Puli Thevar (1715 – 1768) also known as Pooli Devar was the first ever Hindu native freedom fighter in Tamil Nadu and a local Chieftain of a community called Hindu Marava. In Tamil, Puli means Tiger. A committed devotee of Lord Shiva, he ruled a place called Nel Katum Sevval. This place is now in Tamil Nadu’s Sankarankoil Taluk. Though a rebel ruler, he was just. Whenever adharma raised an ugly head, he never failed to act. Before Mangal Pandey, the soldier was hanged, Puli revolted against the British East India Company against use of fat of cows in greased cartridges in rifles, during the 1857 ‘Sepoy’ revolt.
Pooli Devar was the first ever Hindu native freedom fighter in Tamil Nadu
British historians maligned him as deceitful, but with his war strategy and diplomacy, he became a warrior of exceptional ability. On the banks of river Thamirabarani he defeated a battalion of Nawab and British soldiers, remaining invincible. The Nawab of Arcot and his agents set a trap in 1761 to capture Puli, for the British. Arrested by the Nawab’s army and British, he was to be imprisoned. On the way to prison Puli expressed his desire to worship the deity at the Sankaran Kovil temple. While singing praise, there was a breaking sound of the handcuffs and Puli just disappeared. No clue, physical evidence of this invincible hero was found, keeping everyone dumbfounded. In the history of Tamil Nadu, Puli became an immortal hero. This unsolved mystery continues to remain a riddle even today.