Dheeran Chinnamalai (born as Theerthagiri Sarkkarai Mandraadiyaar or Theerthagiri Gounder on April 17, 1756) was a Kongu chieftain and Palayakkarar from Tamil Nadu who rose up in revolt against the British East India Companyin the Kongu Nadu, Southern India. Kongunadu comprised the modern day districts of Coimbatore, Nilgiri, Tirupu, Erode, Salem, Dharmapuri, Karur, Namakkal and parts of Dindigul District and Krishnagiri District of Tamil Nadu state.
He was born in Melapalayam, near Erode in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. He is held with high regard by the Gounder community who continue use him as a symbol of Independence for the community. He was one of the main leaders in the Polygar Wars and commanded a vast army, notably during the Second Polygar War that took place in 1801–1802. A thousand-strong army under him took French Military training in modern warfare alongside Tipu’s Mysore forces to fight against the British East India company.
They helped Tipu Sultan in his war against the British and were instrumental in victories at Chitheswaram, Mazahavalli and Srirangapatna. He was the first south Indian to oppose the British rule in India. After Tipu’s death, Chinnamalai settled down at Odanilai in Kongu Nadu and constructed a fort there and defeated the British in battles at Cauvery in 1801, Odanilai in 1802 andArachalur in 1804. Later, Chinnamalai left his fort to avoid cannon attack and engaged inguerrilla warfare while he was stationed at Karumalai in the Palani region. He was captured by the British who hanged him at Sankagiri Fort on 31 July 1805.