The Wadiyar dynasty was an Indian Hindu dynasty that ruled the Kingdom of Mysore from 1399 to 1947, until the independence of India from British rule and the subsequent unification of the British India and the princely states into the Dominion of India.
In Kannada, the word "Wadiyar" (ಒಡೆಯರ್) means "the king" or "the owner." The word is a surname of a community in South India who are from the potters community.
The spelling Wodeyar is found in most records and is used by the royal family members themselves. The spelling by modern transliteration rules from Kannada is Odeyar. It is pronounced with a silent "W".
In 1399, the dynasty was established by Yaduraya Wodeyar. He ruled Mysore, then a small town, until 1423.
After Yaduraya Wodeyar, the Mysore kingdom was governed by a succession of Wadiyar rulers. However, the kingdom remained fairly small during this early period and was a part of the Vijayanagara Empire. After the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire in 1565, the Kingdom of Mysore became independent and remained so until 1799. During the reign of Krishnaraja Wadiyar III (1799–1868), the region came under control of the British Empire. His successors changed the English spelling of their royal name to Wadiyar, and took the title of "Bahadur." The last two monarchs of the dynasty, Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV and Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar, also accepted the British decoration Knight Grand Cross of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (GBE).
The Vijayanagara Empire disintegrated in 1565. The power vacuum created soon after was utilized by Raja Wadiyar, 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 Kanthirava Narasaraja I (ruled 1638–1659) who expanded the frontiers of the Mysore Kingdom to Trichy in Tamil Nadu. The dynasty reached its peak under Chikka Devaraja (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.
From 1760 to 1799, the rule of the dynasty was essentially nominal, with real power in the hands of the successive dalwai, or commanders-in-chief, Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan, who expanded the kingdom aggressively, but clashed with the East India Company. After Tipu Sultan was killed when the British stormed Srirangapatna in 1799, the Wadiyars were restored to a reduced kingdom.
After restoring the Wadiyars 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 Wadiyar III, son of the last Wadiyar King Khasa Chamaraja Wadiyar VIII, was anointed as the King of Mysore. Wadiyars 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 Wadiyar 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 Wadiyar IX. In 1881, transfer of power back to the Wadiyars 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 Wadiyar 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 Wadiyars, freed from security concerns, shifted attention to the patronage of the fine arts. Under their patronage, Mysore became a cultural center of Karnataka, fostering a number of famous musicians, writers and painters.
The last king of the Wadiyar dynasty was Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar, who ruled from 1940 until Indian independence from British rule. In the year 1947, after India attained independence, he acceded his Kingdom to the dominion of India, but continued as the Maharajah 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,in which he held the post until 1964. After that he was Governor of Madras state (now Tamil Nadu) for two years. But the Indian Constitution continued to recognize him as the Maharajah of Mysore until 1971, when Mrs. Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India abolished the titles and Privy Purse of well over 560 Maharajahs spread over different parts of India. The Maharaja died in 1974. His only son Srikanta Datta Narasimha Raja Wadiyar (1953-2013) was a member of the Indian Parliament for many years.
Wadiyar Rulers of Mysore
- Yaduraya (1399–1423)
- Hiriya Bettada Chamaraja Wadiyar I (1423–1459)
- Thimmaraja Wadiyar I (1459–1478)
- Hiriya Chamaraja Wadiyar II (1478–1513)
- Hiriya bettada Chamaraja III Wadiyar (1513–1553)
- Thimmaraja Wadiyar II (1553–1572)
- Bola Chamaraja Wadiyar IV (1572–1576)
- Bettada Chamaraja Wadiyar V(1576–1578)
- Raja Wadiyar I (1578–1617)
- Chamaraja Wadiyar VI (1617–1637).
- Raja Wadiyar II (1637–1638)
- (Ranadhira Kantheerava) Narasaraja Wadiyar I (1638–1659)
- Dodda Devaraja Wadiyar (1659–1673)
- Chikka Devaraja Wadiyar (1673–1704)
- Narasaraja Wodeyar II (1704–1714)
- Dodda Krishnaraja Wodeyar I (1714–1732)
- Chamaraja Wadiyar VII (1732–1734)
- (Immadi) Krishnaraja Wadiyar II (1734–1766)
- Nanajaraja Wadiyar (1766–1770)
- Bettada Chamaraja Wadiyar VIII(1770–1776)
- Khasa Chamaraja Wadiyar IX (1766–1796)
- Krishnaraja Wadiyar III (1799–1868)
- Chamarajendra Wadiyar X (1868–1894)
- Vani Vilas Sannidhana, queen of Chamarajendra Wadiyar X, was Regent from 1894–1902.
- Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV (1894–1940)
- Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar (1940–1950) 
- Prince Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar, (1974-2013, unofficially ascended the throne in 1974; died on 10 December 2013)
- Lakshmi Kantharaje Urs Wadiyar (2013–present)
Curse on Wadiyars
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The Mysore kingdom, founded by Yaduraya in the year 1399, consisted of only the areas surrounding the present Mysore City. 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. Wadiyars, like all others at that time, were under the suzerainty of the Vijayanagar Empire. The Viceroy of the Vijayanagar kingdom was headquartered at Srirangapatna. Wadiyars after Yaduraya slowly and steadily increased their influence and territory over the next 200 years. Raja Wadiyar 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 1610, he conquered the fort of Srirangapatna from Tirumala, the then Viceroy of Vijayanagar. Tirumala 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.
Tirumala was afflicted with a deadly disease on his back which was known as the disease of the kings. But the condition of Srirangaraya deteriorated and he died. Alamelamma had large amount of precious jewellery. Of them was a fine nose ring studded with a big pearl. As Alamelamma was a widow, she had no use of these jewels . Since she was known to be a staunch devotee of Sri Ranganayaki, every Friday and Tuesday, Sri Ranaganayaki was 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 Wadiyar to provide them with the custody of these jewels as was the practice. Treasury officials informed the king about truth. Raja Wadiyar thought what is the use of these jewels for Alamelamma as she is a widow now and she no longer needs them. Raja Wadiyar sent emissaries to malangi where Alamelamma was staying, with a request to return the jewels. Alamelamma returned only the pearl studded nose ring. Then Raja Wadiyar sent his army to Talakad to request her once again and, if she refused, to get them by force. To escape the wrath of the Mysore Army, Alamelamma uttered the legendary curse on Raja Wadiyar and jumped into the whirlpool in the river Cauvery at Talakadu with the rest of the jewels, and escaped unscathed. The curse which has survived the folklore of last 400 years is:
|“||ತಲಕಾಡು ಮರಳಾಗಲಿ, ಮಾಲಂಗಿ ಮಡುವಾಗಲಿ, ಮೈಸೂರು ದೊರೆಗಳಿಗೆ ಮಕ್ಕಳಿಲ್ಲದೆ ಹೋಗಲಿ||”|
|“||Talakadu maralagali, Malangi maduvagali, Mysuru doregalige makkalilllade hogali||”|
|“||May Talakad turn into (a barren expanse of) sand, May Malangi turn into whirlpool, 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 Alamelammamade 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 poojathe 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!I
Brief Sketch of Raja Wodeyar
Raja Wodeyar after shifting to Srirangapatna is credited with starting the famous Dasara Festivities for the first time in 1610. But his then only surviving son Narasraja Wodeyar 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 bejewelled 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 ( sanctum sanctorum) 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 Fourth Anglo-Mysore War and the death of Tipu Sultan, the British Army of which the legendary Arthur Wellesley (also known as Iron Duke) was a part 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. Hyder and Tipu continued with the tradition of having a nominal Wodeyar King on the throne and even the Dasara Celebrations continued as usual.
- According to Court Historian and Chief Editor of Mysore Gazeeteer - Mr C. Hayavadana Rao, this Ruler's name as Bettada Devaraja Wadiyar. But as the Annals of Mysore Royal Family a book published by the Royal House sticks to this version, the same is adopted here as authentic<
- Anwar Haroon (29 June 2013). Kingdom of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. Xlibris Corporation. p. 24. ISBN 978-1-4836-1536-3.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wadiyar dynasty.|
- The Wodeyars of Mysore (1578 A.D. to 1947 A.D.)
- History of Mysore Wodeyars
- Mysore - Imperial City of Karnataka
- Genealogy of the Wodeyar Dynasty
- Curse on Wodeyars: Documenting a Legend
- Curse on Wodeyars: ORAL TRADITIONS -Legend and history
- Coins of the Wodeyars
- Sri Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wadiyar
- The Wodeyar / Wadiyar Dynasty (Official Website of Mysore Palace)
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