A Reconstruction of an "Officially Expunged" Kingdom in Colonial South India: Panjalamkurinchi through Memory and Archaeology

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2009
Authors
Seylon, Raman
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University of Hawai'i Press (Honolulu)
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Abstract
Prior to the turn of the nineteenth century large parts of rural South India bristled with a number of formidable small fortified settlements called palayams. Most of these ‘‘forts’’ were surrounded by hardened earthen walls, within which were private dwellings or aranmani (‘‘palace’’) and administrative o‰ces of the local military households known as poligars. The poligar rajas held sway over much of South Indian countryside prior to colonial rule. By 1800 all such mud fortifications were systematically destroyed by the East India Company government in an e¤ort to do away with all such secondary military powers. As a result very little is presently known about these rural strong houses that once dotted and dominated the South Indian rural landscape. This article describes a reconstruction of one of the most formidable of these rural forts situated in the town of Panjalamkurinchi. It is based on Seylon’s own archaeological mapping of the site, along with additional data collected from the colonial archives, military siege maps, and manuscripts containing firsthand accounts of a pilgrim who saw the fort before its destruction. Together these sources present a vivid and complete picture of Panjalamkurinchi in the late 1790s.
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India, fortifications, palaces, states, rajas, militarism, colonial, ethnohistory, East India Company
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31 pages
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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States
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