Life Threat Judge Sowrirajulu Naidu Faced During His Stint In Coimbatore

Sowrirajulu Naidu (1875 – 1928) served the judiciary in Coimbatore for some time. “My grandmother Padmavathi Ammal (1900 – 1991) was 9 years old when my great grandfather was serving in Coimbatore. She used to tell me about the old Coimbatore. They lived in the Judges quarters in Ramanathapuram. It was convenient to travel to Podanur everyday in his carriage. Great grandfather was an important personality in Coimbatore. He knew Rao Bahadur A.T.Thiruvengadaswamy Mudaliar, Diwan Bahadur C.V.Venkataramana Iyengar, T.A.Ramalingam Chettiar, T.S.Balakrishna Iyer, V.C.Vellingiri Gounder, Sivakavimani C.K.Subramania Mudaliar, Diwan Bahadur Sulur Lakshmi Narasimha Iyer and C.M.Padmanabhachar quite well. A number of Europeans were entertained by him and he was invited by them in turn. My grandmother Padmavathi Ammal had a English Governess those days. She used to tell me that Coimbatore was an upcoming town during her growing up years. Grandmother spoke excellent English, “stated septuagenarian Durga Sanathkumar.
The Judge was born to Kothandaramaswamy Naidu and Thayammal. He belonged to Vadugachery, a small village near Nagapattinam and was from a family of Mirasdars who owned vast tracts of land in the Cauvery Delta region. “My great grandfather Sowrirajulu Naidu was admitted into the Inner Temple in UK and he was a Bar at Law. The visit to England changed his appearance. He cut off his tuft and removed the diamond solitaires from his ears,” added the great grand daughter.
Sowrirajulu Naidu had worked all over the Madras Presidency. He put in his service in Madurai, Chennai, Tirunelveli, Kumbakonam, Dindigul, Bandar and of course Coimbatore. His wife Soundaravalli Ammal hailed from a very wealthy background. She used to wear a lot of diamond jewellery everyday and was known as the uncrowned Queen of the Thanjavur region. Soundaravalli Ammal had received 7 villages from her parents at the time of her wedding. The couple were blessed with 3 boys and a daughter, Padmavathi Ammal. The daughter was married to Ayodhyarama Naidu and she in turn received 1000 acres from her parents as a wedding gift.
“My great grandfather imported a car from England and it arrived to our village via Nagapattinam. Our village did not have a petrol bunk and therefore a person was sent Nagapattinam in order to procure it. His uncle was getting concerned about the cost of fuel. However my great grandfather showed the radiator and told him that the car runs on water ! He had a horse drawn coach for going around his lands and it had been fitted with a commode. Great grandfather was a soft natured and helpful person all his life. He had given away 400 acres of land in charity to the Alangudichery and Annakudi Trust. Our ancestors did the Thiruppani for the Sowriraja Perumal Temple in Thirukannapuram. It is among the 108 Vaishnavaite Divyadesams. The deity visits Thrumalairayan Pattinam, a fishing village every year. The saying goes that he had married a fisherwoman and hence the moment he enters the village, the fisherfolk take charge of the deity. The divine Munaiyatharaiyar Pongal is very famous in the Thirukannapuram Sowriraja Perumal Temple, it is made of 5 parts of rice, 3 parts of dhal and 2 parts of ghee. A statue of the wife of Munaiyatharaiyar is found within the premises. She is honoured for having been responsible for this Pongal,” smiled Durga Sanathkumar.
Judge Sowrirajulu Naidu had a huge retinue of servants at his residence in Coimbatore. Those were times when criminals and dacoits were given severe punishments. Some of them were sent to the gallows. Therefore there was a constant threat to the life of the Judge. He had a close relative (aunt) who supervised the preparation of food. The food was prepared by a cook and on sending the cook away from the kitchen, the food was locked up in a cupboard. Sowriarajulu Naidu could eat his food only after it was tasted by another person. This precaution was taken in order to avoid the poisoning of his food by people sympathetic to sentenced convicts.
Captain A.Devarajalu (1918 – 1978), the grandson of Sowrirajulu Naidu was a frequent visitor to Coimbatore. He used to visit his daughter Durga and son in law Dr.J.Sanathkumar (son of Dr.N.Jagannathan, Founder of the TB Sanitorium in Peelamedu). Sarojini and Captain Devarajalu were staunch devotees of Shirdi Baba. According to lore, they had been blessed with a vision of Shirdi Baba. They built a Shirdi Baba Temple in Kolkatta and their daughter Durga Sanathkumar continues to be in the governing committee. Captain A.Devarajalu was a pilot with the Tata Airlines those days. “Father used to do a cross country with us when we were kids in Chennai. It used to be a pleasure to fly with him over the beach. He was among the early pilots who got trained at Boeing in Seattle. We have still preserved the letters written by him from the USA. Father trained Rajiv Gandhi those days. He used recall Rajiv Gandhi as a humble person. J.R.D.Tata knew my father very well. Father was on deputation to Gwalior and he got associated with the Scindhia Royal Family. I remember playing Holi with Madhav Rao Scindhia and his siblings,” recalled Durga Sanathkumar. Sarojini and Captain A.Devarajalu had been responsible for popularising the cult of Shirdi Baba in Kolkatta.
The stint of Judge Sowrirajulu Naidu at Coimbatore and the visits of his grandson Captain A.Devarajalu to the city make an interesting story. Memories of the yonder era are ever welcome in Coimbatore, the self made city.
—Rajesh Govindarajulu

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