Rani Velu Nachiyar (Tamil: இராணி வேலு நாச்சியார்; born 1730) was an Indian queen from Sivaganga. She was the first queen to fight against the British Empire in India, preceding Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi and even the 1857 Mutiny (India’s First War for Independence).
The only daughter of Raja Chellamuthu Sethupathy and Rani Sakandhimuthal, the royal family of Ramnad Kingdom, Princess Velu nachiyar was brought up like a prince. She got trained in war tactics, weapons usage, martial arts like Valari, Silambam (stick-fighting),horse riding, archery etc as well as a scholar in many languages like Tamil, Urdu, French and English.
When her husband king was killed by the British and the plotting prince Nawab of Arcot, she escaped with her daughter, and lived under the protection of Hyder Ali. It is here she formed alliances with neighboring kingdoms with the aim of attacking the British. In 1780, Rani Velu Nachiyar attacked the British and won. She is one of the few rulers who regained her kingdom and ruled it until her death.
She is credited to have built the first recorded human bomb in Indian history. On discovering the British ammunition store, her faithful commander, Kuyili doused herself in ghee, set herself on fire and walked into the storehouse. Rani Velu Nachiyar eventually formed a woman’s army named “Udaiyaal” in honor of this sacrifice.