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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Remembering Desingu Raja & his horse Neelaveni -


                  Do you know the significance of Neelaveni ? “ Desingu raja desingu raja ” is a hit song from Dum dum dum directed by Alagam Perumal with Richa Ahuja, Jyothika and Madhavan on the cast.

There is a famous folk dance known as ‘Poikal kuthirai attam” (literally translated as dance of false horse legs) – in this dancers have a dummy horse at the waist – instead of 4 legs of animal, there would only two human legs, sometimes on a stilt. Fast would be their movements; though there are more themes, most times they capitulate the story of Raja Desingu – a popular ruler who reigned from Gingee. The warrior was killed in the battlefield on 3rd Oct 1714 by the Arcot rulers. His courage and valour are part of folklore eulogized in many ballads.

There was a tamil film in 1950s eulogizing the hero with MG Ramachandran on lead role – “Raja Desingu”.    In Villupuram district (around 150 km away from Chennai) not far away from the famous temple of Thiruvannamalai, lies Gingee fort (Chenji or Jinji), one of the few surviving forts of Tamilnadu. Once upon a time, it was so well fortified that Chatrapathi Shivaji ranked it as the most impregnable fortress in India and was called Troy of the East by the British.

Legend has it that the actual name of Gingee is 'Sengiri' meaning perhaps the "Red Hill" in Tamil that has got corrupted into Gingee. Some also say that the name Sengiri originated from 'Sanjeevi' the hill mentioned in Ramayana. The name has also been traced to Singavaram the neighbouring Vaishnavaite shrine, whose lord is considered the guardian deity of the place.

History traces the site of a small fort built by Cholas in 9th century AD, later modified by Kurumbars and then by Vijayanagar empire when it became a citadel. It was the headquarters of Gingee Nayaks. The fort was a strategic place for fending off invaders. Marathas captured it in 17th century; then was in possession of Carnatic nawabs and finally fell to British.






Raja Desingu is known as a valiant fighter who ruled from Gingee for a while. He was a worshipper of Sri Rangnathar of nearby Singavaram. This temple is full of rock sculptures.

The Gingee Fort complex is on three hillocks. The three hills together constituted a fort complex. The main fort was housed in Rajagiri (Raja kottai) – this is about 800 feet (240M) height.

At some point in history this place was ruled by Rajputs Raja Swarup Singh and then his son Raja Desingh. Defiant to pay revenue, they resisted the bigger forces of Arcot Nawab which consisted of 8000 horsemen and 10000 soldiers. 22 year old Desingu had a cavalry of 350 horses and 500 soldiers. There are legends about his heroism and his horse “Neelaveni” - the valiant died in the battle at a place known as mavanandal on 3rd Oct 1714 .




                              These hills are devoid of vegetation and have thick thorny shrubs. The three hills form a triangle and have strong granite walls. The character of Raja De Singh is reminiscent of the stories of Maharana Pratap of Chittoor and his horse Chetak. It is quite unfortunate that in these parts history is not well documented and we regularly fail to honour our valiant heroes.

There have been claims from some quarters for erecting the statue of Raja Desingu and a memorial for him at Gingee, at Mavanandal where the valiant warrior was killed on the battlefield. There are reports that the warrior and his horse wer buried on the bunds of mottai chetti tank in Kadali village.

There have not been much of remembrance and there was report in Dinamalar that in the memorial procession, no photo of Desingu was available and that of Chatrapathi Shivaji was taken instead.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

19 comments:

  1. instead we remember Artist Nameedha,devayani,amalaBALL.....

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  2. This is nothing new that Indians are shy of remembering our own warriors and knights. But the guys are much happy to remember Gandhi and Nehru families whose contributions are are considered greatest than that of our past heroes. What a shame. No outsider will come and worship Desing Raja. It isis the duty of inhabitants of Tamil nadu who have to rise to occasion and erect memorials as done for Veera pandya Katta bomman.VHP of Tamil nadu should take this reesponsibility and do some thing instead doing some empty talk at seminars and meets.

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  3. Sir, nice one, I had been to this place but could have enjoyed it more, if only I had read this post earlier - Krishnaveni

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  4. Sir how beautifully and aptly described - we need some good writers to make our people learn history the right way - thanks...Pallavi

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  5. I remember the ballad in Tamil about 'Raja Desingu' going to the battle field riding his horse named 'Parasari' (as per the poem), mentioned in my text book when I was 4th std boy during the year 1954-55. More needs to be probed about this young hero who fought valiantly against the tyrant Aurangazeb's representatives, the Nawabs of Arcot.

    R Kasthurirangan, Bangalore

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  6. I remember listening to a song on Raja Desingu in Poykal Kuthirai when I was a child- Laganai Eduthu Kayilai piditthan Raja Desingu.-Jayaraman Bangalore

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  7. very well written - the style, language and eloquence deserves special appreciation.. perhaps people like you should start designing the history course for students with patriotism - Nandhini

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  8. You have done a great job in bringing to light the valiant fighter of Tamil Nadu whose origin was the far away Rajputhana. Raja Desingu has been immortalized in the Tamil country by the ballads employed in folk music and dance. It also says a lot about the inclusiveness of Tamil society. A king of northern Indian descent has been Tamilized by making his name (Raja Tej Singh) sound Tamil (Desingu). Once this is done, he is as Tamilian as anyone else. It is thus appropriate that MGR, a Tamil of Malayalee orign should play the role of raja Desingu in the 1960 movie. I will make a whimsical suggestion. If an original image of Raja Desingu cannot be found, how about a still of MGR playing Raja Desingu from the movie. for a lot of people that will make Raja Desingu real.

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  9. I have visited this good old famous fort. This is a tricky and strategically organised fort. There are two entrances for the Fort. One is called Pondicherry gate and another one is Vellore Gate. In fact, we could see the Draw-bar Bridge Entrance model at the moat near the Pondicherry gate.

    We are all entering the fort in a sideway only. During the King period/regime, they have got well controlled entrance gates.

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  10. I have visited this good old famous fort. This is a tricky and strategically organised fort. There are two entrances for the Fort. One is called Pondicherry gate and another one is Vellore Gate. In fact, we could see the Draw-bar Bridge Entrance model at the moat near the Pondicherry gate.

    We are all entering the fort in a sideway only. During the King period/regime, they have got well controlled entrance gates.

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  11. good one. thanks for this post. i have heard of Raja de singh and wanted to find some materials about him. when i searched in google, i couldnt find much info but your page provided some info. thanks

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  12. Good post :) We like to bring that still bundela lineage is alive in some parts of Tamil nadu and Andhra Pradesh as Bondil @ Bondili community. It would be great help if you could share some info want happen to the bundela rajput community after the downfall of Raja Desingh. Thanks

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    Replies
    1. They just spread across Tamil Nadu living a normal life

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  13. PanchaKalyani was the horse name.. Is it Neelaveni? I am from Gingee, still i hear story about the king and mention horse name as panchaKalyani.

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    1. It is Bara hazari. Not pancha Kalyani

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  14. What if I told you the family still exists?

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  15. proud that we are from his clan

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  16. such a fascinating story! thank you!

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  17. Does anyone remember the song - Anna vaada Tambi vaada movuthukaarane, Deivaloga puravi onru Dilliyil irukkiradaam...

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