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Gopal Nayak

(1728 – 1801) – (Tamilnadu)

Gopal Naicker (Aged 73) was born on 14th January 1728. His original name was Thirumalai Kupala Chinnapa Naicker.Gopal Nayak was one of the pioneering leaders of the liberation struggle against the British in Tamil Nadu. He was among the notable kings who mobilized a large force in the eighteenth century to drive the British out of Tamil soil. As the ruler of Virupachchi town in the middle of Dindigul-Palani, he led the Nayaks Palayam of that time. However, he was hanged by the English East India Company in September 1801 for revolting against the British. Today, his memorial can be found in the Virupachchi area.

Under the watchful eye of Gopalanayakar, a Virupachchi settler, the revolutionaries stormed the English camps and confiscated weapons and supplies. Gopal Nayak formed a comprehensive alliance with Maruthupandiyar (a neighbor) and Tundasivak, the king of the Kannada Maratha region, which was called the Peninsular Federation. This alliance was strengthened by the Sivaganga Seema led by the Maruthupandiyars, as well as the Dindigul Federation led by Gopala Nayak. In addition, Tuntasivakkum Kiruttinapanayakkar in Kannada and Keralavarman in Malabar opposed the British through a coalition. The allies ran in Coimbatore and Salem, where Erode Mutharsinnan and Kanisakan were the leaders. Manapparai Lakshmi Nayak and Devadanapatti Pusari Nayak also aided Gopala Nayak by providing their warriors.

In Palani, the ambassadors of these leaders met under the leadership of Gopal Nayak, where representatives of about 3,000 villages in southern Seema gathered at the option and vowed to drive out the whites. The call was carried through the palm fronds of the villages. The First War of Independence began with the mass participation of the people under the leadership of the Peninsular Federation. In April 1800, they planned the final phase of the war under the leadership of Gopal Nayak. The meeting was attended by Kerala Varma, Mysore Kiruttinappa, Sivagangai Chinnamaruthu, Kovai Hajihan, Ramanathapuram Kalyanithevar, and Perumal Pillai.

In 1800, they decided to attack the British army camp at Coimbatore simultaneously from all four sides. Accordingly, it was decided that Hosur Putta Mohammad, Ichapatti Ramanullah Khan, Hosur Mohammad Hassan, Paramathi Appavu, and Sesaiya would be the commanders. However, the news reached the English, and they stopped the artillery on all four sides and surrounded the revolutionary forces, arresting them and brutally murdering them. Commander Mohammad Haasan beheaded Salem Collector McLeod, believing that the alliance’s secrecy should not be lost.

In October 1800, after the invasion of Coimbatore, the British lieutenant Colonel Innes besieged Virupachchi with a large force. The people of Virupachchi, Idayakottai, Velur, and other camp warriors fought in front of the palace of the Chattrapathi camp. Unfortunately, Muthuvel Nayak, the eldest son of Gopal Nayak, was killed in the battle, and Gopal Nayak escaped. In Karnataka, the Maratha army commander Tundasivak was arrested and tied to the mouth of the cannon.

Afterwards, a group of 22 individuals, which included Gopal Nayak’s wife Papammal and youngest son Ponnappa Nayak, were held in captivity in Dindigul until the year 1816. Gopal Nayak had offered a reward of 20,000 rupees per person for their capture. Unfortunately, some people betrayed the cause for money, resulting in their capture and subsequent execution by hanging on a fermented tree in a pond located outside Dindigul in September of 1801.

In recognition of his efforts to mobilize the Confederation in Dindigul against the British and his collaboration with Rani Velunacharya during the silent struggle to expel the British from the country, Tirumala Gopala Chinnappa Nayak built a manimanda on behalf of the Tamil Nadu government with the support of Kerala Verma, Dundasivak, and others.