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PROFILE OF MYSORE


Historical context

Mysore is a city in the Indian state of Karnataka and the administrative seat of Mysore District, one of the largest districts in Karnataka. It was the capital of the former Kingdom of Mysore, with whose history its own is closely linked. References from the times of Mahabharata and Asoka refer to Mahisha Nadu or Mahisha Mandala. References can also be found in Tamil literature about Ezimahi Nadu. The earliest documented evidence of the town is in the form of stone carvings (saasanas) found in villages around Mysore, inscribed around 1021 AD. From 1499 the name Mahisūru has been recorded in inscriptions. By way of literary flourish, it is also spelt as Mahisurapura. The name of Mahishur or its anglicized form "Mysore" is described as derived from Mahishasura, the buffalo-headed monster that lived in this area and was killed by the goddess Chamundi. A temple was built in honour of the deity on what came to be known Chamundi Hill. Until 1610, when Srirangapatnam was acquired, Mysore was the centre of administration. It became the capital of the Kingdom of Mysore after the death of Tipu Sultan in 1799.

The Gangas, Cholas, Hoysalas and Vijayanagara kings ruled over Mysore. Before the rise of the Gangas in the 10th century there is little historical evidence relating to Mysore. However the area might have been under the Pallavas for a few decades. The Gangas established their supremacy in the second century AD and ruled over a large part of Mysore until about the 10th century. Sometime between the third and fifth centuries they established their capital at Talakad, on the banks of the River Cauvery. The Punnata area, in modern Heggadadevanakote region, was under the Punnata rulers between the fourth and sixth centuries, until its merger with the Ganga territory. The Cholas succeeded in capturing Talakad and overthrowing the Gangas. The whole region south of the River Cauvery from Kodagu and east of a line from near Shrirangapattana to Nandidurga was overrun by the Cholas, and the area was under their rule for over 100 years.

The Hoysalas gained greater power after 1111 under Vishnuvardhana and drove the Cholas out of Mysore. The Hoysalas are known for the beautiful temples they built during their reign. It is said that they built or expanded the existing temples in Mysore and on the Chamundi Hills. There is an inscription in Mysore by the Hoysalas that dates back to the 11th or 12th centuries. After the decline of the Hoysalas, Vijayanagar sovereigns became paramount throughout the south. Under the Hoysalas and the Vijayanagar rulers, chieftains like the Changalvas and the Ummattur chiefs ruled over different parts of present Mysore district. During the latter part of Vijayanagar rule, the number of such feudatories increased. Among these, the Wodeyars of Mysore came to have complete control over the region.

Raja Wodeyars made Shrirangapattana his capital in 1610. The Mysore Kingdom comprised the Mysore, Mandya and parts of Hassan district in 1617. It further expanded under Kapthirava Narasaraja, Chikkadevaraja, Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan.

In 1800, the capital shifted to Mysore again after the fall of Tipu when Krishnaraja Wodeyar III became the ruler. During the reign of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III Mysore expanded and developed into a planned city. It became famous for its wide roads, magnificent buildings and elegant parks, which left an indelible impression on the cultural legacy of the city. During his reign from 1811 to 1831, the entire kingdom was divided into six foujdaris, and the present Mysore district formed part of the Ashtagram foujdari. In 1831, the British took over the administration of the Mysore territory and a Commissioner was appointed to govern the territory of the Raja. The Commissioners' rule of Mysore continued for fifty years (1831 to 1881), after which the Mysore territory was handed back to the Mysore Wodeyars. Under the suzerainty of the British Empire, the Wodeyars of Mysore ruled over the Mysore kingdom until India’s independence in 1947, when Mysore acceded to the Indian Union.