This is the continuation of a series of articles on Indian freedom fighters. They will provide an account of their lives and their contributions, for coming generations to remember the sacrifices they made for the Indian freedom struggle
Dheeran Chinnamalai was born on 17th April 1756 to Rathnaswamy and Periyatha. He belonged to Paalayakottai Pattakaarar family. He had four brothers and a sister. His name at birth was Theerthagiri Sarkkarai Mandraadiyar. He was born in Mettupalayam near Erode.
Dheeran Chinnamalai became Chief of Kongunadu and started revolting against British rule in India. He fought against East India Company several times
He was a trained Silambu and Archery exponent.. He headed a huge army and formed a grand alliance with Oomaithurai, Maruthupandi and Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja that f o u g h t in the Second Polygar (Palayakaarars) War against East India Company between 1801 and 1802. When Mysore King Hyder Ali was controlling Kongunadu in 18th century, Deeran Chinnamalai revolted against him and refused to pay taxes. When the Diwan of Hyder Ali came to collect taxes, Dheeran Chinnamalai seized the entire tax that he had already collected and drove him away. He then distributed the money to all the farmers. Hyder Ali’s son Tipu Sultan became the king of Mysore in 1782. He realized the potential of Dheeran Chinnamalai and sought his help. Dheeran Chinnamalai provided a big army consisting 1000 soldiers to help Tipu Sultan to gain victory in the battles against British Army at Chitheswaram, Mazhahavalli and Srirangapatna.
Dheeran Chinnamalai refused to comply when the British tried to usurp his kingdom. In order to subjugate Dheeran, the British sent Colonel Makiskan to engage with and arrest him. However, Dheeran Chinnamalai fought with them and won the battle. A similar fate awaited the next British agent (Captain Harris) who came to arrest him. Dheeran Chinnamalai fought the British Army at Cauvery, Odanilai and Arasalur. He was aided in his efforts through an informer by the name of Velappan in the British Army. Velappan was shot by the British when he was traced to be Dheeran’s informer.
After several months of hot pursuit, the British arrested Dheeran Chinnamalai and his brothers and kept them in the prison at Sankagiri. Dheeran Chinnamalai was asked to accept the rule of British but he refused. He was hanged at the top of the Sankagiri fort on 31st July 1805. Thus came to an end the chapter of one of the valiant sons of Tamilnadu.
Compiled by Gopalan Krishnan from various sources. The author is a retired scientist of ISRO. He has a keen interest in lesser known Indian, especially Tamil patriots and scientists