Remembering Maaveeran Alagumuthu Kone

We have to revisit the past to remember these freedom fighters whose stories have not been brought to the knowledge of people

We have to revisit the past to remember these freedom fighters whose stories have not been brought to the knowledge of people
We have to revisit the past to remember these freedom fighters whose stories have not been brought to the knowledge of people

Alagumuthu Kone, one of the first freedom fighters against the British

In the year 1759, Alagumuthu Kone waged a war against British rule, which is considered the first freedom fight against them. In the Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu, the kings who ruled the Kattalangulam part of that district had their family name “Alagumuthu“. In the year 1725, alagumuthu’s father, Angamuthu Kone, got a copper plate inscription from the king of Madurai, Krishnappa Nayakar 1st, and was crowned as the undisputed king of Kattalangulam.

Maaveeran Alagumuthu Kone was born to King Angamuthu Kone and Queen Azhagumuthammal in the year 1728 followed by the birth of his brother Chinna Alagumuthu Kone in the year 1729. From the copper plate inscriptions, as written by periya veerappa nayakar, it is confirmed that the Alagumuthu Kone clan belonged to the Gopala lineage and their gothram being Krishna and they belong to the Konar community.

Maaveeran Alagumuthu Kone had to become the crowned king at the young age of 22, followed by his father’s death at the Hanumanthakudi war, at that juncture of his life, he had Jagaveera Ramapandiya Ettappan, king of Ettayapuram, as his best friend, to tide through the difficult phase of his life.

It was the tradition and custom then, in the army fleet of the Ettayapuram king their commanders-in-chief were given the title “Servaikaaran”. Alagamuthu Kone large-heartedly welcomed Alagappan Servaikaaran from Madurai, soldiers who accompanied him and gave them villages for their settlement in and around Kattalangulam. He also ensured that they were given villages that earned 500 gold sovereigns namely Chozhapuram, Vaalaampatti, and Maarthandampatti. With his inherent battling and warring prowess, he proved to be the most efficient warrior, at the same time was the most honest Servaikaaran for the Ettayapuram king.

Though it was always thought and presumed that the mutiny against the Britishers was conducted in 1857, but, the reality was, much before this period the revolts against them had already started. In the year 1759, the war waged against the British by Alagumuthu Kone was the first of its kind. It’s even said much before Paanchalangkurichi Veerapandiya Kattabomman, Nerkattaan Seval Poolidevan, who revolted against the Britishers, Alagumuthu kone was the first king to have fought and sacrificed his life for the nation’s cause. He also had stopped palayakaarars’, these were the people who looked after the fragmented units of kingdoms for better administration, from paying taxes to the Britishers. The irony is that the facts of these freedom fighters have gone untold, unsaid, and unknown.

When Alexander Crane and Khan Sahib came to collect taxes in and around areas of Ettayapuram, having heard about their arrival, the king of Ettayapuram immediately conducted a very close meeting with his ministers, close aides, and Alagumuthu Kone. They decided not to pay taxes and questioned the Britishers, they had come to do trade and what right do they have to collect taxes from various kings?

At this juncture, the killing of Alagumuthu Kone was done in connivance with British Commander Alexander Crane and Khan Sahib. Khan sahib had gotten this name after being adopted by a Muslim, who changed his religion and named him Mohammed Yousuf Khan, but his birth name was Marudhanayakam Pillai and he hailed from the Vellalar community, he lost his parents at a very young age.

Not expecting such a reply from the king of Ettayapuram, the Britishers got angry, and they sent their Commander Alexander Crane and Khan Sahib to wage a war against these Indian kings. Khan Sahib along with his army fleet had also brought in his cannon fleet and charged against the people of Ettayapuram. In the meantime, Alagumuthu Kone had to muster all his might in keeping the people safe, and also get people to join the army fleet. These army men were safely ensconced at the Pethanaayakanoor Fort for an overnight stay. The next day they were supposed to be taken to Maaviliodai.

Even much before this could happen, Khan Sahib with his large army and weaponry fleet attacked Pethanaayakanoor Fort and conducted a killing spree. Alagumuthu Kone, who unexpected this to happen, fought back Khan Sahib with utmost bravery. The battle continued till the end, that lastly Alagumuthu Kone, with his 6 army commanders, 248 soldiers who could not be bound by thick ropes, were inhumanly bound by iron chains and were taken to a place called Nadukaattoor.

Here they were made to stand in front of cannons and were forced to pay taxes, they were asked to apologize to save their lives. Alagumuthu Kone refused to budge, that the right hands of 248 soldiers were inhumanly cut, off their bodies. It hadn’t stopped with that, along with Alagumuthu Kone, 3 other people who were involved in revolting, waging against the Britishers were bound to the mouth of the shooting canon. When the canon was fired all these people’s bodies were scattered into pieces.

This inhuman massacre was reported by Subash Servai Yadav, from the stone inscriptions at the Nadukkaattoor cannon firing spot, who had quoted in his book, the first revolt of Maaveeran Alagumuthu Kone (Mudhal Muzhakkamitta Maaveeran Alagumuthu Kone). It is recorded that even before the canon shooting’s last moments and having known his death is immediate, his utterances were “I will never disclose my people who have stood with me, I will never pay taxes to the Britishers”. This is also being reported by Swamy Deekshithar who worked at the Ettayapuram royal chambers in his book “Vasmsamani Deepigai”.

With the rare information gotten from the earlier said book, Ilasai Rajamani, was so inspired that he wrote a book on Alagumuthu Kone called “Sudhandhira Veeran Alagumuthu Yadav”. It is also said that all the direct descendants of Alagumuthu Kone belong to the Yadava community.

Then, if only Alagumuthu Kone had, pistols, cannons, artillery, and other weaponries’ history would have changed forever. In connivance with Britishers Khan Sahib his unpardonable treachery, and cruelty, at last met his own end, he was hanged to death by the Nawab of Arcot, who in fear of his resurgence, made pieces of his dead body and buried him in different parts of Tamil Nadu.

Tamil Nadu government has built a memorial in fond remembrance of him at Kattalangulam, and every July 11th due respects are paid to this tall soldier-king. In the year 2012, a video depicting his life was made. In the year 2015, on December 26th a stamp has been issued in his honour.

We have to revisit the past to remember these freedom fighters whose stories have not been brought to the knowledge of people. Let’s not forget their sacrifices, bravado, which can really inspire one and all.

1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

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asically started my career as a part-time secretary with US commercial department 1984-86
1986-2001 had fifteen years of experience with erstwhile ANZ Grindlays Bank now Standard Chartered Bank
Then studied law got enrolled and practising as acounsellor
Writing articles for VSK
Currently anchoring for BHARATH TV a local English channel
Vijayshree Ramesh
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