Madras (India : State).

Madura (Volume 1) online

. (page 33 of 40)
Online LibraryMadras (India : State)Madura (Volume 1) → online text (page 33 of 40)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


ojDening one out of the other, which have at some time, for some
unknown purpose, been roofed with a large mass of concrete and
so formed into two chambers. The villagers have always held
that there was hidden treasure in these, and an old man who was
90 years of age in 1887 related to the then Collector, Mr. E. Turner,
how sixty years before he and some others had dug down
into them, AVhen they entered, the foremost of the party fell
down and died, and, thinking that he had been killed by a devil,
they gave up the enterprise. Mr. Turner reported the story to
Government, who directed him to examine the place with the
Archaeological Superintendent. An entrance was dug into the
chambers and the toe-ring and bones of the man above referred to
(who had doubtless been suffocated by the foul air of the place)
were found, but nothing else.

Mettuppatti : A. village of 488 inhabitants belonging to the
Ainmayanayakkanur zamindari and lying six miles south of
Nilakkottai, on the south bank of the Yaigai. The Peranai dam
(near which is a Public Works department bungalow) lies partly
within its limits and partly in Pillaiyarnattam.

About a mile north of Mettupatti is a hill called Siddharmalai
('sages' hill^) on the top of which is a very ordinary Siva shrine.
A path running from this down the southern side of the hill leads
to some odd sculptures representing a pair of feet, a balance , a



GAZETTEER. 295

trident and otlier oLjects enclosed in a rectangalar border, above CHAP. XV.
wliich. is an inscription as yet undecipbered. Tbe spot ia known Nilakk^ttai.
locally- as the Pancba Pandava padam, or ' feet of the five
Pandavas.' A little west of it are five ' Pandava beds ' of the
usual description, round about which are more inscriptions. Near
the Kannimar kovil, lower down the hill, is cut upon the rock a
figure of an armed man which is f)opnlarly declared to represent
Karuppanasvami and is reverenced accordingly by the local Kalians.
Tradition says that this hill was once the abode of sages and
recluses and that they cut these unusual figures about it.

Nilakkottai : A union of 5,2G9 inhabitants ; head-quarters
of the tahsildar of the taluk and of a sub-registrar ; contains a
chattram.

The place was the chief village of the estate of the same
name which was one of the 2o pdlaiyams of the Dindigul province.
According to one of the Mackenzie MSS.^ the founder of the
palaiyam came from the Vijayanagar country before the time of
Visvanatha Ndyakkan and built the mud fort from which the
village is named and the remains of which still stand about a
quarter of a mile to the south of it. His successors (sculptures
of some of whom are still to be seen in the Ahobila Narasimha
shrine in the village) strengthened this fort, built temples and
assisted the Nayakkans of Madura in their military expeditions.
The history of the estate after Dindignl became a province of
Mysore has already been referred to on pp. 70 and 183.

After the Company acquired the country, the poligar (Kulappa
Nayakkan) fell iuto arrears with his tribute, and in 1795 his estate
was accordingly resumed. He then openly rebelled and on 11th
December 1798 attacked the Nilakkottai fort (one of the strongest
in all the Dindigul country) with a force of six or eight thousand
Kalians from the Anaiyiir country armed with ' small jingalls,
matchlocks, spears, cudgels and bludy:cons.'' Messrs. TurnbuU
and Keys (one of whom was inside the fort at the time) give
a graphic account of the affair in the Survey Account. The fort
was garrisoned with a company of sepoys under a subadar and
300 sibbandi peons under the tahsildar, a Musalman. After some
hours' hard fighting, they succeeded in putting the attackers to
flight. The same night three more companies of sepoys arrived
from Dindigul, and the next day the Collector and another
company from Madura. These pursued tlie poligar, but failed to
catch him. A reward of Es. 1,000 was then put upon his head,
but with no better success. Three years later, however, the

1 Vol. II, 21G.



296 MADURA.

CHAP. XV. poligar, dressed as a mendicant, presented himself before tlie
Nilakk6ttai. Collector, threw himself at his feet, and hesought the protection

of the Company. The Collector procured for him an allowance of

.30 pagodas a month and permission to reside in his former capital.
In 1805 the then Collector (Mr. Parish) made over to him a large
sura which had accrued to the estate during his absence from it,
and with this he bought back his old property and Vattilagundu
as well. Seven years later, however, the peslikash on these was
again in arrears and they were once more resumed. The poligar
was granted an allowance and a descendant of his, who lives
within the mouldering walls of the old fort, still draws a pension
from Government.

Sandaiyur : Ten miles in a direct line south-west of Nilak-
kottai ; population 460. Formerly the chief village of the estate of
the same name, which was one of the 26 p^laiyams of Dindigul. The
history of this property up to the time when the Company acquired
that province has already been referred to on pp. 70 and 183. The
poligar, Gopia Ndyakkan, afterwards gave considerable trouble.
In 1795 he laid claim to the palaiyam of Devadanapatti, the owner
of which had just died, declined to pay any peshkash unless his
claim was admitted, raised nearly 200 armed peons and plundered
Vattilagundu and Ganguvarapatti. The Collector accordingly
seized his estate and it was shortly afterwards formally sequestered.

Solavandan : A union of 13,556 inhabitants standing on
the left bank of the Vaigai twelve miles north-west of Madura ;
sub-registrar's office ; railway-station. The union includes the
two villages of Mullipallam and Tenkarai which adjoin one another
on the opposite bank of the river.

Solavandan is said to mean ' the Chola came ' and the old name
of the village is shown by inscriptions to have been Cholantaka-
Chaturvedimangalam, the first part of which means ' destruction
to the Cholas.' Hence tradition has it that the town was the
scene of a defeat of the Ch61as by the P4ndya kings of Madura,
but when this occurred is not clear. The numerous inscriptions of
Pdndya rulers in the Perumdl temple at Solavandan and in the
Mulanatha shrine at Tenkarai seem to show that the village was a
favourite with those monarchs. In 1566 Yisvanatha's minister,
Arya Nayakka Mudali (see p. •2), brought a number of his caste-
men (Tondaimandalam Vellalas) from near Conjeeveram and settled
them ia Solavandan, building for them 300 houses, a fort and a
temple and providing them with a guru, slaves, artisans and
Paraiyans. Their descendants are even now found in considerable
numbers in the place and are chiefly congregated in a portion of
it which is still called Mudaliy^rk6ttai, or ' the Mudahyar's fort.'



GAZETTEEE. 297

In later times, during- the wars of the eighteenth centarj, the CHAP, XV.
fort here became of importance, since it commanded the road Nilakk6ttai.
between Madura and Dindigul. In 1757 Haidar Ali of Mysore
marched out of the latter town, took this place without opposition
and marched up to the walls of Madura, plundering as he went.
He was soon afterwards beaten back by Muhammad Yiisuf, the
Company's Commandant of sepoys, and the latter subsequently
strengthened Solavandan to prevent a repetition of his incursion.

Besides commanding the Madura-Dindigul road, ^561avandi,n
was for centuries an important halting place for pilgrims travelling
to Ramesvaram. Queen Mangammdl built a chattram here for
these people and endowed it generously. It still exists (see
p. 157) and bears her name, but now that the pilgrims usually go
by rail direct to Madura it is no longer as much used as in the
old days, and part of its income has been diverted to the main-
tenance of a chattram opposite the Madura railway-station.

Nowadays Solavanddn is chiefly known for its numerous plan-
tations of cocoanuts and the richness of its wet lands. These
spread for a long distance on either side of the railway and are a
prominent object from the train as one approaches Madura from
the north. The advent of the Periydr water has made them more
valuable than ever and they command very high prices. In the
tanks among them is the best snipe-shooting in the district.

Tiruvedagam : On the left bank of the Vaigai, twelve miles
north-w^est of Madura ; population 1,488.

The name is said to mean ' the place {agam) of the sacred {tiru)
leaf {eduY, and the Madura sthah purdna tells the following story
accounting for it : Kubja (' the hunchback ') Pandya, king of
Madura (the Ferhja Purdnam, see p. 29, calls him Nedumdran)
became a Jain and persecuted all his Saivite subjects. Hia queen,
however, remained in secret a fervent adherent of Siva, and
through her means Tirugndna ^ambandhar, the famous Saivite
poet-saint, was induced to visit the city. The king was afflicted
at this time with a serious fever which none of his Jain priests
could remedy, and at last he was induced to send for the priest of
the rival religion. He was cured by Tirugndna Sambandhar not
only of his fever, but also of his hunchback, and ho changed his
name accordingly to Sundara (' the beautiful') Pandya, became a
Saivite again, and decreed the death of all Jains. But these
latter prevailed on him to first agree to a trial of strengtli between
them and Tirugndna. Prayers of the two faiths were written on
palm-leaves and thrown into a fire, but the Jain texts were all
consumed and the Saivite scriptures remained untouched. Prayers

38



^98 MAt)URA.

rilAP. XV. were then similarly ^Niitten on other palm-leaves and thrown
JJiLAKKoiTAi. into the Vaigai to see which would first sink. Those of the Jains
quickly disappeared, but tliose of Tirugndna floated away up-
stream, against the current, until they were out of sight. This
confirmed the king's determination to have done with the Jains,
and he impaled all who declined to Lecome converts to Saivism.
Afterwards a search for Tirugn4na's leaves was made, and they
were found in a grove of bilva trees, where also a lingam
was for the first time discovered. The king accordingly built
a temple on the spot and round about it grew up the present village
of Tiruvedagam.

' Tirugndna Sambandhar's math ' in Madura town, a prominent
building to the south-east of the temple, is said to be built on
the site of an older math in which the saint stayed during this
affair and to have been afterwards called by its present name
in celebration of this victory. It is now presided over by non-
Brdhman Pandara-sannadhis, who appoint their own successors,
and on its walls are the portraits of a long series of these
individuals ; but tradition says that it was once a Brdhman institu-
tion. In it is a small shrine dedicated to Tirugndna, before which
the odumrs morning and evening recite the sacred verses of
the' saint.

Tottiyankottai : Six miles west south- west of Nilakkottai,
population 190. Once the chief village of another of the 26
pdlaiyams already several times mentioned (see pp. 70 and 183),
It was eventually resumed again by the Company, apparently for
arrears. As the name of the place implies, the poligar was a
Tottiyan by caste. The estate always suffered from its compara-
tive propinquity to the marauding Kalians of Anaiyur in the
Tirumangalam taluk ; one of its chiefs had once to flee from them
and in 1816 the poKgar lived shut up in his fort to be secure
from them.

Vattilagundu (fl//asBatlagundu)is a union of 10,665 inhabi-
tants lying seven miles west of Nilakkottai at the junction of the
road from Dindigul with that between Ammayandyakkanur and
Periyakulam. It is a regular place of halt on the journey from
the railway to the latter and the PaLui hills, and contains a local
fund chattrani and a travellers' buugalow. The latter looks west-
wards over a stretch of rich paddy land and up to the Kodaikanal
cKifs, aud is one of the pleasantest halting-places in the district.
The wet fields in these parts are watered by channels from the
Manjalar, which is an almost perennial stream, and the rice called
' Yattilagundu sambd ' is so much prized that the crop is said to



GAZETTEER. 299

be sometimes bouglit in advance before ever the seedlings are CHAP, xv,
planted. Nilakkottai,

Vattilagundu formerly boasted ' a considerable fort,' the twelve
bastions and five gates of which were still standing when the
Survey Account of 1815-16 was written. In 17o0 this was the
scene of some sharjD fighting between Haidar All's troops from
Dindigal and the forces of the Compajiy in Madura under
Muhammad Yusuf, the l^ommandant of the sepoys. The latter
captured the pla>ce in July, making a breach with cannon and then
storming it, but were themselves at once attacked by reinforcements
from Dindigul. Their detachments outside the walls were driven
back after six days' hard fighting, and subsequently the fort itself
fell after a stubborn resistance. Shortly afterwards Muhammad
Ylisuf in his turn was reinforced from Madura, and he set himself
to win back the place. He was completely successful, driving the
Dindigul forces out of their camp, capturing their artillery and
reoccupying Vattilagundu.



300 MAT1T7HA ,



PALNI TALUK.



CHAP. XV. 'j'fjjg lifs in tiie nortli-west corner of the district and 45 per
Palni. cent, of it is made up of zainindaris. It was formerly called the
Aiyampalle taluk. Along the whole of its southern houndary run
the Palni hills, and it slopes northwards away from these and is
drained by the three parallel rivers — Shanmuganadi, Nallatangi
and Nanganji — which flow down from their slopes. 'J'he wet
land under the first of these is some of the best in the district
and as much as 8 per cent, of the irrigated fields of the taluk
are assessed as highly as Es. 7-8-0 and over per acre. Palni con-
tains some patches of black soil, but red earth occupies a higher
proportion of it than of any other taluk except Melur. This land
is much of it infertile, and nearly one-half of the dry fields are
assessed at as little as 12 annas and under per acre. Also, the
taluk receives less rain than any other. Consequently in bad
seasons it is poorly protected and it suffered severely in the great
famine. In ordiuary years it is saved by its numerous wells,
which water as much as nine per cent, of its irrigated area and
the cultivation under which is carefully conducted, and only 9-g-
per cent, of the assessed land, a smaller figure than in any other
taluk, is unoccupied. The chief crop is cholam, which is grown
on nearly a third of the total cultivated area, and next come
horse-gram and the smaller millets.

Statistics relating to the taluk are given in the separate
Appendix. Below are accounts of its chief towns and villages : —

Aivarmalai, 'the hill of the five,' is a prominent height, 1,402
feet above the sea, which rises abruptly from the surrounding
country nine miles west of Palni and is crowned by a little
shrine to Ganesa. The people say it was a resting-place of the five
Pdndava brothers, and hence its name. Ou the north-east side the
rock of which it consists overhangs and foiJii a natural shelter
160 feet long and 13 feet high. This has i^ow been bricked up
and formed into shrines for such popular deities as Draupadi and
so on ; but it was doubtless originally a Jain hermitage, for above
it, on the face of the overhanging rock, in a long horizontal line
about 30 feet from end to end and arranged in six groups, are cut
sixteen representations of the Jain tirthankaras, each some
eighteen inches high, which constitute the best preserved relic of



GAZETTEER. 301

tte Jains in tlii.s district. Some of the tirtliankaras are standing, CEAP. XV.
others are seated; some have a hooded serpent above their heads, Pai-ni.
others one on either side ; some have the triple crown above their
heads, others nothino- at all ; some are supported on eacli side by a
person bearing a chdmara (Hj-whisk), olhers are unattended.
Round about them are cut several short Yatteluttu inscriptions,
parts of which are defaced by lamp-oil. Tlie.i!e have not so f.-ir
been translated.

Ayakkudi : Four miles east of Palni. A union of 14,725
inhabitants and the chief village of the zamindari of the same
name. This latter, which includes a considerable area on the
Palni hills, is the second largest in the district, and the pro-
prietor of it is also owner of the large estate of Kettayambddi.

According to the traditions of his family ^ his original ancestor
(like those of other Tottiyan zamindars of the distinct, see p. 106)
quitted the northern Deccan in the fifteenth century and came south
into the territories of Yijayanagar. There he was granted a
pdlaiyam near the well-known temple of Ahobilam in the present
Anantapur district, since when Ah6bilani (often corrupted into
Obila ' and the like) has been a common name in the family.

One of his descendants accompanied the expedition of Visva-
natha (p. 41) to .Madura and was granted this estate and
appointed to the charge of one of the 72 bastions of the Madura
fort. He built Palaya (•' old') Ayakkudi, and Puda (' new')
Ayakkudi was founded some time afterwards. His successors
built forts and villages, cleared the forest, kept the wild elephants
from molesting pilgrims to Palni, brought the Kalians and other
marauding peoples to order, constructed tanks and temples, and
accompanied the Nayakkans of Madura on their vaiions military
expeditions.

When the Company acquired tlie Dindigul province the estate
was in some way an appanage of the Palni pdlaiyam, and in 1 794
the two poligars were engaged in open hostilities. In 1795
Ayakkudi was ordered to be detached and separately assessed, and
in consequence the Palni poligar openly rebelled and Ayakkudi
began arming. The latter chief was eventually arrested and con-
fined in the Dindigul fort. In 179G the estate was handed back
to the family, and ten years later the then head of it purchased
Rettayambadi at a sale for arrears of revenue.

Both properties were included for many years among the
'unsettled pdlaiyams ' of the district (see p. lOi). They were

^ Mackenzie MSS., Local Records, vol. 42, 449, and \Vil8on, 4i7.



302 MADTJKA.

CHAP. XV. managed by the Court of Wards from 1851 to 1860 during- the
Palni. minority of the then proprietor Janakirdma Ndyakkan. He died
in 18G8 and his paternal uncle, Muttakondama Nayakkan^ suc-
ceeded. In 1872 this man turned ascetic and resigned the
property to his eldest son, Ahobila Kondama. The next year
this latter was granted a pernianeut sanad for this estate and for
Uettayambadi. Thereafter, he rapidly fell deeply in debt and in
1879 he leased the property to the Chettis for nineteen years.
Later on he transferred the estates to a nephew ; but a son
(Ahobila Kondama Ndyakkan) who was subsequently born to him
contested the transfer in the courts and was eventually placed in
possession by a decree of the Privy Council in 1900. The prop-
erty has since been again mortgaged (with possession) to a
^ Chetti.

The customs at the succession of a new lieirare curious. When
the zamindar is on his death-bed the heir is bathed and adorned
with flowers and jewels, is taken to the dying man, and receives at
his hands the insignia of ownership. He then goes in a pro-
cession with music and so on to a mantapam, where he holds a
levee and is publicly pranounced the rightful successor. He is
not permitted to see the corpse of his predecessor nor to exhibit
any sign of grief at his death.

Idaiyankottai : Lies on the northern frontier of the taluk
and on the left bank of the Nangdnji some 21 miles by road from
Dindigul; population 3,044. In 1815 remains of its old fort, a
construction about 200 yards square defended by sixteen bastions,
were still visible close to the river.

It is the chief village of the impartible zamindari of the same
name. According to the family traditions among the Mackenzie
MSS., the original ancestor of this family (like those of several
others of the zamindars of tliis district) came to Madura with
VisvanAtha (p. 41) and for his services was granted this estate and
placed in charge of one of the bastions of the Madura fort. The
history of the estate m the eighteenth century has already been
referred to on pp. 70 and 183, from which it will be seen that it
escaped the numerous resumptions and restorations which were
the usual lot of its fellows, and was one of the four of the 26
palaiyams of Dindigul which were not under attachment at the time
that the Company acquired that province in 1 790. It formerly
belonged to the district of Aravakurichi in Coimbatore, and was
added to Dindigul by Haiftir Ali.

In 1792 the then poligar gave the P'ngiish some trouble,
setting out to plunder in the Coimbatore district, and Mr. Hurdis



GAZETTEEE. 503

wa5 oLlig'ed later on to resume tlie estate for arrears. These were CHAP. X7.
afterwards paid, and the estate was restored. Thereafter for many Palm.
years it was one of the ' unsettled palaiyams ' of the district and it
was not g'ranted a permanent sanad until 1871, when Muttu
Venkat4dri Nayaldcan was the projirietor. This man died in 1872
and his son Lakshmipati followed him and held the estate until
his death on 3rd October 1902. His son and heir was then a minor
fourteen years old, and the estate was accordingly taken under the
management of the Court of Wards, which is still administering it.

Kalayamuttur : Three miles west of Palni on the Udamalpet
road ; population 5,491^.

In 1856, 63 gold coins of Augustus and other Eoman emperors
were found in a small pot buried in the ground near the Shanmu-
ganadi here. ^ A mile west of the village, on the southern side of
the road, are a few kistvaens of the usual kind and size in fair
preservation, and there are eight more to the north of Chinnakala-
yamuttur, on either side of the road. These latter are propitiated
by the villagers, especially in cases of difficult labour; they are
daubed with the usual red and white streaks of paint and in front of
them are some of the little swings which are so often placed before
shrines in gratitude for favours received.

Kiranur : Ten miles north of Palni ; population 3,973.
A prosperous village lying in the valley of the Shanmuganadi and
inhabited largely by Ravutans, who grow betel under the river
channel, trade with the Coimbatore district and keep several of the
bazaars in Ootacamund. It is an ancient place, and the inscriptions
on the Siva temple to the east of it record grants by Ch6la kings
who flourished as long ago as 1063 A.D.

Mambarai : A small impartible zamindari of only three
villages which lies on the northern frontier of the taluk 21 miles
north-east of Palni. There is no village of the name.

According to one of the Mackenzie MSS., the original ancestor
of the zamindar's family, about whose prodigious personal strength
several fabulous talcs an^ narrated, was granted the pdlaiyam
by Visvandtha Nayakkan (see p. 42 j and afterwards accompanied
the later Ndyakkan ruler.s of Madura on several of their military
expeditions.

The • estate once belonged to the Aravakuriclii district of
Coimbatore, but was transferred by Haidar AH to Dindigul and
formed one of the 2G pdlaiyams comprised in that province when
it was acquired by the Company in 1790. Its history up to that
year has been referred to on pp. 70 and 183.

' M.J.L.S., xvii, lu.



304 MADUBA.

CHAP. XV. Thereafter it remained for a long while one of the 'unsettled

VAhST. pdlaiyaras ' of the district, and it was not granted a permanent
sanad until ]87^. The present proprietor's name is Venkatardma
Ndyakkan and he lives in Attapanpatti. He succeeded in 1888 on
the death of his father, Kumdra Kathirava Ndyakkan, in August
of that year. As he was then only eight years old, the estate
remained, until he attained his majority, under the management of
the Court of Wards.

Palni : Head-quarters of the taluk and a municipality of
17,168 inhabitants. The proposals which have been made regard-
ing the improvement of the water-supply of the place are referred
to in Chapter XIV. The town is loiown throughout the south of
the Presidency for its temple to Subrahmanya referred to below.
It is the head-quarters of the tahsildar and stationary sub-magis-
trate and of a sub-registrar, and contains a hospital, several
chattrams, and a travellers' bungalow belonging to the temple
authorities. It has always been a great centre of trade with
Coimbatore on the one side and the Palni Hills on the other.

Palni is one of the most charmingly situated places in all the



Online LibraryMadras (India : State)Madura (Volume 1) → online text (page 33 of 40)