Everything You Need To Know About Vannuramma, The Poligar Widow Who Fought Haider Ali!


Mudireddipalle is small village situated in the Nallamalais mountain range near the road leading to Porumamilla. It was an important village before malaria went ahead and consumed it. Most of its citizens ended up migrating to Vanipenta, a village near Mudireddipalle. Though now it holds of no great prominence nor maybe is much spoken of but it a village where the first woman poligar was seen who built two forts. Yes a woman and a widow!

Once upon a time there was a woman called Vannuramma, the only woman poligar known to the district. It appears that she was once the wife of Kumara Narasimha Nayudu who held the village of Tippireddipalle, about a few kilometres west of Mudireddipalle. After the death of her husband Narasimha Nayudu, Vannuramma established herself fearlessly in the heart of Nallamalais. There were until the time of British, stories told about her and people glorified her. About fifteen miles north of Tippireddipalle, she built a fort and a village. This fort is designed in a way that it has two narrow entrances one of which is in the north end and other in the south. The remaining of the fort is surrounded by the hills serving as a tactical position. Vannuramma generally would lock herself in the fort when she is not raiding the country. There are two popular views about her. One is the British view which portrays her as the bandit queen who will plunder defenseless villages and increase the supply of her own granary. Another view states that she was a heroine and a bold woman which is how locals thought of her. Either or, she was definitely a person of bravery and strength.

The forts at Mudireddipalle and Tippireddipalle at the entrance to the pass leading to the village constructed by her are said to have been built by her. There was a fierce battle fought between Vannuramma and Haidar Ali, in which she faced her defeat. The reason for the war was that she murdered one of Haidar Ali’s Amildar’s who was said to be her rival. Haidar Ali attacked her at the very village that she had constructed. He destroyed the fort constructed by her and held her captive. He ordered her to be put to death at Ganjikunta. After her death the area under her control was divided between two brothers of the family, Kumara Narasimha Nayudu and Venkatadri, of whom the former continued to live at Tippireddipalle and the latter at Dasaripalle where he built a fort. At Neelapuram a few miles south of Dasaripalle is an old widow lady of the family continued to live who passed on the tale of Vannuramma back in the day. She is called 'Dorasani Venkatamma' by the inhabitants of the village who are mostly Patravandlu, i.e., descendants of the poligar's retinue.

Thus ends the story of a woman and a widow who earns mixed compliments for her reign which though was short lived, tells us the tale of the social standards which one can overcome only by their courage and will. It’s one of those lessons which are too menial to make it to the history textbooks.


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