Revolt of puli Thevar 1755-1767

In March 1755 Mahfuzkhan (brother of Nawab of Arcot)was sent with a contingent of the company army under colonel Heron to Tirunelveli.Madurai easily fell into their hands.Thereafter colonel Heron was urged to deal with puli Thevar as he continued to defty the authority of the company.Puli Thevar wielded much influence over the western palayakkarars.For want of cannon and of supplies and pay to soldiers,colonel Heron abandoned the plan and retired to Madurai.Heron was recalled and dismissed from service.

Confederacy and Alliance with enemies of the British

Three pathan officers ,Nawab chanda sahib’s agents, named Miannah ,Mudimiah and Nabikhan Kattak commanded the Madurai and Tirunelveli regions.They supported the Tamil palayakkarars aganist Arcot Nawab Mohamed Ali.Puli Thevar had established close relationships with them.Puli Thevar also formed a confederacy of the palayakkarars to fight the British.With the exception of the palayakkarars of sivagiri,all other Maravar palayams supported him.Ettayapuram and panchalamkurichi also did not join this confederacy.Further ,the English succeeded in getting the support of the rajas of Ramanathapuram and pudukottai.Puli Thevar tried to get the support of Hyder Ali of Mysore and the French .Hyder Ali could not help Puli Thevar as he was already locked in a serious conflict with the Marathas.

Kalakadu Battle

The Nawab sent an additional contingent of sepoys to Mahfuzkhan and the reinforced army proceeded to Tirunelveli.Besides the 1000 sepoys of the company,Mahfuzkhan received 600 more sent by the Nawab.He also had the support of cavalry and foot soldiers from the Carnatic.Before Mahfuzkhan could station his troops near kalakadu ,2000 soldiers from Travancore joined the forces of Puli Thevar .In the battle at kalakadu ,Mahfuzkhan’s troops were routed.

Yusuf Khan and puli thevar

The organized resistance of the palayakkarars under puli Thevar gave an opportunity to the English to interfere directly in the affairs of Tirunelveli .Aided by the Raja of Travancore,From 1756 to 1763,the palayakkarars of Tirunelveli led by Puli Thevar were in constant state of rebellion against the Nawab’s authority.Yusuf Khan (also known as Khan sahib or, before his conversion to Islam,Marudhanayagam)who had been sent by the company was not prepared to attack Puli Thevar unless the big guns and ammunition from Thiruchirappalli arrived.As the English were at war with the French,as well as with Hyder Ali and Marathas ,the artillery arrived only in September 1760 .Yusuf Khan began to batter the Nerkattumseval fort and this attack continued for about two months .On 16 May 1761 Puli Thevar’s three major forts (Nerkattumseval,Vasudevanallur and Panayur) came under the control of Yusuf Khan.

In the meantime, after taking pondicherry the English had eliminated the French from the picture.As a result of this the unity of palayakkarars began to break up as French support was not forthcoming.Travancore ,seithur,uthumalai and surandai switched thier loyalty to the opposite camp.Yusuf Khan who was negotiating with the palayakkarars, without informing the company administration,was charged with treachery and hanged in 1764.

Fall of puli Thevar


After the death of Khan sahib ,Puli Thevar returned from exile and recaptured Nerkattumseval in 1764.However ,he was detected by Captain Campbell in 1767.Puli Thevar escaped and died in exile.

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