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Kodava warriors defeated Tipu Sultan several times proving he was neither tiger nor a lion of Mysore

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Kodavas are a warrior race, who defeated Tipu Sultan 31 times, despite being three times outnumbered. Even after independence, Kodava warriors continued to fight for the nation on battlefield. Field Marshal Sir K.M. Cariappa and General K.S. Thimayya are celebrated Kodava warriors; the former led Indian forces on the Western Front during Indo-Pakistani War in 1947, the latter served as Chief of Army Staff from 1957 to 1961 during battle with China in 1962 respectively.

If every Hindu kingdom in India would have waged valiant guerrilla warfare to protect every inch of his motherland from Islamic invaders like Kodavas, no Islamic attacker would have captured India. If Hindus in India after independence in 1947, would have opposed Muslim appeasement in the name of secularism like Kodavas, no Islamic invaders would have been glorified in the name of roads, cities or monuments.

Who are Kodavas?

Kodavas are ethnic tribe from the region of Kodagu, which British called Coorg in Karnataka in South India. The nature worshipper Kodavas, who speak Kodava language, are a martial race and have been bearing arms since thousand years. They worship guns and keep it secret even today. That is why Kodavas are the one of the few communities, who are allowed to possess a gun without a license.

Father of Tipu Sultan, Hyder Ali—who overthrew king of Mysore, Krishnaraja Wodeyar II and usurped the power in 1761—had sent a large army to conquer Kodagu in 1765. Kodagu lied between the Mysore country and Malabar. Kodagu was a gateway to reach Mangalore (Officially renamed to Mangaluru on 1 November 2014), which had a seaport. Kodagu was mountainous region, even today, it is thick forest bounded on the west by the great chain of Ghats. Kodavas knew how to use the mountainous and forested region to their advantages.

When huge army of Hyder Ali advanced towards Kodagu, Kodavas lured them deep into Kodagu and defeated his forces in battle and forced them into retreat in 1765. Five years later in 1770, a succession dispute broke out in Kodagu between Devappa and his uncle Lingaraj. Lingaraja sought help from Hyder Ali, who was eagerly waiting to promise his support. Lingaraja attacked Merkara, (presently known as Madikeri) the capital of Kodagu with Mysore Army. Devappa lost and forced to flee with his family, but he was shortly captured and murdered with his entire family by Hyder Ali. Lingaraja ascended the throne of Kodagu.

Unfortunately, Kodagu became leaderless when Lingaraja died in 1780. Lingaraja’s sons being minors, Kadagu fell into Hyder Ali’s hands. However, rebel of Kodavas took up arms and drove out all Mysore forces from their lands and proclaimed themselves independent in 1782. Meanwhile, Tipu Sultan assumed power in 1782, after his father Hyder Ali died in December 1782.

In 1785, Tipu Sultan, new ruler of Mysore, marched into Kadagu, but driven out by Kodava warriors. Tipu Sultan sent another army of 15,000 men, but were defeated by 4000 Kodavas at battle of Ulagulli. After Tipu Sultan’s army was defeated heroically several times by Kodava warriors, helpless Sultan committed treachery. He invited Kodavas on the pretext of making peace. That was when Kodavas made blunder of trusting Tipu Sultan’s words.

Unspeakable amount of brutal atrocities was committed on Kodavas. Women were mass raped and enslaved, even children were taken as prisoners, temples were destroyed, cows were slaughtered, villages, fields and orchards were burnt. Defenseless Kodavas were forcibly converted to Islam. As Tipu Sultan’s brutality depopulated Kodagu, Islamic zealot, Tipu tried to Islamize it with Muslim populations.
However, Kodavas refused to give up and continued to wage valiant guerilla warfare from hills and forests. Kodavas, who were leaderless rallied around charismatic 24 years old prince Vira Rajendra, who had escaped from jail with his family. Kodava under leadership of Vira Rajendra threw out Muslim armies of Tipu Sultan.

Tipu Sultan attacked Kodagu a number of times. But Kodava fought for every inch of their motherland like true warrior. Kodagu became independent of Mysore once again.

Statues of two elephants with mutilated trunks in Kodagu temple is testimony how Tipu Sultan unleashed brutality on Kodavas Photo courtesy: indianexpress.com

Kodava community has kept mark Tipu’s brutality alive. Statues of two elephants with mutilated trunks still stand in Kodava temple. Even today Kodavas oppose with all their might to Tipu Jayanti, which is nothing but appeasement by government in the name of secularism.

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  1. A few corrections in the article.
    1. Kodagu not Kadagu please.
    2. Kodavas worship their guns and implements too but they don’t keep their weapons “secret”, now it’s required by law to own a gun with a valid firearm licence only
    and no exceptions.
    Thank you


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