COORG (KODAGU): HISTORY
also known as Coorg in its English version is now a district of Karnataka.
However, it had been a tiny kingdom with a history and ethnicity of its own for
centuries. The natives of Kodagu speak a
language that belongs to the Dravidian family of languages. (Kodava language)
The history of modern Kodagu, coinciding with the rule of the hAlEri dynasty
begins only in the early decades of the seventeenth century. However, it would
be appropriate to trace the history of Kodagu from the tenth century when we
find a substantial mention of the land and its people. After that, It was ruled for almost seven centuries by various dynasties
The Sangam texts of Tamil dating back to the 2nd Century A.D. mention kuDag nADu, and aver that it was a part of the pAnDya kingdom. Sangam literature was naturally interested in the land of origin of the River Kaveri which was very precious to them. The words ‘kuDukam’ and ‘kuDumalai’ mentioned in ‘silappadikAram’ and other Sangam texts is construed as the etymological origin of Kodagu. ‘kuDu’ means ‘bent’ in almost all Dravidian languages. The western border of Kodagu is bent like a sickle.
The northern part of Kodagu was ruled by the Kadambas was ruled from the 2nd century to the sixth century where as the southeern part was was ruled by the Gangas of Talakad from the 4th century till the 11th century. However, cangALvAs (Chengalvas) the kings of ChanganADu were in actual control as the feuadatories of Gangas and they had ‘palsare’ as their capital. Gangas were defeated by the Cholas in the 11th century and the Changalvas shifted their loyalty to the latter. Another clan called kongALlvas controlled some parts of Kodagu including the northern parts like sOmavArapETe and even they were loyal to Cholas. When Cholas were driven away by the Hoysalas both Changalvas and Kongalvas had to accept being subordinate to them, even though there was some early resistance by Pemma Veerapa the Chengalva king. The power balances shifted again and now the Kodagu lords were subordinate to some Muslim kings. After that, the all conquering Vijayanagara Empire rode roughshod over the region. It was during this period that Nanjaraja the Chengalva king built a new capital and called it Nanjaraja Pattana.(Early 16th century) Later in 1589 A.D., Piriyaraja or rudragaNa yet another Chengalva king renovated singapaTNa and called it PiriyapaTNa. After the dissolution of Vijayanagara Empire, Kodagu was conquered by the King of Mysore in a decisive battle. Piriyaraja heralded the fall of Chengalva dynasty.
After the fall of Chengalva kings, a prince from IkkEri (bidanUru) named VIrarAja established a small kingdom at hAlEri a small village about ten kilometers from maDikEri. These Veerashaiva kings ruled over KoDagu from 1600 A.D. till 1834 when it was taken over by the Britishers. The capital was sifted from hAlEri to maDikEri in 1681. (muddurAjakEri) The history of KOdagu after the seventeenth century is beyond the scope of this note. Hyder Ali also played a crucial role in the affairs of Coorg for quite some time. Coorg as we know it today was built essentially during the regime of the hAlEri dynasty. Kings like lingarAjEndra, doDDarAjEndra and cikavIrarAjEndra have contributed their own mite to the development of Kodagu. Most of the important temples and other edifices were built only during their regime. For futher details about the language, literature and culture of Kodagu please go to the entries mentioned below: Kodava Language, Madikeri.
Further readings and links:
1. ‘ಕೊಡಗಿನ ಇತಿಹಾಸ’, ಡಿ.ಎನ್. ಕೃಷ್ಣಯ್ಯ, 1995, ಮೈಸೂರು ವಿಶ್ವವಿದ್ಯಾಲಯ, ಮೈಸೂರು
2. ‘ಕೊಡಗಿನ ಹಾಲೇರಿ ರಾಜವಂಶವು’, (ಎರಡು ಸಂಪುಟಗಳು) ಎಂ.ಜಿ. ನಾಗರಾಜ್, 2004, ಡೈರೆಕ್ಟರ್ ಆಫ್ ಆರ್ಕಿಯಾಲಜಿ ಅಂಡ್ ಮ್ಯೂಸಿಯಮ್ಸ್, ಹೊಸಪೇಟೆ