Friday, 18 January 2013

This King who entered a sanctum but never came back

He is king who is better known in history as the one who brought the curse of a pious woman on the royal household of the Wodeyars.
It is due to him, as the curse says, that Talakad became a city drowned in sand, the town of Malangi went underwater and heirs were born to the Wodeyar Kings only during alternate generations.
The curse is too well known and it is told an retold many tines over every time a tourist visits the sand filled temples of  Talakad.
Though this king contributed a lot to bringing the Wodeyars to the centre stage of Karnataka in the early year of the 17th century, he is today remembered only as the unfortunate man who got himself cursed along with his dynasty.
Yes, this King is Raja Wodeyar (1578-1617), the man who completely drove out the Vijayanagars from Srirangapatna and established the Wodeyar Kingdom in Mysore province with Srirangapatna as the capital.
The Viceroy of  Srirangapatna was Tirumala Raya, a distant relative of the Emperor of Vijayanagar, Venkatapathi Deva Raya. Both Tirumala and Raja Wodeyar were vying with each other for getting a toe hold over south Karnataka.
It dawned on Tirumala Raya that he had to bump off Raja Wodeyar if he wanted to wrest control of the Srirangapatna-Mysore-province. He hit upon an easy plan to eliminate his rival.
He invited Raja Wodeyar to a parade of his forces in 1610 and planned to have him killed there.
The function was supposed to be held at Kesare near Mysore and this is today’s N. R. Mohalla in Mysore. Tirumala Raya was defeated in the battle and killed. Raja Wodeyar perused the Raya’s wife Alemelu who flung herself into the raging Cauvery near Talakad.
She uttered the curse,   
             Talakadu maralagali
              Malangi maduvagali,
              Mysooru arasarige
There are many stories on why she jumped into the Cauvery. One story says Raja Wodeyar desired to have her, Another says he wanted her jewels The third says a priest of the Ranganatha Temple in Srirangapatna wanted the jewels of the Lord back. The jewels were with Alamelu.
Whatever the reason, we know two things for sure. Talakad was soon submerged in sand and the Wodeyars had heirs only on alternate generations.  Even today, several temples of Talakad are buried in sand and the Wodeyars have this recurring problem of heirs and this has been continuing since the time of Raja Wodeyar.
Now it was the turn of Raja Wodeyar to strengthen his kingdom. He shifted the capital from Mysore to Srirangapatna and also introduced the Dasara. He also strengthened the fort at Srirangapatna.
He then handed over the reigns of the kingdom to Chamaraja Wodeyar and retired to Melkote along with his close supporters and friends near Mandya where he became a Srivaishnava.
He became an ardent devotee of  Chaluvanarayana Swamy of Melkote. He also donated all his private estate to the temple and the Brahmins at Melkote. This estate had been endowed on him by the Vijayanagar Emperor, Venkatapathi, after the death of his Viceroy of Srirangapatna, Tirumula, whom he had secretly detested.  
Not a day passed without Raja Wodeyar visiting the temple of Cheluvaranarayana Swamy and praying to the deity. It appears that Raja Wodeyar stayed on in Melkote for several years, an extremely happy and contended man, a person at peace with himself.
Even today, we can see in the Cheluvanarayana Swamy temple, a  pillar in the navaranga or inner hall, a bas relief about one and a half feet high, of Raja Wodeyar, standing with folded hands, with his name inscribed on the base.
He also presented a gold crown set with precious jewels to the temple. This crown is known as the Raja-mudi after his name 
It is believed that Raja Wodeyar spent the last days of his life in prayer and meditation at the Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple.
One day, on June 20, 1671m, the priests and some of his followers and visitors to the temple saw Raja Wodeyar walking into the sanctum sanctorum of the Cheluvanarayana Swamy Temple.
Nobody thought it unusual as it was a daily ritual of Raja Wodeyar to walk into the sanctum, pray to the God and then walk back.
Several minutes passed and the minutes turned into hours and there was no sign of the former King coming out of the sanctum. The priests and everyone searched for the King but did not find him.
They also searched the small but beautiful house neat the temple where he had stayed for years but to no avail.  It was only much later that they realized that the King had walked into the sanctum never to return. He had become one with the deity that he so loved,  worshipped and prayed to.
The priests then sent word to the royal family which came to Melkote. The erstwhile’s King’s last rites were performed according to Hindu tradition.
The Cheluvanarayanaswamy Temple exists to this day and so does the legend of the King who disappeared into the sanctum. Unfortunately, this story is not as well known as the story of the curse.


  1. This is an article i wrote a long time ago for wiki, but many people has edited and hacked it.

    The Mysore kingdom, founded by Yaduraya in the year 1399, consisted of only the areas surrounding the Present Mysore City and in fact the original fort was supposed to have been at a place known as haDadana - an extant small village on the southern side of Chamundi Hill. Wodeyars, like all others at that time were under the suzerainty of the Vijayanagar Empire. The viceroy of the Vijayanagar kingdom headquartered at Srirangapatna. Wodeyars after Yaduraya slowly and steadily increased their influence and territory over the next 200 years. Raja Wodeyar the ninth Ruler of the dynasty was a remarkable man known for his valor and patronage of art and culture. He Ruled from 1578 to 1617. In the year 1610, he conquered the fort of Srirangapatna from Tirumala –the then Viceroy of Vijayanagar. Tirumala is said to have retired to Talakad along with his two wives. One of them Alamelamma was known to be a staunch devotee of Sri Ranganayaki- consort of Sri Ranganatha the presiding deity of the famous Adi-Ranga temple in the island fortress of Srirangapatna.
    Tirumala was afflicted with some deadly disease on his back which was also known as the disease of the Kings. But the condition of Srirangaraya deteriorated and he died. Alamelamma had large amount of precious jewellery. Of them was a fine nose ring studded with a big pearl. As Alamelamma was a widow now, she had no use of these jewels for her anymore. Since she was known to be a staunch devotee of Sri Ranganayaki, every Friday and Tuesday, Sri Ranaganayaki was being decorated with a big pearl studded nose ring and other precious jewelry. These jewels were in the safe custody of Alamelamma otherwise. Temple authorities requested Raja Wodeyar to provide them with the custody of these jewels as was the practice hitherto. Treasury officials informed the king about truth. Raja Wodeyar thought that what is the use of these jewels for Alamelamma as she is a widow now and she no longer needs these jewelry. Raja Wodeyar sent emissaries to malangi where Alamelamma was staying, with a request to return the jewels. Alamelamma returned only the Pearl studded nose ring. Then Raja Wodeyar sent his army to Talakad to request her once again and if she still refuses to get them by force. To escape the wrath of the Mysore Army, Alamelamma uttered the legendary curse on Raja Wodeyar and jumped into the whirlpool in the river Cauvery at Talakadu, with the rest of the jewels and escaped unscathed. The curse goes thus:

    “ ತಲಕಾಡು ಮರಳಾಗಲಿ,ಮಾಲಂಗಿ ಮಡುವಾಗಲಿ,ಮೈಸೂರು ದೊರೆಗಳಿಗೆ ಮಕ್ಕಳಿಲ್ಲದೆ ಹೋಗಲಿ ”

    “ Talakadu maralagali,Malangi maduvaga Mysurudoregalige makkalilllade hogali ”

    The curse which has survived the folklore of last four hundred years is known thus:

    “ May Talakad turn into a barren expanse of sand,May Malangi turn into an unfathomed whirlpool,May the Rajas of Mysore not have children for all time to eternity”.

  2. Hearing of this extreme step taken by Alamelamma, Raja Wodeyar was truly repentant. All he wanted to do was to return the jewelry to the temple and not confiscate them for his own use. In grief, he had an idol of Alamelamma made in gold, installed it in the Palace and worshiped it as a deity. Some remnants of her hair is also preserved in a box.

    Even to this day, Alamelamma’s idol can be found inside the Mysore Palace and is worshiped by the Royal Family. One can see the same huge pearl nose-stud adorning both Goddess Ranganayaki and Alamelamma even today.

    Dasara Festivities inside the Palace ends on the evening of Navarathri with a formal pooja to Alamelamma and the Kankana worn by the Royal Couple is removed there after paving way for the Vijaya Dashami – Sami pooja the next day. For these nine days the Royal Couple are bound inside the precincts of the Palace.

    Another very interesting part of the story is that this Alamelamma Temple is under the care of the legal heirs of Alamelamma herself and they still stay inside the Mysore Palace fort. Strangely even these priests/caretakers appears to be cursed and even they do not beget children and follow the same pattern afflicting the Wodeyars!

    Here is a brief sketch of Raja Wodeyar which is necessary to get a historical perspective:
    Raja Wodeyar after shifting to Srirangapatna is credited with starting the famous Dasara Festivities for the first time in 1610. But his only son died (effect of the curse !) just a day before the commencement of Navaratri, but the king after consulting experts has laid down the rule that the celebration of the ceremonies will not be interfered even due to the death of Royal members.

    Raja Wodeyar was a devout of Vaishnavaite and he donated the famous bejeweled crown to the Lord Cheluvarayasvami of Melkote, which is celebrated as the Raja Mudi car festival even today. Even this Crown was confiscated by the Karnataka Government from the Royal Family during Emergency!

    Legend has it that, Raja Wodeyar having entered the garbha–griha of Cheluvarayasvami Temple on June 20, 1617, became one with the deity (aikya). Even today one can find a Bhakthi Vigraha of the King inside the Temple. Another Bhakthi Vigraha of the King can be found inside the Lakshmi-Narayanasvami Temple inside the Mysore Palace Fort.

    Malangi and Talakad are two small towns on the banks of Cauvery where the river takes a bend. Talakad's temples lie buried in the vast expanse of sand and are dug up and exposed every 12 years. On the other hand, at Malangi, the river is at its deepest. Whether these phenomena started only after Alamelamma's curse in AD 1610 is a matter of conjecture.

    What can be stated with certainty is the fact that the curse on the royal family seems to have come true.

  3. After Raja Wodeyar’s death in 1617 to Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar in 1704 (there were four rulers in between), Kingdom was ruled by the surviving progenies of Yaduraya, but none could beget legal heirs!

    The sole exception was Chikka Devaraja's deaf and dumb son Kantheerava Narasaraja Wodeyar II - also known as mookarasu.

    He was succeeded by his son Dodda Krishna Raja Wodeyar who Ruled from 1714 to 1732. With him Yaduraya’s direct lineage came to an end.

    What followed was a succession of nominal rulers adopted by the surviving queens to continue the tradition. Traditional Army commanders known as Dalvoy’s virtually Ruled the Kingdom and paved the way for the ascendancy of a foot soldier like Hyder Ali by 1762. After the famous Mysore War IV and the resultant death of Tipu Sultan, the legendary Arthur Wellesley (also Known as Iron Duke) conquered Srirangapatna in 1799. There were five Rulers from 1732 to 1796. In this period a definite pattern emerged wherein none of the natural heir to the throne born to a King (adopted or otherwise) could beget children, whereas one who became a King by virtue of adoption or otherwise was blessed with a legal heir. Even Hyder and Tipu continued with the tradition of having a nominal Wodeyar King on the throne and even the Dasara Celebrations continued as usual.

    What follows is recent history:

    Mummudi personal life is very fascinating. He was a modern day Krishna in which ever way you look. He survived a Kamsa in Tipu. He fought the Kaurava’s in British and took the war to the British Parliament and got the Kingdom restored to his adopted son. He wrote his Gita in SriTattvanidhi and svara choodamani and other epics. He had his Rukmini and Satyabhama’s (Five pattamahishi’s) and he had his share of Radha’s too (Fifteen gandharva vivahas). Surprisingly he had children from his other wives. He had three sons and many daughters from these minor queens. He had one son- Nanajaraja Bahadur- from a Brahmin lady known as Puttarangamba Devi and even today this lineage survives and is known by the name Bahadur (Nanjaraja Bahadur Choultry is a famous heritage structure in Mysore). But ironically none of the three sons survived him!

    One of the descendants, a successful American citizen, has recently started B.N. Bahadur Institute of Management under the auspices of Mysore University.

  4. Mummudi adopted Chamaraja Wodeyar X as his legal heir in 1865 and when British refused to accord recognition and restore the Kingdom to him, he took the campaign to the British Parliament where under immense pressure from many Parliamentarians, British Government accepted the adoption and agreed to restore the Kingdom to the adopted son on his coming of age. Thus in 1881 the famous Rendition of power took place and Chamaraja Wodeyar X, ascended the throne. Chamaraja Wodeyar X died in 1894 at Calcutta, leaving behind two minor sons and three daughters. While the elder seven-year-old boy was crowned as Nalvadi (the fourth) Krishnaraja Wodeyar, the Regency was entrusted to his mother, who came to be referred to as Vani Vilas Sannidhana. On turning 18, Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV was invested with full authority personally by the Viceroy, Lord Curzon, in 1902. His brother Kantheerava Narasimharaja Wodeyar was given the title of Yuvaraja. Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV died without children and as his brother had predeceased him, His son, Jaya Chamaraja Wodeyar was crowned in. His only son, Srikanta Datta Narasimha Raja Wodeyar, is now the scion of the Wodeyar family. He has no children.

    It is notable that the conditions of the curse, barring the exception noted above, has survived from the year 1610 until today, for almost 400 years spanning 17 Maharajas. It is notable that the conditions of the curse, barring the exception noted above, has survived from the year 1610 until today, for almost 400 years spanning 17 Maharajas.

    A recent research, which was conducted by the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) in collaboration with the state archaeology department, Karnataka, found a well-developed canal system extending a few kilo meters from Talakad to Cauvery. They analyzed the site through geospatial maps recorded by a satellite using infrared and radar technology. A GPS survey was also done on the site for more accuracy.

    (Sorry for such a long post. You are free to delete if you so wish)

    1. Thanks a lot for the infomation Mr.Raja. Your article is well researched and extremely informative. If you have no objection, we would like to post it as a separate article, of course giving credit to you and without much editing.The reply here would remain as it is.
      Anyway, thanks for the information. By the way, I was born in Mysore and also studied there.
      Thanks again. Please feel free to offer your comments.

  5. Dear Ms. samyuktha,

    You are most welcome to use the material as you deem fit. ( incidentally my daughters name is samyukta lakshmi !) If you are posting as a separate article, then it is better you delete the posts here. You can also edit where ever you feel it is necessary or may be you can redraft your own post here with inputs from my post. I have no qualms about credits etc.



    1. Thank you Mr Raja for your response. Your information will be a new post with due credit to you.Ther will be on;ly minimum editing as the post was entirely yours. Thanks again.