19 Apr 2013

Mysore Palace and the Wodeyar Dynasty

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The Satue of Mahishasura at Chamundi Hills, Mysore
The word Mysore is derived from Mahishuru or the city of Mahishasura. Mysore was ruled by the demon king Mahishasura, who was a buffalo headed monster. Hearing to the prayers of Gods to save them from the demon, Goddess Parvathi took birth as Chamundeshwari and killed him. After killing the demon, the Goddess resided atop the Chamundi Hills where she is worshiped. In honor of the Goddess Chamundeshwari, the famous festival Dasara is celebrated during the months of September and October.

The Wodeyars of Mysore and the Keladi Nayakas of Ikkeri were the largest feudatories of the great Vijayanagar Kingdom. After the decline of the Vijayanagar empire in 1565, they became independent. Mysore was the erstwhile capital of the Wodeyar rulers.

The Wodeyars of Mysore (1399-1947):

Two princes named Vijaya and Krishna of the Yadu dynasty came to Mysore during the rule of King Chamaraja. They saved the Mysore kingdom from the Chief of Karugahalli, Maranayaka, who had attacked Mysore soon after the death of the king. Princess Devajammani, the daughter of Chamaraja, was married Vijaya and he became the first ruler of the Wodeyar dynasty in 1399, assuming the title Yaduraya.

Adi Yaduraya (1399-1423) was succeeded by his eldest son Hiriya Bettada Chamaraja Wodeyar I (1423-1459).  He was followed by Thimma Raja Wodeyar I (1459-1478), Hiriya Bettada Chamaraja Wodeyar II (1478-1513), Hiriya Bettada Chamaraja Wodeyar III (1513-1553), Thimma Raja Wodeyar II (1553-1572), Boala Chamaraja Wodeyar IV (1572-1576) and later by Hiriya Bettada Chamaraja Wodeyar (1576-1578).

Raja Wodeyar I (1578-1617): was the first powerful ruler of the Wodeyar dynasty who defeated Sri Ranga Raya of Vijayanagara and shifted his capital from Mysore to Srirangapatna in 1610. In continuation of the Vijayanagar traditions, he celebrated the famous Dasara (Navratri) for the first time in Srirangapatna.

After Chamaraja Wodeyar V (1617-1637) and Raja Wodeyar II (1637-1638), the next powerful ruler of Mysore was Ranadhira Kanteerava Narasaraja Wodeyar I (1638-1659). In 1638, the Mysore Palace was struck by lightning and rebuilt by Ranadhira Kanteerava Narasaraja Wodeyar I. He successfully defended Srirangapatna from the attack of Adil Shahis of Bijapur. He also fortified the Srirangapatna and Mysore forts with arms and weapons. Coinage was first introduced by him in Wodeyar dynasty.

Dodda Devaraja Wodeyar (1659-1673): The colossal Nandi (Lord Shiva's Bull) and the Mahishasura Statue at Chamundi Hills were built by Dodda Devaraja in 1659. He conquered the areas of Keladi Shivappa Nayaka and Nayaks of Madurai and Thiruchinapalli.

The reign of Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar (1673-1704) is regarded as the golden period in Mysore history. He was an excellent administrator, who assumed the title Karnataka Chakravarthi. He made several successful expeditions against Madura, Ikkeri, Bijapur, Golconda and the Marathas (1673-1686). The Nayakas of Ikkeri, the Qutub Shahis of Golconda and the Marathas under Sambhaji, formed a triple alliance against him but they were defeated at Banavara (1682). It was during his reign that the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb conquered Bijapur and the Province of Sira was formed as the Mughal capital (1686). Since then Mysore became a tributary of Mughals. Chikka Devaraja purchased the city of Bangalore from Qasim Khan, the Governor of Sira, in 1687. He acquired Avaniperur, Arasaravani, Hoskote, Mannargudi and in 1689, Dharmapuri and Kaveripatnam. After the death of Qasim Khan, in order to get Mughal recognition of his Southern conquests, Chikka Devaraja sent an embassy to Emperor Aurangzeb (1700) which was favourably received by Aurangzeb, who bestowed upon him, the title of Jaga Deva, and permission to sit on an ivory throne. Influenced by Aurangzeb's style, he reorganized the administration of his empire by dividing it into 18 departments called Atharkacheri or Chavadis (1701) and also introduced a coherent system of taxation. A regular postal system was for the first time established. The regular collection of revenues he accumulated in the treasury qualified him for the title Navakoti Narayana. His death in 1704 plunged the kingdom into a period of political instability.

Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar was succeeded by his deaf and dumb son, Kanteerava Narasaraja Wodeyar II (1704-1714). He ruled under the regency of a powerful office called Dalavais who belonged to the Kalale family. Kanteerava Narasaraja was succeeded by Dodda Krishnaraja Wodeyar I (1714-1732) and during this time, the Governor of Sira's jurisdiction was restricted to Balaghat and a separate Nawab of Arcot was appointed to the Payanghat jurisdiction. Mysore was repeatedly raided by both the Nawabs as well as the Marathas under Peshwa Baji Rao, and the Raja had to pay huge amount of taxes to send them back. This weakened the Kingdom and the power has virtually passed over to the Dalavais; Dalavai Devarajaiya and his cousin Sarvadhikari Nanjarajaiya. Chamaraja Wodeyar VI (1732-1734), the next ruler removed the Dalavais from their positions and began his independent rule about January 1733. But in Jun 1734, they deposed the Raja and imprisoned him at Kabbaldurga, where he passed away.

Mysore under Dalavai Rule (1734-1759):

(Immadi) Krishnaraja Wodeyar II (1734-1766) was installed on the throne under the regency of Dalavai Devarajaiya. When Sarvadhikari Nanjrajaiya passed away, Karachuri Nanjarajaiya was appointed as the new Minister. The Dalavais; Dalavai Devarajaiya and his younger brother Karachuri Nanjarajaiya; participated in the Carnatic wars with the hope of getting possession of Trichinopoly.

Mysore under Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan (1761-1799):

Please read:

First Anglo Mysore War—Treaty of Madras
Second Anglo Mysore War—Treaty of Mangalore

When Krishnaraja passed away in 1766, Nanjaraja Wodeyar (1766-1770), Bettada Chamaraja Wodeyar VII (1770-1776) and Khasa Chamaraja Wodeyar VIII (1766-1796) continued as nominal rulers in the Wodeyar dynasty.

The Rana Treaty for the Restoration of Wodeyars (1782):

Ever since Hyder had seized the control, Rani Lakshmi Ammani Devi Avaru, the widow of Krishnaraja Wodeyar II, had been striving for the restoration of her family. In early 1770 itself, she had contacted Pigot, the Governor of Madras, through her emissaries seeking support of the British in the event of Hyder Ali’s overthrow. A secret treaty was signed between Tirumala Rao, a confidante of the Rani and Lord Macartney, then Governor of Madras, in 1782, called the Rana Treaty for the Restoration of the Hindu Dynasty of Mysore. As per the treaty, she assured the British; Rs. 3 lacs on their taking of Coimbatore, one lac on ascending the Balaghat, again one lac on the taking of Mysore and another 5 lacs on the fall of Srirangapatna. Later in 1798, she hiked the price to one crore of star pagodas.

Upon the death of Tipu Sultan in the Fourth Anglo Mysore War in 1799, the British restored the Wodeyars and the capital was shifted back to Mysore from Srirangapatna. Rani Lakshmi Ammani's five year old grand son, (Mummudi) Krishnaraja Wodeyar III (1799-1868) assumed the throne and the regent Diwan Purnaiya (1800-1810) took care of the administration. Krishnaraja Wodeyar III was forced to sign the Subsidiary Alliance with the British. From 1831-1881, the British imposed a direct rule on the Kingdom by posting Sir Mark Cubbon and L.B.Bowring as Commissioners. Bangalore became the new capital. On 25th March 1881, the administration was again restored to the Wodeyars, and again Mysore became the capital. Krishnaraja Wodeyar III was succeeded by Chamaraja Wodeyar IX (1881-1894) in 1881.

Krishnaraja Wodeyar IVRani Kempananjammanni Vani Vilas Sannidhana, Queen of Chamaraja Wodeyar IX, was the Regent from 1894-1902 during the minority of (Nalvadi) Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV (1894-1940). The palace got fully destroyed in a fire during the wedding of Princess Jayalakshmanni in 1897. In 1912, the palace was rebuilt by the British architect Henry Irwin under the commission of Rani Vani Vilas Sannidhana. The Krishna Raja Sagara Dam built in 1924, across the river Kaveri is named for Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV.

The Mysore Palace was built in Indo-Saracenic style and blends together Hindu, Muslim, Rajput and Gothic styles of architecture. The palace is illuminated with ninety seven thousand bulbs at night on Sundays and during the season of Dasara.

Sri Jaya Chamaraja Wodeyar (1940-1947): was the 25th and last ruler of the Mysore Wodeyar Dynasty. When in 1950 India was declared a republic nation, he was given the position of the governor of Mysore. He died in 1974.

Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar (1974-2013) was the last descendant of the Wodeyar dynasty. He passed away on Dec 10, 2013, after suffering from a cardiac arrest, who was the only son of Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar.


Devanahalli is famous as the birth place of Tipu Sultan (1750).

Sira was again lost to the Marathas in 1766, but recaptured by Tipu Sultan in 1774.

The Nizams were the Viceroys of the Deccan under the Mughal Empire (1713-1721). In 1724, Nizam-ul-Mulk Mir Qamar-ud-din Khan Siddiqi, the Mughal Viceroy, declared his independence and founded the Aṣaf Jahi dynasty in the Deccan. 

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