Gódávari/Gazetteer/Pólavaram Division

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POLAVARAM DIVISION.


The Pólavaram division is the south-westernmost portion of the Gódávari Agency, and is the only part of the district which lies on the right bank of the river. The density of its population ({103 to the square mile) is far above that of any of the other agency tracts. At the permanent settlement of 1802-03 it was all included in the Pólavaram estate. At present only 24 of its villages are zamindari land, of which twelve belong to the so-called Pólavaram and Pattisam estates, which are really one property in the possession of the present Pólavaram proprietor; five belong to the Gútála estate and four to the estate of Gangólu; and one village belongs to each of the muttas of Bayyanagúdem, Billumilli and Jangareddigúdem, which three form one estate. The fortunes of these various properties are referred to below.

Pólavaram is more fertile and more civilized than the other parts of the Agency. On the west and south it is as flat as the adjacent Yernagúdem taluk, though more covered with jungle. It possesses no industries worth mention. The attempts made to discover coal at Bedadanúru, the mica and plumbago of the division, and the chances of finding gold in its south-west corner, are referred to in Chapter I.

The Pattisam and Táduváyi temples are well known in the surrounding country.

Gangólu: Eight miles west-south-west of Pólavaram. Population 1,784. Its hamlet Hukumpéta is the head-quarters of a zamindari which was acquired from the Gútála estate by purchase about 40 years ago, and is still held by the descendants of the purchasers. It comprises four villages and pays a peshkash of Rs. 1,240.

Gútála: Five miles south of Pólavaram. Population 3,300. Contains a vernacular lower secondary school for boys and a Sanskrit school. It was once the chief place of one of the 'pergunnas' of the ancient Pólavaram zamindari, and its history is sketched in the account of this latter below. In the circumstances there narrated, it was put up to auction in 1810. In 1812 and 1813 it was sold for arrears of revenue, and in 1827 it passed by private sale to one Maniyam Venkataratnam, an ancestor of the present holder. Since then various purchases and sales have much modified the extent of the estate. The most important of these were the purchase of 74 hamlets of the old Nágavaram mutta and the sale of the Gangólu mutta some 40 years ago. The estate now comprises five villages in the Pólavaram division (including Nágavaram and its hamlets) and five villages elsewhere. It pays a peshkash of Rs. 6,721.

Jangareddigúdem: Thirty miles south-west of Pólavaram. Population 1,918. Headquarters of a small estate consisting of this village, Billumilli and Bayyanagúdem, and paying a peshkash of Rs. 3,008. In 1832 Jangareddigiidem was subdivided from the Pólavaram estate in circumstances referred to in the account of that property below. It was subsequently bought (along with the other two villages) by the grandfather of the present holder some 50 years ago.

Páta Pattisam: A hamlet of this, called Pattisam Nidhi, forms a picturesque and rocky island in the Gódávari, three miles south of Pólavaram. The population of the whole village is 2,002. It is called Páta (old) Pattisam to distinguish it from Kotta (new) Pattisam, a hamlet of Gútála. A division of the old Pólavaram estate, containing five villages and paying a peshkash of Rs, 5,209, is called the Pattisam division, but this was never held separately from Pólavaram proper.

The village is the scene of a well attended festival at Sivarátri. The local sthala puránam says that the Pattisam hill went to the Himalayas to attend a conference of mountains, but, not being shown proper consideration, left the others and went and did penance by itself. By means of this penance it induced the Siva of the Himalayas to leave that range and come to Pattisam, where he now resides in the Vírabhadra temple. This temple also contains two stone images of women, called Aníswari and Puníswari, one of whom is represented as being in childbed. These are much worshipped by childless women desirous of offspring. The suppliant places her foot on a platform in front of the figures, and vows that if a child like a pearl or like coral is born to her, she will present a pearl or a piece of coral to the images. In another part of the same temple are figures of Durga and Mahishásuramardhani, the form adopted by the goddess Párvati when she killed the demon Mahishásura. Sheep and fowls are sacrificed before these idols, though they are inside the precincts of the temple. The spilling of blood is not as a rule permitted inside Bráhmanical shrines. The Vírabhadra temple has two villages attached to it, which bring in an annual income of about Rs. 2,000. Another sacred place on the Pattisam island is the Bhadrakáligundam, a pit in the bed of the river which is a favourite bathing-place. The Mahánandísvaram temple on another small island four miles up the river is also fairly well known. It is supposed to be the residence of the bull (nandi) which belongs to the Pattisam temple. It has one agraháram village as an endowment, and this brings in Rs. 800 a year. On the island is a cave which is popularly supposed to be the entrance of an underground passage to Benares.

Pólavaram: Head-quarters of the Agency Deputy Collector (who, however, is temporarily located at Rajahmundry) and the deputy tahsildar. Population 4,455. It also contains the office of a sub-registrar, a local fund dispensary (established by Government in 1880), a police-station, a travellers' bungalow, a Government girls' school and an English lower secondary school for boys. It was formerly the chief place in the important zamindari of the same name, which formerly embraced the whole of this division and much of Yernagúdem and Rajahmundry taluks, but now comprises only twelve villages paying a peshkash of Rs. 6,713.

This estate was long under the independent rule of an ancient Hindu family who derived their authority from the Gajapati kings of Orissa, and are said to have been descended from that line. Little is known of the estate previous to the British occupation of the country, but the names of three of its zamindars, Venkatapati, Jagannátha, and Venkataráma, have been preserved. It was then divided into the three estates of Pólavaram, Gútála and Kottapalli, and subordinate to it was the small hill zamindari of Nágavaram.

In 1780 the zamindar, Lakshmináráyana Dévu, died leaving three sons named Mangapati Dévu, Narasimha Dévu and Vijayagópála Dévu, of whom the last was the only son of his second wife. Mangapati was the eldest of the three and succeeded to the zamindari. In 1781 Kottapalli, which had been temporarily in charge of another holder, was restored to the estate, and Mangapati was thus in possession of all three of the subdivisions of the property. As he was a minor, his diwan managed the estate for him. This man was the brother of Vijayagópála's mother, and he induced the Chief at Masulipatam to recommend (1782) that the estate should be divided into three so as to make a provision for each of the three brothers. This was done, and Pólavaram fell to Mangapati, Gútála to Vijayagópála, and Kottapalli to Narasimha. In 1785 Dásu Reddi, the zamindar of Nágavaram, pretending that Vijayagópála's diwán was not managing the Gútála estate properly, captured that town and took the young Rája and his mother prisoners. He was perhaps egged on to do this by Mangapati, between whom and Vijayagópála's mother there was no love lost. A force of seven companies of sepoys marched up to liberate the prisoners and restore order. The Nágavaram zamindar then moved his prisoners to his own estate and the English force accordingly marched as far as Anantapalli. The zamindar then returned to Gútála, and the English force, supposing he would release the prisoners, retired. He still however refused to do so, and Gútála was accordingly captured. Two sepoys were wounded and about eighty peons killed and wounded on both sides during the attack. Dásu Reddi was sent to Masulipatam and Vijayagópála was restored to Gútála.

Similar disturbances took place in 1786-87, when the hill people, who were mostly adherents of Dásu Reddi's, were driven out of the Company's territory by a detachment of sepoys. In 1788 peace was for the time restored, and the jealousy between the branches of the Pólavaram family appeased, by placing the whole of the estate under one díwán.

This díwán managed the property efficiently till his death in 1790. A successor was then appointed with the apparent consent of the three brothers. The mother of Vijayagópála refused however to acquiesce in the new arrangement, and made herself supreme in Gútála. The Company's troops marched up to Gútála to bring her to order, and when they arrived she was discovered with her son in a room in the palace in which were two large open vessels of gunpowder. She threatened that if she was touched she would destroy herself and all that were near, and the Company's officer prudently retired. The lady was ultimately pacified, and surrendered quietly. She was taken to Masulipatam, Vijayagópála was detained at Rajahmundry, and Mangapati was recognized as zamindar of the united estates of Gútála and Pólavaram. Narasimha remained in charge of Kottapalli.

Thus far the disturbances in the estate had been due to private family feuds rather than to disloyalty to Government. The firmer revenue administration of the new Collectors appointed in 1794 however caused a real rebellion of the whole family. Mangapati gave a great deal of trouble to the authorities, failing to pay his peshkash and withholding the accounts which were necessary to ascertain how far he had suffered from the recent famine and what remissions should be granted him on that account. So obstinate was he, that the Board of Revenue directed that he should be taken prisoner. He was accordingly seized and confined and his estate attached; but he was afterwards liberated on his agreeing to discharge the arrears in two years, to give security for the current revenue as it fell due, and to make an immediate payment of sixteen thousand pagodas.

At this juncture Vijayagópála escaped from Rajahmundry and took refuge with Linga Reddi, a hill chief whose estate lay on the east bank of the Gódávari above Pólavaram. He was induced by his host and a fugitive revenue defaulter (who had plundered Undi in 1798) to join them in a rebellion, and their combined parties commenced a fitúri by plundering two villages in the Pólavaram estate.

His brother's revolt encouraged Mangapati to give further trouble about his revenue. He claimed indulgence, which was refused. He promised to pay, but still delayed. His conduct became refractory and turbulent; and he made an exorbitant claim for a remission of over fifty thousand pagodas, and showed that he was prepared to back this up by force. Negotiations ensued while both the zamindar and the Government collected their forces for the expected struggle. The zamindar's demand was finally refused, and a military detachment moved rapidly up the country and captured Pólavaram. The zamindar however escaped, and the principal object of the officer in command, who had hoped to end the affair by seizing his person, was frustrated. A reward was offered for his apprehension and the country was placed under martial law. Mangapati first fled to the Nizam's Dominions, but returned when the coast was clear. A carefully planned attempt to capture him at Siruváka (21 miles north of Pólavaram) was unsuccessful, but he fled and was apparently never heard of again. It is supposed he took refuge in the Rampa country.

Meanwhile the outbreak started by Linga Reddi and Vijayagópála had been joined by the Rampa people, and sepoys had to be stationed both at Kottapalli and Indukúrpéta to keep them in check. In August 1800 they attacked Indukúrpéta, from which they were easily beaten back, and three days later a band of insurgents advanced as far as Purushóttapatnam opposite Pólavaram; and, within sight of the troops stationed there, seized the boats on that side of the river so as to cut off communication. Vijayagópála, whose heart had never apparently been in the rebellion, however surrendered; Narasimha, the zamindar of Kottapalli, who had also joined in the outbreak, was captured; and peace was gradually restored. The Pólavaram estate was given to a cousin named Lakshmináráyana Dévu, with whom the permanent settlement was made.1[1]

Since that time subdivisions and revenue sales have played havoc with this ancient property. The first alteration in its limits occurred in 1808, when, in consequence of the accrual of large arrears of revenue, it was divided into the three muttas of Gútála, Pólavaram and Kottapalli, and the last of these (comprising 39 villages) was sold in auction. Gútála and Pólavaram remained under the old family, but next year the zamindar (Narasimha Dévu) broke into rebellion and they were both put up to auction, and the ancient line of the Pólavaram zamindars came to an end.

The Pólavaram mutta, of portions of which the present Pólavaram is made up, was purchased at this sale by one Báváyamma. In 1812 it was sold again for arrears and was purchased by Báhu Baléndra Rázu, and in the following year it was sold yet once more and was bought by Kócharla Kóta Jaggayya, an ancestor of the present zamindar. On his death in 1832, the estate was subdivided by Government and given to different members of the family, and the only parts of it which remained to Rámachandra Venkatakrishna Rao, the son of Jaggayya and the grandfather of the present zamindar, were the two properties of Pólavaram and Pattisam which (with the addition of the Nallamillipádu estate purchased by the proprietrix who held the property from 1858 to 1888) from the present zamindari. Of the other portions which were subdivided off in 1832, the only village which has not since been purchased by Government is the Jangareddigúdem already referred to above. The Pólavaram estate was under the Court of Wards in the years 1832-35, 1846-54 and 1856-58.

Pólavaram village contains some tombs which are locally stated to be those of European soldiers who fell in the fitúri of Mangapati Dévu at the end of the eighteenth century. They bear no inscriptions. Another grim relic of the old disorders in these parts which existed here till recently was the gallows on which Subba Reddi and Kommi Reddi, the ringleaders of the fitúri of 1858, were hanged. This was carried away by the floods of 1900.

Táduvayi: Thirty-seven miles west by south of Pólavaram. Population 1,627. It is well known in this part of the country for its Siva temple, to which many pilgrims go at Sivarátri. The village contains a travellers' bungalow.

  1. 1 This account of these disturbances has been abridged from Mr, Morris' description in the original District Manual. The authorities on which he relied, which consist of MS. official records and printed reports, are quoted by him on p. 275 thereof.