then on, 18 out of the 30 representatives were elected. The number of elected members was reduced to 13 in 1913 but was raised to 25 in 1916. 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. 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. 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.

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.


The Superintendent of police in Trichinopoly District is 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.


For administrative purposes, the state was divided into three taluks: Kolattur, Alangudi and Thirumayam, each under the authority of a Tahsildar who was responsible for land revenue.[6]


The judiciary of the state in under the control of the Dewan. There was one Chief Court in Pudukkottain 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.


In 1903–04, the revenue of the State amounted to Rs. 11,28,00 while the total expenditure was Rs.20,21,000.


1 amman cash coin (1889-1906) from Pudukkottai

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.

Agriculture, Industry and Manufacture[edit]

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.

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]


List of Major Zamins under Pudukkottai[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.