330 years ago, Mughals sold Bengaluru to Chikka Devaraja Wadiyar for Rs 3 lakh

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The sale of Bengaluru to the Mysore rulers traces its roots back to 1686 when Aurangzeb conquered the Bijapur dynasty .Noted for his intolerant and aggressive attitude, the Mughal emperor was in a fit to establish supremacy in the South. His only remaining nemesis in the Deccan was the Maratha king. And Bengaluru was an important stop in this quest for dominance.

While the Mughals and the Marathas tussled for power, one man was instrumental in arresting the expansion of the latter.This relatively lesser known Mysore king -in the quest for his own political and administrative independence -supported the right people at the right time and ensured his favours were returned.

Chikka Devaraja Wadiyar (also spelt Wodeyar), the 14th ruler of the Mysore dynasty , was the man who rewrote Bengaluru’s destiny . He was known for his friendship with Aurangzeb, which helped Mysore become a tributary state (one with no administrative curbs or interference by the hegemon) under the Mughal rule. At the same time, he earned Maratha admiration by defeating Shivaji (the founder of Maratha rule) in a cavalry battle. So, before the Mughal invasion in 1687, when Bengaluru was under the control of Shivaji’s half-brother Ekoji, Wadiyar could easily strike a deal.

B Muddacharia writes in the book `The Mysore Mughal Relations (1686-87)’ that Ekoji had established Tanjore as his capital. The Marathas were financially weak and could not afford to be burdened by frequent incursions on the Bengaluru province by local rulers. So Ekoji “decided to dispose of Bangalore“ to the highest bidder. The Maratha king opened negotiations with Wadiyar and agreed to transfer the city for three lakh rupees.

“While the transaction was in progress, the Mughal army under Khasim Khan came, occupied the city, and hoisted the imperial flag on its rampart on July 10, 1687,“ Muddacharia writes. When the Marathas tried to retaliate, Chikka Devaraja Wadiyar “stood before the walls of Bangalore“ and fought for the Mughals.

The Mysore maharaja hoped that this would help him earn the favours of Aurangzeb. To his good fortune, the deal that he negoti ated with the Marathas was sealed by the Mughals. This July marks the 330th year of Bengaluru’s sale. “People remember Kempe Gowda but often forget the achievements of Chikka Devaraja Wadiyar, who earned the title of Apratima Vira for his valour and shrewdness in dealing with both the Marathas and the Mughals,“ said Mansoor Ali, founder, Bengaluru By Foot.

“He was also responsible establishing the postal system and the Attara Kacheri in the city and built the Kote Venkataramana Temple in Chamarajpet.“ The transaction especially made Wadiyar extremely powerful. The city became the point of communication for the Mughals in the South and laid the foundation of the rule of the empire here.

This Article was first Published at Economics Times

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