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Chapter-IV

ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE


PALEGAR SYSTEM

Peninsular India was passing through a historic transition


towards the end of the medieval period. This era witnessed great
events. The empire of Vijayanagara flourished. Tamilnadu enjoyed a
saga of peace and order under the rule of the Nayakas. The Maratas
had established their Swaraj. Mysore emerged as a prominent state in
the affairs of the South. There was political unity in the Karnataka.
The European powers had opened the region to western trade and
influence.1
The Vijayanagara Kingdom succeeded in establishing the
hegemony over the whole of the peninsula stretching from the
Krishna River southwards. This they could achieve after a century of
constant struggle against the Bahamani Sultans.
The Vijayanagara Kings maintained their independence until
the middle of the 16th century, and in a reduced form even later. Of
the splendour and affluence of the capital of Vijayanagara we have
splendid accounts of travellers. All of them were highly impressed by
the splendour of the capital and the richness of the court.2
Emperor Krishnadevaraya (1509-1530 A.D.) was the greatest
of the Vijayanagara rulers.

Indeed, he was one of the most

remarkable sovereigns of medieval India. As ill-luck would have it,


his beneficial and glorious rule was short lived. His successors could
not rise up to his level.

They got involved unnecessarily in the

intrigues of the Deccan Sultans. In the decisive battle of Talikote in


1565 the de facto ruler of Vijayanagara by name Rama Raya, was
utterly defeated by a coalition of the Deccan Sultans. The great city
of Vijayanagara was mercilessly sacked and the greatness of the once
glorious empire was at an end. The battle of Talikote is generally
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regarded as the end of the great age of Vijayanagara. Although the


Kingdom lingered on for almost one hundred years, its territories
decreased continuously and the Raya no longer counted in the
political affairs of South India.

About the tragic end of the great

Vijayanagara Empire the historian wrote, Never perhaps in the


history of the world has such have been wrought, and wrought so
suddenly, on splendid a city.3
One of the most important consequence of the fall of the
Vijayanagar Empire was the steady deterioration in the law and order
situation in the whole Empire.

The Vijayanagara had established

peace, order and tranquility over the Krishna and the Indian Ocean.
Even in the heydays of their power, the Vijayanagara rulers had
devised the institution of the palegars with the special duty of
maintaining peace and order throughout the extensive empire. The
Kavalgar system prevailing in the empire was another wing in charge
of law and order.

These twin-institutions were effective law-

enforcing authorities in the empire.4


Traces of the origin of the Palegari system or Palegar can be
forced in the Vijayanagara administrative system. In the Empire itself
there were many areas which were under the control of subordinate
rulers. These chieftains had been once defeated in the wars against
the Vijayanagara rulers, but their Kingdoms had been restored to
them on condition of paying tributes and acceptance of homage.5
The King also used to grant Amarams or territory with a fixed
revenue to the military chiefs. These chiefs who also were styled as
Palegars or Paleiyagars had to maintain a fixed number of foot
soldiers, horses and elephants for the service of the state.
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The

palegars also had to pay a sum of money to the imperial exchequer.


They formed a powerful section and sometimes it was difficult to
control them.6
It may be noticed, moreover, that the receding fortunes of the
ruling houses of the Karnataka also facilitated the rise of the
Palegari system. The declining political powers in the Deccan left
numerous chieftains in possession of territories.

This was the

situation when the Vijayanagara assumed power in the 16th century.


These rulers were diplomatically associated with the administration of
the tracts they controlled, the Vijayanagara rulers had permitted these
chieftains to retain possession of their districts but required to pay one
third of the income as annual tribute and to keep such a number of
armed men as could be supported by the stipulated revenue.7
Historically this practical measure proved to be a wise
arrangement. It was beneficial to the ruler and the chiefs, because it
provided for the colonisation of the palegari territories. In this way it
created a second line of defence which became inevitable during
those days of confusion and disorder.

Moreover, this system

minimized the possibility of conflict between the sovereign and the


minor powers. Above all the Palegari system secured the unflinching
loyalty of the chiefs to the sovereignty.8 The South Indian political
structure consisted of a three-tier system.

At the apex was the

princely order such as the Nawab of Karnataka, the Rajas of Mysore


or Tanjore and the Nizam of Hyderabad. Then came the auxiliary
powers called the Palegars, Zamindars, and the Jagirdars. At the
bottom were the village communities spread all over the country.

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To the princely states fell the responsibility of defence and


revenue collection. The Palegars looked after law and order. The
village

communities

looked

after

social

welfare

and

local

administration. The Palegar system and the village communities were


inter linked because the local communities were recruiting soldiers
required by the chieftains.9
The anglicized term Palegar is known as Palegadu in
Telugu, Palayagaru in Kannada, and Palayakkarar in Tamil. The
words refer to one who holds a village or a group of villages on
condition of rendering military service to some superior.10
However, the history of the Palegar institution in South India is
shrouded in mystery. According to one source, the authority of the
Palegars is derived from Padikoval which is a right to income in
return for the provision of protection over a village, in some cases
over a locality as it prevailed during the Vijayanagara period.11
The above-mentioned income could be realized in various ways
such as a privileged rate of land tax as a low cess in kind upon every
plough, as a low money payment levied upon ploughs, shops or
looms, or customs charges and also as fee for markets and fairs held
with in the jurisdiction of the Palegar.12
As the origin of the palegar emerges from the colud of
uncertainty, the institution of the palegars could be given the status of
local lords whose status credentials were derived from entitlements
granted from time to time by the Vijayanagara king Sri Krishnadeva
Raya (1509-1529). The Raya sought to establish a forum of local war
chief to oppose the existing households of chiefs, particularly in the

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hand of Vijayanagara Empire. This came to be called in course of


time the ceded (Rayalaseema) districts.13
Several factors contributed to the growth of the Palegar system.
First of all there was the claim of descent from royal houses asserted
by some chieftains.

Secondly there were chiefs, in command of

armed gangs who had carved out for themselves a place in the area.
Again, meritorious public service rendered by a leader has been
recognized and certain chiefs held power in this way.

Above all,

there was the need to protect public interests through some effective
means.
In all these circumstances the granting of recognition by the
king or by the deliberate act of the sovereign in permitting the
existence of the Palegars can be understood. Once they were left free
in their armed camps or polloms (Palayams), the palegars exercised
sole jurisdiction over their people.

They displayed gorgeous

costumes and other insignia of power in order to impress upon the


people their own majesty and dignity.

In this way emerged the

symbols of royalty such as the turbans, gold chains, flags, umbrellas,


horses and palanquins.14
It is interesting to note a few features of the Palegari system.
The Palegars maintained a government of their own in the Palayams.
The chief dignitaries of the palegari administration were the Pradhans
or the Dalavais.

The palegars held Durbars on very important

occasions. The liaison between the palegars and the sovereigns were
called the Stanapathis' or 1 Vakeels'.
The main duties of the palegars were manifold.

They had

obligations towards the sovereign as well as the community.


165

primary function of the palegars was the maintenance of contingents


of troops well equipped for military service. In addition, the palegars
had to suppress bandits, punish the offenders, and pay compensation
for the stolen or damaged property. In return for these services the
palegars were treated as the proprietors of the rent of the estate, but
not of the land. The palegars collected the taxes and presided over
the administration of Justice. Their functions also included charitable
activities and the building of irrigational works.15
INFLUENCE OF THE PALEGARS
Palegars observed forms and ceremonies of the prince. They
assumed and exercised many of the essential powers of sovereignty in
the limited sphere.

In short, they were the administrators of their

palayams, commanders of the forces and renters of the Nawab (in the
Kamatak) and ryots among the people.
In the middle of the eighteenth century the palegari influence
increased. They extended their privilege through encroachment upon
the jurisdiction of the sovereign, the consent of the villages and also
through the approval of the Nawab in the Karnataka. The palegars
transgrossed upon the circar territories and superseded the local
authority.

Sometimes the palegars included the inhabitants of the

circar villages to the refuge in the Palayams. Another method was to


plough the lands held under their protection in the circar territory and
thus encroach from one point to another.

Very often trade in the

sovereigns country would be divested to the Palayam by the clever


contrivance of the palegars.

Thus the central authority was

undermined.16

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MAP OF THE COUNTRY PALEGARS

7 'P A ! Kfc w ud

The uncertain political situation in the south favoured the


growth of the palegars influence. More and more villages sought the
protection of the chieftains. Those villages which had already been
under the protection of the palegars were prepared to pay enhanced
rates as protection money.

These developments led to further

increase of the influence of palegars. In the Karnataka the palegars


extended their support to the Nawab and obtained concessions in
return.

By fair and foul means the resources of the palegars

swelled.17
The growing influence of the palegars had a deep impact on
their character. The chiefs had by now become a kind of domestic
militia paid by the inhabitants and compensated for their services by
their over lord. Their military establishments were strengthened and
their isolated villages became military posts.

This enabled the

palegars to become independent. The conflict between the Nawab


and the palegars affected the tax burden of the villagers.

To

compensate the loss of revenue the poligars levied desha-kaval on


the inhabitants.18 The worst part of it was the palegars used third
degree methods of torture to collect the levies when they were in
default. Even driving off the cattle or taking captives of the people
was done at times. The system thus degenerated. The principle of
force replaced that of service.19
THE PALEGARS OF ANDHRA
As a political agency the palegar system was an important
element of medieval polity. Tamilnadu and Andhra accounted for
most of the palegars. The palegars or palayakkarars of Tamilnadu are
referred to as the southern palegars. The palegars of Rayalaseema are
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known as the Western Palegars while those of Coastal Andhra are


called the Northern Palegars. The territory held by the rulers was
called the Circar Territory, and those under the control of the
chieftains as Poligar Territory. At times the palegars extended their
jurisdiction to the villages of the circar country.20
The chiefs of the ceded districts of Andhra Pradesh were
powerful and numerous. There were eighty of them in Rayalaseema.
They were subordinate to the kings as feudal lords.

In the early

sixteenth century these chiefs called palegars were encouraged by


kings in warfare and in turn the chiefs provided the kings with funds.
Some of these chiefs who were Kavalgars became the sole masters of
the regions over which they operated.

21

Because of the civil wars in the Vijayanagara Kingdom and the


growing weakness of the central government the amaranayakas and
petty chiefs behaved very tyrannically towards the ryots. The power
of the palegars had increased and they began to rule independently.
The Vijayanagara rulers appointed these chieftains to clear the
highways of bandits and robbers. One such subordinate of the king
was Gangi Timma. Very often merchants entered into separate
agreements with the palegars or road Kavalgars for security.
The Kavalgars who acquired pollams or Palayams during the
Vijayanagaras period became the palegars or poligars of the British
times. It became the practice for the Vijayanagara Kings to appoint
adventures of great daring and courage with a body of retainers for
the purpose of policing the areas on the outskirts of forests and
mountainous tracts. Such men were granted a couple of villages as
Jagir with permission to erect forts.22

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These military chieftains, later known as Palegars enjoyed


different degrees of power. Some of these derived their descent from
ancient rajas, or from those who held high offices of trust under the
Hindu Governments. Others had been renters of districts or revenue
officers who had revolted in trying times. Taking advantage of the
favourable political situation, they succeeded in usurping lands. They
added to these lands territories belonging to government or
individuals by further encroachments.23
DUTIES, POWER AND STATUS OF THE PALEGARS
The palegars were the survivors of the old Hindu system of
administration, which prevailed under the rayas of Vijayanagar. For
policing the areas on the outskirts of the forests, and inaccessible
mountainous tracts, the rayas used to station at suitable centres
adventurers of great daring and courage with a body of retainers and
grant them one or two villages as Jagir where they were permitted to
erect forts.24

These military chieftains, later known as palegars

enjoyed different degrees of power. Those palegars, whose pollams


were situated in jungle and frontier parts of the country, were mostly,
leaders of banditti or free-booters.

They were either expressly

entrusted with the charge of the police or took upon themselves that
responsibility.

The police duties exercised by these palegars were

confined not only to their own villages but also extended to the
protection of property of the inhabitants and travelers in the adjoining
villages and on roads.

Added to this were various monetary

exactions, resulting in severe oppression. Levies on land revenue and


customs known as Cavally were also collected by them.

The

palegars were made the custodians of public property. They settled


differences and disputes, particularly on matters of property and
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boundaries of land in which their decisions were regarded as final.


They discharged their police duties so ineffectively that criminals
could resort to them for shelter.

The numerous hill forts and the

Burzoos or small towers of refuge found in this district point to their


harassing rule.26
It was his primary duty to give military protection to the
inhabitants living under his jurisdiction.

As the circumstances

warranted, he rendered service to his sovereign or defied his


authority.

In certain respects the functions of these chiefs

corresponded with or differed from those of the feudal barons of


medieval Europe and the Jagirdars and the Zamindars of Moghal
India.27
The possession of estates formed the fundamental basis of
authority of the three descriptions. The palegar as well as the baron
held land on military tenure, but the former, unlike the latter, claimed
no proprietary right on the land of the inhabitants nor regarded the
cultivator as his serfs.
The Zamindar paid rent for the Estate he possessed whereas the
Jagirdar rendered military services to the sovereign as his primary
duty.

On the other hand, the palegar, combined in himself the

functions of both the Zamindar and Jagirdar. The concentration of


these two important duties together, with the rights arising therefrom
accounted for the vast influence of the palegars.

The numerical

strength of these chieftains, their extensive resources and their


military habits constituted a potential source of service as well as
embarrassment to the rulers and the invaders.28

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Their ideas of a comparative superiority and their indulgence to


vanity and their habitual mode of life made them maintain a powerful,
strong and a large armed retinue. They thought that the attendance of
a large body of armed men was necessary to their appearance in
public and to the assertion of their rights. They established a strong
military system. Their military force consisted of three descriptions.
1. The cattubady peons, 2. The amarum peons, and 3. The mercenary
peons. The first two groups were paid mainly in land and the last are
entirely in money and grain. The amarum peons were grated lands
purely on hereditary basis. These peons, placed under the command
of an officer or sardar in bodies of 20 or 30 men, were required to
take a pledge to yield best services to their master. Their duties were
not only to attend to the summons of the palegars, but also to prevent
theft within their villages. They must be very honest in rendering
their services and if they do not discharge their duties properly, then
their lands will be taken away from them.

In case of any

irregularity or theft they were bound to answer to the complaints and


to make good the amount of all the stolen effects.30
The cattubady peons were also given lands and their tenure was
hereditary. But it was less by right than by sufferance. They served
the palegars with pikes or matchlocks at their own expense.

The

mercenary peons were recruited only in times of emergency. During


active service all these armed men received subsistence in money and
grain, exclusive of usual privileges, granted to them. The palegar
trained a considerable body of men in the profession of arms. The
interests of the peons were identified with the preservation of the
authority of their master. The peons regarded the rights of their chief
as paramount and his orders as their only law. When the palegar
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commanded his troops to perform certain work, they execute his


orders immediately. On such occasions, they considered murder and
robbery as mere matters of duty, for which their chief alone was
responsbile.31 The cattubady peons were all ryots to whom spots of
jungle and waste lands were assigned for cultivation in lieu of a
stipulated money payment. The tenure implied a gift with some tie.
These peons received loans from the palegars for the first two or three
years of cultivation of new lands and repaid the amount in
installments subsequently.

As their lands became productive the

palegars exacted from them cutnums or presents annually, which


were paid in different installments and considered the rent of their
lands. The amount first levied was considered mamool cutnum or
customary present and was ever after collected.

As the peons in

course of time purchased ploughs and improved the fields, the


palegars exacted from them additional cutnums, proportionate to their
increased grains. In case they refused to pay the amount they were
dispossessed and other spots of waste and jungle lands assigned to
them. Because of this threat, the peons generally paid the additional
rent, provided they found it not oppressive. Extra-ordinary presents
were levied on them every three or four years on such occasions like
the palegars marriage and other such ceremonies.
The cattubady as well as amarum lands in respect to inheritance
descended from father to son and so on to other degrees of affinity in
the male line and on default of heirs escheated to the palegar. The
obligations of cattubady tenure were also similar to those of amarum
with the distinction that the peons were bound to serve either with
pikes or match-locks, as might be stipulated, at their own expense.
The two groups of servants rendered identical duties in regard to
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prevention of robbery. If they distinguished themselves in battles,


they received handsome rewards from their master.

Infact, the

differences between the two tenures were more than substantial.32


When any peons or other descriptions of servants were engaged
partly for nominal money-wages and partly grain, they invariably
received the particular quantity of grain in advance at a price one or
two hundred percent above the bazaar rate. Tuncaw, (coin) issued in
lieu of money payments on amuldars, renters and ryots for any
quantity of grain, was considered equivalent to a money payment.
This practice of issuing grain, tuncaws was peculiar to the pollams of
Venkatagiri and Kalahasti.33
The palegar maintained a Government of his own, irrespective
of the extent and resources of his pollams.

On every important

occasion he holds a darbar. He kept up the nominal officers of state,


the principal of whom was called the pradhan or dalaway. The
functions of the palegar resembled those of a virtual king.

He

collected taxes and duties, maintained peace and order, and kept his
own troops, though the palegar had no right to construct fort and to
put any one to death or to inflict a punishment amounting to
mutilation without the approval of his King.34 He observed these
restrictions more by violation than by compliance.
He performed certain economic functions too, undertook
charitable activities, cleaned forests, arranged facilities for irrigation
works such as digging of wells, canals, tanks etc., and looked after the
cleanliness of the village.35

He was the head of the village and

presided over the distribution of justice.

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In short, the palegar observed the forms and ceremonies of a


prince of an extensive country, assuming and exercising many of the
essential powers of sovereignty but in his contracted sphere. He was
the administrator of the pollam and a ryot among his people.
Like a feudal baron, the palegar kept a part of his district,
usually the best land, for his own cultivation and distributed the rest
among the chief inhabitants.

These inhabitants were commonly

called the Sherogars, and they used to render military services to the
palegar. The followers of sherogar cultivated the lands in times of
peace and took to arms in times of conflicts. Because of this
arrangement the palegar was in a position to assemble a considerable
number of troops at a short notice.

For instance, the setupati of

Ramnad found it no difficult a task to collect 30000 to 40000 armed


men in less than eight days.36 In usual practice, the actual cultivation
of land was entrusted to a caste of workers, the pullers, the counter
parts of serfs in a baronial estate. The pullers who tilled the fields of
the palegar received a little dry grain for his subsistence, but no fixed
share of the crops. On the other hand, those who worked in the fields
of the sherogars received a fixed share of the harvest, the field
workers were not tied to the estate, but their poverty at times forced
them to sell their services for long periods.
The cultivated lands in the palegar - Country were usually
classified into four categories, based upon productivity. They were
(1) kirsul or black cotton ground, free from stones and sand, (2) The
Shevul or land with mixture of red soil, gravel stones and sand, (3)
Pottul, or ground with a mixture of black and white earth with stones
and (4) Veppul or land with a mixture of brown earth, clay and
sand. The productivity of the land was decided on the basis of soil
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conditions, and this was applied only to the wet lands. The share of
the palegar was regulated by mamool or Custom.
It was a common practice that a ryot managed to possess
greater extent of land than what was found in the records either by
keeping the actual extent unnoticed by the officials or by bribing the
surveyors.

The additional area for which the peasant paid no tax

varied from 50% to 100% of the extent of the land for which he
actually paid.37 Thus, finally there was a tremendous struggle between
the fraudulent evasions and oppressive exactions. However, during
the 18th Century the exactions in a palegar territory did not appear as
oppressive as they were in the circar territory. At times the oppressed
ryots fled from circar country to the pollams in order to escape from
exactions.
Besides the military establishment, there was a police
establishment, called the Kaval. The word KavaP means watch
and a person who performed the duty was called Kavalgars or
Talayari. The Kaval system was essentially the south Indian counter
part of the hue and cry in Anglo-Saxon England.
Until the Mughal invasions the palegar and the KavaP system
existed as two parallel organisations. From times immemorial, every
village had its kavalgars who were appointed either by village
communities or by rulers from guarding the villages. The kavalgars
were of four different groups: 1. The Arasu Kavalgars, 2. The Nadu
Kavalgars, 3. The Desai Kavalgars, and 4. The Stalam Kavalgars.
Arasu means Government Nadu district desi or desam direction
or region and Stalam place or village. The duty of the Kavalgars is
to protect the cattle, grain and domestic property of the inhabitants
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and guard the public places like the roads and markets.

If any

robbery occurred, the concerned Kavalgar was held responsible for


the recovery of the stolen property. If he fails to recover the stolen
property, then he has to pay the amount of damages occurred during
30

the theft.

The services of the kavalgars were rewarded by a fee

called Stalam Kaval which consisted of a portion of the crop, which


they protected or a monetary payment in lieu thereof.

The

responsibility of apprehending a thief was entrusted to groups of


inhabitants like the kalians and the Marawat, who considered robbery
their profession.
responsibility.

This conferred upon a habitual thief a sense of


Thus it sought to rectify a social evil by the

application of a self-corrective remedy.


The palegars rendered military service to the king, and gave
security to the country people against external attacks and invasions
whereas the Kavalgars discharged police-duties and preserved
internal-order.

The kavalgars were totally responsible for the

maintenance of peace and order in the country. The palegars were for
the palegar territories while the kavalgars were for the circar-lands
doing complementary duties.

Both the establishments were solely

supported by the inhabitants. It was the duty of the sovereign to see


they function efficiently and separately of each other. The distinct
existence of the two establishments appeared essential not only for
preventing the overgrowth of their influence but for safeguarding the
interests of the sovereign as well as of the subjects.
The palegars in common cherished a spirit of independence and
turbulence.

They excelled themselves in irregular warfare.

The

palegars constructed forts of mud or of stone either on deep cottonplain or on the hills for the convenience of defense. Their forces
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consisted of two major divisions. The match-lock men and the pike
men.
In order to assemble their troops they fired sarabogies, a kind
of pork-guns.40 The weapons in common use included the cannon,
muskets, wallpieces, shields, swords, pikes and match-lock.41

The

pike was nothing but the bamboo spear 18 to 20 feet long, target,
spear, dagger, sling, bow and arrow.42

Clay-pellets, prepared by

mixing the white portion of the egg with clay served the purpose of
bullets. Rockets were fired into the camps of the enemies. A peculiar
weapon used by the palegars was the Valaithadi, or boomerang. It
was a crescent shaped weapon, one end left heavy while the outer
edge sharp. Made of some hard grained wood or iron, the valaithadi
measured about 24 inches along the outer-curve and 18 along the
chord are.

A soldier held it by lighter end and hurled it with

tremendous force against the enemy. A whirling motion, imparted to


the weapon, brought it back to the spot from where it was thrown,
unless it got struck on its victim.43

Nevertheless, they were all

weapons of short range.


The palegars never risked a pitched battle, when a superior
force threatened them, they assumed defensive position in their thick
jungles. Lying in ambush, they boldly attacked the invading army
and wrought havoc. If the cavalry of the enemy launched a surprise
attack, the pike-men of the palegars formed themselves into a close
ring encircling the match-lock men, pointing the pikes against the
attacking horse. They, then sat down in the same order and fixed the
either end of the pike into a hole, while the match-lock men kept up
an irregular fine above their heads against the pressing enemy. In this
manner they resisted even the violent charges of the cavalry and
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sometimes even of the infantry, though they appeared helpless before


artillery fire. The chiefs constructed the forts in such a way as to
guarantee its easy defense.

When the enemy besieged their

stronghold, their troops threw themselves behind the barriers for


convenience of counter-attack. The match-lock men, taking position
on the elevated spots of the fort, fired at the approaching enemy while
the troops stationed at the bastians sallied out gallantly. The pikemen, meanwhile, wielded the sharp pikes from their wonderfully
sheltered enclaves in the walls. The assailants advancing towards a
breach on the wall could never reach the pike-man and could seldom
tell from where the blow was struck.44 Despite the limited resources
at their command the palegars thus, put up formidable resistance
against major campaigns.
These war-like chieftains represented the living force of
feudalism and medievalism in the 18th Century South India.
The palegars maintained military retainers and were installed
with all the paraphernalia of a prince. The standing armies, which
they maintained, were seldom paid and the greater part of their
earnings was gained by depredations in time of war. Even under the
Rayas of Vijayanagara, they indulged in petty warfare and readily
turned into bandits under favorable auspices. This is borne out by the
rebellion of the palegar of Patturupalem of Cuddapah district during
the days of Krishnadevaraya.45
The police duties exercised by these palegars, were confined
not only to their own villages but also extended to the protection of
property of the inhabitants and travelers in the adjoining villages and
on roads. Added to this were various monetary exactions, resulting in
178

severe oppression. Levies on land revenue and customs known as


Cavally were also collected by them. The palegars were made the
custodians of public property. They settled differences and disputes,
particularly on matters of property and boundaries of land in which
their decisions were regarded final.

They discharged their police

duties so ineffectively those criminals could resort to them for


shelter.46
The extension of authority of Kavalgars to adjoining villages
had gradually risen in encroachment, and was converted into a
pretext, for the most severe oppressions on the people, in the form of
fees and ready money collection. The proportion, which fell on the
land, was generally collected, in one payment at the harvest season.
Though he did not regularly enjoy any Inam, he had succeeded by
violence and other methods, in obtaining a considerable portion of
land which was entered into the village accounts, as being held under
this tenure, or as being waste or uncultivated.

In the lands thus

possessed by him, were often included gardens and other desirable


spots belonging to individuals, which he had obliged to make over to
him. His power and influence enabled him to take the lead in the
adjustment of differences and disputes, particularly in questions of
property and boundaries of land, in which his decision was
uncontrolled, for though it was the custom to appoint arbitrators to
assist in the determination of the question, the dread of displeasing
the palegar.
The palegars entrusted with the charge of police, were
responsible for the loss of all property stolen within their jurisdiction.
The allowance which they received were, in part intended to furnish
them with the means of making good losses of than nature, but this
179

was rarely done by them, while the contributions they levied, though
much more than adequate to that purpose, were principally applied to
the maintenance of a larger force than they could otherwise have kept
up from the resources of their own lands. So imperfectly in fact, did
they perform the duties of police, that in those districts, which were
immediately under their authority, they and their peons were not only
themselves chiefly concerned but also the properties and persons of
its inhabitants were more secure from plunder and violence.47
Besides the above mentioned police duties, military duties and
agricultural duties, the palegars perform certain economic functions
too.

He undertook some charitable activities, cleaned forests,

arranged facilities for irrigation purposes such as digging of wells,


canals, tanks and look after the cleanliness of the whole village. He
was the head of the village and presided over the distribution of
Justice. They were evincing extra-ordinary interest in the promotion
of agriculture and production.
The palegars were interested in the construction of forts
particularly on the mountain peaks commanding strategic passages.
They were not only interested in building temples and promoting
religious and spiritual needs of the villages but also served as pillars
of administration under powerful monarchs.

They provided

protection to the merchants and their goods. They were permitted to


collect a variety of petty taxes both in cash and in kind on
commodities like rice, fist oil etc.
The analysis of case history of palegars is made with reference
to such attributes as (1) duties, (2) power, (3) status, (4) jurisdiction
and dress of the palegars.
180

The paraphernalia of their (palegar) dress included among other


things such as turban, turbanband of golden colour, laurel adorning
the head, war-bracelets, gold chains, bangles, golden bells tied around
the waist, white fleece, sticks, flags, umbrella and torch.
These war-like chieftains (palegars) represented the living
force of feudalism and medievalism in the 18th Century South India.
They ascended in a blaze of glory in the vacuum created by the exit of
Vijayanagar from the political scene.

Their rise to prominence

marked a serious attempt to afford protection to the inhabitants during


those days of rapine and raid, when agriculture was devastated,
villages were swept off and life was rendered insecure. But under the
pressure of hostile circumstances, they developed behind the carriers
of their miniature states an aptitude for egocentrism, independence
and war and not for service, order and loyalty.48
THE RAYALASEEMA UNDER BRITISH RULE
The British Company acquired the ceded districts in 1800 from
the Nizam of Hyderabad. The kings were determined to make their
new acquisitions pay for the British troops at Hyderabad. In order to
achieve this end, the British had to persuade the turbulent palegars to
pay the rent properly or to be crushed. The court of directors of the
company were for persuasion.

While Sir Thomas Munro as the

principal collection preferred to crush them.


Sir Thomas Munro enumerated 80 different palegars of
Rayalaseema of whom 49 belonged to the Cuddapah District and the
remaining 31 were from Bellary and Kumool. The most important of
the palegars appear to have been those of Punganoor, Ghuthi,
Kokkunty, Mallal and Gandikota. The Palegars were of all ranks and
classes. Some were government servants or renters of revenue who
181

had revolted in times of disturbance or had grown gradually with


palegars through the negligence or weakness of former governments,
others had originally obtained their villages as Jagirs or Inams. Yet
others had held their lands on condition of rendering military service
to former Suzerain.

Similarly some were men of good birth

descended for high officers under the old Vijayanagara King. Others
were merely village officers who had profited by former periods of
confusion to seize a fort or two and collect a body of bandits. Some
of them had an income of only Rs. 60/- to Rs. 70/- per month.49
This chapter has summarized the circumstances leading to the
genesis of the Palegari system in South India. The turbulent political
conditions following the decline of leading powers in the Deccan like
the Mysore State, the Nawabs of Karnataka and the Vijayanagara
Empire unleashed a breakdown of law and order. Local chieftains
and Jagirdars who had received land gifts from the sovereign could
protect the life and property of people, They had their own forts and
armed levies who were used to restore law and order. The palegars
also checked highway robbery and banditry.

The palegari system

became prominent in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh.

A good

number of the palegars hailed from Rayalaseema in the Western


Andhra Pradesh.
The term palegar is derived from the Tamil work palyam kara.
The term palenf or palyam means army camp or Contonmenf
and kara means its Chief. Hence palegar simply means an army
chief. He combined in himself the revenue and military duties. Like
revenue collector he collects the land revenue and as military chief,
rendered military services. Munros report mentions that there were
eighty palegars in ceded districts.
names of palegars and their location.
182

The following table shows the

Table No.I.
STATEMENT OF PALEGARS IN THE CEDED DISTRICTS
(According to Munros Report)
s.
Name of the
Name of the Palegar
Region/District
No.
Annagondy Timmapah Raj
1.
Kumplie
2.
Harpanahalli Buswapah Nair
Harpanahalli
3.
Jeremullah Mallekarjun Nair
Kudligi
4.
Bellary Veeramah
Bellary
5.
Kontacondah Chinamah and Timmanah
Adoni
6.
Kapitral Seetamah and Chenamah
Adoni
7.
Adoni
Doodecondah Permall Nair
8.
Pundecondah
Lall Munnee
Adoni
9.
Darumcondah Raman Naig
Adoni
10.
Buswapoor Nundekesloo Naig
Cumbam & Dupad
11.
Poolalcherroo Jelle Devakar
Cumbam & Dupad
12.
Bolapillee Jelle Buswapah
Cumbam & Dupad
13.
Domal Sheshachepatte Nair
Cumbam & Dupad
14.
Rawoor Soobah Nair
Cumbam & Dupad
15.
Kusswerum Bode Mullanah
Cumbam & Dupad
16.
Vencatedripollem Bode Veeramah
Cumbam & Dupad
17.
Whoolgoodah Antapah Nair
Cumbam & Dupad
18.
Nellagoolah Venkatnursoo
Cumbam & Dupad
19.
Hundi Anantapur Siddapah Nair
Hundi Anantapur
20.
Nuddemedoddy Vencanah Nair
Hundi Anantapur
21.
Rayadurg Venkatapathy Nair
Rayadurg
22. Nosum
Nosum Narasimma Reddy
23.
Chitivel Comar Venkat Raghava Raj
Chitivel
24.
Cankee Ramki stum Raj
Koilcoonta
25.
Hunmuntgood and Namepoor Ackamah
Koilcoonta
26.
Singaputtan & Kalwaddah Mijil Expelled
Koilcoonta
Mulla Reddy
27.
Bodyemanoor Boochanah
Koilcoonta
28.
Tipareddepully and Adiredipilly
Duvur
29.
Mootyal Poor
Duvur
30.
Wherapaur Kugputt Reddy
Duvur
31.
Kamalapur
Bapatoor
32.
Yadiki
Talmurlah Konam Raj
33.
Chennumpully
Pyapillee Kondul Nair
34.
Chennumpully
Muddekarah Mallekarjin Nair
35.
Wejurkaroor
Kammalapaaud Gurapah Nair
36.
Gurramkonda
Ghuttum Ragonaut Nair
37.
Gurramkonda
Buttlapoor Cuddriputtee Nair
38.
Gurramkonda
Sompilly Mullapah Nair
39.
Gurramkonda
Timalagoondu Chinna Cuddriputtee Nair
183

Name of the Palegar


SI.
Name of the
Region/District
No.
Yelloottah Vengapah Nair
40. Gurramkonda
Kullibundah Kuddripah Nair
41. Gurramkonda
Baanmullah Vencatadri Nair
42. Gurramkonda
Koolapallem Narism Nair
43. Gurramkonda
Yenagoonta Pollem Cuddriputtee Nair
44. Gurramkonda
Gurramkonda
Madanina
Polley Merch Nair
45.
Muddanpullee Vencatapah Nair
46. Gurramkonda
Peopully Papah Nair
47. Gurramkonda
Tutt Soobah Nair
48. Gurramkonda
Bompicherlah Veerapah Nair
49. Gurramkonda
Mullyal Vencataputtee Nair
50. Gurramkonda
Dodipulle Bori Mulla Nair
51. Gurramkonda
Muddancherruo Buswant Nair
52. Gurramkonda
Kokunte Mullapah Nair
53. Gurramkonda
Marellah Ramah Nair
54. Gurramkonda
Shittiwar Pollem Buswepah Nair
55. Gurramkonda
Yenawar Pollem Timmapah Nair
56. Gurramkonda
Nulcharvo Chinah Nair
57. Gurramkonda
Rungangar Pollem Papy Nair
58. Gurramkonda
Yellamundah Mullapah Nair
59. Gurramkonda
Ganginchintah Moosul Nair
60. Gurramkonda
Maddicherrvo Chinnapah Nair
61. Gurramkonda
Woodynanki
62. Gurramkonda
Yega vamearapahgoontah
63. Gurramkonda
Degavameerapahgoontah
64. Gurramkonda
Talpoor
65. Gurramkonda
Talpoor Mopabal Khan
66. Pulivendala
Kideree Allum Khan
67. Pulivendala
Vemlah Vencataputty Nair
68. Pulivendala
Loputmutlah
69. Pulivendala
Pulivendala
Komanutlah
70.
Nangangoontah Nugg Nair
71. Rayachoti
Rayachoti
Kaloopillee Kudderephtty Nair
72.
Chitalgoontah Bandah Narsimah
73. Rayachoti
Rayachoti
Yedamanum
Pollem Moosed Nair
74.
Nellamunum Pollem Vencatapaty
75. Rayachoti
Motjutlah Soobah Nair
76. Rayachoti
Kopugoondipully Dassi Nair
77. Rayachoti
Jellemundah Singum Nair
78. Rayachoti
Moodeampam Bom Nair
79. Rayachoti
Ruttigherry Royapah Nair
80. Rayachoti
Source: Munros Report to the Board, Old Bellary Records, 12th August,
1801, Vol. 62 (TNA).
184

But contemporary records and Kaifiyat tradition reveals the


fact that there are many more Palegar families

existing in

Rayalaseema besides the above list. The list is as follows :


Table No.II
LIST OF PALEGARS BASED ON KAIFIYATS
s.
No.

1
1
2
3
4
5
6

7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18

19
20
21

Name of the
Palem

Name of the Palegar

Region/
Taluk.

District

Dasaripalli
Yakarlapalem
Mydukur
Mudireddipalle
Janulavaram
Kotakota
Peranipadu
Obulam
Juvualapalli
Mandampalli
Konarajupalem
Chintarayapalem
Juppakalapalli
Gujjulavaripalem
Kondreddipalem
Tonduru
Kottakota
Gangadevipalli
Donepalli
Nallacheruvupalli
Auduru

Viraneni Siddappa Nayudu


Viraneni Vitalpati Nayudu

Proddutur
Proddutur
Proddutur
Proddutur
Proddutur
Proddutur
Proddutur

Cuddapah
Cuddapah
Cuddapah
Cuddapah
Cuddapah
Cuddapah
Cuddapah

Siddavatam
Siddavatam
Siddavatam
Siddavatam
Siddavatam
Siddavatam
Siddavatam
Pulivendula
Pulivendula
Pulivendula
Pulivendula
Pulivendula
Pulivendula
Pulivendula

Cuddapah
Cuddapah
Cuddapah
Cuddapah
Cuddapah
Cuddapah
Cuddapah
Cuddapah
Cuddapah
Cuddapah
Cuddapah
Cuddapah
Cuddapah
Cuddapah

Badvel

Cuddapah

Buchireddi

Badvel

Cuddapah

Kamaboina Kamanayudu
Challaverama nayudu
Korivi Thimma nayudu

Badvel
Badvel
Jammalama
dugu
Jammalama
dugu
Jammalama
dugu
Cuddapah

Cuddapah
Cuddapah
Cuddapah

Pedda Nagappa Nayudu


Basivi nayudu
Ranga Reddi
Sambetu Pinnama
Mahadeva Raju
Venkatanayudu
Kondreddi Lanki Reddi
Putama Krishna Reddi
Yerra Basi nayudu

Thimmala mayudu
Peddagopala nayudu
Chinagopal nayudu
Obulnayudu
Kasinayudu
Choppadevuni Thirupanna
Sambeta Rangaiahdeva
Maharaju
Somadeva Maharaju

24
25
26

Mallemkonda
Durgam
Sarvapuram &
Kalasapdu
Munulapadu
Rekulakunta
Katralatippa

27

Bestvemula

28

Pasupula Thimma Numiki Nayani Basivi


nayudu
Nayunipalem
Venkara Kumara Duli Basi
Putturpalem
nayudu

22
23

29

Vengalaraju Chavdaraju

185

Cuddapah
Cuddapah
Cuddapah

SI.
No.
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52

Name of the
Palem
Maddigundala
Palakonda
Papanayani palli
Peddapalle palem
Mandapampalem
Charlakunta
Singasanipalle
Araviti
Samstanam
Pandikona
Kunkanuru
Kotakonda
Kaptralla
Pattikonda
Maddikera
Gundala
Venkatapuram
Peravali
Teranakallu
Racerla
Paupulli
Chanugondla
Nallapalli
Uyalavada
Rangapuram

Name of the Palegar

Region/
Taluk.
Cuddapah

Cuddapah

Cuddapah

Cuddapah

-Araviti Harusurappa

Rayachoti
Rayachoti
Rayachoti
Badvel
Badvel

Cuddapah
Cuddapah
Cuddapah
Cuddapah
Cuddapah

Lalmuni nayudu
Lachappanayudu
Gopalanayudu
Gadda Mappa nayudu
Pedda Boj jappa nayudu
Mallikarjuna nayudu
Chinna Madappa nayudu
Appanna nayudu
Rangappa nayudu
Gopal nayudu
Narasimha Reddi
Kondal nayudu
Venkatappa nayudu
Rangappa nayudu
Bujja Malla Reddi
Rama nayudu

Pattikonda
Pattikonda
Pattikonda
Pattikonda
Pattikonda
Pattikonda
Dhone
Dhone
Pattikonda
Pattikonda
Dhone
Dhone
Dhone
Dhone
Dhone
Dhone

Kumool
Kumool
Kumool
Kumool
Kumool
Kumool
Kumool
Kumool
Kumool
Kumool
Kumool
Kumool
Kumool
Kumool
Kumool
Kumool

Sambata Veera Narasimha


Raju
Machineni Palakondappa
nayudu
Kadepapinayudu
Bakke Yellamanayudu
--

District

By corroborating the evidences from Munros report and


Kaifiyats, it can be assumed that almost all the forest and hilly
terrains in Cuddapah, Kumool and Anantapur districts were pretended
to be powerful, potential palegars who mobilized the resources to the
states exchequer to a large extent.
Interestingly, the Vijayanagara Kings encouraged the holders
of these semipatrimonial regimes by promoting them from the lower
posts like Inamdar, Talari or Kavaligar to palegar to win their support.
In the following table a list of the palegars and their origin of power is
given.

186

Table No. Ill


LIST OF PALEGARS AND THEIR ORIGIN OF POWER
Sl.No.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41

Name of the Palem


Porumamilla
Chitevelu
Uppaluru
Betalapur (or) Peddapalem
Sompalli
Y erraguntapalem
Madanapalle
Papayapalle
Dudipalle
Maddicheruvu
Komali
Marella
Udayamanikam
Eguvamarappagunta
Deguvamarappagunta
Talupula
Rompicherla
Vemula
Nallamanipalem
Gattupalem
Maddinenipalem
Chattivaripalem
Yallamanda
Gangaiah Chintala
Lopatanutala & Komati Nutala
Nagana Kunta
Gopagudipalli
Kamalapur
Yarravaripalem
Ravuru
Thippareddi palle
Gattu
Ellutla
Kalibanda
Bonamalli
Malyala
Ranganagaripalem
Talupula
Kadiri
Chintagunta Banda
Yarramanyam Palem
187

Post
Palegar
Palegar
Palegar
Palegar
Palegar
Palegar
Palegar
Palegar
Palegar
Palegar
Palegar
Palegar
Palegar
Palegar
Palegar
Palegar
Palegar
Palegar
Palegar
Kavaligar
Kavaligar
Kavaligar
Kavaligar
Kavaligar
Kavaligar
Kavaligar
Kavaligar
Talari
Talari
Renter
Renter
Renter
Renter
Renter
Renter
Renter
Renter
Renter
Renter
Renter
Renter

Sl.No.

42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61

Name of the Palem

Motaguntla
Gillellamada
Madiyampadu
Narsapur
Tettu
Malacheruvu
Maddicheruvu
Thummalgondi
Pandikona
Kunkanuru
Kotakonda
Racerla
Kapatralla
Pattikonda
Gundala
Peravali
Chanugondla
Terenakalu
Peapully
Uyalavada

Post

Renter
Renter
Patel
Dalavai
Dalavai
Dalavai
Dalavai
Dalavai
Kavaligar
Palegar
Palegar
Palegar
Kavaligar
Kavaligar
Palegar
Palegar
Palegar
Palegar
Palegar
Palegar

From the above table, it can be surmised that basing on the


Munros report there were 80 palegars ruling over the Ceded districts
during after the Vijayanagara period. They were unevenly distributed
and their original positions were varied. Out of this eighty, forty nine
Palegars were found in Cuddapah District and the remaining thirty
one belonged to Bellary and Kumool districts.

188

Table No. IV
LIST OF MUNNI KAVALS
SI.
No.

Name of
the
District

Name of the
Taluk

Pattikonda

Kumool

Nandyal

Prakasam

Koilkuntla
Adoni
Markapur

Rayachoti

Cuddapah

Jammalamadugu
Pulivendula
Badvel
Rajampeta
Proddutur

Name of the Village

Pandikona
Maddikera
Kapatralla
Dudekonda
Kotakonda
Pullalacheruvu
Baswapur
Bollupalle
Panyam
Mootlapoor
Adoni
Domal
Naganagunta
Nallamanenipalem
Peddapalli palem
Kullipndah
Gandikota
Lopatnullah
Porumamilla
Narsapur
Rollamadugu
Janulavaram
Dasaripalle
Yakarlapalem

Sidhavatam
Kamalapuram
Cuddapah

Vayalpadu
4

Chittoor
Madanapalle
Gooty

Mandappam-palem
Obuluru
Kamalapur
Yerraguntapalem
Putturupalem
Uppuluru
Rompicherla
Malyala
Chattivaripalem
Komati
Sompalli
Batlapur
Gooty
Teliki

Anantapur
Tadpatri

Yadiki
Tadpatri

189

Name of the Kavilgar

V enkatappanay udu
Mallikarjuna Nayudu
Chota Madappanair
Mallappanair
Venkatappanaidu
Papanaik
Nandikeshunaik
Jalli Baswappanaik
Pedda Ammi Naik
Ranganair
Paramappanaidu
Seshachalapatinaik
Nagayya Nair
Venkatapathi
Kudepudinaidu
Guddipathinair
Junting Rayudu

Seshachalapatinaik
Krishnareddy
Yakarla Yarram Naidu
Basivinayudu
Veeraneyini
Siddappa
Naidu
Veeraneyini Vithalapathi
Naidu
Bukke Yellamanaidu
Venkata Naik
Gurappa Nair
Guddiputti
Dhuli Basi Naidu
Narasimha Reddy
VeerappaNair
Venkatapati Nair
Baswappanair
Mallappa Nair
Mallappa Nair
Vasantappa Naidu
Ramappanaidu
Bebbuli Venkatappa
Naidu
Yerram Naidu
Venkatappa Naidu

Table No. V
LIST OF NAYAL KAVALS

SI.
No.

Name of
the
District

Cuddapah

Chittoor

Name of the
Taluk

Name of the
Village

Name of the
Kavaligar

Rayachoti

Gopanagudipalli

Dasi Nair

Siddhavatam

Mandapam palli

Patam Krishna reddy

Medicheruvu

Baswanthnair

Mallacheruvu

Chinna Nair

Madaneyanpallem

Madhav Nair

Yellamandali

Mallappa Naik

Gangaichentla

Moosel Nair

Medicheruvu

Baswappa Nair

Malacheruvu

Chinna Nair

Diguva
Marappagunta

Timappa Naidu

Vayalapadu

The Vijayanagara Kings by strategically distributing the ruling


power to the Palegars and Kavaligars of different castes and tribes
tried to integrate them in the state polity in order to obtain fiscal and
military gains. See Table below:

190

Table No. VI
CASTE COMPOSITION OF PALEGARS
Name of the Palem

Name of the Kavaligar/


Palegar

Caste/Tribe

Kothakota
Kappatrala
Dudikonda
Pandikona
Pandikona
Maddikera
Aspari
Yakarlapalem
Mandappampalem
Janulavaram
Palakondapanayanipalli
Putturpallem
Konarajupallem
Tonduru
Cehnumumpalle
Kondareddypalle
Kotha Kota
Dasaripalle
Yakarlapalem

Perumappa Nair
Chota Maddappa Nair
Mullappa Nair
Rama Nair
Venkatappa Nair
Mallikarjuna Naidu
Gurijiji Yallava Rayadu
Parusha Rama Naidu
Bakke Yallam Naidu
Basivi Naidu
Machineni Kondappa Naidu
Dulibsinaidu
Yarrabasivi Naidu
Pedda Gopala Naidu
Papanaidu
Timmala Naidu
Chinna Gopal Naidu
Veeranegini Siddappa Naidu
Veeranegini Vithalapathi
Naidu
Pedda Nagappa Naidu
Papanaik
Nundikesulu Naik
Jelli Baswappa Naik
Jelli Dewakar Naik
Rama Naik
Venkata Naik

Golla-Yadava
Golla-Yadava
Golla-Yadava
Golla-Yadava
Boya
Golla-Yadava
Golla-Yadava
Golla-Yadava
Patra Golla
Patra Golla
Patra Golla
Patra Golla
Patra Golla
Patra Golla
Patra Golla
Patra Golla
Patra Golla
Yakari Golla
Yakari Golla

Mude Reddypalem
Pullalacheruvu
Baswapur
Bollupalle
Dormala
Bodeyacheruvu
Obalum
Charlakunta
Sangasanikunta
Chanugondla
Porumamilla
Kapatralla
Vulindakonda
Adoni
Gonegondla
Kotakonda
Gandikota
Chenampalle
Chenampalle

--

Venkanna Naidu
Seshachalapathi Naik
Peddnaidu
Pedda Meddi Naidu
Paramappa Naidu
Nalla Venkatappa Naidu
Venkatappa Naidu
Jutingi Naidu
Papanaidu

191

Yakari Golla
Boya
Boya
Boya
Boya
Boya
Boya
Boya
Boya
Boya
Boya
Boya
Boya
Boya
Boya
Boya
Boya
Boya
Boya

Name of the Palem


Yeddulabanda
Pandillapalle
Gooty
Yadiki
Tadpatri
Teliki
Yadduladoddi
Kotakonda
Panyam
Goruvukelly
Hulagondi
Dudipalli
Eguva Marrappagunta
Diguva Marrappagunta
Kalluru
Tumba
Pulicherla
Bangari
Gudipaka
Rompicherla
Malyala
Madicheruvu
Chattivaripalem
Mala Cheruvu
Somapalli
Batlapur
Kotapadu
Narsapur
Uppaluru
Nandapampalle
Racerla
Nallamanenipalle
Maddenenipalem
Muttayalapadu

Name of the Kavaligar/


Palegar

Venkatappa Naidu
Ramappa Naidu
Yarrama Naidu
Venkatappa Naidu
Bobuli Venkatappa Naidu
Papa Naidu
Guj jula Paramppa Naidu
Venkatappa Naidu
Pedda Ammi Naidu
Handappa Naidu
Borimalla Nair
Venkatappa Naidu
Timmappa Naidu

Veerappa Nair
Venkatapati Nair
Baswanth Nair
Baswappa Nair
Chinna Nair
Mallappa Naidu
Vasanthappa Naidu
Lanki Reddy
Krishna Reddy
Narasimha Reddy
Putaru Krishna Reddy
Kaluri Budda Reddy
Venkatapati Naidu
Modi Naidu
Krishnappa Naidu

Caste/Tribe
Boya
Boya
Boya
Boya
Boya
Boya
Boya
Boya
Boya
Boya
Boya
Eakari
Eakari
Eakari
Eakari
Eakari
Eakari
Eakari
Eakari
Mutracha
Mutracha
Mutracha
Mutracha
Mutracha
Mutracha
Mutracha
Kapu
Kapu
Kapu
Kapu
Kapu
Kamma
Kamma
Sale

THE PALEGARS OF RAYALASEEMA


Rise of Palegar System in Rayalaseema
It has been noted that the palegar system originated as a
peculiar institution in South India under troubled conditions.
Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh accounted for the maximum number
192

of palegars. The palegars did not appear on the political scene either
suddenly or spontaneously.

They came into existence gradually

through stages and as a result of an interplay of historical


circumstances and political considerations. As such they represented
not only the product of the system of the age but also it..... , They
lived and flourished as long as the same situation that gave rise to
them prevailed but declined and vanished when another order came.50
During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the Vijayanagara
rulers had bestowed on or confirmed vassal chiefs, bearing various
titles, sundry tracts in Mysore on conclusion of payment of tribute
and rendering military service.

Those chiefs who were in the

northern parts of the empire were directly controlled from the


imperial capital. The southern chiefs were placed under a viceroy
whose seat of Government was at Srirangapatnam.

The battle of

Tallikota in 1565 was a serious blow and set back to the fortunes of
the Vijayanagara Empire. It enabled some of the ambitious vassals to
arrest themselves. However, the Empire held together and allegiance
continued to be paid to few representatives of the state, now at
Penugonda and to the viceroy at Srirangapatnam.

Only after the

decadence of the Aravidu dynasty, did the chiefs declare themselves


independent.51
THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE
The ceded districts embrace an area of about 26,000 square
miles, nearly half the size of England.

The population of these

districts consists of mainly Telugu-speaking people. The shape of


this area resembles a wedge driving westwards into the Kannada
speaking country, and separating modem Mysore from the Bombay
province.

The ceded districts have always formed a frontier area193

zone within which the pressure of the invasions from the north came
up. At the same time these incursions felt the impact of effective
opposition from the South.

The Vijayanagara became the great

bulwark of strength and resistance against the onslaught of Deccan


Muslims.52
In the sixteenth century the Vijayanagara Empire disintegrated
and by 1800 the ceded districts fell into the hands of the British. In
the beginning the ceded districts were formed with the single
Collectorate of Bellary. In 1807 they were split into the collectorates,
namely, Bellary and Cuddapah. In 1858 Kumool was constituted into
a separate district.

Later in 1882 the District of Ananthapur was

added. It should be noted that the native Fendatory State of Sundar in


the Bellary Collectorate and the princely state of Bangakapally
(Banganapally) in the Kumool Collectorate were separate entities.
They did not come under the jurisdiction of the ceded districts.53
The story of the emergence of the Palegar system in the ceded
district is interesting. Even in the early years of the 16th century we
find the palegars were encouraged and patronized by the imperial
rulers. The mlers themselves were constantly involved in warfare and
needed the services of the chieftains. The Dukes were in perpetual
need of money. It is true that more than the feudatory houses, it was
the palegars who could provide their royal masters with the necessary
funds. These funds were collected from the people by regular and
irregular ways.54
As long as palegars collected the dues in a peaceful way, things
moved on smoothly.

But the movement they indulged in is lost,

pillage and forced exaction, disorder and chaos followed. There were
194

complaints of people being terrorized. These excesses had assumed


such a proportion that even journey on the highways became unsafe.
Such of those chiefs who had been crushed by the imperial army went
underground and began swelling the ranks of wayside robbers. In the
great regime of the celebrated Krishnadevaraya himself, special
Kavalgars with grants of Jagir had to be appointed to provide safety
on the roads.55
The country was plagued by civil wars. There was breakdown
of law and order everywhere.

Consequently the authority of the

central government was weakended.

The powers of the palegars

increased to such an extent that they began to rule themselves as


independent princes in their own sphere of influence. It was also true
that some Kavalgars who had acquired Polloms or Palayams during
the Vijayanagara period became palegars in the 19th century. The
palegars who were basically war-lords enjoyed plenty of powers.
Some of them having their armed camps in the heart of the forest
turned to be naturally free-footers.

Others could trace thief

connections with old houses, high officials or revenue officials under


ancient kingdoms.56
After their victory over the Vijayanagara, the Golkonda Sultans
could not establish their political ascendency over the conquered
territory. Therefore in the absence of any effective central authority,
in the power vacuum created by the collapse of the Vijayanagara
Kingdom, local chiefs and palegars could easily emerge powerful and
various other circumstances enabled them to exercise sovereign rights
within their jurisdiction. The independence of the palegars continued
under the weak rulers of king Tirumalaraya who had his seat of power
at Penukonda.

57

195

During the hegemony of the deccan sultans, the palegars


assumed even more power. Adoni was lost to the sultan of Bijapur
from the descendant of Vijayanagara. Following this a great part of
Bellary district was swallowed by a number of palegars. In 1677 the
Marata leader Shivaji captured the Fort of Bellary and subdued a few
palegars when actually the sultan of Bijapur capitulated Bellary to
Shivaji, the palegars of the district began paying to the Chatrapathi
the customary tribute called the Chautu.58
In 1687 the Mughul Emperor Aurangazeb annexed both
Bijapur and Golkonda to the Mughul Empire.

Despite the

development, the palegars still enjoyed their Polloms in a state of


semi-independence. In 1723 Asaf Jah, the Mughal viceroy of Deccan
declared his independence and thus was troubled.

The Maratas

continued to collect tribute from the palegars. In 1713 Sundur was


seized by the Maratas from palegar chief.59
Exactly at this time a new power was rising in the Southern
State of Mysore. In 1761, Hyder Ali who was in the service of the
Hindu Raja family of Mysore overthrew the Raja and usurped power.
He moved through Bellary and received submission of the palegars
there. In 1776 when the palegars to the Subedhar of Deccan, Hyder
Ali attacked him with the help of the French. Later Hyder Ali himself
took the Fort of Adoni. The Subedhar and all the palegars of Bellary
including

those

of Adoni,

Harapanahalli

acknowledged the supremacy of Mysore.

and

Hyder Alis son Tippu

Sultan dismantled the fortifications of Adoni in 1786.60

196

Rayadurgam

THE BRITISH IN THE RAYALASEEMA


The districts ceded to the company by the Nizams government
in October, 1800 were for the purpose of defraying the costs of a
subsidiary force in Hyderabad. From its western border in Bellary to
the eastern border in Cuddapah, the territory of the ceded districts
extended over 200 miles. The largely monotonous and treeless ceded
districts plain, sloping from west to east, and ranging between 3000
and 1000 feet above sea level, were cut by many river systems. There
were the Tungabhadra in the North and West, the Pennar Cheyyaru
systems in the west, but only the Pennar opens to a banish of any size,
in Cuddapah. High as well as dry, the ceded districts lay within low
rainfall zone which stretches from Maharastra to Cape Comorin. The
rainfall is very low.

It was therefore an area with a high risk of

drought.61
Agriculture in the harsh environment was a risky operation.
Grinding poverty, punctuated by famine was the lot of its people. In
1805 Munro reported that the ryots of the ceded districts were
divisible with those classes a better sort of about 20% of land
holding. A midlingsort of 45% of patta class and a poorer sort,
holding the balance of 35% land.

Approximately 54% of the

population was engaged in agriculture. The British also found the


political condition in the ceded districts was as hard as the palegorical
features.
PALEGARS OF RAYALASEEMA IN THE COMPANY
Munro as the chief collector of the ceded districts was charged
to introduced regular government into a province hither to
unsubdued. He had to suppress the evils arising from the weakness of
the Nizams government. He had to cope with 30,000 armed retainers
197

of palegars who roamed the countryside. Almost everywhere these


local chiefs or palegars had constituted their governments.62
THE PALEGARS OF BELLARY
The origin of the Bellary palegar family is shrouded in
obscurity.

The ancestors of this family appear to be a Kuruba

(shepherd caste) named Hanumappa Nayaka.

Several palegar

families like those of Bellary, Harapanahalli, Jarannali rose


immediately after the fall of the Vijayanagara empire. The above
mentioned Khuruba ancestor seems to have been an officer of the
Vijayanagara Kingdom.

In that capacity he acquired the areas of

Kurugodu and Takkalakota from the Adil Shah of Bijapur on


payment of a tribute and performance of military service with three
thousand peons. His successors ruled Bellary until 1631.63
The successors of Hanumappa Nayaka ruled Bellary till 1631,
when the Muslims took over the areas and ruled over them for some
time. Two more of the palegar families namely, Chikka Malahappa
and Chikka Nayaka Shaheb also had some authority. In 1678 Marata
chief Shivaji had become the master of the fort for a while. The fort
was however restored to the family on payment of a tribute. In 1788
Emperor Aurangzeb became the master of these areas after
suppressing the Maratas.
About 1692 the palegar family again obtained authority over
the Bellary Fort and succession of palegars like Devappa Nayaka,
Harippa Nayaka II, Hire Ramappa, Chikka Ramappa, Neelamma, and
Deddatale Ramappa ruled till the invasion of Hyder Ali on Bellary in
1775 who seized the fort. The palegar of Bellary witnessed the rise
and fall of their destiny in this way.64

198

PALEGARS OF HARAPANAHALLI
The Harapanahalli family was the most powerful of all the
palegar families in the district with a long history. The founder of
this line was a Beda named Dadayya.

Following the fall of

Vijayanagara in 1565 Dadayya made himself master of Bagali and


Nilagenda with the areas around them.

Dedayya attacked and

defeated Kenganna Nayaka of Besavapatra. He married the daughter


of Jakkanna on whose behalf he went to war with Venganna Nayaka.
He received as a reward the hill fort of Chitradurga then controlled by
the Chitradurga palegar.65
After some time when Dadayya quarreled with his father-inlaw, he married again the daughter of the palegar of Jaramali, the
palegar of Gudikota and the chief of Bilichodu in Chitradurga
Daddayya died in 1592.
Adilshab of Bijapur.

Daddayya was forced to pay tribute to

But on the decline of Bijapur, Dadayyas

successors extended their possessions.

Now Harapanahalli estate

consisted of 460 villages with an income of over eight lakhs of


rupees. In 1680 the Harapanahalli palegar acknowledged the Maratha
suzerainty.
Many successors of Daddayya ruled till the time of Shwara
Nayaka in 1766, during whose time Harapanahalli reached the height
of its prosperity, According to Munro he paid a peshkash of 12,000
pagodas to the Nizam, 6,000 to the Raja of Gooty, and from two to
three lakhs of pagodas to the peshwa.66
In 1775, Harapanahalli was taken by Haider Ali. However in
1792 the Fort was retaken with the help of the Marats. Somasekara
was the last of the Harapanahalli palegars. After his death in 1825 the
199

East India Company refused to recognize the rights of his widows and
resumed to estate, after pensioning off the widows.
PALEGARS OF JARAMALI
The founder of this house of palegars was one Pennappa
Nayaka, who received Jarmali as a reward from the Vijayanagara
King, Achyutaraya for his services in seizing rebellious chiefs. After
the fall of Vijayanagara, he consolidated his position.

Later on

Jarmali palegar suffered at the hands of Adil Shah of Bijapur and the
chiefs of Chitradurga and Harapanahalli.

However, the Mysore

Sultan Haider Ali reinstated him in his estate in 1777. Pennappas


troubles did not end there. He was again troubled by Tipusultan. In
the partition treaty of 1799 Jamali was made over to the Nizam and
when Bellary was ceded to the East India Company in 1800, he took
refuge in Mysore.67
RULERS OF SANDUR
The Ghorpades related to the Bhonsles of the Maratha family
ruled over Sandur since the 18th century and held their fort till 1749
when its administration was transferred to the dominion government.
Siddojirao was the ancestor of the Sandur house.

His son and

successor Murari Rao was the most famous chief of Sandur. He ruled
from Gooty.

Haider Ali and Tippu Sultan of Mysore captured

Sandur. After the peace treaty between the East India Company and
Tippu in 1792 the Ghorpades were allowed to retain Sandur.
Shivarao was the ruler of Sandur when Bellary was ceded to
the East India Company in 1800. But Sir Thomas Munro marched to
Sadur and took over the state. However, Shivarao was restored to
Sandur in 1818. Shivaraos son Venkata Rao also was given a sandal
200

right by the East India Company.

Sandur continued to be a

dependency of the British till the independence of India. In 1949 the


ruler signed the merger agreement and was pensioned off.
THE PALEGARS OF KURNOOL
Sir Thomas Munors memorandum of the palegars of ceded
districts has listed about twenty two palegars of the Kumool District.
1. The Kotakonda Palegars
The ancestor of this house Perampa Nair was originally a
Tallairay of the village of Gongantla in Kumool. After the fall of the
Vijayanagara, he consolidated his position around Kawali, Gadwal,
Raichoor, and Mudgal. A partition took place in the time of Mudapa
Nair, a descendant of Permapa, between two branches of the family.
The palegars met with a set back during the invasions of Haider Ali.
Munro pensioned off the surviving family members of the palegar
house.68
2. Palegars of Kappatralla
When Haider Ali reduced the Kumool District, the Palegar
Chota Madappa, then a boy escaped. But he was brought back in
1777. Bassalat Jang gave him the two villages of Rajula Mandagiri
and Kannuka for his maintenance.

In 1788 Mahabat Jang gave

Kappatralla in rent of Madapa. The successors of Madapa fortified


Kappatralla. In 1799 both Kappatralla and Kotakonda were placed
under Amaldoss, while the family members of the old house were
pensioned off.
3. Doddi Konda
During the Vijayanagara days Mulappa Nair was the Kavalgar
of Doddikonda and Pundikonda. His sons rented their districts. One
201

of his sons Papa Nair was rated by the camel at canteroy pagodas
1,127. After the East India Company took over the estate the palegar
was granted a pension for his maintenance.
4. Palegars of Pandikona
The palegar of the estate was Lall Muni who had descended
from Ramat Nair who was powerful during the Vijayanagara days.
The service was remitted by Asaf Jah and the Peshcush was raised to
800 pagodas. Under the company rule the palegar received a small
pension.
5. Palegar of Devana Konda
The family served under the Vijayanagara Kings. The palegar
was Raman Naik. His son was forcibly converted to Islam by Nazir
Jang for causing some disturbance. A part of his territory was taken
over. He rebelled again in 1768, but he died in 1795 after having beer
restored his villages by Mahabat Jang. The company had granted
them palegar, Hussain Naik, a pension.69
6. Palegar of the Bashwapur
Papa Nair, the ancestor of the palegar of Beshwapur served
under the Vijayanagara Kings.

When the Hyderabad rulers

conquered the estate, Papah was allowed to retain his Jagir.


Aurangazebs officer further reduced their services. There was a civil
war in the time of Rangapa Naik among his sons. This enabled the
Mysore ruler Tipusultan to inferfere in the affairs of Bahswapur. In
1791, the then palegar Nundikeshoo Naik failed to pay the peshwakh
and attend the cutcherry.

He was expelled and the district was

resumed by the company.

202

7. Palegar of Pullal Cheruvu


This palegar descended from Papa Naik. In 1719 this Palegar
was incharge of 55 villages. But 45 of his villages were by a Royal
samad given to Jagir Akbar Khan and Sher Zeman Khan. In 1779 the
Palegars expelled by Haider Ali and fled to Kamatak. But he took
possession of his districts in 1791. When the British took over the
Palayam the palegar refused to attend the cutcherry he was expelled.
8. Palegar of Bollupalli
This palegar Jelli Baswapa Naik was the descendant of Raja
Naik. When the inheritance was divided in 1712, his ancestors got
for their share 13 of the old villages and one new village given by the
Nawab of Cuddapah.

The income amounted to 3791 cantary

pagodas. Haider Ali expelled the then palegar in 1779. But his son
recovered the districts. When the country was ceded to the company
new villages were resumed.
cutcherry he was expelled.

For having refused to come to the

70

9. Palegar of Syayapanyni
The ancesters of the present palegar Seshachalapanthi Naik
served under the Vijayanagara Kings with 500 peons. The position of
the family was not disturbed by the conquest of the country by the
kings of Hyderabad. The Nawabs of Cuddapah gave the family 38
additional villages making the total 56 villages with a rent of
camteroy pagoda 13,992. Haider Ali had taken over the palayam in
1779.71
10.Palegar of Rawar
Under Aurangzeb the ancestor of Suba Naik obtained 13
villages in rent worth camteroy pagodas 3,127. The rent under the
203

Cuddapah Nawabs was further reduced.

But in 1779 Haider Ali

raised the rent. Under Tipu Sultan the palegar continued to enjoy the
same privileges. When their company took over the district a pension
was granted to the palegar.
11. Palegar of Chapalandugu
The family rented seven villages under the Hyderabad Kings.
Under Aurungazeb they paid only camteroy pagodas 65, but
maintained 50 peons. The Cuddapah Nawabs and Haidar Ali raised
the rent. The palegar held his palayam privately under the sultans
government. In 1792 the Nizams officers gave him an additional
village. When the British took over he was granted a pension of Rs.
26 a month.
12. Palegar of Venkatadri
Palegar Boliveeranna descended from the same ancestors and
rented 25 villages in all under the Hyderabad Kings. From the total
of 300 peons they maintained, the amount was reduced to just 100 by
the Cuddapah Nawab in 1712.

During Haider Alis invasion the

palegar fled the country. Under the company he enjoyed a meagre


pension.
13.Palegar of Wurlagunta
In 1642, the ancestor of Antapah Naik obtained a Jagir of 7
villages with canteroy pagodas 452 and the service of 50 peons. The
Cuddapah Nawabs remitted the service. The villages were resumed
by Haider Ali till they were made over to the Nizam. The palegar
was allowed a pension of conteroy pagodas 36 by the company.

204

14. Palegar of Nalligala


The ancestors of palegar Venkatarasu was a vassal of the
Vijayanagara Rayas with 200 peons.

When Vijayanagara Empire

declined he seized 9 villages, but was expelled by the Hyderabad


Kings and Aurangzeb. The Cuddapah Nawabs remitted the service
and raised the rent. During Haider Alis invasion palegar fled and
returned later. The Nizams officers further lowered the rent. Under
the company a pension of camteroy pagodas 50 was granted to him.72
15. Palegar of Koilkuntla
This was a vast palayam with 2000 peons whose ancestors
were vassals under the Vijayanagara Rayas. The palegars extended
their territory when Vijayanagara declined but their power was
reduced by the Hyderabad Kings.

Palegar Gopal Reddy and his

brother Krishna Reddy were deprived of some of their old villages.


However, Daulat Khan gave them additional villages. The palayam
suffered under Haider Ali in 1776. The palegars defaulted payment
to the company. When the Nizams officer besieged the well-known
palegar Nosam Reddy the British intervined and took over the
palayam.
16. Palegar of Owke
The predecessors of palegar Rama Krishna Raj served under
the Rayas of Vijayanagar from whom they got a Jagir in 1450 of
Kamulrent canteroy pagodas 10,514. The Jagir continued under the
kings of Hyderabad. Aurangzeb resumed it, but the palegar enjoyed
other villages. In 1778 the palegar submitted to Haider Ali. Under
Tipu sultan the palegar fled the country.

In 1798 he was again

permitted to rent a small village, Nettoor. The company gave him a


pension.
205

17. Palegar of Bademmanur


Originally the palegars of this palayam were a branch of the
Hanumatguddam family. They held the village rated at Kamul rent
697 conteroy pagodas to maintain 50 peons. Under Aurangzeb they
obtained four additional villages. In 1778 the poligan was expelled
by Haider Ali. His wife was restored by the Nizams officers in 1792.
She lost the right of inheritance for the adopted so when the company
took over the estate.
18. Palegar of Mutialpad
Ranga Naidu, Kavalgar of Mutialpad or Muthipur served under
the Vijayanagara Rayas with 700 peons, on the fall of the Empire the
palegar was permitted to hold the village by the Hyderabad Kings.
When the district was resumed by Aurangazeb, the Nawab of
Cuddapah, restored it to the palagar. Haider Ali expelled him but
Tipu sultans amildars permitted him to run the estate privately.
When the company took over the palayam, the famil of was extinct.
19. Palegar of Whurapur
Viswapal Reddy was the palegar of Racheda under the
Vijayanagara Rayas. On the conquest of the country by the Muslims
he obtained Whurpur and some other villages in rent worth canteroy
pagodas 2,600 for the day of 200 peons. The pay was reduced under
Aurangazeb, but restored by the Nawab of Cuddapah. The palegar
was taken off by Haider Ali but released later. When the palayam
was taken over by the English, the palegar was left with only
Whurapur.

206

20. Palegar of Pyapilli


The ancestors of the house were raised by the Vijayanagara
Kings to command 10,000 peons, the Kamul rent being canteroy
pagodas 23,400.

The Hyderabad Kings continued the Jagir with

reduced number of peons. Aurangazeb fixed the service at 800 peons.


The Cuddapah Nawab resumed some villages leaving the palegar 37
villages. In 1774 Haider Ali entertained the then palegar with a party
of peons. Tipusultan carried him to Srirangapatnam in 1785. The
company relieved him of his services.
21. Palegar of Maddikera
The founder of the family was granted a Jagir by the
Vijayanagara Kings.

The Hyderabad Kings continued the Jagir.

Aurangzeb granted seven villages. Haider Ali resumed the palayam


and granted the palegar an annual allowance. Tipu sultan hanged him
in 1789. The company removed the palegar with a small pension.73
All the palegars of Kumool whose fortunes have been
discussed in the forgiving pages had some thing in common. Their
origin began with the Vijayanagara Empire. The Hyderabad Kings
and the Cuddapah Nawab had been considerate to them.

They

suffered set backs during the invasions of Haider Ali and Tipu sultan.
Perhaps the company found them to be a restless and dangerous lot.
Their power was ended and all their services were dispensed with.
The company considered it wise to take over the palayuams and keep
the powerful palegars at arms length by giving them a pension. Of
all the districts of Rayalaseema, Kumool seems to top the list in the
number of palegars, nearly one fourth of the total amount.

207

22. Palegars of Cuddapah


The most important and the earliest of the palegars of
Cuddapah were the Matli chiefs.

The fluctuating fortunes of the

ruling dynasties of the region resulted in the rise of the palegars. As


the imperial power declined, numerous chieftains ruling over smaller
territories asserted themselves and attempted to expand.74
THE MATLI CHIEFS
These chiefs were more than petty chieftains because their
territory was equal to a principality and from the beginning of the 17th
century at least they assumed the title of Raja.

They were the

chieftains of the Cuddapah District; holding sway over Siddhavatam,


Jammalamadugu, Chennuru and other places. According to reliable
evidences, these chiefs were powerful at Pottappisima and Pulugur
Nadu.75
The Matli chiefs belonged to the Devachoda family. Claiming
descent from old Chola kings, they assumed the title of CholaMaharaja. One of the famous chiefs of the line named Varadayya
Devachola Maharaja built an irrigation canal, Anantaraga-Kaluva at
Pottappi. Similarly another chief Matla Tirumalaraja gifted a village
to Brahmins for the sake of agrahara.
Matla Ananta Deva Choda, another chief of the same family
gifted land followed by yet another scion named Kumara Ananta
making a similar grant.

76

Muthakumara Anantaraja, also is landed in the inscriptions as a


great donor of land. The name of a Matli chief Venkata Krishnaraja

208

son of Perumal Raju, is associated with the building of a shrine to the


tank which had been constructed by Bacharasu Timmarasu.77
Among the Math chiefs are Yellamaraja and his son
(pedda=big) Ananta seemed to have been celebrated figures.

The

Kondaraja brothers had hold important places as Nayankaras under


Sri Ranga I of the Aravinda dynasty. Yellamaraja and his son joined
Venkatapati ruling from Chandragiri. When the Kondarajas tried to
expand their power, Yellamaraja was sent against them on the
promise that he would be made the chief of Siddhavatam in the event
of his victory over the Kondarajas. In the battle that followed the
chiefs of Siddhavatam were killed.

Chennuru was captured by

Tirumalaraju, the brother Palams like Duwuru, Porumavilla,


Kamalapuram and Baddevolu were also submitted.78
Matli Ananta, who was a commander during the attack on
Siddavatam defeated the Sardar of the fort of Gurramkonda in support
of Venkatapati II. He was against the Qutbsahis. He claimed to have
supported the Sultans of Golkonda. Ananta is reputed to have
supported a rebellion of Nandyala Krishnamaraju in the battle of
Jambulamadaka-Jamalamadugu Ananta was also a patron of letters.
The Hyyalaraju poets, Ayyala and Bhaskara adorned his court.
Ananta himself was the author of Kakutta Vijayam and other
Nibhandagrandha (commentries).
When the ceded districts were brought under the control of the
British, Cuddapah region was dominated by Palegars of strength and
renowned

palegars

of

Chitual,

Tippireddipalem, Uppalur, Kamalapur,

Pormamila,
Bonamala,

Narasapath,
Yerraguntla,

Sethivaripalem, Vemula, Lopatinuntla, Kommanutla, Gopagudipalle


209

and Mudimpadu were behaving as sovereign chieftains: They had


their own royal costumes, retinue and courts.
But the companys forces which were superior in military
strength over-powered the palegars. What the Nawabs of Cuddapah,
the kings of Hyderabad, Haider Ali and Tipu, could not achieve, the
British were able to achieve without much difficulty.
THE PALEGARS OF ANANTAPUR
The important palegar families of the Anantapur District had
their origin in the days of the Vijayanagara Rajas. Among the most
prominent chiefs of Anantapur, we have the Hande chiefs, the
Kuchipudi chiefs and the Harate chiefs.

All these families took

advantage of the disturbed political conditions following the fall of


the Vijayanagara Empire and consolidated their power in the 17th
century.
1. The Hande Chiefs
The family of chiefs originated during the period of Kamaraya,
the regent of Sidasivaraya, Hanumappa, one of the Hande chiefs
received Anantapur from the regent as a reward for supressing a
rebellion against the Raya. During the reign of Sriranga I, the Hande
chief Timmappa Nayudu asserted independence and joined hand with
Ali Adil Sha during his invasion of Penukonda. Malakappa Nayudu,
grandson of Hanumappa frequently shifted his loyalty. But finally his
estates were annexed by Sriranga to Vijayanagara.
Malakappa was followed by a number of chiefs who ruled for
short periods.

The region finally came under the control of the

Mughals during the reign of Aurangzeb.

210

During the times of

Ramappa (1740-1752 A.D) one of the later Hande chiefs, the Maratas
brought the Hande chiefs under control.79
Ramappa was a warrior who successfully conducted expedition
against Siddappa of Anantapur and the palegar of Rayadurg. But he
was assassinated by the palegar of Bellary.
Ramappas son Siddappa was the last great Hande palegar. In
1775 Haider Ali enhanced the peshcush to be paid by the Hande
chiefs. Unfortunately his estate fell with arrears of peshcush. He was
arrested by Haider Ali and his property was attached. His sons were
taken to Srirangapattnam. Tipu Sultan hanged all the male members
of the Hande family.

The chief was finally pensioned off by Sir

Tomas Munro in 1800.80


2. The Kundurpi Chiefs
The Kundurpi family in the Kalyandurg region came to
prominence under the Aravidu dynasty.

The chief Koneti Nayaka

received Penukonda from Venkata II as a fief.

From the Bijapur

sultan, Koneti Nayaka received Kundurpi in exchange for Penukonda.


Soon after Koneti Nayaka established his control over Rayadurg.
Koneti hand an abiding interest in the welfare of his subjects.
Konetis son Venkatapathi Nayaka protected his estate from the
evil designs of the chiefs of Chitradurg. He was also interested in the
welfare of the peasant community.

Timmappa, the infant son of

Venkatapati, succeeded him. His mother Lachacha Rama Amavaru


repulsed the attacks of the palegars of Chitradurg.
assumed the title ofMaharaja.

211

Timmappa

Koneti Nay aka II was one of the most powerful of the


Kundurpi family. In alliance with the palegars of Harpanahalli and
Bendur he attached the palegar of Chitradurg and killed him.
In 1787 Tipu Sultan captured the fort of Rayadurg and sent the
palegar and his family to Srirangapattnam. Rayadurg thus became a
part of Tipus territory. After the death of Tipu, the British took over
the Palayam and the last Hande chief Raja Gopal Nayaka, was
pensioned off.
3. The Harati Chiefs
The Harati chiefs ruling over Nidugul were the vassals of the
Vijayanagara Raja Venkata II.

The Harati chief Hotenna Nayaka

received the territory of Nidugaldurg. This chief built the towns of


Dodderi and Harati and named them after his ancestral homes. At his
death, he divided his estate among his seven sons who fell an easy
prey to the attacks of the Bijapur army. Most of the Harati chiefs are
referred to as Mahanayaka charges in the inscriptions. It is clear from
this that the chiefs began their careers as petty officials and later
consolidated themselves when the empire declined. Among the Harati
chiefs of Nidugal, Thimma Nripa was contemporary of Sriranga III.
Most of the inscriptions of Harati palegars are found in Madakasira
taluq.
Sir Tomas Munros Memorandum listed about eighty palegars
totally in the ceded districts. It was not possible to give an account of
all of them in the foregoing pages. Only the most important palegars
and their territories have been mentioned. One common factor that
emerges as a result of an analysis of the palegar families of the ceded
districts is that the story of the rise and fall is similar to a large extent.
212

Almost all these palayams came into existence as an


administrative exigency of the Vijayanagara Empire in the 16th
century. Their fortunes began to fluctuate according to the rulers of
the moment at the decline of the Vijayanagara Empire and under the
new masters like the King of Hyderabad, the Nawabs of Cuddapah,
the Mysore rulers like Haider Ali and Tippu Sultan and finally the
East India Company.
The British found it necessary to contain the power of the
palegars of the ceded districts, if law and order should prevail there
and collection of revenue increase. According to companys sources,
bad faith of former governments, and the arbitrary and treacherous
conduct of their officers often drove the palegars to seek their safety
in resistance;

But the motive of rendering themselves entirely

independent or extending their territory or displaying their absund


also made them aggressive. Therefore depriving them of all power
and granting them an allowance either in land or money, for their
maintenance, was the only plan that promised to ensure internal
peace.

82

The good consequences of the vigorous operations were not


confined to the particular districts whose refractory chiefs have been
expelled, but extended to every part of the ceded territories occupied
by the palegars, upon whom they had made such an impression, that
very few of them have, of late, opposed the civil authority. Having
described the vicissicitudes of the palegars of the ceded districts, it
becomes necessary to study their duties, powers and status.

213

FUNCTIONS, POWERS AND STATUS OF THE PALEGARS


The palegars were entrusted with certain functions, powers and
thereby they have enjoyed a special status. The palegar system was
are lie of the Vijayanagara administration. In order to protect the out
lying forests, and the remote mountain tracts, the Rayas used to
station at strategic places adventurers and grant them one of the
villages as Jagir. These men were permitted to erect forts at such
centres.
These military chieftains who later came to be called the
palegars enjoyed different degrees of power. The palegars whose
palayams were located in the heart of the jungles were in fact free
hooters or leaders of bandit gangs.
The main duty of the palegars was policing work in their own
area or sometimes it extended to the protection of the lives and
property of the travellers in the neighbourhood.

This was

accompanied by monetary exactions which led to oppression. They


collected levies on land revenue and customary taxes called cavally.
The palegars were made the custodians of the public property.
Sometimes they settled civil disputes or boundary disputes of land. In
these cases their rule was of a harassing nature.

84

The palegar was entrusted with the responsibility of giving


military protection to those living under his jurisdiction. He rendered
service to his sovereign whenever the occasion arose. Sometimes he
dared to defy his authority also. In a way the duties of the palegars
were similar to the obligations of the feudal barons of medieval
Europe and Jagirdars and the Zamindars of the Mughal days.85

214

The palegars kept the best part of their land for their own
cultivation and distributed the rest of their personal estate among the
chief inhabitants on condition of military service. The recipients and
their followers cultivated the land in times of peace and rendered
military service during war.

Thus the palegars could mobilise a

sizable number of troops in an emergency at short notice.


The palegars share of the produce literally meant public
expense. Normally it was fifty per cent of the yield. The palegars
share was regulated by Mamool or custom. However, all kinds of
abuses were practised. The exaction in a palegar territory did not
appear as oppressive as they did in the circar territory.

In

consequence the oppressed ryots fled the circars country to the


palayams.86
THE ARMED GUARDS OF THE PALEGAR
The way of life of the palegars there assumed superiority and
their vanity brought compulsions on them to maintain a large retinue
in their service. In order to assort their rights and to make a show of
appearance in public, it was necessary for the palegars to be attended
by range bodies of armed personnel.

Hence the military

establishments consumed a large part of their resources.


Amaram peons, Cuttabudi peons and the Mercenary peons
constituted the armed retinue of the palegars. The first two categories
were paid in land and the latter in money and grain. The amaram
poens were granted lands on a hereditary basis. They also paid quit
rent for their land at a reasonable rate. These peons were commanded
by a Sardar at a reasonable rate. They should take a pledge of loyalty
and serve their masters with great ability.87

215

The Amaram peons were given the liberty to choose the arms
they liked to use. In case of sickness or minority they were permitted
to send a substitute for service. They attended to the summons of the
palegar and prevented thefts in the village and other irregularities. In
the event of failing to trace a thief they were required to make good
the loss. Their estates could be forfeited if they failed to discharge
their duties.
The Cuttabudi peons also received land grants on hereditary
basis. Ryots doing military service, received land grants of waste
fields in lieu of pecuniary wages. They served the palegars with their
own weapons and restored any property stolen in the villages
entrusted to their dare. The mercenary peons were recruited only in
times of emergency. During active service all the three groups of
armed men received subsistence in money and grain, exclusive of
their usual privileges. The palegar trained a body of men in the use of
arms. The peons considered the rights of the chief as paramount and
his orders as their only law.

These subordinate military

establishments served as a potential source of service to a regular

administration.

88

PALEGAR AND KAVAL


The Kaval was the police establishment maintained by the
palegar.

The literary meaning of the word Kaval is watch.

The

person who performed Kaval duty was designated as the Kaval


Kara or TalagarV. Till the time of the Mughul invasion the palegar
and Kaval systems existed side by side. The early palegars did not
perform Kaval duties in the circar area. But in later times the palegar
system absorbed the Kaval.

216

Since ancient days villages had their own Koval Karars who
were appointed either by the local bodies or by the rulers. There were
different categories of the watchmen like the government, district,
regional and village Kavalgars. The watchmen protected the grain,
cattle and other domestic property of the inhabitants and looked after
the roads and markets.

The wage for the Kavalgars was called

Stalam Kaval consisting of a portion of the crop, sometimes they


were paid in cash also.89
The Kaval system was based on the practical axiom of using a
thief to catch a thief. The responsibility of apprehending a thief was
usually entrusted to the Kallars and Maravars.

Who were

professional robbers. This amounted to rectifying a social evil by the


application of a self-corrective remedy.
Palegari and Kaval systems were not contradictory to each
other but complementary. The palegars rendered service to the king
and defended the homeland from external aggression and internal
confusion. The Kavalgars performed police duties and maintained
internal orders.

Palegars looked after the Palayams while the

Kavalgars were concerned with the circar villages.

The people

financially supported both the institutions. It was necessary to allow


both the institutions to exist side by side so that one could support the
other.90
The two systems got integrated during the political chaos
created by the Mughul invasions.

The collapse of the existing

administrative set up exposed the inhabitants to an atmosphere of


constant threat.

The central government failed to protect the

Kavilgars in the discharge of their responsibilities.


217

The natural

resource for the people was to their palegars. The chiefs welcomed
the opportunity.

In return for protection the palegars received a

tribute or protection money from the inhabitants called the Deshkaval.


The palegars became more influential and wealthy as a result of
assuming the new responsibility. The next logical step was the
expansion of the palegars military camp.

Thus the palegars grew

powerful in the service to the circar and to the villages.91


PAYMENTS AND PERKS FOR THE RETINUE
Payment to the armed establishment of the palegar was made
both in cash and kind. Money payments were only nominal because
none of the poligars men received the exact amount of money which
was originally fixed.

Anyway the people received the payment

attached importance to it, irrespective of the fact whether they


received the full amount or not. If they were dissatisfied, they were
free to leave the place. But the hope of getting the areas at some
point of time prevented them from quitting the palayam.
The armed men carried on a precarious existence when they
were not paid fully. What sustained them was a little charity or loans
even the money they exacted by oppression, money payments to the
Palegars men were rare. The common mode of payment which was
equivalent to money payment was to be given in a group of eight or
ten peons an order to the amount of their pay on a renter or ryot who
had fallen three or four years in arrears of revenue and on criminals
who defaulted to pay fines imposed on them.92
It is believed that even to get these orders the peons bribed the
revenue officials. On the passing of the orders the demands were
considered adjusted. If the amount was not enough some times the
218

peons sold the orders at a discount of fifty or sixty per cent. In case
the peons did not dispose of the order they received a batta from the
person concerned. If he refused, his personal effects were plundered.
Sometimes the peons relatives and friends brought about a
compromise by selling his ploughs and cattle and with their own
contributions.93
When the peons or other servants received their payments
partly in cash and partly in grain, they got a particular quantity of
grain in advance at a price one or two hundred per cent above the
market rate.

Orders issued on the place of money payments on

amuldars renters and ryots for a particular quantities again were


considered equivalent to a money payment. This practice of issuing
grain order was prevalent in the Palayams of Venkatagiri and
Kalahasti.
Land assignments in the place of remuneration were of
Amarum tenure or Cattubady tenure. In case of Amarum tenure, the
rent was fixed on a concession basis. A village placed under the
amarum tenure was handed over to eight or ten peons who collected
the tax in the capacity of mirasdars and paid the rent as originally
fixed. This was to encourage the peasants or else they might desert
the village. However, the palegars were careful in not making over
the productive village which the peons would enjoy free from any
imposition beyond the originally fixed rent.

The palegars also

demanded presents called cutnums or Nuzzers under threats of ejected


from their villages, till at last by degrees they paid nearly equal to the
full value of their villages.94

219

The Cattubady peons were all ryots.

They received

assignments of jungle and waste lands for cultivation in the place of


fixed money payment. These peons received loans from the palegars
for the initial year of cultivation which they repaid in installments.
When their lands became productive the palegars exacted from the
peons presents annually which was considered the rent of their lands.
First levied as customary mamool present, they became a regular
feature thereafter.

When the peons improved their lands and

purchased implements further presents were exacted.

In case of

refusal to pay they were dispossed. To avoid any such calamity the
additional rents were paid grudgingly. In addition to these, extraoridinary presents should be given by the peons on the occasion of the
palegars marriage and the consecration of the temple.
Both the above categories of land were based on the principle
of inheritance in the male line. On default of heirs the estate was
escheated to the palegar.

The two group of servants rendered

identical duties in regard to prevention of robbery. On distinction in


battles, the peons received handsome rewards from the palegar. The
differences between the Amaram and Cuttabudi tenures were more
nominal than substantial.95
MODE OF COMBAT
The palegars were experts in irregular warfare. The sarabogies
which were a kind of park-guns were fixed to assemble their troops.
The commonly used weapons were cannon, muskets, wall piece,
shields, swords, match locks, pipes, long bamboo spears, daggers,
slings, bows and arrows.96

220

Clay pellets prepared by mixing the white of the egg with clay
served as bullets.

Rockets also were used.

The Valathadi or

boomerang was a peculiar weapon used by the palegars.97


The palegars constructed forts with mud or stone on the cotton
plain or on the hills for the sake of defence. The forts were enclosed
with barriers and woods.

However, these could not stand against

heavy cannonade.
Different groups of the palegars troops were trained in the use
of particular weapons.

The match lock men and the pike men

constituted the weapon divisions of the palegars army. Magicians


were asked to use all their black arts during military engagements.
Charges and counter charges were issued by rival groups of sorcerers.
But military superiority only decided the fate of the combatants. Still
magicians of the victorious party shared a large part of the glory.
Normally the palegars did not risk a pitched battle. If they had
to encounter a superior force, they resorted to an offensive position in
the dense forests. Lying in ambush they attacked the enemy with
heavy casualities. During heavy cavalry charge by the enemy, the
pike men encircled the match lock men with their pikes turned against
the attackers. The pick men fixed the either end of the pike into the
ground between their legs, while the match lock men kept up firing
the advancing enemy.
Thus, the palegars troops encountered violent Cavalry and
infantry charges.

But again at artillary fire they seemed to be

helpless. The match lock even took their position on the elevated
locations of the fort, fired at the enemy. The pike men used sharp
pikes from the sheltered enclaves in the walls. Though the palegars
221

operated with meagre resources, they presented formidable resistance


i

to the enemy.

99

RELATIONS OF PALEGAR WITH LOCAL RULER


The palegars enjoyed great influence and power.

But they

were only vassals of the Nawab or any other local ruler. The ruler
claimed it as his right to force the chiefs to pay tribute and to render
military service and to remove them from their offices if they failed to
comply with their obligations. He also exacted a present from the
chiefs on the occasion of investment of titles or on confirming them
as palegars. Actually the realization of these rights depended on the
capacity of the ruler to coerce them. It is interesting to note that the
chiefs resisted the rulers with their strength.100
Historical and political causes generated a spirit of hostility
between the palegars and the local rulers.

The chieftains were

obliged to the rulers of Vijayanagara on the basis of the legal status


granted by them and the long association which they had with them.
The collapse of the Vijayanagara empire liberated the palegars
from all the allegiance which they owed to their former sovereigns.
At the same time they could develop any kind of dependence on their
new masters, namely the local Nawabs.

Once the great empire

disappeared from the scene, they felt that they were truly
independent.
Moreover, rapidly changing political fortunes, particularly in
the early 18th century, enabled the poligars to take a firm stand against
the emerging powers. This was the reason why many of the palegars
could not take kindly to their local rulers. Moreover the exorbitant

222

sums of tribute demanded of the palegars from the new rulers was
another constant irritant between the new rulers.101
Another important cause of friction between the two was the
spirit of independence and turbulence of the palegars.

The vague

nature of the palegars privileges, their ignorance, illdefined powers


and the state set up by them emboldened them to defy the authority of
the circar. They could threaten their neighbours by virtue of their
forts, weapons and man power. Some of the rulers were so weak that
they depended on the influence of the adventurous chiefs to enrich
themselves.
The nature of the political condition prevailing then reflected
upon the relations of the palegars with the local powers.

In the

absence of any justice from the powers that be upholding their


freedom, the palegars stabilised their power in remote citadels,
increased resources and plundered wealth. Their own strength and
the jungle atmosphere were a great shield of protection for them. In
fact, the local rulers could not completely liquidate the power of the
palegars.102
Yet another cause of conflict between the palegars and the local
power was the wishful and belated attempts to withhold their tributes
to the rulers. Only when they found no way to escape they paid or
else they evaded payment. The rulers also were content at whatever
was paid at the moment. A state of perpetual distrust replaced mutual
confidence.

This condition prevented the palegars from becoming

good citizens during peace time and useful second line of defence
during war.103

223

Forced by circumstance of arbitrary demands the palegars


practiced the same injustice by force upon each other.

Corrupt

Amultars exploited fully the situation to promote their selfish end and
incite fends between the palegars.

Disputed boundaries of the

Polyams, the rude and arrogant behaviour, the exploitation of the


mutual rivalries between the palegars by the local rulers and the
amaldars were other causes of conflict among the palegars
themselves.

The quarrels were so widespread and violent that it

distracted the peace of the land.104


At the same time, the palegars were prudent enough to forge
unity among themselves to protect their common interests in the face
of threats. On such occasions they buried their personal rivalaries and
sent their quota of peons for the defence of their own palayams. As
they were aware that the Nawabs adventures was the worst calamity,
they were prepared to join any rebellion against the circar. They
followed no clear cut policy.
What was the fate of the common man under these
circumstances? The welfare of the people suffered, embroiled in their
own petty feuds, the palegars neglected the Kaval duties.
As the expenses of the palegars went up mounting day by day,
they enhanced the demands upon the villages and occasionally
plundered them.

The desakaval systems degenerated into a

contribution paid by the helpless villages as a price against plunder.


These developments contributed to the destruction of law and order
and the ruin of the country. Ultimately not only the people but also
the palegars and the circar suffered.105

224

As the foregoing pages reveal, the chiefs had transformed


themselves from a class of public servants into a domestic militia,
paid by the inhabitants and compensated for their services by their
overlord. They consolidated camps and converted detached villages
into posts. They gradually rendered themselves independent. They
clashed with the local powers.
The costumes of the palegars consisted of a turban, turban band
of golden colours laurel adorming the head, bracelets, gold chains,
bangles, golden bells, around the waist, white fleece, sticks, flags,
umbrella and a torch. The jingoistic palegars represented the living
force of feudalism and medievalism in the 18th century Southern
India. They filled the political vacuum created by the demise of the
Vijayanagara Empire. The institution of palegar became a political
necessity, because in the days of anarchy and turmoil, only palegars
could protect the inhabitants.
circumstances,

they

But under pressure of hostile

developed an attitude of ego centrism,

independence and war instead of service, order and loyalty.106


THE RELATIONS OF THE RAYALASEEMA PALEGARS
WITH THE ENGLISH
The districts ceded to the company by

the Nizams

Government in 1800 were for the purpose of defraying the costs of an


augmented subsidiary force at Hyderabad.

During Munros

collectorship the ceded districts and for long after, grinding poverty,
punctuated by famine was the lot of the people.

In the late 19th

century the risk of survival for the people of the Rayalaseema was
grater than anywhere in Madras. By the middle of the 19th century
the ceded districts had about 38 per cent all the holders of lands, or

225

inam lands or inamdars of the presidency, here was also found 35 per
cent of all inam land whose inamdars paid about 12 per cent of the
total quitrents levied upon inam lands in the presidency.107
When the ceded districts were merged with the company in
1800, the British found three classes of ryots there. First came the
better sort of cultivators who comprised about 20 per cent of land
holding, revenue paying pattadars. These people paid about 35 per
cent of the land revenues. Next came a middle sort of about 45 per
cent of pattadars who paid an equal proportion of the land revenue.
The third category was the poorer sort who constituted the remaining
35 per cent who paid 20 per cent of the total revenue. The share of
the net production to the first class was 83 per cent, to the second sort
47 per cent and to the last 38 per cent.

108

It was also discovered by the British that the richer and higher
castes, consisted of about 4,00,000 people, about 20 per cent of the
ceded districts population. They consumed about two thirds greater at
the per capita level than the middle group made up of cultivators and
artisans and over twice as much as the lowest of the three groups,
who were mostly labourers who formed about 20 per cent of the
ceded districts population. Almost all of the food and about one-half
of the cloth requirements of agricultural castes were satisfied by self
production of through barter.109
POLITICS OF THE PALEGAR
The ceded districts had been granted to the Nizam by Tipu
Sultan in 1792. The Nizam had ceded them to the company in lieu of
the payment to subsidy for the British troops. As a result, British

226

troops had been sent to the region to establish order even before
Munro introduced his civil administration.
When the company was about to occupy the ceded districts,
enough attention was paid to the political military expenditure to be
incurred there.

It was decided that the sole collector designated,

namely, Munro, and Col. Arther Wellesley who was incharge of the
British troops in the ceded districts should enter the region
simultaneously. The cost to be involved in the pacification and
occupation of the districts was considered legitimate and necessary.
Tipu Sultans defeat had removed a dangerous enemy from the scene.
But the unsubdued and armed inhabitants of the ceded districts
needed a man like Munro to be at the helm of affairs in the disturbed
region.110
Munros first task was to introduce regular government with a
province still unsubdued and to remove the evils arising from the
weakness of the Nizams government. In fact Munro had to deal with
nearly 30,000 armed retainers of the palegars who walked free in the
country side.111
These local chiefs or palegars had constituted their own
government at the local level.

Munro did not think high of the

military capacities of these chiefs. Yet he could not singly ignore the
esteem and local political influence enjoyed by the palegars. Munro
looked on them as dangers in the making to his rule in the ceded
districts. His strategy to deal with the palegars was full of dangers to
his own career as a civilian.
Munro proceeded against the palegars very cautiously.

For

example in the Adoni division there had been a long standing


227

anarchy. The inhabitants had been harassed by revenue officials and


Zamindars. The worst part of it was that every person desirous of
paying the tribute to be ruler exacted money from them. Actually
there had been going on a predatory warfare in the region. Despite
this situation, many powerful palegars of Adoni had been driven off,
and there was not real danger or organised opposition.

Another

menace was the trouble caused by the Nizams soldiers who were
seeking to collect arrears of their wages. The most serious source of
anxiety was the palegars with whom Munro had to deal sternly
despite incurring the displeasure of the higher authorities.112
The first step proposed in dealing with the palegar was to
divest them of their political and military capabilities. However, they
would be considered candidates for landed enfranchisement, but
Inams were to be resumed by the company if found invalid. Munro
eliminated the palegars recklessly. Inams were subjected to judicial
review under him or even dismissed. On the other hand, they used by
Munro to with the allegiance of powerful local interests.113
The term palegar meant one who holds a village or group of
villages on condition of rendering military service to same superior.
The history of this is not clear. According to one source the authority
of the palegar was derived from Padikaval which was a right to
income in return for the provision of protection over a village, or in
some cases over a locality during the Vijayanagara period.114
Income was realised in various ways as a privileged rate of
land tax, as a low cess in kind upon every plough or upon the seeds
sown as a low money payment levied upon ploughs, shops or looms,

228

as customs charges, as charges for markets and fairs within the


jurisdiction of the palegar.115
Munro hoped to check powerful coalition of chiefs, newly
created palegar chieftains were intended as competitive sovereignties,
little kingdoms whose authority would remain dependent upon the
great kings of Vijayanagara rather than upon the local constituencies.
The British rulers who were inpossession of the various territories in
South India did not know much about the history of the palegars as
they existed under Vijayanagara.
The companys rulers saw in the conquered territories under
their control powerful, local authorities who were stumbling blocks in
the realization of their political objectives. All these chieftains were
taken together and asked to surrender their local authority without
resort to violence. Even before Munros arrival on the scene, the
palegars of the ceded districts were sure to be annihilated, if they
opposed the British.116
The home government in London favoured more leniency
towards the palegars.

An order of the governor general Lord

Wellesley required the lands under palegars to be treated as land


confirmed in them, in the most full and solemn manner.117
It was also said that if the local chiefs were to be Zamindars in
Madras, they would have to be created mainly from the local lordship
of palegars.
As prospective candidates for Zamindari enfranchisement
under the Madras regulation of 1802, the palegars of ceded districts
were plausible enough. According to a survey conducted by Munro
229

there were some eighty families of these local authorities who had
controlled a century earlier about the thousand villages which
constituted nearly over sixth of the villages of the ceded districts.118
These chiefs claimed to have ruled over their palegars since the
seventeenth century. Some even supported their claim by evidence in
the form of temple inscriptions.
There was another view about the status of the palegars that
they had an approximate position within the emerging civil society in
Madras.

According to this opinion it was held that the palegars

enjoyed lot of respect and esteem in their territories from the natives.
But the Madras Presidency Board of Revenue was in two minds about
vesting the palegars with permanent rights in their lands without
strong reasons. Munro decided to take a tough line with regard to the
palegars.
Munro desired to occupy quietly these palayams from where
the palegars had been driven away and had been permitted to return.
As the palayams where the palegars were still present, Munro
intended to pursue the revenue of the districts of all the palegars
without dispossessing them but warning them of forfeiture in case of
opposition which would be taken as open rebellion.119
Munro did not favour the opinion of British Military Officers in
the ceded districts to put down the palegars by force. Munro was
satisfied that most palegars had been expelled from the ceded districts
by Haider Alis brother-in-law, Mir Ali Rizosahib, He was not sure of
the adequacy of the companys forces to deal with the forces of the
palegars. Munro wanted to proceed slowly for the moment.120

230

The actual policy which Munro was proposing was not a


military one but a political one. He was afraid that the independent
company military with the ceded districts could well spoil his plan.
Munros plan was to allow the eighty good palegars of the ceded
districts to remain in their territories and directly to challenge their
authority. On the other hand, he proposed to increase the level of
tribute (Peshkush) demanded from each to a national maximum
previously demanded but never collected by Haider Ali and by the
Nizams regime. Munros argument was that the palegars themselves
were not able to maintain their troops and pay their tribute to the
company. Munro hoped that when the palegars defaulted they would
automatically be deposed and expelled legally.121
Munros diplomatic arsenal contained a military programme as
well.

This meant the increase in the tribute demanded from the

palegars and at the same time being prepared with an adequate force
to meet the challenge of a joint resistance from the palegars. The
proposed contingent was to consist of nine regiments of cavalry and
thirty-two of infantry, one third of which was to be European.
Munros strategy did not find favour with the Home
Government. It was considered aggressive. He was criticised for his
treatment of the palegar of Vimlah in Cuddapah. In this case he had
deprived the palegar of his territory and had ordered his troops to
forcibly take his fort in 1801.

Munro wanted to demonstrate the

power of the company by his action. The Governor of Madras, Lord


Clive, seemed to be supportive of Munros policy. But there was a
general feeling of disapproval of Munros aggressive designs in the
ceded districts. The authorities were more afraid of the consequences
of Munros ruthlessness.122
231

No one can deny the fact that Munro had succeeded in his task
of creating order and a reliable revenue from the turbulent and large
territory of the palegars in the ceded districts. He could justly be
called a first class political manager. Munro hoped for a free hand to
conduct things in South India even though his appeals for a grand
army to liberate the Peninsula from the palegari oppression was sure
to be rejected.
It was suggested from The Calcutta Government that Munro
should be the principal collector of the ceded districts with four
subordinate European collectors to assist him in administration. But
when his opinion was sought in this matter Munro said he would be
happy with only three subordinate for the three well defined
constituent ports of the ceded districts, namely Bellary, Cuddapah and
Kumool. This proposal also had the plan to train up a number of
Young European Collectors. i "yx
Munro suggested the best plan for the administration of the
ceded districts would be to give them the sole responsibility of
administration during the first year. He argued that there were not
enough Indian assistants to help the Young European Collectors.
Munro was suspicious that untrained Indian subordinates might
intrigue with the palegars.
He wanted the number of subordinate collectors to be increased
gradually. In the process Munro was able to train a number of young
personnel who were of great help to him in the Madras
administration.124
Munro turned the condemnation of his palegar policy soon. In
view of the dearth of collectors with adequate linguistic skills and
232

revenue experience, the court of directors confirmed Munros


appointment to the ceded districts. It was now that he formulated and
publicized his Ryotwari Revenue Administration.
RYOTWARI
DISTRICTS

ADMINISTRATION

IN

THE

CEDED

Between 1800 and 1807 Munro was pre occupied with the
establishment of the ryotwari system of revenue administration in the
ceded districts.

It was this reform together with its later judicial

achievements earned for Munro much of his enduring fame as the


humane and just face of British imperialism. Unfortunately, shortly
after Munros departure from India in late 1807, the ryotwari system
that he had laboured so hard to create was dismantled and replaced by
the village lease system. Only when the village lease system failed
was Munros system restored by the Madras establishment on the
advice of the Home Government.125
Munros supreme concern as principal collector of the ceded
districts was a system of revenue administration based upon a mass of
small peasant holders, supervised by a host of revenue officials tightly
controlled by British officials. The conditions in ceded districts made
him urge something like the ryotwari system as the best scheme
suited for the place. The eighty palegars in the ceded districts living in
fortified villages with their 30,000 or so armed followers and with a
history of a generation of marauding armies traversing over their tract
were ready to accept such a scheme already tried elsewhere.
When the British occupied the ceded districts in 1800, Munro
found that the country was exhausted due to the unskilful method of
raising the revenue.

He estimated the revenue from the ceded

233

districts to about Rs. 58 Lakhs. The agriculturist had no proprietary


rights in land and land seemed to have been regarded as the property
of the state.127
In 1801-1802, Munro introduced the detailed Kulwar or
Ryotwari system for which he initiated the historic Paimaishy or
survey of the ceded districts. The settlement was made individually
with the cultivators, but the village head man was held responsible for
defaulting or absconding ryots.
The survey intended to ascertain the actual extent of land
cultivated, the different description of it in terms of the tenures and
the kind of produce and also the extent of the land either uncultivated
or waste.

The survey commenced in 1802 and was completed in

1805. The classification of lands which began in 1804 was completed


in 1806. The survey recorded the extent of each field with its
boundaries and its number, the name of its holder and the assessment
fixed. All lands except hills, and beds of river was measured and
registered.128
Clear distinctions were made between cultivated and waste
lands, between wet garden and between government and lnam lands.
A table specifying the different classes of soil and rate of assessment
for class was supplied. The lands of each village were divided into as
many classes as were found necessary with a maximum limit of ten
classes for dry land, eight for wet and six for garden land.
The method of assessment began by fixing the sum which was
to be the total revenue of the district. This was usually effected by the
collector in a few days by comparing the collectively under the native
rulers, from the companys government in the initiated days, the
234

estimates of the ordinary and head assessors and the opinions of the
most intelligent natives.
The next step was to fix the share of the sum to be imposed on
each village. The village total thus fixed was then distributed among
the ryots in accordance with the classification of the fields they held.
The rents of lands, rated according to their quality, were then
registered and were either conformed or modified at the end of the
year. The poorest lands were assessed very lightly and the rates on
the best soils were kept very high in order to make up the total due
from the village.129
On completion of this survey it was found that the extent of
land actually in cultivation in the ceded districts was over 32 lakhs of
acres, while that of land fit for cultivation was estimated to be about
120 lakhs. The assessments fixed upon the cultivated and the arable
areas in 1807 were pagodas 18,52,955 and 39,54,417 respectively.
According to Munros scheme the total demand was first fixed
for the taluk and then distributed among the village. The adjustment
of individual to total demand on the village involved exaction from
some and relief to others. The inter-village adjustments ordered by
Munro through the agency of the neighbouring villages resulted in
mutual bitterness and acrimony. Other factors like the ryots caste has
means and health weighed high during the time of settlement. The
hurriedly conducted survey was naturally defective. The assessments
were very high and were not generally based on estimates of
production.130
The revenue settlement continued to be conducted on the
ryotwari principles thus introduced by Munro from 1802 to 1809.
235

The calculated rates represented about 45 per cent of the gross


produce.

Munro held that the assessment should not exceed one-

third, so as to give the land a saleable value.

In 1807 Munro

recommended a reduction of 25 per cent on all rates, with an


additional eight per cent on lands under wells and small tanks on
condition that the ryots kept them in repair. The ryots were also to be
given the rights of proprietorship and relinquishment of land. Munro
hoped that the loss of revenue due to the huge reduction of
assessment would soon be recouped by the increased area of waste
that would be brought under cultivation.131
Unfortunately the ryotwari inaugurated by Munro in the ceded
districts was viewed with disfavour by the supreme government.
Permanent settlements were the order of the day in Northern India. In
1804, the Oudh Regulations were brought. According to this scheme
villages were rented as a whole for three years for a fixed annual sum
to Zamindars or heads of villages. This settlement was set down by
the governor-general as models to be followed in settling land
revenue assessments in the new districts.
Munro opposed the policy and strongly defended the Ryotwari
system.

However, the supreme government insisted on the

introduction of a village wise triennial lease.

This controversy

continued for about four years. At the exit of Munro and William
Bentink, who were the ardent advocates of the Ryotwari system, the
whole settlement was replaced by the three year lease, each village
being assigned to a solely responsible renter.132

236

MUNROS REFORMS OF THE JUDICIARY


In the few years that were left for Munro as administrator of the
ceded districts, Munro set his heart towards reorganizing the legal
system in the area. In fact, he launched an attack upon all levels of
the system of company policy determination and the centre of his
attack was the existing legal system. He wanted the change of the
law rather than the Ryotwari system.
Munro was of the view that the existing court system
contradicted many Indian customs and realities. He realised actually
there was no private property according to the customary law. He
rejected the authority of Manu of Abdul Fazl as not convincing. He
came to the conclusion that the assessment in ancient times was not
low but high.133
Munro was of the opinion that the existing judicial system was
a barrier to progress. There were long in suits involving property
owing to the formal procedures of the courts as then constituted. The
cultivators found it difficult to attend often the distant District courts.
Munro explained that bribery delays in suits and the concentration of
the company would continue to be an intolerable burden on the
cultivators.
Munro believed that due to lack of knowledge and experience
about rural conditions and customs known to experienced Revenue
Officials, and even better known by native panchayat, very often bad
decisions were given by the courts. Munro cautioned that unless a
responsive judicial system was devised for the collection of debts,
creditors would cause dislocation in the economy.134

237

Munro opposed the extension of the court system into Madras


districts in 1806.

He complained about the diminished ability of

collectors in investigation and punish revenue servants charged with


corruption and illegal exactions from cultivators. He regretted that
the power originally vested in the collectors to appoint and dismiss
subordinate Revenue Officials, and to hear complaints arising from
the public against such servants in the collection of the revenue, had
been withdrawn. A court hearing on such allegations had been made
mandatory.
It is interesting to note that the critical observations of Munro
on the courts at that time induced the Madras and London authorities
to abandon the ryotwari system in 1808, as system leading to
corruption. But Munros analysis led to the restructuring of the entire
judicial process. In the mean time Munro favoured the appointment
of judicial officials to the court of the ceded districts who would be
sympathetic to this programme.

In this he was supported by

colleagues like William Bentink, Peter Brauce and William


Thackeray.

Many of this younger colleagues learned by Munros

ability, confidence and experience.


The British higher officers who were assigned to work in the
ceded districts were provided with Indian subordinates. One officer
called Thackeray was entrusted with the task of bringing the expanse
of waste, uncultivated and cultivable land under the plough. Even
though the government wanted to increase the cultivation of waste
land for added food and industrial raw material and revenue, it was
from land regularly cultivated that increased revenue as most likely to

238

Munro advised great care to be taken regarding the use of the


loans only for the cultivators and not by the Revenue Officials for
their own needs. Munro wanted special care to be taken regarding the
digging and repair of tanks.
In the matter of palegars, Munro advised his assistants to
support the chiefs once their law less activities had been contained.
He was in favour of restoring the allowances to palegars in case they
had been stopped due to one reason or other by the assistants
regarding companys trade in the ceded districts Munro did not like
any interference. He favoured that all agreements to be made with
local weavers should be voluntary.

All forms of coercion was

discouraged.136
All selling of grains outside the ceded districts had to be
curtailed during the scarcity period to meet the requirements of the
British troops.
MUNROS CONCERN FOR THE NEEDS OF WAR
Munro was preoccupied with provisioning Arthur Wellesleys
army during his collectorship of the ceded districts.

Munro had

perceived a large role for the ceded districts and for himself in the war
against the Marathas.

Lord Wellesley the governor general, had

decided to open hostilities against the Marathas. Arthur Wellesley, the


British Commander, had high opinion of Munro's military abilities.
The ceded districts were a major area for the company forces
operating in the Southern Maratha country. A substantial garrison
force was stationed in the ceded districts since 1801.

Cavalry,

infantry and artillary regiments were garrisoned at Bellary, Gooty,


Kamalapuram, Dharmavaram and several other places.137
239

Whenever the company soldiers marched through the ceded


district territories, it was a trial for Munro.
Sometimes the soldiers entered private houses in the ceded
districts and harassed the inhabitants. In addition Munro was called
upon to provide grain, bullocks and even basket-boats for the troops
under general Wellesley in Southern and Central Maharashtra. Often
cart loads of grain was collected from the Banjara caravans. Between
1802 and 1805, Munro's task was to direct military procurement in
the districts.
The Munro Papers contain lot of evidence to show that Munro
and his assistants in the ceded districts were mainly occupied with the
war-time activity. Apart from supply of cattle and grain, Munro had
to procure fodder grass for the cavalry and also to get ready 'Dooly'
bearers required by the army or even to construct flotilla or basket
boats. Skilled boatmen had to be produced to cross the rivers.138
The large scale procurement of bullocks and the high mortality
rate of these animals limited the extension of cultivation in the ceded
districts.
The Marata war profited some people in the ceded districts.
The Banjara traders droove a flourshing trade. The rich peasants and
the principal holders of surplus grain also stood to gain. There was
no shortage of money for the conduct of the war. Munros dedicated
services, especially his keeping the palegars under control benefitted
all.
This chapter analysed relation between the English company
and the ceded districts. The companys role was represented by the
240

principal Collector Thomas Munro. Munro has many achievements


to his credit.
order.

He suppressed the palegars and established law and

He completed the field survey and prepared the Ryotwari

introduction. Another monumental work of his was to produce a few


specialized pages on aspects of Ryotwari which ultimately led to the
compilation of the fifth report. After defending his action against the
palegars, Munro concluded with the following, I never was
considered the government as an ordinary collector. I acted rather as
a kind of Lint. Governor.139
SERVICES OF THE PALEGARS - THEIR FALL AND
DISINTEGRATION
The palegars rendered manifold services which the other
agencies of state were incapable of doing or were neglecting to do
during the period of political changes.

The political and social

functions they performed contributed in a great deal to counter the


evils of universal anarchy and disorder. The failure of the sovereign
in the exercise of his jurisdiction and the worsening of the situation
led to the steady expansion of the authority of the auxiliary powers.
Apart from their normal duties, many a chieftain promoted agriculture
and trade and patromised religion and learning.140
In times of war as well as peace the palegars served as the
second line in the polity of South India from the middle of the 16th
century to the end of the 18th century. What they did varied from
individual palegar to palegar and from period to period.

This

depended upon their personal traits and hardships which they


experienced in their fortunes. They were mostly from the criminal
tribes and the very environment made them law less.141

241

In 1799, there is record with the Madras Council that when the
palegars exercised their jurisdiction, they protected the villages
against governmental oppression and did justice to the peasants.142
Sometimes the palegars levied no tax other than what he was
required to pay as annual tribute.

Whatever he needed for his

household and establishment charges he managed out of his income


from personal lands.

Some times the collectors of the districts

wondered whether they understood the character of the palegars


objectively. Most Europeans had received their impression about the
palegars from the native officials of the Karnataka Nawabs and they
never cared to verify them. It was natural for the palegars who had
been plundered by the administration to place others. However one
should not judge their character from these acts.
The palegars were dubbed as refractory and detachments were
moved against them to check their resistance. It is surprising that no
attempt was ever made to win their confidence.

Demands were

constantly made for tributes. When the demands were refused, force
was used to exact what was demanded. It was easy for the British to
squeeze palegars who intum harass the others.
The palegars were expected to adjust with changed times,
because of the changing ruling powers. They were embarrassed as a
consequence of this.

When the Nayakas created this system, they

wanted the palegars to consider all outside invaders enemies. The


palegars also helped Nayakas when their country was attacked by
Bijapur or Mysore or the local criminal tribes.

This kind of help

strengthened the relations between the chieftains and the sovereign.

242

Difficulties also arose.

The Mughals, the Nizam and the

Walajahs attacked frequently. Despite the able help given by palegars


the Nayakas were not united among themselves. However, the help
of the palegars even when Nayakas fell was steady. During these
days of political confusion the palegars consolidated their power. To
fight against the palegars and the Nawab they sought the help of the
English and thus they got entangled in a perennial dependence upon
the British resulting in political liability and economic bankruptcy. In
this way an alternate source of support was slowly destroyed. The
local sovereigns played into the hand of the imperialists in the process
of eliminating the palegars.143
Another cause for the weakening of the palegars was their
internal rebellions. Because of the marches and counter-marches of
forces and ravages of war, the chieftains together with the other
inhabitants were reduced to trial and tribulations.

In the face of

internal disorders they had no clear plan of action and their unity was
the big casuality. Thus they fought against each other and weakend
themselves.
The relations between the palegars and the English played a
vital role in fall of the chieftains. The English had taken the place of
the Nawabs as the sovereign. These new developments undermined
the importance of the palegar system as a usual auxiliary power. It
also eliminated the possibility of any reconciliation between the
Nawab and the palegars. The English needed money to pursue their
aggressive plans and they used the Nawabs as an instrument of
exaction.

This newly found alliance between the English and the

Nawab made it easier for the later to reduce the palegars mercilessly.
As the Nawab has lost his power, the palegars only were in a position
243

to moblise any resistance and raise arms. The English were aware of
this and hence strove all the more to destroy the palegars.144
The palegars were fighting the British imperialism but let down
their own local sovereign. Sometimes they had to resort to the help of
the other European powers like the French and the Dutch or the local
Mysore. But when the British supremacy was firmly established and
other powers were driven out, the palegars had no other go but to
accept defeat. Left helpless and being irregular in their methods of
war, the palegars were vanquished by the military might of the
company and its allies. In Rayalaseema during the interval between
the battle of Talikota and the advent of the Qutubshahies of
Golkonda, the local palegars ruled the roost. They even claimed the
right to collect land revenue. They defrauded the state and harass the
right.145
Under the Mysore power also the palegars were hunted down.
Hyder Ali took away land or imposed fines. Some of the palegars
were imprisoned. Tipu Sultan also exercised the right of resumption
and expelled many palegars.

In 1792 when Rayalaseema passed

under the control of Nizam Ali Khan by treaty, the palegars raised
their head again due to his weak rule.

The ryots suffered from

harassment and due to the ravages of famine. The condition of the


country was bordering on lawlessness, privation and a struggle for
survival.
It was at this critical juncture that the Rayalaseema districts
came under the British control and Sir Thomas Munro was appointed
the principal collector of the ceded districts in 1800.

There were

about eighty pollams in the area then, which constituted a permanent


244

menace to the peace of the region. The palegars were turbulant and
lawless.146
These palegars maintained an army of peons who were aided
by a militia of relatives of these peons. These troops were not paid
properly and a greater part of their earnings came from the
deprivations in times of war. During peace times these peons lived by
plundering palegari border villages. Consequently the ceded districts
had become a nest of robbers and the ryots and the country people
were fomented. The palegars carried on the feuds with the most
savage ferocity, plundering and destroying alike.147
The British official reports also describe the atrocities of the
palegars.

They have been restless even under the Vijayanagara

Rayas. They strengthened their power under the Muslim rule. Even
when Tipu Sultan had ordered the resumption of same palegari
estates, the chieftains escaped and commissioned their agents to
plunder the area. They attacked many villages and extorted money
from the inhabitants of the villages. As a result of all these plunders,
the villagers were depopultated, agriculture was ruined and trade was
paralysed.
The British government could not tolerate the continuance of
the state of affairs any more. They resolved to stamp out palegars and
eradicate the evil once for all. This task was not easy as each palegar
had an armed retinue under his command.

Sometimes the armed

peons of the village militia were expected to made common cause


with them.148
In 1800, Thomas Munro was appointed the principal collector
of the ceded districts.

The appointment of a military official to


245

revenue districts raised many eyebrows.

But the government had

more than one reason to send Munro to the ceded districts, because
they believed that only a military man could more effectively
implement their purpose than a civilian.
Munros chief objective was to suppress the palegars who
infested the tract and establish a well-organised government. He also
wanted to create a system of revenue to secure the maximum financial
resources for the government. Military contingent were posted in all
strategic places under the command of major general Dugald
Cambell.149
Munros firm resolve was to suppress the palegars who were a
kind of vagabonds, a privileged highwaymen.

He planned his

strategy in such a way as to drive the palegars in to rebellion. Yet he


proceeded with caution to avoid a general rising of the chieftains. His
plan was to deprive the palegars of all power and grant them an
allowance either in land or money for their maintenance. But this
could be attempted only as a long-term project.
It was imperative that an alternate scheme should be evolved.
This should be less risky but sure to be achieved. Munro thought of
the Peshcush which the palegars had been regularly paying to their
former master and could not grade paying to the companys
government.
At the same time it was feared that the most powerful among
the palegars might fall in arrears. The British were worried that the
palegars might combine for their common defence.

246

Munro proceeded with caution. Almost all palegars found that


instead of being allowed to hold estates at half thief assessed value
they had to pay the full rent with only a small deduction allowed for
their maintenance.

Though some palegar chiefs resisted Munros

settlement, they could not prevail against the companys government.


Serious disturbances followed. But General Campbell restored order
soon.150
Some of the palegars were completely destroyed. Some were
kept captives in the fort of Gooty. Some others were pensioned off
and received one fifth or one tenth of the rated revenue of their estates
according to their behaviour. Some palegars were granted pension
only on condition that they left for ever their ancestral homes.
Munro carefully watched an unruly palegar who attempted to
evade the rent or who sought the help of friendly chiefs with a view to
organise a rebellion.

He succeeded soon in exterminating these

elements also. Munro declared that his first duty was to remove many
turbulent and powerful palegars and petty ones of recent origin who
had exploited the prevailing political confusion. These chiefs used to
evade payment of rent for some years and then ultimately declare
themselves independent.
Munro moved so quickly and effectively that by March, 1801
he could claim to have settled the refractory chiefs. The company
issued a proclamation that any chieftain with a garrisoned fort, armed
force or who levied contribution would be treated as a rebel. Major
Cambell also proceeded against some Cuddapah palegars and
destroyed their forts and subdued them to obedience.151

247

The Government of Madras and the supreme government at


Calcutta did not approve of Munros approach toward the palegars.
His policy was criticised as dangerous, harash ill-considered. They
wanted an explanation from Munro regarding his motives on pain of
even removal from the post.

The court of directors wished the

palegars to be upheld in their enjoyment of their soil. It was trusted


that a gradual course of good government would wean them from
their feudal habits and ways and turn them into peaceful citizens.152
But

Munro

emphatically

defended

his

position.

He

demonstrated that neither on the pre-text of their ancient rights nor by


virtue of their later conduct, were the palegars entitled to gentle
treatment.

To add to this the feudal habits and principles of the

palegars, were a bundle of crimes, oppressions and contumacies


which might render good government impossible.

Munros reply

silenced the directors. The ceded districts turned to normalcy and


enjoyed peace which it had not known for many years.
Munros strategy to keep the palegars, under control varied.
First he issued public notification declaring that any Palegar, Jagirdar,
Zamindar. Potal or Ryot who garrisoned his fort or maintained an
armed entourage or who exacted money from the inhabitants in any
form or under any other pretence or who resisted the British
Government or its agents who were treated as rebels.
Munros troops were few in number. He used than in hunting
out palegars or reducing their forts. He was resolved to wait to deal
with other palegars who disobeyed him or those who attempted
rebellion. Some of the palegars, sought refuge with chiefs beyond
Munros jurisdiction. Munro used no force in such cases. He argued
248

that the hosting chief would squeeze so much money from the refuge
that he would be reduced to bankruptcy and finally surrender to the
company.

The palegars, would refuse payment of rent, become

refractory or abscond.

Finally he was captured, his estate was

confiscated and he was confined to the fort of Gooty.153


Munro was strict while he collected revenue or rent from any
palegar. If any palegar refused to be present in the Catcherry Col.
Leger and General Campbell were dispatched to reduce them. Thus
Munro proved beyond any trace of doubt his strong will, courage and
administrative ability.

Commenting upon excellent work done by

Munro, Madras Government praised him thus, From disunited Hords


of lawless plunderers and free bootes, the palegars, are now stated to
be as far advanced in civilization, submission to the law as and
obedience to the mastrates as any of the subjects, under the
government. The revenue is collected with facility, every one seems
satisfied with his situation, and the regret of the people is universal on
the departure of the principal collector.154

249

References
1.

Rajayyan, K., Rise and Fall of The Palegars of Tamil Nadu,


University of Madras, 1974, p. 5.

2.

Basheun, A.Z., The wonder that was India, Fontana Books,


Calcutta, 1981, p. 79.

3.

Robert Wewell, The Forgotten Empire.

4.

Mahalingam, T.V. Administration and Social Life Under


Vijayanagara, Madras University, 1942, p. 55.

5.

Ibid., p. 60.

6.

Smith, V.A., The Oxford History of India, London, 1919, pp.


309-11.

7.

Sahiyanath Aira, The Nayakas ofMadurai.

8.

Rajayyan, K., Rise and Fall of the palegars of Tamil Nadu,


Madras, op. cit., p. 6.

9.

Tamil Laxicon, University ofMadras, Vol. 5, p. 2368.

10.

Ibid., p. 2369.

11.

Mahalingam, T.V., South Indian Polity, Madras, 1967, p. 247.

12.

Ibid., p. 250.

13.

Burten Stein, Thomas Munro, Oxford University Press, 1989.

14.

Pendya, T.B., The Ancient Heroes of South Indian Peninsula,


Madras, 1893, p. 17.

15.

Military Consultations, Madras Council, dated 30-10-1792,


Vol. 168, p. 5465.

16.

Rajayyan, K., Administration and Society in the Carnatic,


Tirupathi, 1966, pp. 59-61.

17.

Madras Council dated 28-11-1800, Revenue Consultations,


Vol. 106, pp. 3198-3201.
250

18.

Inshington, S.R., Report to the Board of Revenue, dated 29-121800.

19.

Pandyan, T.B., The Ancient Heroes of South Indian Peninsula,


op. cit., p. 19.

20.

Rajayyan, K., Rise and Fall of the Palegars of Tamilnadu, op.


cit., p. 6.

21.

Dr. Venkataramanayya, N., The Studies in the History of the


Third Dynasty of Vijayanagara, 1935, p. 260.

22.

Siva Sankara Narayana, B.H., Andhra Pradesh District


Gazetteers, Cuddapah District, p. 111.

23.

Bracherburg, C.F., Cuddapah District Gazetteer, Vol. 1, 1915,


p. 38.

24.

Dr. Venkataramanayya, N. Studies in the third dynasty of


Vijayanagar, 1935, Madras, p.259.

25.

Sivasankaranarayna, B.H. A.P. District Gazetteers Cuddapah,


Revised Edition, Hyderabad, 1967, p.l 11.

26.

Ibid., p.l 12.

27.

Dr. Rajayyan, K. Administration and Society in the Carnatic


(1701-1801), S.V. University Publications, Historical Series
No.7, Tirupati, p.56.

28.

Ibid., p.56.

29.

Dr. Rajayyan, K. Journal of the Andhra Historical Research


Society, Vol. XXXI (I-IV parts), (1965-66), S.V. University
Publication, Tirupati.

30.

Board of Revenue, 29th December, 1800, Consultations Vol.


269, p.l 1101.

31.

Madras Council, 30 October 1792, Military Consultation,


Vol.168, p.5465.

251

32.

Madras Council, 13 August 1802, Revenue Consultations,


Vol.l 18, pp. 2688-2694.

33.

Board of Revenue, 29 December 1800, Consultations, Vol.269,


pp. 11090-11107.

34.

Dr. Rajayyan, K. Administration and Society in the Carnatic


(1701-1801), S.V. University Publications, Historical Series
No.7, Tirupati, p.70.

35.

Nawab Umdut-ul-umran, 20 March 1795, letter to Madras


Council, Military Correspondence, Vol.46, p.32.

36.

Indian Antiquity Vol.43 (Bombay 1914) p. 114 fifth Report,


Vol.2, Madras, 1883, pp.89-90 and B.S. Kard, Geographical
and Statistical memoirs of Madura and Dindigul, Madras,
Vol.3, pp.68-72.

37.

Sathyanatha Aiyar, R. History of the Nayakas of Madura, pp.


294-295.

38.

S.R. Lushingtons report to the Board of Revenue, 29


December 1800, Madras, pp.13-14.

39.

T.V. Mahalingam, Administration and Social life under


V ij ayanagar, pp. 13 0-131.

40.

Dr. Rajayyan, K. Journal of the Andhra Historical Research


Society, Vol. XXXI (I-IV parts), S.V.U. Publications, Tirupati
(1965-66).

41.

Madras Council, 20 October 1801, Military Consultations,


Vol.288, p.6934.

42.

Nawab-Mohammad Ali, 12 June 1767, Letter to Major-General


Colonel Campbell, Military Correspondence, Madras, Vol. 15,
p.139.

43.

Military Correspondence, 12 June 1767, Vol.15, p.139.

44.

Thurstan, E. Ethnographic notes in Southern India, Madras,


1907, pp.556-557.

252

45.

J. Weish, Military Reminiscenus, London, Vol.l, Ch. 2, pp.6778.

46.

Sivasankaranarayana,
Cuddapah, p. 111.

47.

Ibid., p.l 12.

48.

Fifth Report from the Select Committee, Affairs of the East


India Company, Madras Presidency, Vol.l 1, Part-1, pp.90-91.

49.

Dr. Rajayyan, K. Journal of the Andhra Historical Research


Society, Vol. XXXI (I-IV parts) S.V. University, Tirupati.

50.

Burten Stein, Thomas Munro, op. cit., pp. 83-89.

51.

Rajayyan, K., Rise and Fall of the Palegars in Tamil Nadu,


Madras, 1974, p.l.

52.

Hayavadana Rao, C., (Ed.), Mysore Gazetteer, Vol. 2, Part 4,


1930, p.2424.

53.

A Handbook to the Revenue Records of the Ceded districts,


Madras, 1932, p.3.

54.

Manual of the Administration of the Madras Presidency, Vol.


2, Madras, 1885, p.25.

55.

Dr. Venkataramanayya, K., The Studies in the History of the


Third Dynasty ofVijayanagara, op. cit., p. 260.

56.

The Tamil Country Under Vijayanagara, Annamalainagar,


1964, pp. 177-179.

57.

General Reports of the Board of Revenue, dated 10-2-1705,


Vol. 4, 1871, pp. 27-29.

58.

Henry Heras, The Aravidu Dynasty, Madras, 1917, p. 100.

59.

Bellary District Gazetteer, 1972, p. 44.

60.

Ibid., p. 76.

B.H.

253

A.P.

District

Gazetteers,

61.

Abi Shankar, K., (Ed.), Mysore Gazetteer, Bellary District,


1972, pp. 79-82.

62.

India Office Library and Records, Madras Board of Revenue,


dated 14-6-1804, p. 4825.

63.

Srinivasa Raghavaiyangar, Memorandum, p. 24, quoted in


Burton Stein, Thomas Munro, op. cit., p. 84.

64.

Abishankar, A., Mysore State Gazetteer, Bellary District, op.


cit., pp. 75-77.

65.

Ibid., pp. 78-80.

66.

Ibid., p. 79.

67.

Ibid., p. 80.

68.

Ibid, p. 82.

69.

Thomas Munro, Memorandum of Palegars, dated 20-3-1803, p.


42.

70.

Ibid., p. 50.

71.

Manual ofAdministration - Madras Presidency, 1885, p. 87.

72.

Ibid., p. 89.

73.

N.G. Chetty, Manual of Karnool District, 1866, p. 70.

74.

R. Sathianathiar, The Nayaks ofMadura, p. 58.

75.

Brackerbury, Cuddapah District Gazetteers, Vol. 1 (Madras),


p.39.

76.

V. Rangacharya,
Cuddapah, p. 832.

77.

7foW.,No.701.

78.

Brancherbury, Cuddapah District Gazetteers, op. cit., p. 43.

Topographical

254

list

of inscriptions-1,

79.

B. Sisamtaranarayana, Anantapur District Gazetteer, 1970, p.


75.

80.

Ibid., p. 76.

81.

Anantapur Inscriptions, No. S.1648, Daleds 1726 A.D.

82.

Bh. Sivasankaranarayanan, Andhra Pradesh District Gazetteer,


op. cit., p. 78.

83.

Sir Thomas Munro, Memorandum of Palegar Ceded District,


dated 20th March, 1802.

84.

Dr. N. Venkataramanaiah, Studies in the Third Dynasty of


Vijayanagara, 1935, Madras, p. 259.

85.

B.H. Sivasankaranarayanan, Andhra Pradesh


Gazetteer - Caddapah, Hyderabad, 1967, p.ll.

86.

Ibid.,p. 113.

87.

S. R. Lushington, Report to the Board of Revenue, dated 29


December, 1800, pp. 9-14.

88.

Revenue Consultations - Madras Council, dated 28-11-1800,


Vol. 16, p. 3196.

89.

Literary Consultation - Madras Council, dated 13-8-1802, Vol.


168, p. 5465.

90.

T.V. Mahalingam, Administration and Solid life under


Vijayanagara, Madras, pp. 130-32.

91.

K.Rajayyan, Administration and Society in the Cornatic,


Tirupati, 1966, p. 67.

92.

Revenue Consultation of the Madras Council, Vol. 16, dated


28-11-1800, p. 1200.

93.

Board ofRevenue Consultations, dated 29-12-1800, p. 11090.

94.

Ibid., p. 11095.

255

District

95.

K. Rajayyan, Journal of the Andhra Historical Research


Society, Vol. 31, Torofater, 1965.

96.

Board of Revenue Consultations, dated 29-12-1800, op. cit., p.


11107.

97.

Military Correspondence, dated 12-6-1767, Vol. 15, p. 139.

98.

The Valaithadi was a crescent shaped weapon one left heavy,


while the other edge sharp. It was made of wood or iron and
was two feet long., Ibid., p. 140.

99.

R. Sathianathier, Tamilakam in the 17th Century, Madras, 1956,


p. 82.

100. Board of Revenue Consultations, dated 29-12-1800, op. cit., p.


11107.
101. Military Country Correspondence, dated 1-12-1795, Vol. 34,
pp. 220-25.
102. Military Consultations, Madras, dated 30-10-1.
103. Annual Letter, 1734, in L. Besses Madurai Mission,
Trichirapalli, 1918, p. 137.
104. Proceedings of the Board of Assigned Revenue, dated 30-121785, Vol. 8, pp. 616-621.
105. Bishop Caldwell, History of Tr inneve Hu, p. 56.
106. Military Country Correspondence, dated 1-12-1785, Vol.3 4,
pp. 220-25.
107. K. Rajayyan, Journal of the Andhra Historical Research
Society, Vol. 81, op. cit., p. 75.
108. The Madras Manual ofAdministration, Vol. 2, p. 470.
109. Burton Stein, Thomas Munro, 1989, p. 82.
110. Ibid.

256

111. India Cooice. Library Records, Home Miscellaneous Series,


V. 462, dated 18-9-1800.
112. Ibid.
113. Madras Manual ofAdministration, p. 933.
114. R.E. Frykenburg. Land Tenure and peasant in South Asia, New
Delhi, 1977, pp. 37-50.
115. T.V. Mahalingam, South Indian Polity, Madras, 1967, p. 247.
116. Ibid.
117. K. Rajayyan, South Indian Rebellion, Mysore, 1968, pp. 35-42.
118. The Fifth Report, V.3, p. 336 {Report on the Southern Palegar
Peshcush) dated 29-12-1800.
119. Munro, Memorandum of the Palegars of the ceded Districts,
dated 20-3-1802.
120. Wellesley papers, Administrative Ms., 13629, p. 153.
121. Burton Stein, Thomas Munro, op. cit., p. 87.
122. Ibid., p. 68.
123. Munro Collections, 151/5, dated 9-11-1801.
124. T.H. Beagle Hole, Thomas Munro and the development of
Administrative Policy in Madras, 1906, p. 70.
125. Ibid., p. 71.
126. Burton Stein, Thomas Munro, op. cit., p. 99.
127. Francis, Anantapur District Gazetteer, 1905, p. 104.
128. Johan Kelsall, The Manual ofBellary, p. 146.
129. Report of the Principal Collector of the Ceded Districts to the
Board of Revenue, dated 26-7-1807.
257

130. N. Mukerjee and Kt. Frykanbury, The Ryotwari system and


social organisation in the Madras Presidency in land control
and social structure in.......... , 1969, pp. 17-40.
131. R.K. Freykenburg and Paulline Polenda, Studies ofSouth India,
Madras, 1985, pp. 127-130.
132. Munro Collections, 15/17, dated 2-4-1803.
133. John Kelsale, The Bellary Mabwal, op. cit., p. 59.
134. Munro Collections, F/l51/135 reproduced in the Fifth Report,
V.3, pp. 502- 510.
135. Ibid., p. 145.
136. Munro Colletions, F/l 51/16. Thalkeray to Munro, dated 25-51800.
137. Munro Collections, A/51/ Circular, dated 1st April, 1804.
138. W.J. Wilson, History of the Madras Army, Madras, 1833-0-26.
139. Burton Stein, Thomas Munro, op. cit., p. 120.
140. Ibid., p. 138.
141. Hurdis, dated 4-5-1796, letter to Board of Revenue,
Proceedings of the Board, Vol. 178, pp. 2923-5.
142. K. Rajayyan, Rise and Fall of the Palegars of Tamil Nadu,
1974, p. 114.
143. Proceedings of the Board of Revenue, dated 14th January, 1899,
Vol. 217, p. 374.
144. R. Satyanathair, History of the Nayakas of Madurai, Oxford,
1924, p. 75.
145. K. Rajayyan, Rise and Fall of the Palegars of Tamil Nadu, op.
cit., p. 117.

258

146. B.C. Siva Sankara Narayana, Andhra Pradesh District


Gazetteer, Cuddapah, 1967, p. 112.
147. J.D.B. Gribble, Manual of the District of Cuddapah, p. 104.
148. General Report of the Board of Revenue, p. 116.
149. B. Sivasankaranarayanan, Andhra Pradesh District Gazetteer,
op. cit., p. 113.
150. Wilson, History of the Madras, Vol. 3, 1883, pp. 25-28.
151. W.J. Wilson, History of the Madras Army, op. cit., p. 105.
152. Ibid., p. 106.
153. lbid.,p. 109.
154. B.L. Sivasankaranarayana,
Cuddapah, op. cit., p. 114.

*****

259

Andhra

Pradesh

Gazetteer,