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' See Government EpigrapList'e Annual Eeporfc for 1899-1900, paras. 70 £E.
* Ibid., para. 78, and Sewell's Lists of Aiitiquitiee, ii, 224.


the well-known Tesuit Mission at Madura^, which (though CHAP. II.
unfortunately incomplete) have been collected and published in N^yakkan
four volumes under the title of La Mission da Madure. Mr. Dynasty.
Nelson has collated all these authorities with much care in his
book, aflid the ensuing- narrative follows closely (though, owing to
the exigencies of space, very briefly) his account of this period.

It seems, then, that at about the close of Vitthala Raja's Its origin,
administration the then Ohola ruler invaded the Madura country
and dispossessed the Pandya king. AVhereupon the latter appealed
to the court of Vijayanagar and an expedition under a certain
Nagama Nayakkan was accordingly sent to his aid. Nagama
easily suppressed the Chola king and possessed himself of Madura,
but he then suddenly threw off his allegiance and, declining
to help the Pandya, assumed the position of an independent
ruler. The Vijayanagar emperor was furious at his defection,
summoned a council, laid the matter before his most faithful
officers, and cried out to the assemblage ' Where amongst you all
is he who will bring me that rebel's head? ' To the astonishment
of every one present, Nagama's own son, A^isvandtha, volunteered
to do so, and after some natural hesitation the king despatched
him with a large force against the rebel. Visvanatha defeated
his father in a pitched battle, placed him in confinement, and at
length procured for him the unconditional pardon wliich had
doubtless been from the first the object of his action.

He so far obeyed the orders of the Vijayanagar king as
nominally to place the Pdndya on the throne, but sound policy
and his own interests alike deterred him from handing over the
entire government of the country to the old feeble dynasty, and
he set out to rule on his own account. This was in 1559. Doubt-
less he held a wide commission as governor from the Vijayanagar
court, and perhaps there was little difference between tlie powers
he exercised and those wielded, for example, by Vitthala Raja.
But the peculiar characteristic of the new regime was that,
whether by accident or design, it developed first into a governor-
ship which became hereditary and then into what was practically
an hereditary monarchy. The Nayakkans never, it is true,
assumed the insignia or titles of royalty, and were content with
the position of lieutenants under Vijayanagar even after they had
ceased to pay tribute to that pov/cr ; but in essentials their sway
was practically absolute and the Pandyas disappear in effect
henceforth from history.

^ See Chapter III, p. 75, b«Iow.






Visvanatha, tlien, became the first of the Nayakkan dynasty.

The names and dates of its rulers may be conveniently given in

tabular form here at once. They were —

Visvanatha .. .. .. ,. .. 1559

Kumara Krishnappa .. .. .. ., 1563

Krishnappa, alias Perij'a Virappa . . . . 1 i c7q

Visvanatha II . . . . . . . , . . j

Lingayya alia» Kumara Krishnappa Visvappa

alias Visvanatha III . . . . . . . . 1595

Muttu Krishnappa .. .. .i .. 1602

Muttu Virappa 1609

Tirumala . .. 1623

Muttu Alakadri alias Muttu Virappa . . . . 1659

Chokkanatha flfes Chokkalinga .. .. 1662

Ranga Krishna Muttu Virappa . . . . 1682

Mangaramal (Queen-Regent) .. .. 1689

Vijaya Ranga Chokkanatha .. .. .. J 704

Mmak^hi (Queen-Regent) .. .. ..1731—36

Visvanatha is said to have immediately set himself to
strengthen his capital and improve the administration of his
dominions. He demolished the Pdndya rampart and ditch
which at that time surrounded merely the walls of the great
temple, and erected in their place an extensive double-walled
fortress defended by 72 bastions ;^ and he led channels from
the upper waters of the Vaigai — perhaps the Peranai and
Chittanai ^ dams owe their origin to him— to water the country,
founding villages in the tracts commanded by them.

In his administrative improvements he was ably seconded by
his prime minister Arya Nayakka Mudali ( or, as he is still com-
monly called, Arya Natha , a man born of peasant Velldla parents
who had won his way by sheer ability to a high position in the
Vijayanagar court. This officer is supposed to have been the
founder of ' the poligar system, ' under which the ATadura country
was apportioned among 72 chieftains — some of them local men and
others Telugu leaders of the detachments which had accompanied
Visvanatha from Vijayanagar — who were each placed in charge of
one of the 72 bastions of the new Madura fortifications, were
responsible for the immediate control of their estates, paid a fixed
tribute to the Nayakkans, and kept up a certain quota of troops
ready for immediate service. Unless their family traditions are
uniformly false, these men did much for the country in those
days, founding villages, building dams, constructing tanks and

^ See p. 205 and the map attached.
3 Sm pp. 124, I9,h And 128.



erecting temples. Many of them bore the title of Nayakkan, CHAP. II.
and hence the commonaess of ' -nayakkanur ' as a termination to NIyakkan

the names of places in this district. They also brought with them J

the gods of the Deccan, and thus we find in Madura many shrines
to Ahobilam and other deities wlio are rarely worshipped in the
Tamil country. Their successors, the present zamindars of the
district, still look upon Arya Natha as a sort of patron saint.

This man is also credited with having constructed the great
thousand-pillared mantapam in the Madura temple, and he is
still kept in mind by the equestrian statue of him which Hanks
one side of the entrance of this, and is even now periodically
crowned with garlands by the hero-worshipjDers of to day He
lived till 1600 and had great influence upon the fate of the
Nayakkan dynasty until his death.

Visvanatha also added the fort of Trichinopoly to his posses-
sions. The Vijayanagar viceroy who governed the Tanjore
country had failed to properly police the pilgrim roads which ran
through Trichinopoly to the shrines at Srirangam and Eames-
varam, and devotees were afraid to visit those holy places. Visva-
natha accordingly arranged to exchange that town for the fort of
Vallam (in 'J'anjore), which was his at that time, lie is said to
have then vastly improved the fortifications and town of Trichi-
nopoly and the temple of Srirangam, and to have cleared the
banks of the Cauvery of robbers.

He had some difficulty with 'the five Pandyas,' who resisted
the introduction of his authority into Tinnevelly, but he
vanquished them at length (in circumstances set out with much
poetic detail in the manuscripts) and then greatly improved the
town and district of Tinnevelly. He is also credited with an
expedition to subdue a local chieftain at Kambam (in the Teriya-
kulam taluk) near the Travancore border.

Visvanatha died full of years and honour in 1563. His name
is still affectionately remembered as that of a great benefactor of
his country.

He was succeeded by his son Kumara Krishnappa (15o3-73), His
who is represented as a brave and politic ruler. A revolt occurred l?,!.°?!?!^*f
among the poligars daring his reign, but its leadei-, Tumbichi
Nayakkan, was captured while holding the fort of Paramagudi
in the Eamnad zamindari, and was beheaded ; and the trouble
was quenched. Krishnappa is also declared to have conquered
Ceylon — an exploit of which heroic details are given in the manu-
scripts, but of which, in view of the silence of the usually candid
annals of that island, the very existence may well be doubted.



Fall of

.en A P. II. He was succeeded in 1573 by his two sons, who ruled jointly

Nayakkan and uneventfully till 1595 ; and they by their two sons, one of

DYNASTY. ^j^^^ ^^^^^ ^.^ jg^.^^

These were followed by Muttu Krishnappa (1602-09). He
is credited with the foundation of the dynasty of the Setupatis of
Eamnad, the ancestors of the present Rdja of that place, who
were given a considerable slice of territory in the Marava country
on condition that they suppressed crime and protected pilgrims
journeying to Ramesvaram through that wild and inhospitable
region. Mr. Nelson's book (Pt. 3, 109-14 and elsewhere) deals
at length with this transaction and other events in the history
of the Setupatis, but these relate to the Ramnad zamindari
and the present volume is not concerned with them.

Muttu Krishnappa was succeeded by Muttu Virappa
(1609-23), a hardly more distinct figure.

Meanwhile, in ] 565, the power of the rulers of Vijayanagar,
the suzerains of the Nayakkans,had been dealt an irreparable blow
by the combined Musalman kings of the Deccan at the memo-
rable battle of Talikota, one of the great landmarks in the
history of south India. They were forced to abandon a large
part of the districts of Bellary and Anantapur to the victorious
Muhammadans, to flee hastily from Vijayanagar, and to establish
their capital successively at Penukonda in Anantapur and at
Chandragiri and Vellore in North Arcot. Their governors at
Madura and Tanjore still paid them the usual tribute and marks
of resppct, but in the years which now follow traces begin to appear
of the weakness of the suzerain, and of contempt and finally
rebellion on the part of his feudatories.

Muttu Virappa mentioned above was succeeded by the great
Tirumala Nayakkan, the most powerful and the best known
of his dynasty, who ruled for thirty-six eventful years.' He
was called upon to play his part in much more stirring times
than his predecessors. The peace imposed upon the south by the
sway of Vijayanagar had beeu dissolved by the downfall of that
power, and the Pandya country was torn by the mutual quar-
rels of the once feudatory governors (' Najakkans ') of Madura,
Tanjore, Gingee and Mysore ; by the unavailing attempts of the
last rulers of the dying empire to reassert their failing authority ;
and finally by the incursions of the Muhammadan kings of the
Deccan, who now began to press southwards to reap the real
fruits of their victory at Talikota. An added trouble lay in the




For an inscription giving his genealogy, see Ep. Ind., iii, 2S9.


insubordination of the Setupatis of Ramnad, who took advan- CHAP. il.
tage of the embarra8sment3 of the rulers of Madura to disobey Nayakkan
their commands and [finally' to assume independence Tlio last- ^^y^y-
named danger^ was not experienced l)y Tirumala himself, but
was reserved to'perplex his successors.

Almost the first act of his reign was to witlihold the tribute He doUca
due to the king of Vijajanagar. Tlie letters of the Jesuit priests ^''Jayanagar.
already mentioned showi-'d that he anticipated troubh? in conse-
quence, and accordingly massed large bodies of troops in Trichi-
nopoly and strengthened its fortifications. He none the less still
sent_annual:complimentary messages and presents to his suzerain,
and this sufficed for some time to appease the resentment of tho
incapable representatives of that ancient line. But about 1 6HS
king Eanga, a more resolute prince, succeeded to the throne of
Chandragiri ; and he soon resolved to put an end to the contumacy
of Tirumala and prepared to marcli south with a large and for-
midable forcp. Tirumala had meanwhile persuaded tlie V^ijaya-
nagar governors of Tanjore and Gingee (in South Arcot) to join
him in his defiance of their mutual suzerain, and thus Eanga was
left with only Mysore, of all his tributaries, to support him. He
however continued his preparations, with the result that the
governor of Tanjore eventually grew alarmed, sent in his sub-
mission, and betrayed the designs of the confederates.

Ranga advanced upon Gingee, but his plans were frustrated v&Uh iho
by a desperate move on the part of Tirumala, who, reckless of the ^"ham-
claims of a larger patriotism, succeeded in inducing the Muham- his aid,
madan Sultan of Golconda (one of the confederacy who had been
victorious at Talikota in 1 565) to invade the Vijayanagar king-
dom from the north.

Eanga was obliged to retrace his steps to protect his posses-
sions, was defeated by Golconda, and was forced to march soutli
again to implore the help of his rebellious governors against tlieir
common foe, the Musalman. They refused, however, to aid him;
and in the end Eanga Hcd, powerless and almost without a
friend, to the protection of his only faithful vassal, the viceroy
of Mysore.

The Sultan of Golconda was satisfied for some time to consolidate
his conquests in the north of the Vijayanagar country, but shortly
afterwards (perhaps about 1044) he marched south to subdue its
three rebellious governors and advanced upon the great fortress
of Gingee. The Ndyakkan of Tanjore at once submitted to him,
but Tirumala approached a rival Muhammadan, the Sultan of






And becomes



His wars



Bijdpur, wlio sent a force to his assistance. These allies marched
to the relief of Gingee, but hardly had they arrived there when the
Bijdpur troops went over to the enemy, and joined in the siege of
the fort thej had been sent to deliver. The Golconda king,
however, was soon recalled by trouble in other parts of his new
conquests, and Tirumala threw himself into the Gringee fortress.
Owing to dissensions between his troops and those of the former
garrison, however, the gates were opened not long afterwards to
the troops of Bijapur and the town fell into the possession of the

Tirumala retreated in dismay to Madura, and the Muham-
marlans advanced triumphantly southwards, exacted submission
from the governor of Tanjore, and proceeded to lay waste the
Madura country. Tirumala then submitted, apparently without
striking a blow, paid a large sum to the invaders, and agreed to
send an annual tribute to the Sultan of Bijapur. Thus, after an
interval of nearly 300 years, the Muhammadans were once again
recognised as supreme in the district.

Tirumala's next conflict was with Mysore. In the early years
of his reign, before his troubles with the king of Vijayanagar
and the Muhammadans, he had been involved in a short war with
that kingdom. His territories had been invaded by the Mysore
troops and Dindigul had been besieged, but the enemy had been
eventually driven out and their country successfully invaded in
revenge by a general of Tirumala's. Since then, as already noted,
the Vijayanagar ruler had taken refuge with the king of Mysore,
and now these two monarchs combined to endeavour to recover
those portions of the former's territories which had recently been
captured by Golconda. They were at first successful; but, whether
actuated by jealousy or fear, Tirumala intervened and invited the
I^Iuhammadans to attack Mysore from the south, throwing open
the passes in his own country for the purpose.

His proposal was accepted, Mysore was invaded, and a gen-
eral war ensued which resulted in the final extinction of the power
of Vijayanagar and the humbling of Mysore. Bat when return-
ing in triumph from that country, the victorious Muhammadans
came down to Madura and levied an enormous tribute from their
humble friend Tirumala ; and, moving on to Tanjore, treated its
Nayakkan in a like manner. So Tirumala profited little from
this new treachery to the cause of Hinduism.

It is not clear exactly when these events happened, but they
appear to constitute the last interference of the Muhammadans
in Madura affairs. Tirumala's only other external war occurred





towards the close of Ins reign and was with Mysore. In this he CHAP. II
is represented to have Leen altogether snccossful.

The campaign "began with, an invasion of Coimbatore by the
Mysore king — apparently in revenge for Tirumala's contribution
to his recent humiliation at the hands of the Muhammadans.
That district was occupied by the enemy with ease, and then
Madura itself was threatened. The Mysore troops were however
beaten off from the town (chieliy by the loyal assistance of the
Setupati of Eamnad) defeated again iu the open, and driven in
disorder up the ghdts into Mysore. I'he campaign was known as
the ' hunt for noises ' owing to the fact that under the orders of the
Mysore king the invaders cut off the noses of all their prisoners
(men, women and children) and spnt them in sacks to Seringa-
patam as glorious trophies.

A counter invasion of Mysore was undertaken ^ll')l•tly after-
wards under the command of Kumdra Muttu, the younger
brother of Tirumala, and was crowned with complete success.
The king of Mysore was captured and his nose was cut ofp and
sent to IMadura.

Tirumala died before his victorious brother's return. He was
between sixty-five and seventy years of age at the time and had
reigned for thirty-six eventful years.

His territories at his death comprised the present districts of
Madura (including the zamindaris of Eamnad and Sivagauga),
Tinnevelly, Coimbatore, Salem and Trichinopoly, with Puduk-
k6ttai and part of Travancore. Native tradition is persistent in
declaring that he met his death by violence. Several stories are
current, but two of them are more widely repeated than the others .
The first of these says that he so nearly became converted to
Christianity that he stopped his expenditure on the temples of the
Hindu gods. This roused the Brahmans, and some of them,
headed by a Bhattan (officiating priest of the great temple),
enticed him to the temple under the pretence that they had found
a great hidden treasure iij a vault there, induced him to enter the
vault and then shut down its stone trap-door upon hiin, and gave
out that the goddess Minakshi had translated her favourite to
heaven. The second story avers that he had an intrigue with the
wife of a Bhattan and^that^ as he wasjreturning from visiting her
one dark night he fell into a well and was killed. Tlic Bhattan
was so scared when he found what had happened that he at once
filled in the well,; but afterwards told the Brahmans what he
had done.

His death.






among his

A carious

Tinimala's character is summed up, probably with justice, in
a letter written by one of the Jesuit priests just after his death
and dated Trichinopoly, 1659 —

* It is impossible to refuse him credit for great qualities, but he
tarnished his glory at the end of his life by follies and vices which
nothing could j ustify. He was called to render account to God for
the evils which his i)olitical treachery had brought upon his own
people and the neighbouring kingdoms. His reign was rendered
illustrious by works of really royal magnificence. Among these are
the pagoda of Madura, several public buildings, and above all the
ro3'al palace the colossal proportions and a«tonishing boldness of
which recall the ancient monuments of Thebes. He loved and pro-
tected the Christian religion, tho excf-llence of which he recognised ;
but he never had the courage to accept the consequences of his con-
viction. The chief obstacle to his conversion came from his 200 wives,
of whom the most distinguished were burnt on his pyre. '

During his reign, two rebellions occurred among his vassals.
Tlie first was raised by the Setupati ot Kamnad. It was due to
an unjust order of Tirumala's regarding the succession to the
C'hiefship of that country in 1035, which was resisted by the
rightful claimant and by the Maravans themselves. Tirumala was
successful in placing his nominee on the throne and in imprison-
ing the rival aspirant, but he was ultimately compelled to allow
the latter to succeed. He was rewarded by the loyalty of Eamnad
in his last war with Mysore.

The other rebellion was raised by a confederacy of poligars
headed by the powerful chief of Ettaiyapuram in the Tinnevelly
district. Its cause is not clear. The Setupati of Btimnad, as
chief of all the poligars, was entrusted with the duty of quelling
it, and performed this undertaking satisfactorily. The leader was
I'Ut to death and the others suitably punished ; and peace was
restored in a few months.

The letters of the Jesuits relate a carious event which took
jilace in the Madura country about 1C53. The whole territory
was thrown into a state of great nervous excitement by the
spreading in every direction of one of those mysterious and extra-
ordinary rumours which spring up now and again in India, no
one knows where or how. An infant emperor of divine birth,
it was declared, would sliortly appear from the'north and usher in
a millennium of peace and plenty. The story obtained universal
credence, and large sums of money were collected for the use of the
deliverer when he should arrive. But he never did arrive. A
woman and child were brought to Bangalore by the perpetrators
of the rumour, and vast multitudes flocked thither to pay their


respects and offer presents to the supposed emperor; bat after CHAP. II.
squeezing all that was possible out of the pi-etenders, the Musal- NIyakkan
man rulers of that town cut off their heads and ordered their
followers to disperse immediately.


Tirumala's capital was Madura. The royal residence had Tirumala's
been reuioved thence to Trichinopoly by his predecessor, but ^^P'**'-
Tirumala moved it back again, notwithstanding the fact that
Trichinopoly, with its almost impregnable rock, its never-
failing Cauvery river and its healthy climate, was by nature
far superior to Aiadura, where the fort was on level ground, the
Yaigai was usually dry and fever was almost endemic. The
reason given in the old manuscripts for the change is that
Tirumala was afflicted with a grievous long-standing catarrh
wliicli none of the V^aishnavite gods of Trichinopoly could (or
would) cure. One day when he was halting at Dindigul on his
way to Madura, Sundaresvara and Minakshi, the Saivite deities of
the latter place, appeared to him in a dream and promised him
that if he would reside permanently in their town they would cure
him. He vowed that he would do so and would spend five lakhs
of pons on sacred works. Immediately afterwards, as he was
cleaning his teeth in the early morning, the disease left him ;
and thenceforth he devoted himself to the cult of Saivism and
the improvement of Madura. None the less, he resided a good
deal at Trichinopoly, and his successors (though they went to
Madura to be crowned) generally dwelt there permanently.

It is, however, by his many splendid public buildings in His jiublio
Madura that he is best remembered at the present time. They """""'e'-
are referred to in some detail in the account of the place on pp.
257-78 below. The largest and most magnificent of them was the
great palace which still goes by his name. Much of this was
removed to Trichino})oly in later years by his grandson Chokka-
ndtha, but none the less the portions of it which survive were
thouglit by Bishop Caldwell to constitute the grandest building
of its kind in southern India.'

The beautiful Teppakulam at Madura, the Fudu maniapam
and the unfinished tower called the Rdya (jopuram belonging to
the great temple there (and doubtless other additions to that
building), and (perhaps) the Tamakam, the curious building in
which the Collector now resides, were also due to his taste for the

' History of TiHnevully, 01.






Mnttu Alaka-
dii, lGoy-62.

His troubles
wit.h his

Tirumala was succeeded "by his son Muttu Alak^dri. It is
perhaps surprising that Tirumala's brother — who, as has been seen,
had just returned to Madura from Mysore at the head of a
victorious army — should not have attempted to seize the crown;
but he was prevailed upon to accept the governorship of Sivakasi
in Tinnevelly district.

Almost the first act of the new king was an attempt to
shake off the liated Muhammadan yoke. He tried to induce
the Nayakkan of Tanjore to join the enterprise, but only succeed-
ed in involving him in the punishment which the Musalmana
meted out when his efforts ended in failure. For though the
Tanjore ruler disclaimed all connection with his neighbour's
aspirations and attempted to conciliate the Musalmans, the

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