Pudukkottai is the administrative headquarters of Pudukkottai District in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Located on the banks of River Vellar, it has been ruled, at different times, by the Early Pandyas, Thondaimans, and the British. It is situated about 395 kilometres (245 mi) southwest of the state capital Chennai and about 55 kilometres (34 mi) southwest of Tiruchirappalli. The people in the city are employed majorly in teritiary sector activities. Tamil Nadu’s first women Asiad Santhi Soundarajan is from Pudukkottai.
Being the district headquarters, Pudukkottai accommodates the district administration offices, government educational institutes, colleges and schools. Pudukkottai is a part of Pudukkottai constituency and elects its member of legislative assembly every five years, and a part of the Tiruchirappalli constituency that elects its member of parliament. The city is administered by a selection-grade municipality established in 1912 as per the Municipal Corporation Act. The city covers an area of 21.25 km2 and had a population of 143745 in 2011. Roadways is the major mode of transport to the city, while it has also got rail connectivity. The nearest airport is Tiruchirappalli International Airport, located at a distance of 45 km from the city.
The princely state of Pudukottai was created by Raghunatha Thondaiman. Raghunatha Kilavan Setupati of Ramnad (1673–1708 A.D.) married Kathali Nachiar, the sister of Thondaiman. He appointed his brother-in-law, Raghunatha Thondaiman, as a chief of the district of Pudukottai. Raghunatha Thondaiman earlier had ruled Thirumayam. In appreciation of Raghunatha Thondaiman’s services, Raghunatha Kilavan Setupati gave Pudukkottai as an honour for his services. In later centuries, the Thondaiman rulers, while nominally feudatories of the Ramnad state, often pursued an independent foreign policy, a trend common in all parts of India at that time. After the death of Raghunatha Kilavan Setupati Raghunatha Thondaiman become ruler of Pudukottai.
After becoming the ruler of Pudukottai, Thondaiman fought against the Nayaks of Tanjore in support of the Nayaks of Madurai and conquered Thirukkattupalli, a very important place. Then there was a direct clash between the Thondaimans of Pudukottai and the Nayaks, rulers of Tanjore. Thondaiman conquered the west of Thirukkattupalli. The next ruler, Raja Vijaya Reghunatha Raya Thondaiman, helped the Arcot Nawab against Hyder Ali, the ruler of Mysore. He was also loyal to the British Government. After some time, when Hyder Ali’s army tried to enter Pudukkottai, Thondaiman’s army defeated them and drove Hyder’s army away. Thondaiman captured Kilanilai and Aranthangi. He helped the British government against Tipu Sultan.
Pudukkotai finally came under formal British protection. This was arguably unavoidable, since the Thondaimans were much menaced in that period by a resurgent Mysore, ruled by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. When Tipu Sultan sought to leverage the power of the French against his British adversaries, Pudukkotai, in common with its neighbours, such as Thanjavur and Travancore, found it expedient to ally with the British.
Raja Rajagopala Thondaiman (1928–1948), the last and ninth in the line of Thondaiman rulers, was selected by the British Government and was crowned when he was six years old. After Indian independence in 1947, the Pudukkottai Princely State was amalgamated with the Indian Union on April 3, 1948 and became a division in Tiruchirappalli district. The long history of the Thondaimans’ rule came to an end.
Some of the major kings of the dynasty are Raghunatha Raya Tondaiman (1686–1730), Vijaya Raghunatha Raya Tondaiman,(1730–1769), Raya Raghunatha Tondaiman (1769 – Dec 1789), Vijaya Raghunatha Tondaiman (Dec 1789 – 1 February 1807), Vijaya Raghunatha Raya Tondaiman (1 February 1807 – June 1825), Raghunatha Tondaiman (June 1825 – 13 July 1839), Ramachandra Tondaiman (13 July 1839 – 15 April 1886), Marthanda Bhairava Tondaiman (15 April 1886 – 28 May 1928) and Rajagopala Tondaiman (28 October 1928 – 4 March 1948).
Pudukkottai became a princely state of British India under the political authority of Madras Presidency. The state had an area of 4663 Sq.miles and in 1901, a population of 380,000. The Rajas of Pudukkotai were entitled to an 17-gun salute. The last Thondaiman raja of Pudukkottai acceded to newly-independent India in 1948, and the state became a division of Tiruchirappalli District of Madras State. The state was reorganised twice in the succeeding decade, taking its present form in 1956; it was renamed Tamil Nadu in 1968. On 14 January 1974, the present Pudukkottai District was formed from parts of Tiruchirappalli and Thanjavur districts.
Places of Interest
Brahadambal and Shiva Temple located in the main town
Pudukottai palace – A sand casket with a mantra written by saint Sadasiva Brahmendra of 18th century is preserved