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History of Coimbatore

Information on History of Coimbatore

The history of the city has its origin in the Sangam Age. The Coimbatore District was originally a part of the Kongu country and if you refer to the earliest documented evidence, you will find that the indigenous people of the city were the tribes.

The Kosars were the most predominant amongst them with their headquarters at Kosampathur. It is believed that Kosampathur has been rechristened through the years, to the present day Coimbatore.

The forest dwellers or the Irulas were the only people who inhabited this region according to the earliest recorded documentations. With the rise of the Chola Empire in the middle of 9th century, Coimbatore actually got a definite territorial reference. The Cholas are actually accredited for establishing a planned layout for the city and placed the Koniamman Temple at the center of their plan. The Kosars were the most prominent tribe that ruled the place, and they had their operational headquarters at Kosampathur.

There are evidences that suggest that Coimbatore acted as primary trading zone for the Romans who were the early visitors to this land. Vellalore, which is situated just adjacent to Coimbatore was a major trading hub. The region also came under the rule of the Delhi Sultanate and then came under the Vijaynagar Empire. The following paragraphs present the details of the numerous transitions of powers of this region. With the commencement of the Vijaynagar rule, a host of new settlers came in from the adjacent states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. 

Referring back to the history of the city, it was the Rashtrakutas who were gradually gaining prominence in the Southern India. The tribal predominance was overridden in due course, and they were pushed to the background. After the Rashtrakutas, history saw the rise of the Cholas and the area was marked by the cultural and administrative influence of Raja Raja Chola following the Chole invasion. The Chalukyas came to the forefront after the reign of Cholas began to decline. The Kongu territory was subsequently ruled by the Chalukyas, followed by the Pandyas and the Hoysalas.

During the rule of the Pandyas, there was a lot of internal strife that ravaged the area and allowed the Muslim invaders to lay hands on this southern territory with considerable ease. It all began when the Muslim rulers from Delhi started to interfere in the administrative and military policies of the region. The Madurai Sultanate got control of the region and in 1377-78; the gradually growing Vijaynagar Empire overthrew the Madurai Sultanate. A few years following this change in administration, the area enjoyed some sort of independence under the banner of the Madurai Nayaks.

The Nayaks or the Nayakars were the Telegu speaking military governors of the Vijaynagar Empire. When the Madurai Nayaks assumed complete control of the Coimbatore region, other new kingdoms were also founded by them. They were Vellore, Tanjore, Gingee, Chandragiri and of course, Mysore. To aid the administration of their expanding kingdom, the Nayaks resorted to the services of some of the military governors who were called the Palayakkars. Madurai and Mysore used to have constant fights and during 1700, the strife escalated and Mysore gained control of the Coimbatore region.

Let us now look at the events that took place during the Nayak rule. When Muthu Veerappa Nayak was the ruler, the area experienced a prolonged period of strife. These were the same tribal strife between the various sects. The condition remained unchanged when Tirumal Nayak attained the throne as the administrator and ruler of the kingdom. There were numerous intermittent wars during these years and the kingdom was actually nearing a total ruin with each passing year. The then Raja of Mysore was able to wrestle the kingdom from the Nayaks, and Kongu became a part of the Mysore territory. But the Mysore rulers were not able to keep their hold on this kingdom for long.

They lost the area to Hyder Ali, the powerful general of Mysore. Hyder Ali had always been hostile towards the British and the East India Company was searching for an opportunity to gain a foothold in the region. The Arcot Nawab, the King of Mysore, played a great role in helping the British. 

Coimbatore became a part of the empire of Tipu Sultan, who was Hyder Ali’s son and the subsequent ruler of Mysore. A number of wars took place between the British and the military forces of Mysore. With the fall of Tipu Sultan in 1799, East India Company got access to the Kingdom of Mysore. This was the result of the Third Anglo-Mysore war where Tipu Sultan was defeated by the East India Company. Following the annexation of Coimbatore, the British tied it up with the Madras Presidency.

It is quite interesting to note that when Hyder Ali gained control of Coimbatore, the region had a population of three thousand people and with the death and annexation of Tipu Sultan, the region was left with left with only half its population, that is, fifteen hundred people.

During the second Poligar War raged against the British, Coimbatore played a prominent role. This was during 1801. The first attack in this war was faced by the British columns placed in the Coimbatore region and during this period, the forces were under the legendary Kongu chieftain Dheeran Chinnamalai. He belonged to the Palayakkar community of military rulers of Tamil Nadu. There were some Malabar and Mysore soldiers as a part of the allied forces.

When the Coimbatore district was formed in 1804, Coimbatore was named as the capital. It gained the status of a municipality in 1848. The first chairman of the Coimbatore City Council was Sir Robert Stanes. He was a British entrepreneur and philanthropist. The foundation of the famous Stanes School was also laid by him in 1862. This higher secondary school holds a place of pride as a reputed educational institute of the Coimbatore district.

Later when the Singanallur municipality was added to the Coimbatore district, it became a corporation in 1981.      

Right from 1799 to 1947, the British were in sole control of this region. There were a lot of significant changes brought in the administrative, cultural, industrial and occupational sectors. The most notable amongst them was the initiation of the systematic revenue administration that resulted in other associated changes in the Kongu area.

It is important to discuss a few aspects of this systematic revenue administration in the Kongu or the Coimbatore area. Coimbatore was divided into two parts just to aid this process of revenue administration. But then again, there was a subsequent merger of the two areas into one unit in 1804 bringing it under the jurisdiction of one District Collector. This was when Mr. H. S. Greame was the district collector during 1803 to 1805. In 1868, the Nilgiris District was drawn out of the Coimbatore district. At the commencement of the present century, a total of ten taluks were formed from this district. They were Bahvani, Coimbatore, Dharapuram, Erode, Karur, Kollegal, Palladam, Pollachi, Satyamangalam and Udumalaipetti. There were a number of other mergers that took place during these years.

Then a few years later in 1956, the entire Kollegal taluk, which is a considerable part of the district, was transferred to the Mysore state. This was in accordance with the States Reorganization Scheme. The Satyamangalam sub-taluk was upgraded in 1975 into a full-fledged taluk.

In 1979, the Perundurai sub-taluk of Erode and Mettuppalaiyam sub-taluk of Avanashi also evolved as independent taluks. With these two changes, the total number of taluks rose to twelve. But, this was also a temporary phase. In 1979, there was another broad bifurcation of six taluks into a unit that was planned to be a single district, namely, Erode.

If you refer to the G.O. Ms. No. 1917 Revenue dated 31/8/1979, you will find that these six taluks were actually bifurcated from the then Coimbatore district and the Erode district came into being. These six were Bhavani, Gopichettipalaiyam, Satyamangalam, Erode, Perundurai and Dharapuram.

The size of the district actually underwent a considerable reduction as a result of this bifurcation. Following this bifurcation, there were only nine taluks – Pollachi, Coimbatore (north), Avanashi, Palladam, Udumalpettai, Tirupur, Valparai, Coimbatore (South) and Mettuppalayam. You can also refer to the G.O.Ms. No. 617, 618 Revenue dated 24/10/2008.

The four taluks that constituted the Coimbatore district - Tirupur, Udumalpet, Palladam and Avinashi (a part of it), was brought together with the three taluks from the Erode district that is, Dharapuram, Kangeyam and Perundurai (a part of it). It was a rather complex bifurcation exercise that resulted in the formation of the Tiruppur district.