Friday 14 December 2012

The Kempe Gowdas of Bangalore

Bangalore is so very well known that it is difficult to find any person not aware of the city., Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about its founder Kempe Gowda.
Not much is known about Kempe Gowda except that he founded the city of Bangalore. Worse, there seems to be no unanimity about the period and life of Kempe Gowda. Wile some historians say there were several Kempe Gowdas, others say there were only two.
Whatever the controversy, there seems to be practically no information about the ancestry of the Kempe Gowda.
This post here is an attempt to  throw light on the ancestors of Kempe Gowda.
One of the direct ancestors of Kempe Gowda was Ranabaire Gowda. He lived near Alur in Kanchi with his family and a large number of friends and supporters. He was supposed to be a wealthy man.
He was a Morasu Vokkaliga. He was the eldest of a family of  seven brothers. He had three sons and a beautiful daughter called Doddamma.
The beauty of Doddamma attracted the attention of the local chieftain of the area and he sent a marriage proposal. He sent emissaries seeking immediately the hand of  Doiddamma. Ranabaire Gowda refused.
However, he realised that the refusal could cost him his life. At the dead of night he confabulated with his brothers, friends and supporters and set out of the country with his money and wealth. He reached the Palar river which was swollen with floods.
Meanwhile, the local chieftain had not taken kindly to the refusal of his marriage proposal. He had decided to take revenge but when he came to Alur he found that the Gowda and his family had escaped. He set out in persuit and noticed the camp  on the banks of Palar.
Doddamma realized the danger from the local chieftain and she prayed to God to allow them to pass. The flood waters receded , permitting Ranabaire Gowda and his family to cros the river. However, the river flooded once again. leaving the chieftain on the other bank-angry and unable to do anything.
The Gowda clan escaped to safety and they came upon an isolated place  which today is the small town of Awati. When they were camping here, Rana Baire Gowda noticed a broom sticking up from the earth. When he tried to pullout out, it did not come up. He caked his servants but even they failed to lift the broom.
Finally, he asked a group to dig and found copper vessels placed one on the other . These vessel were full of jewels and treasures. Since he area was controlled by the Vijayanagar empire, Gowda sought permission of the monarch for establishing a city. The permission was given and thus was born the principality of Awati.
His son, Jaye Gowda, was the youngest and it was his ambition to set up a separate kingdom. He came to Bangalore region and conquered Yelahanka in 1418, thus founding the Kempe Gowda line that ruled over Bangalore for more than a century. He died in 1433.
He had two sons-Gidde Gowda and Mache Gowda. Gidde Gowda became the ruler in 1433 and continued till 1443.
His son, Kempenanje Gowda ruled for 70 years, he died in 1513 and he was followed by the most famous of the clan-Kempe Gowda.
 It s this Kempe Gowda that built Bangalore and the Bangalore fort. The city of Bangalore had nine tanks, nine temples and nine gates. He is considered to be the first builder of Bangalore, He built the Kempambudhi Tank, Bull Temple and temples of Vinayaka, Hanuman and Veerabhadra.
Another temple ascribed to him is the Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple in Gavipuram. Under Kempe Gowda, Bangalore prospered. Rama Raya became angry when Kempe Gowda minted coins in his name. He called Kempe Goiwda to Vijayanagar (Hampi) where he was imprisoned for five years.
Kempe Gowda managed to free himself after paying a hefty ransom. After his release, he came to Shivaganga and renovated the temples of Gangadhara and Swarnambika there. He stayed at the place for several years in a hall which exists even today. It is called the Kempe Gowda Hall.
He was succeeded by Kempe Gowda the second. He added extensively to the Somashwara Temple in Ulsoor built by Jaye Gowda. He moved his capital from Bangalore to Magadi. He went into war against the Adil Shah General Ranadullah Khan. He was defeated and Bangalore taken away from him and given to Shahaji, father of Shivaji, as a jagir.
He was succeeded by Mummadi Kempe Gowda. He ruled from 1658 to 1678.  His subjects affectionately called him the Rain maker. Once when there was severe drought, his subjects appealed to him for help. Mummadi prayed and the very next day saw Magadi and Bangalore enjoying bountiful rains.
He was succeeded by Dodda Veerappa who ruled from 1678 to  1705. Kempe Gowda the third was the last king. He was also called Kempa Veerapa Gowda. He was defeated by the Wodeyar kings and Magadi came under Wodeyar rule.
An account of  Kempe Gowda and his rule is contained in a book called Veerabhadra Vijaya written by Ekambara Dixit. Some details about this last ruler, who was imprisoned in Srirangapatna, is also available from six palm leaves belonging to the Hulikal branch of Kempe Gowdas near Bangalore.  
After his death, the Kempe Gowda line became extinct and Bangalore fell into the hands of  Adil Shahs, Maratthas, Mughals, Hyder-Tipu, British and finally Wodeyars.    

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