Pemmasani Nayaks were a martial clan in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. They came into prominence during Vijayanagar times as rulers of Gandikota. The Pemmasani warriors were one among the Kamma clans previously serving Kakatiya dynasty as army commanders and migrated to Vijayanagar in 1370 CE after the downfall of Musunuri Nayaks in Warangal.
Pemmasani Nayaks were Kamma Kings. The hard earned independence of Telugu land came to an end in fifty years with the martyrdom of Musunuri Kaapaaneedu in 1370 A.D at the hands of Velamas who colluded with Bahmani sultan (Musunuri Nayaks). A large number of remaining Nayaks who served under Kaapaaneedu migrated to Vijayanagar and sworn allegiance to Bukka Raya, a close associate of Kapaneedu in protecting the Hindu dharma in Dakshnapatha (Deccan). Among them, Pemmasani clan which earned laurels for their bravery and defense of Vijayanagar Empire in the coming four centuries was the most illustrious. Generations of Pemmasani clan were commanders for various dynasties of Vijayanagar Empire. The Pemmasani lineage can be traced from PemmasaniVenkatapati Nayudu, father of Timma Nayudu. Proudha Devaraya gifted the Yadaki Paragana to Timma Nayudu in 1431 as recognition of his valour in many a battle with Muslims. Timma was instrumental for the victory in the battle of Gulbarga in which Proudha Devaraya defeated Ahmed Shah. The forts of Yadaki, Gutti and Gandikota are the symbols of Pemmasani Nayaks. During the heyday, their control extended from Krishna up to Anantapur districts. The annual income was twenty five lakhs of rupees out of which nine lakhs of rupees were paid as tribute to the Vijayanagar kings. The ancestors of Pemmasani clan (Gothram: Musunulla) belonged to Bellamkonda in ancient Kammanadu. A branch of Pemmasani clan belong to Musunulla gothram which point out their origin from the village Musunuru in Krishna district and their possible relation to the Great Musunuri Kamma Nayaks.
The first ruler of Pemmasani clan was Pemmasani Kumara Thimma Nayudu who fought many a battle and won the trust of Bukka Raya. He built many forts in Jammulamadugu, Vajrakarur, Kamalapuram, Tadipatri, Pamidi etc. Later, Dharma Nayudu served as a General of Proudha Devaraya (Devaraya II).
Thimma Nayudu: Thimma was a commander in the army of Proudha Devaraya (1420-448 CE) who granted Yadaki paragana in 1422 CE after Thimma's victory over Ahmed Shah in the battle of Kalubarige. He ruled Gutthi and Gandikota regions and used pay an annual tribute of nine lakhs of rupees to the Vijayanagar king. He developed Gandikota as an impregnable fort. Thimma minted his own coins with Veerabhadra’s icon. He ruled for a long time, constructed many temples and tanks and brought recognition to Gandikota. His son Veerathimma ruled Gandikota after him.
Ramalinga Nayudu: Veerathimma had a son by name Chennappa who had two sons Ramalinga and Pedathimma. Ramalinga ruled Gandikota (1509-1530 CE) during the time of Krishna Deva Raya. Ramalinga had 80,000 soldiers under him and he played a major role in the victory of Krishna Deva Raya over the combined armies of Kalubarige, Golkonda and Ahmednagar. He became the most favorite commander of Krishna Deva Raya and played a pivotal role in the battle of Raichur. His exploits in the battle were extolled by many Telugu poets. He was most feared by the Muslim Generals of Bijapur, Ahmednagar and Golconda. Ramalinga constructed many temples in Anantapur region.
Pedathimma Nayudu: Pedathimma led the Vijayanagar army to victory in many battles. He became famous for the slaying of Dastur Khan. He had three sons, Narasimha, Balichinna and Chinathimma.
Thimma Nayudu II participated in the expeditions of Krishna Deva Raya and captured Udayagiri, Addanki, Kondapalli, Rajahmundry and Katakam (Cuttack). He also played a crucial role in the conquest of Ummattur.
Bangaru Thimma (Arathimma) Nayudu: After the death of Krishna Deva Raya in 1529 CE his son-in-law Rama Raya took control of the kingdom. Bahamani sultan colluded with Salakam Timmaraja and raided Vijayanagar. Ramaraya took refuge in Gandikota. Bangaru Thimma vanquished Bahamanis in a fierce battle at Komali, killed Salakam Timmaraja and restored the throne to Ramaraya.
Pedaveera Nayudu was the contemporary of Srirangaraya and Venkatapatiraya. During the twilight of Vijayanagar Empire Gandikota rulers Bojja Thimma Nayudu and Venkatagiri Nayudu steadfastly helped Sriranga Raya by keeping Golkonda and Bijapur armies at bay.
The last ruler of Gandikota was Chinna Thimma Nayudu Gothram Musunulla. At the behest of the minister Podila Linganna, Mir Jumla, the General of Golkonda Nawab raided Gandikota in 1594. There was stiff resistance. The fort was captured only after Linganna plotted and poisoned Chinna Thimma. Pinnayya Nayudu, son of Chinna Thimma and still very young, was saved and taken to Mysore by his relatives. Most of the Gandikota families (sixtysix surnames ) migrated to Guntur, Kavetirajapuram (Chittor Dt), Nagari, Madurai, Tirunelveli, Ramanathapuram etc. The Zamndaris of Ilaiyarasanadal and Kurivikulam in Tamil Nadu belong to Pemmasani families. These people are collectively called Gandikota Kammas. A section of them is called ‘Gampa Kamma’. The meaning of Gampa in Telugu is ‘Large Basket’, as the carried valuable diamonds, jewelry and other stuff from Gandikota(in their final exodus) in large baskets.
Some well-known Gandikota Kammas in modern times include Nara Chandrababu Naidu, Gali Muddukrishnama Naidu,Galla Arunakumari, High court justice Pemmasani Sankara Narayana (P.S. Narayana), Vaiko, Arcot N. Veeraswami and R. Prabhu.They also known as Pedda Kammma.
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