Tippu Jayanthi… Birth of Mysore Tiger Tipu Sultan’s TIGER – Part 3

Tippu Sultan not only kept his garrisons in all the four major parts but also appointed his favourite nowkara (workman) Jainullabdeen Susthri as the adalitha-adikari (ruling officer) of Kodagu. He also ordered him to severely punish anyone who goes against and vacated Kodagu before the dawn of rainy season and returned to Srirangapattana.

During the period of Tipu building the fort at Kushalnagara, it’s worthy to mention few things about the place. After the death of Lingaraja, to keep Kodagu under his control had arranged to keep his Tanya, seems like there was a station at Kushnagara too. Before the place was named Kushalnagara, it was part of Mullusoge grama {the place was closer to Kaveri River and was ideal to send soldiers and goods to Madikeri. While Haider was at this place, the good news of his eldest son Tipu winning over his enemies was brought in and the place was named as Kushalnagra (happy place). Rice Saheb in his history of Kodagu writes that Haider got the news of the birth of his son Tippu here and hence the name Kushalanagara. However, historically this does not match as Tippu was born in 1750 and at that time Haider was a small Nayaka (leader) with Mysore army. After winning Bidanuru in 1763, Haider kept the Mysore ruler for name sake and became the controller of Mysore kingdom.

After winning Bidanuru, Haider claimed that Kodagu was under the dependency of Bidanuru Nayakas and since he won over them, Kodagu became his territory and wanted to rule over Kodagu. However, Haider for the first time occupied part of Kodagu in 1780, after the death of Lingarajendra Wodeya*. Perhaps at that time he must have built a wooden fort at Mullusoge {Mullusoge is a thick thorny acacia tree which grew plenty around} and while keeping station possibly must have called it as Kushalanagara.

{*The term Wodeya was suffixed by the Mysore ruler and the Haleri rulers used suffix raja in front of their names. Hence, Lingaraja Wodeya must have been a wrong term used by one historian or record keeper which was copied by others in the due course}.

Opposition to Tippu Sultan’s rule in Kodagu: no matter how much Tippu Sultan tried and made arrangements, people would not accept him as a ruler. Same year that is in 1785 during the rainy season people of Kodagu stopped food supplies to the garrisons. Left the plains and went to the forest area. Tippu’s men were not accustomed to the forest, hills and valleys of Kodagu and on the other hand Kodavas who were well versed with the terrain of Kodagu, comfortable living there could attack them at will and disappear again into the wilderness even before Tippu’s men lifted the weapons. So it was impossible to defeat them and more over Mysore men were not used to the cold and rains of Kodagu.

During that period as well as until the Europeans established coffee cultivation after British occupation, Kodagu was a dense forest except for the Kodava farmer’s paddy fields and backyards. The thick jungle was home to plenty of elephants, tigers, bison, deer, kadave {stag}, wild goats, boars, etc.. So to travel from grama to gram, nadu to nadu, either elephants backs or boies carrying the palanquins were the only mode of transport and the roads were just big enough for that and was filled with ups and downs.

In summer, shallow parts of the rivers were used to walk and during rainy season boats were used to cross the river. Between the Nadu, deep kadangas (trenches) of about 25 feet with high walls were present. Between many miles, there were small path openings for the people to cross. They were called as Bakka in the local dialect. In these Bakkas, raja’s watch guards were present.

There were no restrictions for the people to go between the nadus. If people are traveling to Malayala or Mysore to bring things or sell their rice, they had to obtain a permit from the Taluk Subedar. Only Yelusavira-shime and Nanjarayapattana which were to the east of Kodagu were on the plains. The forests were not dense; there were not many deep kadangas like the middle and west parts of Kodagu. Hence, most part of Kodagu was like an abyeda-kote{impenetrable fort}. It was the period of 1785 – 1789.

Thirty years after that between 1815 – 1817, Lieutenant Connor who arrived at Kodagu to gather details on geography, weather, fauna, crops, etc., wrote about Kodagu: the aspect of Codagu presents an entire forest, the long and narrow cultivated valleys enclosed within it serves best to render those vast woods more striking.

Those days because of the thick forest, rainy season was longer and heavier, pouring all through the day. During winter the mist covered the area until ten in the morning and was very cold. Because of the severity of adverse weather, Tipu’s soldiers were like prisoners in their own fort. The seasoned Kodavas occupied the other parts of the land and trouble the soldiers.

Hearing about the people of Kodagu taking the control back on most places, to contain them and bring Kodagu under control again, Tipu sent Fifteen thousand soldiers under the command of Jainullabdeen Susthri to Kodagu. This large army entered Kodagu from East and pitched their camp on Uluguli santé-malaa {market place}. Uluguli santé-maala is the current Sunticoppa area. Weekly santé {sandy} was held there for the surrounding area. The army stationed at santé-maala was attacked by 4 to 5 thousand Kodavas and in koota-yudda {hand to hand fight} managed to chop/kill many from the Mysore army. However, commander Susthri managed to gather the remaining army and reach till the Madikeri fort {around 9 miles}.

But once again Kodavas attacked him. Without enough food and men, feeling weak he turned to go to Bettadapura and pitched tent again at Uluguli. However, Kodavas once again surrounded the army and attacked him and thrashed his army. Finally with heavy loss, Susthri ran away with the remaining men leaving behind whatever was left with him to Bettadapura. From there he wrote to Tippu of his defeat and asked for more men {army}.

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