Tamilnadu - Tamilnadu Districts - Tirunelveli -Pudukkottai District

Pudukkottai District

Pudukkottai District is a district of Tamil Nadu state in southern India. The city of Pudukkottai is the district headquarters. It is also known colloquially as Pudhugai.

Pudukkottai district is bounded on the northeast and east by Thanjavur District, on the southeast by the Palk Strait, on the southwest by Ramanathapuram and Sivaganga districts, and on the west and northwest by Tiruchirappalli District.

The district has an area of 4663 km² with a coastline of 39 km. The district lies between 78° 25' and 79° 15' east longitude and between 9° 50' and 10° 40' of the north latitude.



Many of the villages in the district are of ancient origin. The district was one of the homes of pre-historic man. The very large number of burial sites found in the northern and western parts of the district attest to this fact.

The history of Pudukkottai is an epitome of the history of South India. In and around Pudukkottai there are many vestiges of the oldest habitations of man and some of the lithic records known in the south. The Pandyas, Cholas, Pallavas, Haysalas, Vijaynagar and Madurai Nayaks ruled over this part of the country and fostered its communual organisations, trade and industries. They embellished it with temples and monuments of outstanding merit.
Augustus coin found in the Pudukottai Hoard

Sangam Tamil literature mentions some place names of the district. Oliyamangalam (Thirumayam Taluk) is called as Ollaiyur in Purananuru. It was the birthplace of the poet Ollaiyur Kilan Makan Perumchattan and Ollaiyur Thantha Budha Pandyan. Agananuru also mentions Ollaiyur. It seems to have been an important city of the Pandyas. Four other places also are found in the Sangam classics. They are Ambukkovil, the ancient Alumbil, referred to in Agananuru; Avur, the home of the poets Avurkilar, Avur Mulamkilar; Erichi, the ancient Erichalur which had been identified with Erichi Village in Pudukkottai - Aranthangi road (but, according to recent researches, a village near Illupur). It was probably the home of the poet Madalan Madurai Kumaranar. Avayapatti is traditionally associated with Avvaiyar, who is believed to have lived here for some time.

Sangam period

This district was ruled by the Pandyas of the first empire during the Sangam period, but some part of its northern boundary area had been under the influence of the Cholas of Urayur. Some of the village names have prefixes like "killi" and "valavan", both of which are the titles of the Cholas.

The district shared the prosperity of the maritime trade of the Tamils. At Karukkakurichi was found a treasure trove of more than 500 Imperial Roman gold and silver coins, the largest ever recorded from a single hoard. This place lies in Alangudi taluk, a short distance north of Aranthangi and the adjoining old ports of Mimisal and Saliyur in the same area and Tondi further south. The Karukkakurichi hoard contained the issues of the Roman emperors and their queens, successively from Augustus (29 BCE - 14 CE) up to Vespasian (69-79).

The Karukkakurichi find would mark an important Indo-Roman trading centre, through which the inland trade route ran between the western and eastern ports during that time. This is indicated by a chain of such Roman coin hoard sites such as Korkai, Kilakkarai, and Alagankulam, all on the eastern sea coast. While Karukkakuruchi is a bit inland, it is not far away from ports like Mimisal. There are also few other sites of such finds in the east coast. While pointing out the exchanges of the exportable products for Roman gold and silver currency these would also indicate the places mentioned to have been active trade centres.


Under Chola Vijayalaya, this district formed part of his dominion but perhaps fitfully. The notion that some temples of ninth century in the district, belong to early Chola period, is erroneous. The Pandyas still held power in the region. It was not until the reign of Parantaka-I (907-955). Vijayalay's second successor, that the Cholas conquered the entire Pandya land. The Kodumbalur chiefs helped Parantaka in his campaign and remained faithful to the Cholas thereafter. C. P. Ramaswami Iyer The rule of Rajaraja-I shows a brilliant part in the history of the district in common with that of Tamil Nadu. The full benefaction of the Chola rule is revealed in their inscriptions in the district. These inscriptions are of great value is showing how effectively local administration functioned in this part of Chola Kingdom.

Rajaraja-I appointed his son the viceroy of the conquered Pandya and Chera lands. The entire district formed part of the Chola kingdom until the last year of Kulothunga-III (1178-1218). At the death of Rajaraja-II and the succession of Rajadhiraja-II, the Chola power began to decline.

The Pandyas began to assert their independence from the time of Kulothunga-I. Towards the end of the reign of Raja Raja-II, Kulasekara one of the two contenders for Pandya throne pealed the Chola for help. His rival Parakrama turned towards Srilanka. Pudukkottai also become seat this civil war. Parakrama Babu the Srilanka king sent an army to assist Parakrama Pandya according to Culavamsa, the Sinhalese chronicle the Sinhalese army engaged itself in the war in the parts of the district and burnt down the three storeyed palace at Ponnamaravathi. The outcome of the civil war became disastrous to the Cholas.

The history of the district after the fall of Cholas could not be told in detail for the records are comparatively minimal. The Pandyas of the second empire spread their influence in the district gradually.

The Pandya power reached its height in the district under Jatavarman Sundra Pandya-I and Jatavaraman vira Pandya-I the joint rulers. The inscription of Virapandya in Kudumianmalai, throws much light on his relationship with Srilanka and his kingdom across the seas. During the reign of Maravarman Kulasekara-I who acceded in 1268 A.D, Marcopolo the Venetian traveler visited Pandya country. Towards the end of Kulasekara's reign Jatavarman Virapandya-II and Jatavarman Sundara Pandya-II, the brothers quarreled. This led to a civil war in Pandya country resulting in political unrest and confusion.

Malikafur the general of Alaudeen Khalji the Sultan of Delhi took advantage of this and invaded Pandya country. This led to the incorporation of the Pandya country in the Delhi empire in subsequent years. A sultanate was established at Madurai. There are two inscriptions relating to the period of the Sultans of Madurai in the district, one at Rangiam (1332) and another at Panaiyur (1344).

The brief spell of Muslim rule (Sultanate of Madurai) at Madurai lasted for about 75 years and again there was political unrest and chaos and Pudukkottai region also shared the fate. Minor princes ruled small territories here and there. By about 1371. Kumarakampana, the Vijayanagar prince took over Madurai and the Sultanate came to an end. But the Pandya power did not survive on the Hindu conquest and slowly it ceased to be a historical force in the district.

The Hoysalas of Karnataka arrived in the southern part of Tamil Nadu and actively intervened Chola - Pandya feuds and soon they came to occupy the region on either banks of river Cauvery with the capital at Kannanur (modern Samayapuram). They established themselves in the area by the middle of 13th century and much of the Pudukkottai area was under their sway till the end of 13th century.

The Vijayanagar Rayas centered in Hampi took over Madurai, from the Muslims when the whole of southern Karnataka, Andra and Tamilnadu came under one rule - the Vijayanagar empire.

Under the Vijayanagar Sangama dynasty (1336-1485) the inscriptions in the district refer to many local chiefs such as Suraikudi, Perambur, Sendavanmangalam, Vanadaraiyar, Gangaiaraiyar and Thondaimans of Aranthangi. During the brief Suluva rule (1485-1505 A.D) Narasimha Raya the first Suluva emperor, during a tour of his dominions passed through Pudukkottai country on his way to Madurai. Vira Narasimha Nayak, the Tuluva usurper and the general of Saluva Narasimha-I, led a campaign against the Pandya chiefs and marched through Pudukkottai.
Princely flag of Pudukkottai

A great personality of the Tuluva dynasty (1505-1570) was Krishna Deveraya (1509-1529). He had visited Brahadamba Gokarnesa temple at Thirugokarnam on his way to Rameswaram and gifted many valuable presents to the temple. Under his successor eastern part of Pudukkottai district formed part of the Thanjavur kingdom for some time and the rest was under the Madurai Nayaks. The Thondaimans of Pudukkottai rose to power by about the end of 17th century.

The provincial viceroys of the Vijayanagar empire, the Nayaks of Madurai and Thanjavur asserted independence after the downfall of the empire. The Pudukkottai area thus came under the Nayaks of Madurai nominally and under the Thanjavur Nayaks frequently.

The Thondaimans of Pudukkottai came to rule with full sovereignty over the Pudukkottai area from the middle of the 17th century till its amalgamation with the rest of India after Indian Independence in 1947.

The ancestors of the Pudukkottai ruling line of Thondaimans, are migrants from Thirupathi region in the Thondaimandalam, the northern stretch of the ancient Tamil Kingdom, along with the Vijaynagar army, which was in engagement in this part of territory in the early 17th century. It is probable that one among them got some lands assigned to him by the local Pallavarayar chieftain and settled down at Karambakudi and Ambukovil area, and became the chieftain of the area, later came to be called as the progenitor of Thondaimans of Pudukkottai ruling house. According to the legendary account found in a Telugu poem, Thondaiman Vamasavali, the Thondaimans belonged to Indravamsa and the first ruler was Pachai Thondaiman.

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