Sunday, 6 December 2015

The princely state of Pudukotta, India

British architecture District Court.Pudukottai town.thenthisai.com

During the British period, the southern state of Tamil Nadu did not have any big princely states as in the northern states. Among the princely states in Tamil Nadu, next to Arcot, Pudukotta princely state had close alliance with the British rulers, prior to 1857, the Easy India company had close ties with this state. It was in this state one of the earliest freedom fighters - Veera Pandya Kattamommen, Pallayakarar chieftain, was arrested by the British forces, taken to Panchlamkuruchi, now in Thirunelvli district where he was hanged to death.

The District of Pudukottai (also Pudukotta) is an important part of Tamil Nadu and saw a succession of rulers prior to 18th century. The growth and development of this area is interesting, for it was once called Pudukotta Samasthanam or the Princely state during the Raj.

Maharajah Marthanda Bhairava Tondaiman,Princely State Pudukkottai.  www.delcampe.ne

Pudukotta region, once ruled by the early Chola dynasties, after the  6th to 14th century AD was   ruled by a Tamil speaking community of land owners called  the 'Mutharaiyars', later  cholas and Pandyas. Subsequently this region saw a series of seesaw battles  among various rulers to control the region. Later it came under the Muslim rulers for about 50 years in the aftermath of Malik Kaufer's  devastating invasion of Pandya kingdom, The  Vijayanagar kingdom defeated the Muslim rulers and appointed the Nayaks as their agents.  After disintegration of Vijanagara kingdom, the Nayak agents in the Tamil region became independent  rulers of  respective regions  and thus the Pudukotta came under the rule of the Nayaks of Madurai from whom  Raghunatha Kilavan, the Sethupathi of Ramnad - first Raja of  Ramnad wrested the country in 1680. He put his brother-in-law and Vijayanagar's viceroy of Pudukkottai, Raghunatha Raya Tondaiman in charge and allowing him to use the title ''Maharajah.'' 

1913 - Madras Presidency showing Pudukkottai State. en.wikipedia.org
 Vijaya Raghunatha Raya Tondaiman I,  grandson of , Raghunatha Raya Tondaiman in 1730 through bloody internal struggle became the ruler and declared his independence from the ruler of Ramnad.

When the East India company moved into Tamil region  conquering  lands  one  by  one, the  Pudukkottai rulers  were staunch allies of the British and with their help   the Ramnad and Sivaganga kingdoms were annexed to British India, and the British allowed Pudukotta to remain  independent. In 1800 Raja of Pudukkottai, Vijaya Raghunatha Tondaiman signed the doctrine  of  ''Subsidiary Alliance'' and consequently Pudukotta was inducted as a princely state under the paramountcy of the East India Company and a resident was appointed to represent the Madras government.

Through a chain of  unpreventable events Raghunatha Tondaiman II ruled the kingdom from 1827 to 1839 after his brother Vijaya Raghunatha Tondaiman's death in 1807. Upon Raghunatha Tondaiman II death,  his nine year old son succeeded to the throne. Since he was a minor, an agent had been appointed till the young prince assumed office when he turned 15 in 1944 and was eligible to be referred to as His Excellency by the British government of India.

Ramachandra Tondaiman, formally known as Raja Sri Brahdamba Dasa Raja  Ramachandra Tondaiman Bahadur, was one of the prominent rulers of the princely state of Pudukotta, now located in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.  Ramachandra  received private education during his early years.  He succeeded to the royal throne at a very young age of 9 upon his father's demise.  Being a minor and as a  successor, he ruled the kingdom under the British political agent, also known as Resident of British India. He was to be invested with full ruling powers  only upon reaching the   age of majority. Official succession of  Rajagopala Tondaiman  Ramachandra took place  in 1944 and had to be referred to as  His Excellency by the British government of India.

Because of financial mismanagement and neglect of people's welfare,  frustration was writ largely on the subjets and the staff associated with the royalty. There was almost  a breakdown of administration in the  princely state  and the financial position was in doldrums. The British rulers were worried about the future of Pudukotta, which was heading for bankruptcy.

The British Government, the watch dog of the state of Pudukotta, had been watching the grave situation unfolding due to lack of proper ruler and efficient guide. A decision had been taken by the British administrators to check the worsening situation developing there and at the same time to improve   the finances of Pudukotta. They wanted to choose  a right man for this job.

One  Seshayya Sastri, the former Diwan of the Princely State of Travancore, was appointed as the Diwan of Pudukkottai  by  the  British rulers in 1878. Seshayya Sastri, an experienced and able administrator and visionary, quickly got into action to get things straightened out.  He introduced various innovative and useful schemes  aimed at improving the Pallavankulam and Pudukulam reservoirs, the town planning, etc.  A series of economic, educational and infrastructural reforms were undertaken under his  expert guidance. On his advice, various Hindu temples were renovated and in 1881, Ramachandra officially adopted the hereditary title "Brihadambadas" with the consent of Sastri. A Post and Telegraph Office was opened   in the year 1884. Later Martanda Bhairava Tondaiman,  grndson of  Ramachandra Tondaiman in 1866 became the ruler and along with Seshayya Sastri  diwan-regent ran the administration  effectively  through a legislative council.  He attended the Delhi Durbar of 1903 and George V's coronation at Westminster Abbey and was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire in the 1913 New Year Honours' List.

Later after the ruler's demise, his successor was a minor - Rajagopala Tondaiman. The British  Agents B. G. Holdsworth - 1931-1934, Alexander Tottenham 1934 to 1946 ran the administration followed 

by  P. Kalifullah.  On 01 March, 1948, the state of Pudukkottai acceded to the Dominion of India and became a part of Madras state in 1950.

Ref:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pudukkottai_state