Maharajas of Mysore
Chivalry and romance are associated with the emergence of the Yadu or Wodeyar dynasty, who ruled from Mysore from 14th century onwards for nearly six centuries. As one enters the Southern gate of the Mysore Palace, one can spot a small temple dedicated to Kodi Bhyraveswara. This temple is of historical significance as it saw the emergence of the Wodeyar dynasty. In this temple, a dramatic turn of events took place way back in the year 1399 A.D.
As the story goes, two young men, Vijaya and Krishna of the Yadu dynasty hailing from Dwaraka in Gujarat came to Mysore, after visiting Melkote on their pilgrimage. The two royal princes took shelter at the Kodi Bhyraveswara Temple, which was close to the Doddakere, from where people of then small city of Mysore fetched water for drinking and daily chore. At dawn, they heard some women, while washing closes discussing the distress situation of the young Princess Devajammanni. The death of her father, Chamaraja, the local ruler, had landed her and her mother, the queen, in trouble. Taking advantage of the situation, the neighbouring Chief of Karugahalli, Maranayaka, began demanding the kingdom and the princess in marriage. Taking the help of a Jangama Odeya, a Shaivite religious man, the two chivalrous brothers came to the rescue of the distressed Maharani and the Princess. Mobilising troops, they killed the Karugahalli Chief and his men and saved the Mysore royal family and their kingdom. A happy princess married the elder brother, Vijaya, and he became the first ruler of the Yadu dynasty. He assumed the name Yaduraya. Thus the traditional founding of the Wodeyar dynasty took place in 1399 with Yaduraya. Since then, 24 rulers have succeeded in the dynasty, the last being Jayachamaraja Wodeyar. It is during his period, India won freedom and later monarchy was abolished. With that ended the reign of the Mysore Maharajas. Yaduraya ruled from 1399 to 1423. Hiriya Bettada Chamaraja Wodeyar (1423-1459), Thimmaraja Wodeyar (1459-1478) and Hiriya Chamaraja Wodeyar (1478-1513) succeeded him. Hiriya Bettada Chamaraja Wodeyar II (1513-1553) became the fifth ruler. Thimmaraja Wodeyar (1553-1572) succeeded him and he defeated some neighbouring chieftains and expanded his boundary. The next ruler, Bola Chamaraja Wodeyar (1572-1576) was called 'Bola' or 'Bald' because while he was visiting the Chamundi Hills to worship the Goddess, a lightning struck and he lost all his hairs. After him, Bettada Chamaraja Wodeyar III (1576-1578) ruled for a brief period of about two years.
The next ruler, Raja Wodeyar (1578-1617), emerges as the first powerful
ruler in the Mysore royal family. Till his emergence, Mysore was a
small feudatory kingdom under the Vijayanagar Kingdom. The Mysore chieftains
owed allegiance to the Vijayanagar kings and the Vijayanagar representative
at Srirangapatna. Taking advantage of the fall of Vijayanagar kingdom
in 1565 A.D., Raja Wodeyar defeated the Vijayanagar representative
in a battle at Kesare near Mysore, shifted his capital from Mysore
to Srirangapatna in 1610 and acquire the famous throne and ascended
it. However, he continued the traditions of Vijayanagar and revived
the famous Dasara festival, celebrating it for the first time in Srirangapatna
with pomp and grandeur. After Chamaraja Wodeyar (1617-1637) and Raja
Wodeyar II (1637-1638), the next powerful ruler to ascend the throne
of Mysore was Ranadhira Kantirava Narasaraja Wodeyar (1638-1659). A
courageous ruler, he successfully fought back the efforts of Bijapur
Badsha to acquire Srirangapanta twice, fortified the Srirangapatna
and Mysore forts with arms and weapons, and began minting coins with
his seals. Dodda Devaraja Wodeyar (1659-1673), who ruled next, further
expanded the kingdom by acquiring areas of Keladi Shivappa Naika and
Palegars of Madurai and Thiruchinapalli.