Sivagangai District

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Sivagangai District is an administrative district of Tamil Nadu state in Southern India. It is bounded by Pudukkottai district on the Northeast, Tiruchirapalli district on the North, Ramanathapuram district on South East, Virudhunagar district on South West and Madurai District on the West.The major town in the district is the City of Karaikudi. As of 2011, the district had a population of 1,339,101 with a sex-ratio of 1,003 females for every 1,000 males.

Sivagangai District History

Sivaganga District has been carved out from composite Ramnad District (G.O. MS. No. 1122 Rev. Dept. Dated. 6.7.84) and the District was functioning from 15.3.85 (G.O Ms.No. 346 Rev. dept. Dated: 8.3.85).

Sivagangai District Demographics

According to the 2011 census, Sivagangai district had a population of 1,339,101 with a sex-ratio of 1,003 females for every 1,000 males, much above the national average of 929. A total of 137,235 were under the age of six, constituting 70,022 males and 67,213 females. Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes accounted for 17.01% and .06% of the population respectively. In addition, the average literacy of the district was 71.67%, compared to the national average of 72.99%, while the district had a total of 338,938 households. On the other hand, there is a total of 620,171 workers, comprising 117,030 cultivators, 122,166 main agricultural labourers, 9,864 in house hold industries, 212,042 other workers, 159,069 marginal workers, 23,973 marginal cultivators, 77,397 marginal agricultural labourers, 4,792 marginal workers in household industries and 52,907 other marginal workers.

Sivagangai District Geography

Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu spreads over 4,189 km2. The geographical position of Sivagangai district is between 9° 43′ and 10° 2′ north latitude and between 77° 47′ and 78° 49′ east longitude. It is bounded on the north and northeast by Pudukkottai District, on the southeast and south by Ramanathapuram District, on the southwest by Virudhunagar District, and on the west by Madurai District, and on the northwest by Tiruchirappalli District.

Sivagangai District Administration

Sivaganga is the district headquarters, however Karaikudi is the biggest and urban city.The district which has 8 taluks

  • Sivagangai Taluk
  • Kalayarkovil Taluk
  • Manamadurai Taluk
  • Thiruppuvanam Taluk
  • llayankudi Taluk
  • Karaikudi Taluk
  • Tiruppathur Taluk
  • Devakottai Taluk

and  2 revenue divisions

  • Sivagangai
  • Devakottai

Sivagangai District Economy

In 2006, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj named Sivagangai as one of the country’s 250 most backward districts out of a total of 640. Consequently, it is one of the six districts in Tamil Nadu currently receiving funds from the Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme (BRGF).

Sivagangai District Agriculture

The vast majority of the workforce is dependent on agriculture (72.8%). In fact, the principal crop of Sivagangai district is paddy while majority of the district has red soil. The other crops that are grown are sugarcane, groundnut, pulses, and cereal such as millet. In response, the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University plans to set up the state’s first Red Soil Dryland Research Centre in Sivaganga district soon.

As of December 2010, the Spices Board is also setting up a new spices park at Sivagangai on an invest of Rs.180 million. This park is expected to be operational by March 2011. It would be immensely helpful to farmers of chili, turmeric, medicinal plants and tamarind, as the focus would be to export their products. The proposed spices park would establish machinery for cleaning, sorting, grading, packaging, storing, and sterilizing among others. The focus would be to encourage the farmers to plant chili, a leading crop in Ramanathapuram, Sivagangai and nearby districts, as well as turmeric crops. Medicinal plants, being raised in and around Madurai district, would also get a boost, as it was planned to patronize farmers of medicinal plants.

Sugar industry

The Sakthi sugar factory is also located in Sivagangai. It provides employment to more than 1,000 labourers directly and indirectly. With this, it has the capability to produce more than 5,000 tons of sugar per day.

Solar power farm

Moser Baer Clean Energy Limited (MBCEL) has commissioned a 5 MW grid connected solar PV project at Sivaganga, Tamil Nadu. The project was awarded to Sapphire Industrial Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of the farm, through a competitive bidding process conducted by the Tamil Nadu Renewable Development Agency. The project is, then, implemented under the 50 MWp generation based incentive scheme of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India.

Television plant

Videocon is setting up a Rs.1,600-crore plant for colour television sets and other electronic consumer durable at Manamadurai.

Sivagangai District Places of interest

Vettangudi Bird Sanctuary

Vettangudi Bird Sanctuary, which is located near to Tirupattur, attracts a number of migratory birds such as white ibis, asian openbill stork and night heron, as well as some endangered species including the painted stork, gray heron, darter, little cormorant, little egret, intermediate egret, cattle egret, common teal, spotbill, pintail and flamingos.

The best season to visit is from November to February.

Chettinad

Chettinad is the homeland of the Nattukottai Chettiars (Nagarathar), a prosperous banking and business community. It is well known for its Chettinad cuisine, which is very hot and spicy. In fact, Chettinad has one of the South Indian cuisines with large number of specialty restaurants. A typical meal will have meat, a large number of courses, and is served on a banana leaf.

Also, the old Chettiar mansions are rich in heritage, art and architecture. For example, Kanadukathan has one such beautiful palatial house. The affluence of the chettiars are shown off in their palatial houses. Carved teak wood doors and frames, marble floors, granite pillars, Belgian mirrors and Italian tiles are the norms.

Pandiyan Temples

There are also a few Pandiyan temples. For instance, the Karpaka Vinayakar Temple and Sri Sowmiyanarayana Perumal Kovil in Thirukoshtiyur attract large number of pilgrims.

Other places of interest in Sivagangai District

  • Anjanamaar Panch Shaheedh dargah, Kannaar Street, Manamadurai.
  • Sri Malaikoluntheeswarar Temple,Thirumalai
  • Syed Salaar Sha Shaheed dargah, Pallichandai.
  • Ariyakudi in the South Tirupathi is a 400-year-old temple just 3 km away from Karaikudi.
  • Pillayarpatti Vinayagar Temple, Pillayarpatti, around 15 km away from Karaikudi.
  • Koviloor Temple, Karaikudi
  • Kandadevi Temple
  • Idaikattur Church
  • Kollangudi Vettudaiyar Kaliamman Temple
  • Kaleeswarar Temple
  • Nagarasivan Temple
  • Kundrakudi Temple
  • Kollakalaiamman Temple
  • Kallal Somasundaram Soundara Nayagi Temple and its Masimaham Festival mostly in the month of February every year.
  • Panchabhutheswaram, known as Vedhiyanendal Vilakku, is 5 km away from Manamadurai. It is on the way to Paramakudi via Elaiyankudi, the route in which Lord Rama went to Sri Lanka to confront Ravanan. More importantly, this place is known for its hard cut-rock (granite) temple dedicated to Shri Maha Panchamukha Prathyangira Devi. It also houses the big deity of the god. There are two more sannidhies for Lakshmi Ganapathi and Sornagarshna Bhairavar. It has come in a total area of about 5.5 acres (22,000 m2). Soon within the temple premises, ten more sannidhies are going to come for Dasamaha Vidya.
  • Madapuram Badrakali Amman temple Madapuram
  • Thayamangalam muthu mariyamman temple
  • Thirumalai thirumal kovil
  • Thirukoshtiyur Sowmya Narayana Perumal temple

Rulers of Sivangangai

Past rulers

The Kingdom of Ramnad originally comprised the territories of Ramnad, Sivagangai and Pudukottai of today. Regunatha Sethupathy, or Kilavan Sethupathy, was the 7th King of Ramnad reigned between 1674 and 1710. He came to know of the bravery and valor of Peria Oodaya Thevar of Nalukottai, located 4 kilometres from Sholapuram near Sivagangai. As a result, the King assigned Thevar or Nalukottai a portion of land sufficient to maintain 1,000 armed men.

Vijaya Regunatha Sethupathy became the 8th King of Ramnad in 1710 after the death of Kilavan Sethupathy. The King, then, gave his daughter Akilandeswari Nachiar, in marriage to Sasivarna Thevar, the son of Nalukottai Peria Oodaya Thevar. Afterwards, the King gave Thevar lands as dowry, free of taxation, sufficient to maintain 1,000 men. He also placed him in charge of the fortresses of Piranmalai, Tiruppathur, Sholapuram and Tiruppuvanam, as well as the harbour of Thondi. Meanwhile, Bhavani Sankaran, the son of Kilavan Sethupathy conquered Ramnad territory and arrested Sundareswara Regunatha Sethupathy, the 9th King of Ramnad. Bhavani Sankaran, then, proclaimed himself as the Rajah of Ramnad. He became the 10th king of Ramnad and he reigned from 1726 to 1729.

During his reign, he quarreled with Sasivarna Peria Oodaya Thevar of Nalukottai and drove him out of his Nalukottai Palayam. Consequently, Thevan, the brother of the late Sundareswara Regunatha Sethupathy fled from Ramnad and sought refuge with the Rajah of Tanjore Tuljaji. While Sasivarna Thevar was passing through the jungles of Kalayarkoi, he met a gnani (sage) named Sattappiah, who was performing Thapas (meditation) under a jam bool tree near a spring called ‘Sivagangai‘. The deposed king prostrated himself before him and narrated all the previous incidents of his life. In response, the Gnani whispered a certain mantra in his ears (Mantra Opadesam) and advised him to go to Tanjore and kill a ferocious tiger which was kept by the Rajah especially to test the bravery of men. Henceforth, Sasivarna Thevar went to Tanjore. There, he became acquainted with Kattaya Thevan a refugee like himself. Satisfied with the good behaviour of Sasivarma Thevar and Kattaya Thevan, wanting to help them to regain the states again, the Rajah of Tanjore ordered his Dalavoy to go with a large army to invade Bhavani Sankaran. Sasivarna Thevar and Kattaya Thevan at once proceeded to Ramnad with a large army furnished by the king of Tanjore. There, they defeated Bhavani Sankaran at the battle of Uraiyur and captured Ramnad in 1730. Thus, Kattaya Thevan became the 11th King of Ramnad.

1st Rajah Sasivarna Thevar (1730–1750)

After becoming the 11th King of Ramnad, Kattaya Thevan divided Ramnad into five parts and retained three for himself. He granted the two parts to Sasivarna Thevar of Nalukottai conferring on him the title of Rajah Muthu Vijaya Regunatha Peria Oodaya Thevar.

2nd Rajah — Muthu Vaduganatha Peria Oodaya Thevar (1750–1772)

Sasivarna Peria Oodaya Thevar died in or about the year 1750. He was succeeded by his only son, Muthu Vaduganatha Peria Oodaya Thevar, who was the second Rajah of Sivagangai. His wife, Rani Velu Nachiar acted as a friend, a philosopher, and a guide to him.

In his reign, Muthu Vaduganatha Peria Oodaya Thevar granted commercial facilities to the Dutch only after the English rejected a similar offer, made to Colonel Heron. In fact, the English aim was to let the ruler of Sivagangai serve the Nawab, to pay tribute to him, and to dissuade them from establishing relations with foreign powers like the Dutch. However, a two pronged offensive was made by the English. Joseph Smith from the East and Benjour from the West invaded Sivagangai Palayam in June 1772. The country was full of bushes of cockspur thorn, though there were villages and open spaces here and there. Rajah Muthu Vaduganatha Thevar, in anticipation of the invasion, erected barriers on the roads, dug trenches and established posts in the woods of Kalayarkoil.

In the same way on 21 June 1772, the detachment of Smith and Benjour effected a junction and occupied the town of Sivagangai. The next day, the English forces marched to Kalayarkoil and captured the posts of Keeranoor and Sholapuram. Now, Benjour, who is continuing the operations, came into conflict with the main body of the troops of Sivagangai on 25 June 1772. Muthu Vaduganatha Rajah with many of his followers fell dead in that heroic battle. As a result, the heroic activities shown in the battle field by Velu Nachiar is praised by the historians. The widow queen Velu Nachiar and daughter Vellachi Nachiar with Tandavaraya Pillai fled to Virupakshi in Dindigul. Later they were joined by the two able Servaigarars Periya Marudu and Chinna Marudhu.

Rani Velu Nachiyar and her daughter Vellachi Nachiyar lived under the protection of Hyder Ali at Virupakshi near Dindigul. Her husband and his second wife were killed by a few British soldiers and the son of the Nawab of Arcot. She escaped with her daughter, lived under the protection of Hyder Ali at Virupachi near Dindigul for eight years. During this period she formed an army and sought an alliance with Gopala Nayaker and Hyder Ali with the aim of attacking the British. In 1780 Rani Velu Nachiyar fought the British and won the battle. When Velu Nachiyar finds the place where the British stock their ammunition, she builds the first human bomb. A faithful follower, Kuyili douses herself in oil, lights herself and walks into the storehouse. Rani Velu Nachiyar formed a woman’s army named “udaiyaal” in honour of her adopted daughter – Udaiyaal, who died detonating a British arsenal. Nachiar was one of the few rulers who regained her kingdom and ruled it for 10 more years.

The Queen Velu Nachiar granted powers to Marudhu Brothers to administer the country in 1780. Velu Nachiar died a few years later, but the exact date of her death is not known (it was about 1790).

Marudhu brothers (1783-1801)

Marudu brothers are the sons of Udayar Servai alias Mookiah Palaniappan Servai and Anandayer alias Ponnathal. They are native of Kongulu street of Ramnad and neither belonged to the family of the ancient poligars, nor to their division of the caste. Servaikaran was the caste title and Marudu the family name.

The Marudu Brothers served under Muthu Vaduganatha Thevar. Later they were elevated to the position of Commanders. Boomerangs are peculiar to India and two forms of this weapons are used in India. One of the weapons are commonly made of wood, commonly known as Valari stick in Tamil. It is a crescent-shaped on end being heavier than the other, while the outer edge is sharpened. It is said that Marudu Brothers were experts in the art of throwing the Valari stick, and they used it in the Poligar wars against the English. One time, the Marudu brothers, with 12,000 armed men, surrounded Sivagangai and plundered the Nawab’s territories. Consequently, the Nawab appealed to the Madras Council for aid on 10 March 1789. In the same way on 29 April 1789, the British forces attacked Kollangudi, but it was defeated by a large body of Marudu’s troops. On the other hand, the Marudhu Brothers were in close association with Veera Pandiya Kattabomman of Panchalankurichi as Kattabomman held frequent consultations with the Marudhus. After the execution of Kattabomman on 17 October 1799 at Kayattar, Chinna Marudhu gave asylum to Kattabomman’s brother Oomadurai.

One time, they issued an epoch-making Jumboo Deweepa proclamation to the people in the island of Jamboo, the peninsular South India, to fight against the English whether they were Hindus, Mussalamans or Christians. At last, the Marudhu Pandiyars fell a victim to the cause of liberating the motherland from the English supremacy. Consequently, Marudu Pandiyan, the popular leader of the rebels, together with his gallant brother Vellai Marudu were executed on the ruins of fort at Tiruppathur in Sivagangai District on 24 October 1801. Marudu brothers were not only warriors who are noted for bravery, but they were very great administrators. During the period from 1783 to 1801, they worked for the welfare of the people and the Sivagangai Seemai was reported as fertile. They constructed many notable temples (i.e. Kalayarkoil) Ooranis and Tanks.

Remaining rulers

After the many successions of legal heirs ruling the estate, Sri D.S. Karthikeya Venkatachalapathy Rajah succeeded to the estate of late Sri. D. Shanmuga Rajah. He was the former Hereditary Trustee of Sivaganga, Devasthanam and Chatrams consisting of 108 temples, 22 Kattalais and 20 Chatrams. Sri. D.S. Karthikeya Venkatachalapathy Rajah died on 30 August 1986, leaving a daughter named Tmt. Maduranthagi Nachiyar as his heir. At present, Tmt. Maduranthagi Nachiyar is administering the Sivagangai Estate, Sivaganga Devasthanam, and Chatram of Sivaganga Royal Family. Based on the District Gazette 1990 of Ramanathapuram, and the history of Sivagangai maintained by Samasthanam, Sivaganga District has been formed mostly with an area of entire Sivagangai Zamin and part of Ramnad Zamin.

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