Tall, well built, brave, beautiful and courageous are just a few words commonly used to describe Kodava race. Kodava tribe has come a long way to earn the title warrior popularly known in Indian army as Kodava Warriors. The history of Kodavas is definitely one of the most fascinating and the bloodiest among any other civilization in India. My article is based on facts that are documented by historians and based on books which have highlighted the bloodbath of Kodava warriors, The article concentrates on Tippu and his cold-blooded killings.
If Kodava today is one of the second least populated race in this world, it’s because of a barbaric character from the history known to people as Tipu Sultan. There were repeated attempts to capture Kodagu by Tipu and his father Hyder Ali before him. Tipu’s barbarism reached its peak from 1760 to 1790 and this period is considered as one of the most gruesome eras in the history of Kodavas. Tipu’s closest commander Mir Kirmani on his book reveals the incidence pertaining to Tippu’s brutality and religious conversion. During the year 1760 – 1780 Tippu destroyed more than 600 temples across Kodagu. His cruelty and self-obsession had reached its peak when his closest left him in the final war with British where Tipu died in the stampede, He was not shot by Brits. When Tipu first invaded Kodagu with his well-equipped 15000 army men carrying French Cannon with an intention of conquering Kodagu overnight Kandanda Doddaiah and Appachira Mandanna with their troop of 5000 Kodavas retaliated against Tippu’s army near Suntikoppa only to defeat Tippu’s army and chase them out of Kodagu. This war with Tippu is documented in Hunsoor literature which states “Kari Kupasu totha Kodavaru Kari Dumbhi anthe tippuvinatha nugi, hodedhodisidharu” Historians say this was a war of bravery verse strength and by the time Tippu realized the courage of Kodava’s he was defeated. Tippu popularly known and projected today as Tiger of Mysore and pride of Karnataka was defeated by Kodava 31 times during 25 years of war and this humiliation forced Tippu to seek revenge on Kodava. Kodavas were the master of the guerrilla warfare hence they succeeded every time in ambushing Tippu.
In the year 1771, Tipu with a large army attacked Madikeri fort post which he captured Bhagamandala and converted the entire Bhagandeshwara temple and its premises to a fort. He had also chopped the elephants belonging to the temple, documents for the same is available in the temple even today. After capturing Bhagamandala as a tribute to himself, Tippu placed a stone titled “Salam Kallu” which can be seen on the way to Talacavery, A evidence which even today tells the stories of brutality and bloodbath. After 15 years of war and retaliation with Kodavas, Tipu had understood he would not be able to capture the entire Kodagu which would provide him easy access to Mangalore port hence he wanted to try something different. Something, which resulted in one of the biggest genocide of the human race.
Tipu sent a message to naal naad Kodavas inviting them for a negotiation stating his main enemies were Marathas and British hence he would want to end the war with Kodava and head back to Srirangapatana. Learning about the invite Kodavas from naal naad gathered with their family on 13th of December 1785 at Devatiparambu located on banks of the river Cauvery to negotiate and bid bye to the decade-long war. As Sun set behind the mountains of Kodagu, Kodava came to Devatiparambu unarmed meanwhile half of Tippu’s army was deployed inside the forest waiting for Kodavas to gather as a part of his cowardly plan, once Tippu was sure he had unarmed men trapped he ordered his army to massacre all Kodava present at Devatiparambu, troops hiding behind the bushes pounded on unarmed men, women and kids slaughtering more than 70,000 and capturing about 90,000 Kodavas and were deported to Seringapatam. The captured women and children’s were subjected to immense physical and mental torture the young men were all forcibly circumcised and incorporated into the Ahmedy Corps (name of Tippu’s army). The captured were subjected to forcible conversions to Islam, death, and torture. It’s said the scale of the massacre was so huge that the water in the Cauvery river turned red due to blood oozing out of the dead bodies and continued to flow red in color for 12 consecutive days. Many who were captured were converted to Islam and sent back to Kodagu called themselves as Kodava Mapilas. There are about 60 Kodava Mapilas family residing in Kodagu. They share same family names as that of Kodavas. in Devanageri village, Puliyanda Kodava mapilas resides and in the regions surrounding Virajpet, there are Muslim family names like Kuvalera, Italtanda, Mitaltanda, Kuppodanda, Kappanjeera. Similarly, in the Madikeri taluk, there are Kalera, Chekkera, Charmakaranda, Maniyanda, Balasojikaranda, and Mandeyanda in the Hoddur village in Madikeri taluk.
Kodava mapilas also use Kodava Ornaments, Mandamada Kodava mapilas still use tookbolcha in their home, at the temples in Bshettigeri and Hudikeri, Karthura and Mandamada Kodava mapilas are priests. At yemmemadu dargah festival even to this date Kodava mapilas start the festival proceedings by offering prayers and flinging rice, Chekkera and Kalera Kodava mapilas are takkanga at yemmemadu.
The existence of these Kodava Mapilas are another living evidence reflecting the barbarism of Tipu on Kodavas. Tipu believed in destroying temples in Kodagu, during his course of destruction he happened to destroy a bhagavadhi temple near Kotakeri and burnt Biddatanda ainmane where he captured 48 innocent people and took them along to Seringapatam among these 40 people Appanna managed to escape and returned to his village in Kodagu however Appanna was out casted since villagers thought he was converted to Islam. Appanna lived alone till death near a pond which is called Appannajjanda Kere. The pond can be found even today. The remains of the Biddatanda Ain-Mane which were burnt with people inside shouting for help tells the horrific mindset of Tipu and his brigade.
Tipu after capturing Madikeri fort set his eyes on removing Kalasa from the Omkareshwara temple and replaced it with the domb which is another architectural evidence for destruction Tippu carried out during his rule. Tippu also wanted to abolish Kannada completely and hence he introduced Persian language into his administration. The persian words like “Dhapan, Barcas and Jammabandi ”still used in our land documents at Kodagu shows Tippu at any cost wanted to eliminate Kannada from Karnataka. It’s an irony that government wants to celebrate Tipu’s birthday across Karnataka. The evidence not only indicates that he was not a conqueror but a religious fanatic and a dictator who believed in the ethical cleansing of Kodavas and other community in south India.
The evidence for the bloodiest history of Kodagu and Kodava exist even today and is documented. A history which is filled with inhumanness, violence and genocide a history which is today rewritten by politicians to lionize a mass murderer and efforts to project him as a hero is not only hurting the sentiments of Kodava, but it’s also sending out a wrong message about our history to the future generation of this country. A man who lost the battle 31 times and killed the brave Kodava warriors by infidelity can never be a Hero. Tippu was an invader, a dictator a coward and a Murderer of the human race and glorifying such inhuman personality is an absolute shame and disgrace to humanity. The real history needs to be told to the next generation for them to know who the real warriors of the Kodava Land were.
- Mukkatira Mac Thimmaiah
Source: article originally posted in the author's own blog.