Second Capture of Tirunelveli, 1756
In early 1757, Thevar along with Mahfuz Khan and supported by many Polygars marched towards Tirunelveli for the third time at the head of an army of 10,000 men. They camped near Tirunelveli but did not attempt to capture the town. Thevar remembered well what would happen if a largely primitive force engaged with the well-equipped army which held Tirunelveli.
Instead, in an effort to seize the country-side, Thevar sent messages to Mudalis, or tax collectors, that from now on he was in charge and that they must pay tax to him.
Talks were opened with the Raja of Travancore to persuade him to support the confederacy in exchange for which Thevar promised him those territories on which Raja of Travancore coveted.
Soon the troops that held Tirunelveli marched to Madura and Mahfuz Khan marched into the abandoned town. Mahfuz was so intoxicated by this success-in reality only luck-that he on his own, ordered his men to assault the nearby fort of Palamkotta; his men suffered staggering losses. The commandant of Palayamkotta enticed Kattabomman, the rank opportunist to support him in exchange for lucrative land grants.
Kattabomman’s troops routed Mahfuz’s troops who camped some distance away from the fort. After this Kattabomman retreated but Yusuf Khan came to the scene. Mahfuz Khan fled the scene to Nelkettumseval to join Thevar, who had left much earlier as he understood that plans were not working as he had envisaged.
Thevar aided Mahfuz Khan’s repeated but failed to seize Palamkotta. Thevar’s troops helped Mahfuz’s men to capture Kalakadu fort and deeded it to Raja of Travancore in an attempt to win him into side of confederacy.
Yusuf Khan threw a spanner into the confederacy’s plans; originally named Marudhanayagam Pillai, a Hindu Tamil of Vellala caste who converted to Islam, he was one of the most brilliant generals of 18th century, comparable to Baji Rao. Yusuf Khan was a ruthless opportunist who felt no loyalty to any one except himself.
Yusuf Khan’s troops marched towards rebel country in south-west Tamil Nadu. He seized Kalakadu and captured the forts of Papankulam, Alvarkurichi, Brahmadesam and Tarankurichi; the first three were held by Mahfuz and the last by Polygar of Wadagiri, ally of Puli Thevar and most powerful of Western Polygars.
In the summer of 1758, Puli Thevar, for the fourth time, was ready to clash with the English and Nawab. Puli Thevar was supported by Polygars of Wadagiri, Kotaltava, Naduvakurichi and Sorandai. Ettaiyapuram Polygar also joined Thevar’s enterprise and soon confederates persuaded the Polygar of Settur to join them.
Read more about this topic: Puli Devar, Puli Thevar's Struggle-quoted From Caldwell's History of Tirunelveli
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