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Splendours of Royal Mysore (The Untold Story of the Wodeyars)

Splendours of Royal Mysore (The Untold Story of the Wodeyars)
Item Code: IDK693
Author: Vikram Sampath
Publisher: Rupa Publication Pvt. Ltd.
Edition: 2008
ISBN: 9788129113603
Pages: 756 (Illustrated Throughout In Color and B/W)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 9.3" X 6.1"
weight of the book: 1.300 kg
From the Jacket

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 teach lessons.

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 developments.

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!


Foreword xi
Message xiii
Preface xv
Introduction xix
Section - 1
Preface 3
1The Genesis AD 1399-1578 7
2The Age of Glory AD 1578-1617 21
3Peril At The Gates 1617-38 AD 45
Looking Back: Section 1 57
Section - 2
4The Golden Period – (AD 1638-73) 63
5India In The Seventeenth Century 88
6The Golden Period – II AD 1673-1704 102
7The Dalavoy Regime AD 1704-34 129
Looking Back: Section 2 138
Section - 3
8 The Early Years of Haidar Ali AD 1934-61143
9Haidar Ali: The Supreme Dictator AD 1961-82 167
10Haidar Ali: The Man and his Legacy 212
11Sultanat-e-khudadad Mysore AD 1782-91 223
12The Sword of Tipu Sultan AD 1791-99 265
Appendix to Chapter 12 293
13The Legacy of Tipu Sultan 308
Looking Back: Section 3 346
Section - 4
14The Restoration and Thereafter 1799 371
Appendix to Chapter 14 386
15The Survivor Statesman Dewan Purnaiya's Life and Times 396
16The Beckoning of Doom AD 1812-30 420
17A Country on the Boil 440
18Commissioners' Rule and the Issue of Rendition AD 1831-68 467
19Towards Rendition 492
Section - 5
20The Reformer King Chamarajendra Wodeyar X 505
21 The Rajarshi521
22Political, Social and Economic Development of Mysore 549
23The Struggle For Swaraj 577
24The Beginning of the End 594
Section - 6
25Defining Culture 623
26The Lives and Times of Mysoreans: Classical Music 627
Appendix To Chapter 26662
27The Lives and Times of Mysoreans: Classical Dance 667
28The Lives and Times of Mysoreans: Folk Arts and Polular Traditions 676
29The Lives and Times of Mysoreans: Painting, Coinage and Architecture 689
30The Lives and Times of Mysoreans: Literature, Theatre and Journalism 702
Conclusion 717
References and Bibliography 719
Index 725

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