Mandya district is part of large plateau from Mysore to the edges of Easter Ghats.
Therefore, there are not many
Mandya seems to have been known as Vedaranya and later, as
Vishnupura in Kritayuga. It is
said that a rishi (sage) was doing a penance here and installed an image of God Janardana
and was said to be teaching wild beast to pronounce the sacred word, VEDA. On this
account, the place came to be known as Vedaranya.
Several years later, but during the same yuga, another rishi, who was residing
here, setup an image of the God Sakaleshwara swami and Lord Vishnu, it is said, appeared
to him. The place was thereafter renamed as Vishnupura. Another account says
that towards the age of Dwapara yuga, king by name Indravarma, who had not issues, came to
this place in the hope of getting a son. His
prayers were granted, and his son Somavarma built a fort and an agrahara at this place and
gave it the name Mandevemu, which, it is believed has been corrupted into Mandya. It is
also said that in ancient days, a great and popular sage, called Mandavya, lived in the
area doing tapas and the place came to be called Mandya after his name.
A more recent account is that the village was granted by Krishna devaraya of Vijayanagar in 1516 to Govinda Raja, twelfth in descent from Anantacharya, a disciple of the religious reformer, Ramanujacharya, and a distinguished devotee of Lord Venkatesha of Tirupati. The first Brahmin families, which settled down here, named the place Mandya after their native place near Tirupati.
The Gangas ruled the central and southern parts of the old Mysore State, including the Mandya District and parts of the Cauvery basin. They ruled from about 2nd Century A.D to about the beginning of the 11th Century A.D. The region ruled over by the Ganga Kings was know as Gangavadi. The Ganga kings who ruled over Gangavadi, numbered about thirty three.
In Rakkasagangas time, the Cholas under the command of Rajendra Chola, son of the reigning king Rajaraja chola, succeeded in capturing Talakad, the capital of the Gangas. This event seems to have taken place in 1004 A.D. Rakkasaganga continued to rule as feudatory of the Cholas upto 1024 A.D. The whole region, south of the river Cauvery from Coorg and east of a line from near Srirangapatna to Nandidurga, was overrun by the Cholas and annexed to their empire; the area was under their rule for about 100 years.
Raja Wodeyar (1578 1617) speedily subduing Tirumala Raja seated himself on the jeweled throne in Srirangapatna and gaining the empire received obeisance from all kings. Raja Wodeyar made Srirangapatna his capital and extended his possessions south of the present Mysore and Mandya districts and also captured several places towards the north from Jagadeva Raya of Channaptna. The line of Wodeyars who were in power after Raja Wodeyar is as follows :-
Chamaraja Wodeyar II (1617
1. Chamaraja Wodeyar II (1617 1637)
2. Immadi Raja Wodeyar (1637 1638)
3. Kanthirava Narsa Raja (1638 1659)
4. Deva Raja Wodeyar (1659 1673)
5. Chikka Deva Raja Wodeyar (1673 1704)
6. Kanthirava Narasaraj Wodeyar II (1704 1714)
7. Krishnaraja Wodeyar I (1714 1732)
8. Chamaraja Wodeyar VII(1732 1734)
9. Krishnaraja Wodeyar II (1734 1766)
10. Nanja Raja - 1766-1770
11. Bettada Chamaraja Wodeyer VIII (1776 - 1796)
12. Krishnaraja Wodeyer III (1799-1831)
14. Jaya Chamaraja Wodeyer (1940-1959)
In his time, the Mysore kingdom was extended on all sides. Srirangapatna became a flourishing city during his regime. There is a high flown description of it in an inscription dated in 1685 A.D. With plum, jack, coconut, plantain, lime, orange, fig and other fruit trees, with houses as high as hills was the city filled and with cows and Brahmins, with trees and plants, with temples, with fine elephants like Airavata, with horses neighing like the thunder of the clouds, with splendid chariots and foot soldiers such was the beautiful city of Srirangapatna having splendid gate-ways, an ornament to the lady Earth, surrounded by the Cauvery, filled with priests, poets, wise men and ministers. Another town of much importance was Malavalli, which had a fort with a deep moat. It was, it is recorded, filled with men, learned in the Vedanta, Sruti and Dharma Sastras.
From 1761, Haidar Ali confined Krishnaraja Wodeyar II in his own palace and began to rule the dominions in the form of pretended submission to the wishes of the Raja. After the death of Raja, his eldest son, Nanja Raja, then 18 years of age became the King. Haidar Ali induced Nanja Raja to retire and made himself the de facto ruler of Mysore now began to extend the kingdom by conquering the territories of the neighboring chiefs. French officers had trained the Mysore army and Haidars generalship was able to achieve success with lightning rapidity.
Haidar Ali has been rightly regarded as among the most politically astute, brave, and attractive rulers in 18th century India. He rose from obscurity to power during the distractions of the eighteenth century. Though illiterate, he was a completely self-made man, being endowed with strong determination, admirable courage, a keen intellect and an incredible memory. Cool, sagacious and intrepid in the field, he was remarkably tactful and vigorous in matters of administration and had all business of the State transacted before his eyes with regularity and quickness. Easily accessible to all, he had the wonderful capacity of giving attention to various subjects at the same time, without being distracted by any one of these. Though he did not strictly follow the external observances of his religion, he had a sincere religious conscience, and Col. Wilks has described him as the most tolerant of all Muhammadan princes. Bowring gives his estimate of him in the following words: -
He was a bold, an original, and an enterprising commander, skilful in tactics and fertile in resources, full of energy and never desponding in defeat. He was singularly faithful to his engagements and straightforward in his policy towards the British. Notwithstanding the severity of his internal rule, and the terror which he inspired, his name is always mentioned in Mysore with respect, if not with admiration. While the cruelties which he sometimes practiced are forgotten, his prowess and success have an abiding place in the memory of the people.
Hyder's two signal achievements were : to halt successfully the march of the British in South India, and the unification of the territory of Karnataka. He was expert in statesmanship and war. Under his leadership, the Mysore army became a model for the rest of India in the field of warfare.
Tippu Sultan, the enlightened ruler who strove hard to make Mysore a prosperous state, was perhaps the most formidable enemy the East India Company had to contend with in its struggle against the Indian Princely powers. It took the British two Mysore wars and many years to finally defeat Tipu. The English never felt secure as long as he was alive.
Tipus thorough reorganisation
of the armed forces, his establishment of a board of admiralty, issue of new coinage,
prohibition of the sale of alcoholic liquors, his reform of the calendar, introduction of
new scales of weights and measures, his amazing experiments in commerce, his novel revenue
and judicial regulations etc exhibit his unusually great creative ability and his flair
for modernisation. Even Mill (author History of India), who was not
specially fond of Tipu, was compelled to declare that
as a domestic ruler, he
sustains an advantageous comparison with the greatest princes of the East.
Tipu Sultan succeeded his father in 1782. The fatal effects of cancer from which Haidar Ali was suffering resulted in his death at an advanced age on the 7th December 1782. Haidar Ali had kept up a semblance of the royal authority of the Wodeyars, but Tipu dispensed with that fiction also and called himself Sultan. In 1796, Chamaraja Wodeyar, the nominal Raja of Mysore, died of small-pox. Tipu, who considered the appointment of a successor unnecessary, removed the royal family to a mean dwelling and plundered the palace of everything, including the personal ornaments of the inmates of the palace.
Tipus personality : Tipu had ruled for 17 years. He was a good horseman and active in the field. He was very industrious in writing. He could speak fluently Hindustani, Kannada and French. He had a craze for innovations. His bigotry sometimes blinded his perception. His greatest attribute was his paranoid hatred of the British, who he wanted to drive away from the Indian soil.
Administration: The present day system of taluks with a chief officer called Amildar corresponding to the Tahsildar existed during the time of Tipu Sultan. Central administration consisted of 18 departments, which was later reduced by Tipu to 7 departments. In civil affairs, the two most important departments were finance and police. The police department included intelligence and also the post office. Tipu centralised all authority in himself. He was the supreme legislative, judicial and executive authority in his kingdom. He dictated personally all important correspondence.
Tipu's punishment for offences is very significant. In 1792, he passed a regulation which stated, "the Rayats of your district convicted of offences are at present fined by the government. In future these fines shall be commuted, and that the offender in place of every pagoda of the fine adjudged against him shall plant two mango trees and two trees of large jamun in front of his village and to water and tend them till they are of the height of three derras". This novel method of punishment created a green revolution in Mysore which is recorded by Moore thus, "when a person traveling through a strange country finds it well cultivated, populous with industrious inhabitants, cities newly founded, commerce extending, towns increasing and everything flourishing so as to indicate happiness he will naturally conclude to be under a form of government congenial to the minds of the people. This is a picture of Tipu's country, and this is our conclusion in respect of its Government."
Tipu abolished the Zamindari system. The farmers were taxed according to their crops, normally one-fourth of their produce. If the crops failed, they had tax exemption. He made primary education compulsory and introduced postal service in his State.
Tipu had introduced coins with the images of Shiva-Parvati, Sringeri Sharada and Udipi Krishna with Kannada and Persian numerals. His letters written in kannada and addressed to the Shankaracharya of the Shringeri matt are preserved to this day. In one of his letters to Napolean, he styled himself as "a citizen of the Republic of India".
Tipu had strong ties with the Swamiji of Sringeri math, which came to the fore during the 1971 attack on the math by Marathas. Maratha Brigadiers, Parashuram Bahu and Ragunatha Rao had attacked the Math, killing the priest and throwing the idol of Goddess Sharada on the street. The math was looted. Several students were injured and the swamiji sought asylum in the Karkala Jain centre. According to the Sringeri math records, the swamiji appealed to Tipu for help. Tipu immediately dispatched a battalion to Sringeri and ensured peace. He sanctioned money to renovate the math as per Vedic procedure and reinstated the idol.
Three years after Raghunatha Rao had plundered the Math, the Marathas wanted to make amends. They invited the Sringeri Swamiji to their empire. "Tipu did not raise any objections to the Swamiji's visit to enemy territory. Instead, he sent an elephant, five horses, a palanquin five camels, 10,500 pagodas and exquisite garments with the Swamiji, " Mr.Gowda says.
As further proof of Tipu's secular credentials, the researcher finds safe Hindu temples with rich architecture in close proximity to a majority of Tipu Sultan's and Hyder Ali's palaces. Besides, many temples were sanctioned Agrahara grants, where they were allowed to collect revenue from lands allotted.
Tipu took part in the First and second Mysore wars. It was Tipu who inflicted a serious blow to Brillie and Brightwhite. After the death of Hyder, Tipu successfully carried on the second Mysore war. He showed great political skill in working out the Mangalore Treaty with the British in 1784, which gave the British nothing. Warren Hastings was provoked to comment on this treaty thus "It is a humiliating agreement". After the second Mysore War, Tippu had to engage in an armed conflict with the Marathas and the Nizam during 1786-87. Tippu proved superior and the war concluded with the treaty of Gajendragad. At that time, Tippu pleaded in vain with the Marathas and the Nizam that they should all ally against the British. Thus Tippu had to seek support outside the country, from France, Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan. Tippu had two supreme objectives in dealing with foreign nations. The first was to get their political and military support in his struggle against the British. The second was to develop commerce and industry with their aid, including the importation of foreign technology. Karnataka was then known for commercial products like pepper, sandalwood, ivory, silk, coconut, tobacco etc. which had great demand in foreign markets. Tippu wanted to eliminate middlemen and do commerce and trade directly with foreign buyers. He was successful in establishing direct commercial links with China, Turkey, Muscat, Tegu, Armenia, Ormuz and Kutch. Although Tipu sought support from Turkey and France, he failed in his efforts sine Turkey was itself in great difficulty and France was not in a position to send help so far away.
In 1790, Tipu had a conflict with the Raja of Travancore since the latter had built defensive walls in disputed areas. The British who were allies of the Raja, found a convenient excuse to pitch tents in Mysore that Tipu had attacked their ally. The English defeated Tipu who had to send his two little sons, as hostages besides handing over a large piece of his territory. Tippu had made special efforts to seek help from Napoleon, who wrote back offering his support but the British surveillance intercepted the letter and it did not reach Tipu. Finally Tipu was defeated and killed on account of treachery from among his own sub-ordinates.
After the death of Tipu, His Highness Sri Krishnaraja Wodeyar III was placed on the throne of Mysore on the 30th June 1799, at this time a five year old boy. From that time onwards Mysore became the capital of the rulers. Srirangapatna became the property of the British East India Company and British troops were kept in the fort. In 1831, the British took over the administration of the Mysore territory from Krishnaraja Wodeyar III for alleged misgovernment. Two officers styled Senior Commissioner and Junior Commissioner were appointed to govern the territory of the Raja. This arrangement continued from 1831 to 1834. In April 1834, the post of the Junior Commissioner was abolished and the Government of the Mysore territory was put in charge of only one Commissioner. The commissioners rule of Mysore State continued for fifty years from 1831 to 1881 in which year the Mysore territory was handed back to the Mysore Wodeyars. Krishnaraja Wodeyar III had died in 1868. His adopted son Sri Chamarajendra Wodeyar, was recognized as his heir to the throne by the British Government and he succeeded to the Musnad of Mysore in 1881, when the State was handed back to him by the British Government in India, as a result of the persistent efforts of his predecessor and his people for restoration of the ruling powers to the Mysore royal family.
Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar ruled the State from 1881 to 1894. He was enlightened ruler and during his regime, the resources of the State were greatly developed. He died of diphtheria at Calcutta in December 1894. At this time Sri Krishanaraja Wodeyar IV, the heir-apparent, was only 10 years old and as such Maharani Kempananjammanni was appointed as the Regent. She held the position upto August 1902, when Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV was invested with full ruling powers. He ruled for 38 years and earned for himself the name of Creator of Modern Mysore by his benevolent and efficient administration. He strove hard to promote the moral and material welfare of the people and granted them a share in the administration of the State. He died in August 1940 and was succeeded by Sri Jayachamraja Wodeyar, who granted responsible Government to the people and became a constitutional ruler in October 1947, and later became its Rajpramukh and also the Governor, in keeping with the democratic structure of the country.