Dheeran Chinnamalai is regarded as the patriot of Tamil Nadu. The Gounder community regarded him as the symbol of Independence for the community.
Early Life of Dheeran Chinnamalai
Dheeran Chinnamalai was born on April 17, 1756 in Melapalayam, near Erode of Tamil Nadu. His birth name was Theerthagiri Sarkkarai Mandraadiyaar or Theerthagiri Gounder. He is believed to belong to the Palaiya Kottai Pattakarar lineage, and hence acquired the name Theerthagiri Sarkarrai.
Contributions of Dheeran Chinnamalai
Dheeran Chinnamalai was one of the main leaders in the Polygar Wars and commanded a vast army, notably during the Second Polygar War that took place in 1801-1802 against British East India Company. A huge army under him took French Military training in modern warfare alongside Tipu Sultan's Mysore forces to fight against the British East India Company. The French East India Company and Dheeran Chinnamalai helped Tipu Sultan in his war against the British and were instrumental in victories at the Battles of Chitheswaram, Battles of Mazahavalli and Battles of Srirangapatna.
After Tipu Sultan's death in the Battle of Serringapattanam, Dheeran Chinnamalai settled down at Odanilai in Kongu Nadu and constructed a fort there called Erode Fort and defeated the British in battles at Kaveri in 1801, the battle of Odanilai in 1802 and the battle of Arachalur in 1804.
Later, Dheeran Chinnamalai left his fort to avoid cannon attack and engaged in guerrilla warfare by the British, while he was stationed at Karumalai in the Palani region.
Death of Dheeran Chinnamalai
Dheeran Chinnamalai was betrayed by his cook Nallapan and was captured by the British sepoys in 1805. He was hanged at Sankagiri Fort along with his two brothers on 31 July 1805.
Legacy of Dheeran Chinnamalai
There are statues and memorials commemorating Dheeran Chinnamalai exist in Chennai, Tiruchirapalli, Erode and Odanilai. A postage stamp commemorating him was released by Indian Post. Until 1997, Tiruchirapalli division of Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation was known as ‘Dheeran Chinnamalai Transport Corporation’.
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