Coorg and its stories
Tales of a hillock with a strange energy, the bounding Cauvery…
It is a story that dates back to the 17th century. A king on a hunting expedition came upon a hillock.
All of a sudden, his trusted companions, a pack of wild dogs, were retreating, chased by a hare. The king felt that there was a powerful energy in the hillock, which transformed a timid hare into a courageous beast.
He decided to build a mud wall garrison there and make it his capital. The king was Muduraja of the Haleri Dynasty and the place was called Muddu Raja Keri or Muddurakayray after him. Today, it is known as Madikeri or Mercara and it is located in Coorg.
Our visit to Coorg was on an impulse. The coffee estates, the dense forests and the meandering river and waterfalls lured us, but we discovered that there was more to Coorg than just coffee.
A heady mix of legends and myths, Coorg is steeped in mystery as the origin of the Kodavas is still unknown. The popular belief is that they are descendants of the Greeks who settled here after the invasion of India by Alexander the Great.
The river Cauvery originates here at Talacauvery and is worshipped by the locals and hence the name “Kodava”, which means blessed by the mother Cauvery. Kod means give and avva refers to mother Cauvery and the Kodavas call themselves the “children of Cauvery.”
In the Kaveri Purana, it is called the Matsyadesa. It is said that the history of Coorg was mainly deciphered through inscriptions. Several dynasties from the Gangas, Cholas, Hoysalas and Nayaks have left their stamp here. However, the Haleri kings reigned over Coorg for about 250 years.
A prince from Ikkeri founded the dynasty by defeating several chieftains and called himself Vira Raja and ruled from Haleri. It was Muduraja who shifted the capital to Madikeri and reigned for about 50 years. Bitter battles have been fought by Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan and the British to conquer Coorg.
The fort was eventually rebuilt in granite by Tipu Sultan, who renamed it Jaffarabad. It was recaptured by Haleri ruler Doddaveer Rajendra in the 18th century, and it later fell into the hands of the British. Today, the fort houses a temple, a chapel, a prison and a museum, where you can see hero stones or virakkals among other things.
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