Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Great Mikkilineni and Pemmasani Rulers of Gandikota

Gandikota is a small village on the right bank of the river Pennar, 15 km from Jammalamadugu in Kadapa district, Andhra Pradesh.

Gandikota was one of the greatest forts of south India in its hay days and so were the kings who ruled the region. Years after its formation, Gandikota fort was ruled by the Mikkilineni dynasty of Bharadwaja gotra who belonged to a clan of Kamma lords. Kammas were kings belonging to the Solar, lunar and Haihaya clans of Kshatriyas and were said to be ferocious in nature. The kings of Gandikota were equally famous and said to be so powerful, that they could severe the heads of a horseman and the horse with a single stroke of the sword. The location of the fort and the security it offered attracted most of the enemy kings for conquering.

Raghunatha Swamy temple - Gandikota 

History of later Gandikota Kings:

In the year 1350 A.D. the Mikkilineni King Rama Naidu, who did not have sons, got his only daughter married to Pemmasani Kumara Thimma Naidu. Pemmasani Kumara Thimma Naidu was the son of Rama Naidu's brother-in-law and was the king of Bellamkonda in Guntur District. Rama Naidu then made Pemmasani Kumara Thimma Naidu as the ruler of Gandikota. Since then Gandikota was ruled by the Pemmasani rulers.

Gandikota now came into the hands of the Pemmasani rulers from the ancient Mikkilineni royal family. Raja Pemmasani Kumara Thimma Naidu was the first king of Pemmasani clan and during his period, few developmental activities took place. The original fort was strengthened and the new forts at Jammala Madugu, Vajrakarur, Kamalapuram, Tadipatri etc were also built. The forts built by Pemmasani Kumara Thimma Naidu were more lavish and striking that he was said to be contemporary form of the Vijayanagar king Bukkaraya. (I.e. around 1350 A.D.). Another member from the Naidu family, Dharma Naidu was the General of Proudha Deva Raya (or Devaraya II), the son of Vijaya Bukkaraya. Another Thimma Naidu defeated the Bahamani sultan Ahmed Shah in the battle of Kalubarige in 1420 A.D. There was yet another Thimma Naidu, during the times of Sri Krishna Deva Raya, who was a great warrior. He was well-versed in capturing the forts of Udayagiri, Addanki, Kondapalli, Rajahmundry and Cuttak.

Pemmasani Ramalinga Naidu who was appointed by Krishna Deva Raya as the supreme commander of the Vijayanagar army was the hero of the famous 'Battle of Raichur'. During this battle Ramalinga Naidu almost massacred the armies of Bahmani Sultans were had to retire from the battle. Ramalinga Naidu was said to be a very good-looking person and many poets of his era wrote poems in praise of him. Ramalinga Naidu was the man behind the construction of the famous Ramalingeswara temple in Tadipatri.

Next Naidu in the line was Bangaru Thimma Naidu who gave shelter to Aliya Rama Raya, the son-in-law of Krishna Deva Raya. Salakam Thimmayya dethroned Aliya Rama Raya and declared himself as the king with the help of the sultans. Bangaru Thimma Naidu defeated the combined armies of the Bahamanis and Salakam Thimmayya. Bangaru Thimma Naidu made Aliya Rama Raya as the king and gave him back the Vijayanagar throne. Thus, another valorous hero of Naidu clan became a folk hero and was entitled as 'Bangaru Thimma Raju'. 

After the fall of Vijayanagar Empire, the capital was shifted to Penukonda and Chandragiri was made the second capital. This second capital was constructed by Sri Ranga Raya with the support and guidance of Raja Bojja Thimma Naidu. 

Eventually, Raja Pemmasani Chinna Thimma Naidu was the last king of Gandikota. He was, entitled as "Vetaru Tuniyala Meti Vaziru" in which "Vetu" means the stroke of the sword, "Aru tuniyalu" is six pieces. It is said that Chinna Thimma Naidu was so powerful that in the battle he could cut off a horseman's head along with that of the horse with a single stroke of his sword, hence the title. After being ruled gloriously for centuries and despite holding on valiantly for many months, the fort went into the hands of Muslim invaders from Golconda in the 17th century. The Golconda armies attacked Gandikota around 1650 A.D., under the command of Mir Jumla. Mir Jumla failed to take the fort even after months of seize. Finally, with the advice of Podili Linganna, a Brahmin minister of Naidu's kingdom, Mir Jumla got Thimma Naidu poisoned and killed him. 

Years later, somewhere in 18th century, the Marathas became a menace to the people of Rayalaseema and Telangana. This made the people create stories like "Bala Nagamma Katha" that relieved them to a certain extent. The story was about Bala Nagamma, the princess of Gandikota who married the prince of Panagallu in Nalgonda. Bala Nagamma being kidnapped by a wicked Marathi 'mantrik', the hardships she suffered in his hands for many years, and finally a happy ending to the story by the marathi getting killed by Bala Nagamma's son, was the content of the story. 

This brought an end to one of the greatest episodes of Andhra history. But the legend of Gandikota and its valiant kings lived and breathed in the memories and tales of the people for many generations. 

A century later, this fort was conquered by Hyder Ali of Mysore and eventually went into the hands of the British.
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