The Wodeyar dynasty (also spelt Wadiyar-by the British) was an Indian royal dynasty that ruled the Kingdom of Mysore from 1399 to 1947, until the independence of India from British rule and the subsequent unification of British dominions and princely states into the Republic of India.

The spelling Wodeyar/Wodiyar is found in most records and is used by the royal family members themselves. The spelling by modern transliteration rules from Kannada is Odeyar. The word is pronounced to start with a vowel sound and not with the consonant as present in the English spelling. Odeyar in Kannada means the king or the owner.


The dynasty was established by Vijaya, a Yadava who by some accounts came to Mysore from Dwaraka while other accounts describe them as natives to the south Karnataka region. Vijaya took on the name Yadu-Raya and ruled Mysore, then a small town, from 1399 CE to 1423 CE. The Wodeyars of Vijaya's dynasty belong to the Arasu community of Karnataka, which includes many of the noble clans of the region.

The Mysore kingdom was ruled by a succession of Wodeyar rulers for the next couple of centuries. However, the kingdom remained fairly small during this early period and was a part of the Vijayanagara Empire. Later, after the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire in 1565, the Kingdom of Mysore became independent and remained so until 1799. The Kingdom of Mysore came under the British during the reign of King Krishnaraja Wodeyar III (1799-1868). His successors changed the English spelling of their royal name to Wadiyar, and took the title of Bahadur. The last two monarchs also accepted the British decoration G.B.E.


The Vijayanagara Empire disintegrated in 1565. The power vacuum created soon after was utilized by Raja Wodeyar, who ruled Mysore from 1578 to 1617. He expanded the borders of the Mysore kingdom and also shifted the capital from the city of Mysore in 1610 to Srirangapatna, a rare island formed by the river Cauvery , which provided natural protection against military attacks.

Subsequent famous rulers of the dynasty include Ranadheera Kanteerava Narasaraja Wodeyar (ruled 1638-1659) who expanded the frontiers of the Mysore Kingdom to Trichy in Tamil Nadu. The dynasty reached its peak under Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar (ruled 1673-1704), who widely reformed the administration of the empire by dividing it into 18 departments (called "Chavadis") and also introduced a coherent system of taxation.

British Rule

After restoring the Wodeyars to the throne of Mysore the British shifted the capital back to the city of Mysore from Srirangapatna. The four year old boy (Mummudi) Krishna Raja Wodeyar III, son of the last Wodeyar King Khasa Chamaraja Wodeyar VIII, was anointed as the King of Mysore. Wodeyars were now subsidiaries of the British Raj and had to pay annual subsidy to the British. However British took over the administration of the Kingdom on a specious plea of non-payment of subsidy amount from Mummudi Krishna Raja Wodeyar in 1831 and British appointed commissioners were in charge of the Kingdom.

British Commissioners administered Mysore from 1831 to 1881. Mark Cubbon (1834-1861) and L. B. Bowring (1861-1870) are among the well-known Commissioners of the period.

But in 1868, the British Parliament upheld the King's plea and decided to restore the Kingdom back to his adopted son Chamaraja Wodeyar IX. In 1881, transfer of power back to the Wodeyars heralded an important phase in the making of modern Mysore. For the first time in India, democratic experiments were introduced by the constitution of the representative assembly. His son Nalvadi Krishna Raja Wodeyar earned great fame as a saintly King-Rajarishi and his Kingdom was hailed as "Ramarajya" by Mahatma Gandhi; an ideal kingdom comparable to the one ruled by the historical hero Lord Rama.

Under British hegemony, the Wodeyars, freed from security concerns, shifted attention to the patronage of the fine arts. Under their patronage, Mysore became a cultural centre of Karnataka, fostering a number of famous musicians, writers and painters.

The last king of the Wodeyar dynasty was Jayachamaraja Wodeyar, who ruled from 1940 until the Indian independence movement liberated Indian sub-continent from British rule. In the year 1947, after India attained independence, he acceded his Kingdom to the dominion of India, but continued as the Maharaja until India became a Republic in 1950. He became the Raja Pramukh—a constitutional position—as the head of Mysore State within the Republic of India from 1950-1956. After the re-organization of Indian States on linguistic basis, he was appointed as the Governor of the integrated Mysore State (present Karnataka state) in 1956, which post he held until 1964 and after that Governor of Madras state (now Tamil Nadu) for two years. But the Indian Constitution continued to recognize him as the Maharaja of Mysore until 1971, when Mrs. Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India abolished the titles and Privy Purse of well over 560 Maharajas spread over different parts of India. The Maharaja died in 1974, and his only son Srikanta Datta Narasimha Raja Wodeyar (b. 1953) was a member of the Indian Parliament for many years.

Wodeyar Rulers of Mysore

* Yaduraya (1399–1423)
* Hiriya Bettada Chamaraja Wodeyar I (1423–1459)
* Thimmaraja Wodeyar I (1459–1478)
* Hiriya Chamaraja Wodeyar II (1478–1513)
* Hiriya bettada Chamaraja III Wodeyar (1513–1553)
* Thimmaraja Wodeyar II (1553–1572)
* Bola Chamaraja Wodeyar IV (1572–1576)
* Bettada Chamaraja Wodeyar V(1576&ndash;1578) [According to Court Hostorian and Chief Editor of Mysore Gazeeteer - Mr C. Hayavadana Rao, this Ruler's name as Bettada Devaraja Wodeyar. But as the Annals of Mysore Royal Family a book poublished by the Royal House sticks to this version, the same is adopted here as authentic<]
* Raja Wodeyar I (1578&ndash;1617)
* Chamaraja Wodeyar VI (1617&ndash;1637).
* Raja Wodeyar II (1637&ndash;1638)
* (Ranadhira Kantheerava) Narasaraja Wodeyar I (1638&ndash;1659)
* Dodda Devaraja Wodeyar (1659&ndash;1673)
* Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar (1673&ndash;1704)
* Narasaraja Wodeyar II (1704&ndash;1714)
* (Dodda) Krishnaraja Wodeyar I (1714&ndash;1732)
* Chamaraja Wodeyar VII (1732&ndash;1734)
* (Immadi) Krishnaraja Wodeyar II (1734&ndash;1766)
* Nanajaraja Wodeyar (1766&ndash;1770)
* Bettada Chamaraja Wodeyar VIII(1770&ndash;1776)
* Khasa Chamaraja Wodeyar IX (1766&ndash;1796)
* (Mummudi) Krishnaraja Wodeyar III (1799&ndash;1868)
* Chamaraja Wodeyar X (1868&ndash;1894)
* Vani Vilas Sannidhana, queen of Chamaraja Wodeyar X, was Regent from 1894&ndash;1902.
* (Nalvadi) Krishnaraja Wodeyar (1894&ndash;1940)
* Jayachamaraja Wodeyar (1940 - 1950)
** Rajpramukh of Mysore state, (1950&ndash;1956)
** Governor of Mysore state (present-day Karnataka), (1956&ndash;1964)
** Governor of Madras State (present-day Tamil Nadu), (1964&ndash;1966)
* Srikanta Datta Narsimharaja Wadiyar, (1966 - 1968) Wodeyar
** Arjun Wadiyar who is current Wodeyar

Curse on Wodeyars

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 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 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. She is said to have fled to Talakad with the jewels of Sri Ranganayaki. [ The Curse of Talakad- A Legend in History by Sashi Sivaramakrishna ; ISBN 8129108364, Published by Roopa & Co is a recent welcome addition on this subject which has been seldom written about. ]

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 worshipped 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. (You can see this at www.royalsplendourofmysore.com, video clip no: 25. That portion of the clip with the archaka’s having a white scarf tied around their mouth and food spread in front of the idol)

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 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.

[http://www.archaeologychannel.org/content/video/Talakad_700kR.html The Archaeology Channel - The Curse of Talakad]
[http://www.kabooka.com/Pages/Documentaries.htm Curse of Talakd- A synopisis]

[http://www.hindu.com/2007/07/16/stories/2007071657240200.htm The 'curse' on the Wadiyar Dynasty]

ee also

*Kingdom of Mysore
*Mysore State
*Maharaja of Mysore


External links

* [http://www.kamat.com/kalranga/deccan/wodeyars.htm The Wodeyars of Mysore (1578 A.D. to 1947 A.D.)]
* [http://prabhu.50g.com/princely/mysore/wodeyar_history.html History of Mysore Wodeyars]
* [http://www.karnataka.com/tourism/mysore/ Mysore - Imperial City of Karnataka]
* [http://www.4dw.net/royalark/India/mysore.htm Genealogy of the Wodeyar Dynasty
* [http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/fr/2006/09/29/stories/2006092902560300.htm] Curse on Wodeyars: Documenting a Legend
* [http://www.hindu.com/lr/2006/02/05/stories/2006020500150300.htm] Curse on Wodeyars: ORAL TRADITIONS -Legend and history ]

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