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Curse on Wodeyars and Talakad

 

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 Srirangaraya –the then Viceroy of Vijayanagar. Srirangaraya is said to have retired to Talakad along with his two wives. One of them 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. She is said to have fled to Talakad with the jewels of Sri Ranganayaki.


Traditionally 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 as was the practice hithertoo. Treasury officials informed the king about truth. Raja Wodeyar sent emissaries to malangi where Alamelamma was staying, with a request to return the jewels. But Alamelamma was adamant and refused to accede to the request. Thence 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 just returned the Pearl studded nose ring to the army and uttered the legendary curse on Raja Wodeyar and jumped into the whirlpool with the rest of the jewels and escaped unscathed. The curse which has survived the folklore of last four hundred years is known thus:


May Malangi turn into an unfathomed whirlpool,

May Talakad turn into a barren expanse of sand,

May the Rajas of Mysore not have children for all time to eternity.




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 worshipped 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!


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 near T Narasipur 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.


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! Incidentally Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar is credited with the composition Gita Gopala – an opera in Kannada.


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). Surprsisngly 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.


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.


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 metres 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. By analyzing the data and comparing it with historical evidence, they feel the findings support the 400-year-old curse theory


 

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