I was in the summer of AD 1399 That disaster struck a small principality if southern
India Mahisuru which later went on to become Mysore, had lost its chieftain and was
vulnerable to the machinations of a cunning upstart. At around the same time two young
aspirants left their ancestral home in Dwaraka Gujarat and proceeded southwards in search
of fame. Yaduraya the elder of the two aspirants was destiny's chosen man to lead a
valiant attack against the vile upstart rescue the family in distress wed the princess
and assume the lordship of the place. This event marked the birth of the Wodeyar Dynasty.
In one of the most definitive accounts of the Wodeyar Dynasty the author sketches this
long and fascinating regime replace with wars palace intrigues romance valour and deceit.
From the genesis in 1399 to the age of glory under Raja Wodeyar Ranadhira Kanthirava
Narasaraja Wodeyar and chikkadevaraja Wodeyar to the times of kingdom slip into the hands
of the reigns of the kingdom slip into the hands of the powerful ministers the book
revisits the ups and downs of the Dynasty.
The brief interlude under Haidar Ali and his son Tipu Sultan saw Mysore emerge as a
veritable nightmare for the British East India Company. With Tipu's death in 1799power
was restored to the Wodeyars and they continued to hold sway over the regain till the
time of India's Independence. Under progressive rulers and able Dewans, Mysore emerged as
a front-runner state of India by the time of Independence on all developmental indices a
strong foundation on which the modern state of Karnataka was built.
The growth of Mysore as a cultural capital of southern India, alongside Tanjore,
in areas of classical music, dance, folk traditions, painting and literature, has also
been traced over these fascinating and delightful 600 years.
About the Author
Vikram Sampath was born in Bangalore and completed his Engineering in Electronics
and Masters in Mathematics from BITS Pilani in 2003. He subsequently did an M.B.A. in
Finance from S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai. He currently works
in the retail banking division of a leading multinational bank in Bangalore. He publishes
regularly in leading dailies and magazines like The Hindu, The Deccan Herald and Jet
Wings. Vikram is also a student of Carnatic Classical Vocal music and subjects related to
history, art and culture are close to his heart.
His interest in the history of Mysore was a childhood pastime that graduated a
serious pursuit of the subject, coupled with extensive research.
Karnataka is an ancient and holy land with a history dating back to the prehistoric
times. It has been a melting pot of different cultures, religions, dynasties and
traditions that weave themselves together in a unique and inimitable fashion. Karnataka
embraces within its fold some of the country's finest architectural and historical
monuments, scenic natural beauty and many destinations of spiritual and religious
pursuit. It would be no exaggeration to call it "One State, many worlds" keeping with its
all encompassing nature.
A substantial part of the Karnataka of today was the erstwhile Princely State of
Mysore. The State was a pioneer in the history of India in more ways than one. The heroic
military exploits of the famed rulers of Mysore Haidar Ali and his iconic son Tipu
Sultan shook the very foundations of the British East India Company in the 18th Century.
Mysore could thus be counted among the first Kingdoms of India to offer a spirited
resistance to the colonial powers represented by the British. Mysore thereafter emerged
as a seat of education, culture and development under the benign rule of the Wodeyar
Kings. Alongside Tanjore, it emerged as the veritable nucleus for the development of
classical music, dance, folk arts, painting and literature in Southern India. It had
bequeathed the legacy of the glorious Vijayanagara Empire, most noteworthy among them
being the traditional celebration of the Dasara Festival marking the triumph of good over
evil. Under the later Wodeyars like Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar, guided by the country's
best brains represented by the illustrious Dewans Sir M. Vishweshwaraiah, Sir Mirza
Ismail and others, Mysore State achieved an unparalleled degree of industrial and
economic growth. This was a phenomenon not widely seen among the other subservient
princely states of Imperial India. Karnataka today rides high on the strong foundations
of the past. It has evolved its own cultural identity in the Indian milieu, marked by a
commitment to the values of co-existence, secularism and cosmopolitanism.
It is indeed very heartening and commendable to see this voluminous and
well-researched work on the History of Mysore, covering about 600 years of the past, by
Shri Vikram Sampath. Driven entirely by his passion and commitment towards our state and
is culture, he has dwelt into a subject that is not widely written about. I heartily
congratulate him for this service to the cause of our State and for propagating its story
to beyond the borders of Karnataka. The book has been written in an interesting and
captivating style and I do hope it catches the imagination of the readers as well. It is
my earnest desire that through this book, people across India and the world get to know
more about our glorious State, its unique identity and its innumerable contributions on a
pan-Indian level. I with this book and its author all success!
On this unique princely state of India-Mysore-there had been no modern book of the type
that we have now in our hands. The author is an electronics engineer and MBA and a
employee of a leading bank. His duties require him to keep dabbling with figures and
banking rules. I have said this to point out that he is not a trained historian and to
write on a dynasty like Mysore Wadiyars, some specialization in the subject is necessary.
Despite that, the author has undertaken the writing of the work by sheer love and
devotion and made it an extremely readable and interesting account.
The history of the Mysore Dynasty is filled with myths and legends and many times
the extra-ordinary achievements of princes of the dynasty appear to be suspect when the
role of legends tries to glorify them. I had advised the author to water down such
legendary accounts to make the narrative look factual. But a common reader is more
attached to these myths and legends as he is accustomed to read Puranas. History has to
be a factual account so that it looks to be an account of humans like us and guide us and
Mysore's history helps us to trace the past of a small principality of some
villages (definite information is secured after it had 30 villages and earlier it could
have been just three or four or five villages) and its growing into a territory of over
80,000 square miles, with various stages of its enlargement clearly marked. Some of the
princes were renowned for their prowess and they enlarged their territories, as in the
case of Kanthirava Narasaraja Wadiyar I or Chikkadevaraja. They were great administrators
by contemporary standards, meticulous as revenue administrators, religious by
temperament, helped and expanded agriculture and extended irrigation. Concessions were
given to peasants bringing new lands under the plough. If a peasant deserted the village,
the village accountant was punished. They founded agraharas to encourage learning and had
increased industrial activities. Chikkadevaraja had invited weavers from the Baramahals
in Tamil Nadu to Bangalore. He was a man of letters and also encouraged of new centres of
power, the Dalavayis, and this paved the way for Haidar's ascendancy
Chikkadevaraya accepted Mughal suzerainty for the sake of acquiring Bangalore and
its surroundings. This resulted in his being a feudatory of the Mughals for this limited
area. The Nizam and the Marathas later repeatedly came to collect the feudal dues (by way
of Chauth and Sardeshmukhi) from Mysore. These powers were authorized to collect the dues
from the southern Mughal Subahs by the Mughals. This point is ignored by Mysore records
and they simply state that Chikkadevaraya 'purchased' Bangalore from the Mughals. Newly
discovered Mughal records in Persian have belied this statement, as pointed out by
Sethumadhava Rao Pagadi.
The story of usurpation by Haidar, achievements of Tipu and subsequent
developments under British rule are interesting chapters. The accounts of post-rendition
period, including the growth of Mysore as a modern and model state are well presented.
Mysore, the third largest princely state under the British, achieved all-round progress
in agriculture, industry, education, culture and other finer aspects of human activity.
Power production at Shivasamudra (1902) helped the founding of the prestigious Indian
Institute of Science in Bangalore (1909), emergence of modern industries (even under the
public sector) and Bangalore growing in our times as a unique hub of IT, BT and
nano-technology. Men like Sir M.V. and Sir Mirza Ismail had paved the way for such
Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV was an enlightened prince. But he did not yield to the
demand for responsible government despite the fact that there was a Representative
Assembly in Mysore and the British had provided the facility of responsible rule in their
own Presidencies. The rigid policy of Mysore led to the Vidurashwatha tragedy. Later in
1947, Jayachamaraja Wadiyar, by his adamant stand over the matter provoked the massive
'Mysore Chalo' movement and caused the death of over 20 persons by police firing. These
are some black spots amidst a glaringly bright reign of the Wadiyars.
Vikram Sampath has done some fresh churning, taken pains, collected unknown or
not so known facts on various aspects of Mysore's history. His presentation is lucid and
smooth. His love for the dynasty has not prevented him from telling us about the not-so
bright aspects, wherever necessary. His straying off from his regular professional path
in welcome. And I congratulate him for this mammoth effort!
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