Vokkaligara Parishat of America (VPA)


Vokkaligas since the Time of Kempe Gowda

Prof. T. Ramesan
Professor of Mathematics & Former Principal of Central College
Bangalore University.

The Yelahankanadu (14 Kms. from Bangalore) Prabhus were Gowdas or tillers of the Land. They belonged to Gangatgar Vokkalu sect, the ancestors of which were migrants from Morasunadu near Kanjeepuram (16 miles from Bangalore on the Bangalore-Madras Hwy.). They used to speak Telugu. Fourth in succession from Rana Bhairave Gowda, founder of the dynasty of Avanti Nadu Prabhus and great grandson of Jaya Gowda, who

established separate dynasty, the famous Yelahanka Nadu Prabhus, Kempe Gowda I ruled for 46 years commencing his reign from 1513. Jaya Gowda accepted the sovergnity of the Vijayanagar emperor. There were the Gangadicara Gowdas of other parts of Karnataka. The name Gangadicara, which is derived from the word Gangawadi-kara, meaning the inhabitant of Gangawadi is a relic of Ganga Rule and has since survived in this part of Karnataka. However the MorasuVokkalu sect got assimilated with the other gowdas of Karnataka who are now called Vokkaligas.


Today the Vokkaliga community embraces within its fold the Morasu Vokkaligas, the Gangadicara Vokkaligas, Reddy Vokkaligas, Kunchitiga Vokkaligas, Hallikaru Vokkaligas and so on. Kempe Gowda was a great ruler, was concerned in the welfare of his subjects and spent lavishly in the construction of tanks, agraharas, temples and forts. The Vokkaligas rendered great service in the fields of agriculture, animal husbandry and soldiery. He conquered Sivaganga principality, 30 miles from Bangalore on Bangalore-Poona Hwy. Next he annexed Domlur which is on the road from Bangalore to Bangalore Airport. Within this vast forest area he erected a fort and built the Township of Bangalore in 1537.

Kempe Gowda next annexed Ulsoor and Hesaraghatta. Bangalore four main streets Chickpete and Doddapete leading to Ulsoor gate, Sondekoppa gate , Yelahanka gate and Anekal gate were laid. Kempe Gowda shifted his capital from Yelahanka to Bangalore. Emperor Achuta Raya granted Kempe Gowda the neighboring villages of Begur, Jigani, Varthur, Kengeri, Banavara and Kumbalgode, besides many other hamlets yielding a revenue of 30,000 varahas. Kempe Gowda built the cave temple of Gavi Gangadhareswara at Gavipur, the Bull Temple in Basavanagudi, the Kempambudhi Tank and Dharambudhi Tank. His successor Kempe Gowda II built the Ulsoor Tank, the Karanjee Tank, the Sampangi Tank, the Someswara Temple of Ulsoor, the famous four Kempe Gowda Towers and the Ranganatha Temple in Balapete, Bangalore.

There is an inscription dated 1628 in this Ranganatha Temple in Telugu. The English translation of this is “Be it well, When Rajadhi-Raja-Parameshwara Vira Pratapa Vira-Maha-Deva Maharaya seated in the Jewel throne was ruling the empire of the world: When of the Asannavakula, the Yelahanka Nadu Prabhu Kempanacharya-Gauni’s grandson Kempe Gowda’ 5 son, Immadi Kempegaunayya was ruling a peaceful kingdom in righteousness with the decline of the Vijayanagar empire, the eclipse of the rule of Yelahanka Nadu Prabhus took place at the dawn of the 17th century. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, Barrister Nagappa (Nagappa Block of Malleshwaram, Bangalore) was the first to go to England and become a Barrister-at-Law. His son Barrister Vijayadeva also went to England and was President of Vokkaligara Sangha in Bangalore.

Vokkaliga leaders Marappa and Muniswamappa from Ulsoor, Bangalore donated Rs. 50000,- in the beginning of the 20th century and founded the Vokkaligara Sangha and built the Vokkaligara Hostel in Bangalore. Vokkaliga leaders were in the forefront in the freedom movements launched in Karnataka. Sri. K.C.Reddy and Sri’. K. Hanumanthaiah prominent among them were the Presidents of Mysore Pradesh Congress and after freedom became the Chief Ministers of Mysore State. Sowcar Channaiah and Sri. Nagaiah Reddy also became Presidents of Mysore Pradesh Congress, Sri. Kadidal Manjappa another freedom fighter also became the Chief Minister of Mysore State for a period of (2) months until the reorganization of States till Mysore State became of part of Karnataka.

Many Vokkaligas have served Mysore State, Karnakata State and India as Legislators, Ministers, Members of Parliament, Union Ministers and Governors.

Kempe Gowdas of Bengalooru (Bangalore)

Dr. R. Narayana, Bangalore

The present Bangalore and Kolar Districts and their surrounding areas in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu were ruled by Vokkaliga Gowdas (Goudas) and Reddys as Generals (Dalavayis), Vassals, Nada Gowdas and Palegars under Cangas, Chalukyas, Nolambas, Rashtrakutas, Cholas, Hoysalas and Vijayanagar Emperors.The principalities and territories they ruled over are: Abbludu, Anekal, Avathi, Bairana-durga, Bengalooru, Chikkaballapura, Devanahalli, Doddaballapura, Gauribidanuru, Gudibande, Heb-Holavanahalli, Hosakote, Hulikaluru, Huliyurdurga, Jangamakote, Kolar, Koratagere, Kunigal, Magadi, Mulabagalu, Nandi, Ramapura (Ramagiri), Sarjapura, Savanadurga, Shiddlaghatta, Utridurga, Vadigenahalli (Vijayapura), Sugaturu, Yelahanka and many others in Karnataka; Berikai, Sulagiri etc. in Tamil Nadu; and Punganuru etc.in Andhra Pradesh. Amongst the rulers of these territories, the dynasties of the Avathinadu Prabhus, Yelahankanadu Prabhus, Magadi kings, and Hulikal Chiefs who ruled for a period of 600 years (from c 1200 to 1793), are highlighted here.


Ranabhaire Gowda
Karnataka State Gazetteer: Bangalore District: (1990), gives the following account of Ranabhaire Gowda’s family:

“Tradition described them as hailing from Tamil Nadu, Yenamanji Putturu near Kanchi and also as decendents of the founder of the Avathi Nadaprbhus. But the whole story that seven members of a family could establish seven separate dynasties cannot be accepted as historically true. They belonged to Morasu Vokkalu community. Morasunadu being mostly a part of present Bangalore District, having parts of Bangalore South, Hosakote and Anekal Taluk areas on the Western fringe of kolar District touching these Taluk and parts of Hosur and Denkanikote Taluks of Dharmapuri District in Tamil Nadu. Utturu in Yenamanji Nadu in present Mulabagal Taluk could be the place of their origin. It is likely that the family also spoke Jelugu as it was a popular literary medium in Vijayanagar times. But all the Morasu Vokkalus are Kannada speaking. Morasu Vokkalus are highly attached to the Bhairava at Seethibetta, Kolar taluk, not far away from Utturu.”

Tradition describes Ranabhaire Gowda as hailing from Yenamanji Putturu near Kanjeevaram (Kanchi of present Tamil Nadu1) in the middle of the fourteenth century. Ranabhaire Gowda was a wealthy farmer and the eldest of a family of seven brothers. He had three sons and a daughter, Doddamma, who was an exceptional beauty in the area. On hearing the beauty of the Gowda’s daughter, the local chieftain desired to make her his wife. The Gowda did not like the chieftain’s intention, as he was a man of humble origin and the Gowda was always proud of his pedigree. It struck Gowda that some evil repercussion would befall on his family at the hands of the chieftain if he did not consent for the marriage. He, therefore, thought it best to flee and settle somewhere beyond the jurisdiction of the chieftain. On a selected day, the Gowda and his family stowed away all their belongings into seven carts and sped Northwards throughout the night. When it was dawn the party had to cry a sudden halt, as before them the Palar river was flowing in full floods

Doddamma, the daughter offered her heartfelt prayer to the river Goddess and made an offering of her gold earrings to Her, beseeching Her aid for deliverance from the enemy. The river, as if its Goddess had heard the maiden’s prayers, began to subside and enabled the party to ford it without any trouble and reach the other bank safely. Scarcely had they reached the other bank the river again began to flow in full flood as before. Determined to get the prey, the chieftain and his men rushed forward as fast as they could and were able to sight the Gowda’s family. Though they reached the river, they had to hold back when confronted with the overflowing river and had to return disappointed.

The Gowda and his people went on until they reached the spot where the village Avathi now stands, about 40 Km from Bangalore, and settled there. One night there was heavy rain and the downpour washed away all the stacks of wood and hay. While trying to find out where they might have been washed away to, Gowda found a broom standing upright and half buried in the mud that could not be pulled out Getting curious, he got that area dug. Excavations revealed the existence of copper cauldrons filled with gold coins and an idol of God Gopalakrishna. The Gowda later had a dream of celestial blessings. Then he decided to form an independent principality and sought the permission of Vijayanagar Emperor to execute it. He built the Avathi town on the hill and a fort around it and began the rule of the country around it. A portion of the Avathi hill was selected for the new residence of the Gowda Chief. Numerous large stones arranged like cromelacks (megalithic tombs) and skeletons iron tools and pottery below them are said to be found between the Avathi hill and Koli Gudda

A fanciful episode is narrated about the origin of the name of Avathi. After Ranabhaire Gowda arrived at the present Avathi, his wife bore him a son. The Cradle of the child, Jaya Gowda, used to be hung on a branch of a Athimara’ (Ficus glomerata), when a cobra used to come up the tree and watch over the sleeping child with its hood spread. The Gowda one day saw the snake and the episode, which left an indelible impression on him. He therefore, named the town ‘Haavu hathi’ meaning “Snake’s ascent”, which has over a period became Avathi

With the enormous treasure he found, each one of the seven brothers and four sons of the Gowda went in different directions to found for himself an independent principality in Devanahalli, Chikkaballapura, Doddaballapura, Hosakote Sug-aturu, Gudibande etc. Those who stayed in Avathi were known as Avathinadu Prabhus

Yelahankanadu Prabhus

Jaya Gowda, the youngest son of Rana-bhaire Gowda, eventually established his principality in Yelahanka in 1418 AD. During the time of Gangas and Cholas, Yelahanka was called Ilaipakka and the Hoysalas called it Elahakka. Jaya Gowda extended this territory considerably and gained recognition by the Vijayanagar Emperor as the Chief of Yelahankanadu. He ruled for 25 years and died in c 1433 (c 1450) A D.

Jaya Gowda’s eldest son, Gidde Gowda succeeded his father and ruled for 10 years (c 1433-1443 A D). Kempananje Gowda (Kempa-nache Gowda) (c 1443-1513, c 1480-1510 AD) succeeded his father, Gidde Gowda. After a long reign of 70 years Kempananje Gowda was succeeded by this son Hiriya Kempe Gowda in c 1513 (c 1510 AD ), who became the most famous of all the Gowda Chiefs.

Kempe Gowda I: Founder of Bengalooru (Bangalore)

Hiriya Kempe Gowda (c 1513-1569, c 1510-1570 AD) is also called Kempe Gowda, Kempe Gowda I or Bengalooru Kempe Gowda. He showed remarkable qualities of leadership from his childhood. He had the burning desire to extend his Kingdom to provide a just rule over it and to work for the preservation of Hindu Dharma. He studied in a Gurukula type of school in Aivarukandapura (Aigondapura), a village near Hesaraghatta, for nine years.

The story goes that one day he went westward from Yelahanka with his Minister Veeranna and Advisor Gidde Gowda in search of game and arrived near a village called Shivasamudra (near Hesaraghatta) some 10 miles (16 Km) from Yelahanka. While relaxing under a tree he conceived the idea of building a suitable city which would be his future capital.The city he planned was to have a fort, a cantonment, tanks (water reservoirs), temples and people of all trades and professions to live in it.


He got the necessary Imperial permission of the Vijayanagar Emperor, Achyutharaya (Dasarahalli record dated 1532) and built the Bangalore fort and the town in 1537 A D. His capital was then transferred from Yelahanka to the new Bangalore.

On the site of the present Kodigehalli village towards the North-inward side of Hebbal tank, there was a small hamlet called “Hale Benga-looru” from where his mother and his wife hailed, Therefore he gave the name Bengalooru, to the new town.

There is another story about the origin of the name, Bengalooru The Hoysala king, Veera Ballala II, during one of his hunting trips in the area of present Bangalore lost his way and after hours of wandering reached a hut of an old woman. The humble woman offered cooked beans to the hungry king, which he gladly accepted and satisfied his hunger. The Prince named the place Benda-kaalu-Ooru (meaning “Boiled-Beans-Town”) and in the combined form Bendakalooru. In later usage it became Bengalooru and in the Anglicized form, Ban galore. The 9th century (890 A D) inscription found in Begur, near Bangalore, speaks of the existence of Bengalooru much before the Hoysalas came into history. Therefore, historically the story is not acceptable.

There is an incident of a great sacrifice while the Gowda was building the mud fort of Bangalore. After the fort was built and one of its gates was about to be fixed up, it so happened that the portion so laboriously built all day long, used to collapse during the night The event plunged Kempe Gowda in deep thought. Suggestions were not wanting to remedy the problem. One of them was that if a pregnant woman was offered as a sacrifice at the gate, it would stand. But Kempe Gowda did not agree for that or the offer of his daughter-in-law, who was in the family way, to get herself sacrificed. However, one night his daughter-in-law (Lakshmamma), stole to the fort gate with a sword in hand and praying to her Goddess that the good work of her father-in-law may prosper without any hindrance, she beheaded herself. In the morning the workers found the gate standing intact but they also discovered the immolated body of Lakshmamma with the destructive sword in hand. Kempe Gowda bemoaned her loss and eventually built a temple at Koramangala, a suburb of Bangalore, and installed in it the idol of the heroic Lakshmamma.

Kempe Gowda built eight gates for the fort with a moat surrounding it. Inside the fort two wide roads ran from North to South and East to West. The other roads were made parallel or perpendicular to them. It is said that at the auspicious moment fixed by the astrologer, Kempe Gowda harnessed the bullocks to the ploughs at the central Doddapete square, at the junction of Doddapete (Avenue Road) and Chikka pete, got the ground ploughed and worked the four main streets running in four directions. One ran from Halasoor (Ulsoor) Gate to Sondekoppa Road from East to West, and another from Yelahanka Gate to the Fort running from North to South. These roads are the present Nagarthapete and Chikka-pete; and Doddapete respectively. The streets and the Blocks were demarcated for the purpose they were meant, like for business or residences etc. Streets of Doddapete, Chikkapete, Nagartha-pete were for marketing of general merchandise; Aralepete (Cotton pet), Tharagupete, Akki pete, Ragipete, Balepete etc. were for marketing of commodities like cotton, grain, rice, ragi, and bangles respectively: kurubarapete, Kumbara-pete, Ganigarapete, Upparapete etc. were for trades and crafts, and residences of Kuruba, Kumbara, Ganiga, Uppara castes respectively and similar petes’ (Blocks). Halasoorpete, Manava-rthepete, Mutyalapete (Ballapurapete) etc. were meant for other groups of the society. The Agraharas were for the priests and learned classes. He got skilled artisans and craftsmen from the neighboring as well as far oft places and got them settled so that they could pursue their avocations.

Temples of Vinayaka and Anjaneya were built at the Northern Yelahanka Gate of the fort (near the present State Bank of Mysore). Dodda Basavannanagudi (The Bull Temple) and in its neighborhood, Dodda Vinayaka and Dodda Anjaneya and Veerabhadhra temples, were also built outside the fort on the Southern side. Gavi Gangadhareshwara temple in Gavipura was extended; Gangadhareshwara’s (Shiva) Ayudhas’ (Weapons), ‘Thrishula’, ‘Damaruga’ and the two ‘Suryapanas (large discs of Sun supported by pedestals) of about 15 feet high, were carved out of a solid rock. A phenomenon witnessed on ‘Makara Sankranthi’ Day (January 14 or 15) in Gangadhareshwara temple should be pointed out. The rays of the setting Sun enter the ‘Mukha Mantapa’ through the Western window, pass between the horns of the ‘Nandi” (Bull) and reach the ‘Shiva Linga’ located in the sanctum of the cave. Temples were endowed with substantial land grants, for the maintenance of daily ‘poojas’ and special ‘poojas’ on festival days.

Tanks were built for the water supply to the town, to the moat around the fort and for the irrigation of crops. Inside the fort, a big pond enclosed by masonry of dressed granite stones was dug and built (on the South-Western corner of the present Sri krishnarajendra Market). Dhar-mambudhi tank, which supplied water to the town (present Subhash Nagar, Bangalore Transport Service (BTS) and Karnataka State Road Transport Services (KSRTC) bus stands, in front of the city Railway Station), Kempambudhi tank (named after Ranabhaire Gowda’s family Goddess, Doddamma or Kempamma), in Gavi-pura Guttahalli (recently dried up) and Samp-igambudhi tank (named after one of the daughters-in-law: present Kanteerava Stadium), which were meant for irrigation, were also built. Irrigational facilities gave much impetus to agriculture and horticulture and also encouraged laying of gardens and raising groves of fruit crops.

Kempe Gowda enlarged his territories and exercised humanness and justice over his subjects. These various developments reached the ears of the Vijayanagar Emperors. They were pleased with his activities and in appreciation, they bestowed on him the villages of Halasooru (Ulsoor), Begur, Varthur, Jigani, Thalagattapura, Kumbalgodu, Kengeri and Banavara, which were yielding an annual revenue of 30,000 Pagodas (a gold coin of Rs 3.5 value).

During Kempe Gowda’s reign there was peace and prosperity in his kingdom. The people were contented and prosperous and carried on their avocations without any fear of frequent invasions. He set up his own Mint and struck Bhairava Nanyas (Pagodas or Varahas).

In the mid 16th century the Vijayanagar Emperors, who were well-disposed towards Kempe Gowda were dead and Sadashivaraya was on the throne. He was a weak Emperor and Aliya Ramaraya was all powerful. The neighboring palegar, Jagadevaraya of Channapattana, who had inherited the principality from his father-in-law, a penukonda ruler, was jealous of the prosperity of kempe Gowda and carried tales to the Vijayanagar Court. The minting of his own coins without the Emperor’s prior approval and the rise in power of Kempe Gowda reached Ramaraya, who got the Gowda summoned to appear before the Imperial Court. When the Gowda did so, he was imprisoned at Penukonda and his territories were confiscated. Gowda kept his courage and cool and gradually gained the confidence of the Emperor, who recognized the real merit of the Gowda and restored his territories. He was released after being imprisoned for five years.

After he returned from Vijayanagar, the Gowda devoted more time to spiritual and moral welfare of his people He visited Shivaganga, which is famous as Dakshina Kashi, and prayed to the deities, Gangadhara and Honnambike The temples were in the midst of inaccessible rocks and ascent was difficult He built steps leading to the temples and a hall, to the East of the temple, called even today as “kempe Gowdara Hajara” (Audience Hall) Ulsoor Someshwara temple was extended by building a ‘Navaranga’, ‘Mukha Mantapa’ and the main ‘Gopura’

One of his social reforms was to prohibit the custom of amputating the last two fingers of the left hand of the married women during “Bandi Devaru”, an important custom of Morasu Vokkaligas. Besides being a benevolent and just ruler, he was a patron of art and learning. He authored “Ganga-Gouri Sallapamu” an Yakshagana in Telugu, the official court language at that time

After the defeat in the Battle of Talikote in 1565, the Emperor Sadashivaraya and Thiruma-laraya moved to Penukonda. As they were weak rulers many Palegars became independent of the Vijayanagar Empire

It is worthy of Kempe Gowda that Ban galore, which he had the inspiration to found and the foresight to build at the Southern part of Vijayanagar Empire, has grown to vast proportions and blossomed into a modern Metropolis in today’s India

He ruled for about 56 years and died in c 1569 There is a metallic statue of Kempe Gowda posthumouslyinstalled(1609)in

Gangadhareshwara temple at Shivaganga and recently in 1964 another statue was erected in front of the Corporation offices in Bangalore According to some literary sources Bengalooru Kempe Gowda’s elder son, Gidde Gowda, succeeded his father and he ruled for 15 years (c 1570-1585) but no inscriptions have been found to corroborate this. After him Immadi kempe Gowda (Kempe Gowda II) came to power in 1585

Kempe Gowda II

Kempe Gowda II is credited with the erection of four towers (Shikharas) at the four corners of Bangalore (Bangalore copper plate 1597), which are said to be the limit to which Bangalore would extend. The towers exist even today and they are located at Rajamahal Vilas Extension in the North, near Ulsoor tank in the East, inside Lalbagh Botanical Gardens in the South (this tower was shifted and reconstructed recently to face the Double Road or kengal Hanumanthaiah Road), and between Gavi Gangadhareshwara temple and Kempambudhi tank in the West.

He built a tank Karanji Kere’ South of the town to supply water to the fort. He also built the Kempapura Agrahara tank (adjacent to the Binny Mills) in the name of Gidde Gowda, and the Agrahara (in 1597) below it, adjacent to the Government Leprousorium Hospital on Magadi Road.

The achcut, land below the tank, was donated to 48 scholars of whom one was a Vokkaliga called Veeresha. This tank is dried up now in the last 15 years and the tank bund and the road on it, between Binny Mills and Bangalore-Mysore Railway line, are only existing. The filled-tank bed is built up with Agricultural Produce Marketing Corporation yard and godowns etc, and other buildings. The achcut area has become the regular township contiguous with the old


This achcut area of about 40 acres was owned by the author’s father-in-law of ‘Agrahar family’ until 1980s. The best ‘Gundu Mailige Moggu’ (Jasmine flower buds) of Bangalore came from these gardens which were used for the decoration of ‘Bengaiooru Karaga’ and Ulsoor ‘Pallakki’.

He is also associated with the construction of the Ulsoor tank, the only surviving tank built by Gowda kings in Bangalore area. There is evidence to show that Kempe Gowda II built an Agrahara at Aigandapura and donated it to the Brahmins in 1605. He improved Ulsoor Someshwara temple, and completed the works started by kempe Gowda I. He extended the temple by building seven ‘Praakaras’ (walls) around the sanctum sanctorum with a separate temple within each ‘Praakara’. He invited ‘Shilpis’ (stone carvers) from the family of Jakanachari of BelurlHalebidu-temple-fame and got the sculptures of the marriage scenes of Shiva-Parvathi, called ‘Girija kalyana’, carved on ‘Praakara’ of Mangala Kamakshi temple in 1605. In the front Praakara of Someshwara temple, two sculptures of a man with a staff and a blanket hanging from his head have also been carved in the left and right ends of the lower tier. They are said to represent the Ruler himself. The images chiseled in this form show the humility of the king before God and his subjects.

Savanadurga and Magadi were ruled by the representative (Viceroy) of the Penukonda kings. The last viceroy was Samji Raya, who died without any successor After his death, Talavara Ganga Nayaka of Gudemaranahalli took over the forts of Savanadurga and Magadi. At the request of the Penukonda Emperor, Kempe Gowda II conquered Savanadurga and Magadi and added them to the territories of Bengalooru.

When Magadi was under Cholas, they built a town there called Thirumalai in 1139 AD. Hoysalas succeeded Cholas and the place eventually became a part of Vijayanagar Empire till the Gowda Chiefs became its masters. Kempe Gowda II built a palace, a mud fort, and Someshwara temple on the western side of the town. He constructed ‘Vyasarayasamudra’ tank in 1627 A D and gave it away as a gift to Vyasarayaswamy Mutt. Ranganatha temple on Thirumalai is famous as ‘Paschima’ Thirupathi Savanadurga or Samantharayanadurga, meaning “the hill fortress of a tributary chief”, and known earlier as Magadi Hill, is situated to the South-West of Magadi. It is on a hill consisting of two peaks, one called as ‘kari Betta’ (Black hill) and the other ‘Bili Betta’ (White hill) and the highest point of the hill is about 4,000 feet. South of the hill is the temple of Veerabhadhra (Shiva), to the East of this temple is the Narasimha (Vishnu) temple. Kempe Gowda built a town around this temple and called it as Nelapattana, which is in ruins now. Literary sources (Veerabhadhra Vijayam) say that he defeated Sreerangaraya (Viceroy of Vijayanagar) of Sreerangapattana and brought back horses and elephants from him The king used to have this residences in Savanadurga, Magadi and Nelapattana. He died at a ripe age in c 1658 (c 1631). A literary source of Yelahankanadu Prabhus, ‘kempe Gowda Jayastuti (Jaya Prashasti)’~, a poetical in kannada by Gangesha (Nanjundeshappaiah) eulogizes Kempe Gowda II and gives the history of the dynasty.

After the fall of Vijayanagar Empire, the Bahmani kings of Deccan had become powerful and were waiting to invade South India. Some misunderstanding arose between Kempe Gowda II and the Chief of Sumakee Bagoor, who with a desire to take revenge on his enemy, sought the assistance of Ah Adil Shah, Nawab of Bijapur. The Nawab sent his general, Ranadhulla khan, down South in 1637 A.D.. The general defeated Kempe Gowda II in 1638 and took him prisoner and released him after the latter agreed to pay royalty. Kempe Gowda II moved his Capital to Magadi in 1638 A D and ruled over his territories including Bangalore for the next 18 years. From then onwards Kempe Gowda II became Magadi Kempe Gowda and the rulers after him came to be known as Magadi rulers. However, and in some popular and literary writing Hiriya kempe Gowda of Bangalore has also been incorrectly called Magadi Kempe Gowda

Kempe Gowda III & Successors

Kempe Gowda II was succeeded by Mummadi Kempe Gowda (kempe Gowda Ill) and he is also known as “Male Kemparaya” (“rain-bringer-Kempe Gowda”). It is said that during a period of drought, he prayed God to bless his country with rain. The very next day there was a downpour which relieved the farmers of their distress Mummadi kempe Gowda ruled from c 1658 to 1678 AD.
His son Dodda Veerappa Gowda succeeded him and ruled from c 1678-1705 A D. After him came his son Kempaveerappa Gowda, who assumed the name of his grandfather Mummadi Kempe Gowda (kempe Gowda Ill) (c 1705-1728 A D ) and was the last king of Magadi Chiefs. A lalukuppe record (1667) speaks of Kempa-Veerappa Gowda building a Matha at Kashi and granting Aralukuppe village for the maintenance of the matha. He also built Kempasagara tank and created irrigation facilities by constructing 3 outlets from the tank bund.The Marathas, the Sira Nawabs (Vassals of Bijapur kings) and the Mysore kings had an eye on the Magadi Country.Kempaveerappa Gowda strengthened his position by expanding the town of Nelapattana which was considered an impregnable fortress. The town ran East to West over 5 miles (8 km) stretch, North to South to a width of about 2 miles (3 2 km) and had three forts around the town and two more on the hill. On the hill were armories, powder magazines, granaries, strong rooms and audience halls. All the valuable treasures of the Chiefs were on the hill.


It is said that the king’s partiality towards the followers of Shaivism, because of his concubine’s (Bhagavathi) influence, created ill will between the king and his nobles. Mysore king, Dodda Krishnadevaraja’s General (Dalavayi), Deva-rajayya, who was waiting for an opportune time attacked Nelapattana. The Mysore army made a breach in the outer fort at Chennaraya gate and entered Nelapattana. The Magadi General, Veerabhadhra Nayaka, was taken prisoner Mummadi kempaveerappa Gowda was also captured and sent to Sreerangapattana. The Savanadurga hill fortress was also captured and the treasures confiscated The Magadi country was annexed to Mysore Kingdom in 1728.

Under the patronage of Kempaveerappa Gowda ‘Veerabhadra Vijayam’ was composed by Ekambara Dikshit in Sanskrit. It gives information about this Chief and the genealogy of his dynasty. It also describes the chariot festival of Veera-bhadhra, the family deity, and the fight between Kempe Gowda Ill and Shahji Bhosle (father of Shivaji). He made a grant of Uddurlahalli to Gavi Gangadhareshwara of Shivaganga in 1713 and a donation of Jettanahalli and Shirupathihalli villages to Magadi Someshwara temple.

A palm leaf manuscript of six leaves, written in kannada and Telugu (now in karnataka State Archives), also gives the genealogy of the Magadi Chiefs with a brief account of the achievements of each. A signed letter of Mummadi kempa-veerappa Gowda (also in Archives) written from the prison in Sreerangapattana (about 1728 A D) to his collateral kinsman Muddu Krishnaraja Gowda, the then Chief of Hulikal, makes interesting reading.

“Our blessings to you. We are all well at Sreerangapattana up to the tenth lunar day of the dark half (Krishna paksha) of the month of Phalguna. Be writing to us of your welfare We are subjected to this misfortune by the will of God Somanatha We are not keeping good health at present, and there is no likelihood of our recovrey. The probability is that we will not survive. You are the only heir to our family and there is none else. We send you through Soma, our Royal arms and head ornament You must act wisely and be enquiring of our health every now and then; and when we are no more, you must have our obsequies duly performed. Soma will tell you personally of other matters which ought not to be committed to writing. Do not forget what we have told you. You must send here some of your trusted men” – Kempayya

Hulikal Chiefs

During the time of Kempe Gowda II, there arose a misunderstanding between his two sons, Kempe Gowda III and Honnappa Gowda. Kempe Gowda divided his kingdom between his two sons giving Honnappa Gowda Hulikal and adjoining areas and the remainder to Kempe Gowda III. The collateral line of the Magadi Chiefs started ruling from Hulikal. Honnappa Gowda, the son of Kempe Gowda II, began his independent rule in 1634 A D and ruled 38 years. The Gowda died in 1672 A.D.
The next Chief was Ankanna Gowda, who improved Hulikal, built a fort and a palace there and made arrangements for the conduct of daily worship at Sukapuri. He ruled for 18 years.

Ginyappa Gowda succeeded his father Ankanna Gowda in 1690. This chief ruled for 28 years and died in 1718 A D. He was succeeded by his son Muddappa Gowda, who was a noted horseman. Mysore king Dodda Krishnaraja Wodeyar, invited him to Mysore, where he exhibited his feats of horsemanship before him. He bestowed on him the appellation of “Muddu Krishnaraja Gowda” and made him a gift of horses and elephants. During this Chief’s time most of the Hulikal Country was annexed to Mysore kingdom and for the remaining territory he was made to pay a tribute of 500 pagodas. The Gowda died in 1761 AD.Muddappa Gowda, son of Muddu Krishnaraja Gowda, became the next and the last Chief. During his time, Haider Ali enhanced the tribute to 1,000 pagodas. This arrangement ended when Tippu Sultan in 1793 A D annexed the Hulikal Country to the Mysore territories.


Dewan Poornayya (the Prime Minister of Tippu Sultan and later of Mysore kings) in 1804 granted lands to Muddappa Gowda that had a revenue value of 24 Pagodas. The grant continued to his son Ginyappa Gowda and to his descendents up to Chikkappayya.

These achievements of about six hundred years rule of a Vokkaliga Dynasty are worthy of their stock. They were outstanding rulers, great builders and patrons of learning. Their devotion to God has left great number of monuments and temples and their interest in agriculture has produced a system of tanks for irrigation, which is unique in India.