Vanchinatha Iyer or Vanchinathan was born in Shenkottai. Vanchinathan alias Sankara Iyer was the son of Shri Raghupathy Iyer. He had studied upto primary standard and joined the Forest Department thereafter. He participated in revolutionary activities against the Britsh.
On 17 June 1911, Vanchi who was 25, assassinated Robert Ashe, the district collector of Tirunelveli, who was also known as Collector Dorai. He shot Ashe at point-blank range when Ashe's train had stopped at the Maniyachi Station, enroute to Madras.He committed suicide thereafter. The railway station has since been renamed Vanchi Maniyachi.
The mastermind behind the assassination was Nilakanta Brahmachari who went around the Madras presidency in 1910 recruiting cadres and hatching plots against the British. In this venture, he was accompanied by Shankar Krishna Iyer, Vanchinathan's brother-in-law, who introduced the men to each other. Along with a few other men, Nilakanta Bramhachari, Vaanchinathan, and Shankar Krishna Aiyar found an organisation called Bharatha Matha Sangam which plots the assassination of influential British men.