Thursday, 18 April 2013

When the Wodeyars threw out the Adil Shahis

When the Wodeyars began ruling the Mysore area, their capital in the initial years was the city of Mysore itself. It was only during the reign of  Raja Wodeyar that the capital was shifted from Mysore to Srirangapatna.
One of the main reasons, and except for contemporary records in Bijapur and only one in Mysore, was that the Adil Shahis overran Mysore in 1593 after a long and hard siege that lasted a little more than three months.
All that the marauding Adil Shahis managed to take back to their capital City of  Bijapur was twenty five elephants and a fair amount of booty. What that booty comprised, is not exactly known.
It was the Adil Shahi General Manjun Khan who lead the Bijapur charge on Mysore. Though there is again not much information in Hindu accounts of the period, we can glean some information from the two books on history written by Father Henry Heras, a Spanish Jesuit priest, and accounts of the expedition in Bijapur.
However, to the credit of the Wodeyars, they did not allow Mysore to remain in the hands of the Adil Shahis for long. When the Adil Shahi Emperor, Ibrahim Adil Shah the second (1580-1627), recalled Manjun Khan, the Wodeyars retook Mysore and drove out the Adil Shahis.  
In the same year, the imperial army of Venkata II or Venkata Deva Raya (1585-1614), the Vijayanagar king, according to contemporary accounts, freed the petty rajas of Kanara. Srirangapatna, around this time, was the seat of the Vijayanagar Viceroy and Raja Wodeyar soon realised that the island fortress offered a better defence than Mysore.
He then took on the Vijayanagar Viceroy, Tirumularaya, a relative of the Vijayanagar Emperor, and defeated him in a battle near Mysore (then a small village which today is Kesare). He then shifted his capital to Srirangapatna even as Tirumalaraya is supposed to have shifted to the small village of Malangi which is just across Talakadu. Incidentally, it is Tirumalaraya’s wife, Alamelu, who cursed Raja Wodeyar.
As soon as Raja Wodeyar shifted to Srirangapatna, he commenced the Dasara celebrations and he decreed that this event has to be held even if there is death in the family.
In 1616, Raja Wodeyar extended and reconstructed the Mysore fort. He is credited with having drawn up the plans and built
the foundations of the outer walls where they now stand.
These and an inner or rather extra wall apparently on the
foundations of the previous south wall, were completed
by his grandson, Chamaraja Wodeyar VI.
During his reign, Raja Wodeyar managed to keep the Adil Shahis at bay but the Bijapur Kingdom was always wary of a Hindu revival. They had been soundly defeated by Emperor Venkata and they did not want another adversary on their borders. So when Kantirava Narasa Wodeyar (1638-1659) ascended the throne, the Adil Shahis made another attempt to take Mysore. This was in 1638.
The Bijapur Emperor was Muhammad Adi Shah (the builder of the Gol Gumbaz) and he had succeeded Ibrahim to the throne on 1627. He had with him one of the ablest generals of the times in Randulla Khan. He sent a huge army under Randulla Khan to Mysore but Kantirava proved equal to the occasion and repulsed the Adil Shahis.
This victory has unfortunately not been given its due by historians. The battle is buried in mounds of history and the feat of the champion Wodeyar King in thwarting Randulla Khan, who was eulogised as “ the bridegroom of the battlefield” has been underplayed.
According to legend, it was Goddess Chamundi herself who helped the Mysoreans during the siege. When Randulla Khan was told that there were women warriors too who were defending the Mysore fort, he asked his men not to fire at them.
When the Bijapur army neared the Mysore fort, they saw at least three fierce looking women raining arrows at them. The Bijapur Army dare not disobey their Commander-in-chief and they could not retaliate at the women who were standing on each of the three round topped towers of the Mysore fort.
The Bijapur army made a half hearted attempt to storm the walls before finally giving up. However, Kantirava found that the walls of the Mysore fort had been weakened by the attack.  He seriously doubted whether the fort could hold on in case of another attack and he set upon repairing and strengthening it. He also rebuilt a great part of the palace, which had been struck by lightning.
He also built a lake, which he called the Sringara Lake. He then built a memorial to Charamaraja Wodeyar, the fourth, on its bund.  This lake, the garden and memorial were to the south of the  Triyaneshwara Swami temple.
The fortress came under siege again in 1759 when Haidar Ali decided to ferret out Karachuri Nanja Raj Urs, who, had taken shelter in Mysore though he had promised to
retire to Konanur.
Hyder continued with the siege for three months. The last time that the fort was in the picture of contemporary history was when Tipu decided to raze it completely and construct a new fort at what is known as Nazarbad today.
Today, Mysore still retains its vestiges of the past. However, there is not a trace of the Adil Shahis. It is obvious that they could not hold on to Mysore for a long time and that the Wodeyars regrouped and regained Mysore so quickly as to ensure that the Adil Shahis did not leave any imprint of their rule. Today, except for a few passages, there is no mention of the Adil Shahi conquest of Mysore.     

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