Although, Rājendranāme, a "royal" genealogy of the rulers of Coorg, written in 1808, makes no mention of the origin of the lineage, its reading by historian Lewis Rice led him to conclude that the princely line was established by a member of the Ikkeri Nayaka family.[58] Having moved south to the town of Haleri in northern Coorg in the disguise of a wandering Jangama monk, he soon began to attract followers; then, with their help, or their acquiescence, he took possession of the town, and in such manner came to rule the entire country.[58] (See Map 11.) According to the genealogy, the Coorg rajas ("little kings") who ruled from the mid-16th century to the mid-18th century were:
Rulers of Coorg from mid-16th century to mid-18th century[59]
Ruler Period of rule
Vira Raja Not known
Appaji Raja Not known
Mudu Raja 1633–1687
Dodda Virappa 1687–1738
Chikka Virappa 1738–1768
By the late 17th-century, the rajas of Coorg had created an "aggressive and independent" state,[35] which became known for its acts of "wanton cruelty" against enemies,[60] and for its "system of terror" directed at its citizens.[60] Muddu Raja, the Coorg ruler from 1633 to 1687, initially ruled from the town of Haleri, but later moved his capital to Mercara, which he fortified and where he build a palace in 1681.[61] Early during the rule of his successor, Dodda Virappa (1687–1736), the army of the neighboring kingdom of Mysore, under the orders of Wodeyar Chikka Devaraja, attacked and seized Piriyapatna, a territory which abutted Coorg (see Map 11), and which was then being ruled by a kinsman of Dodda Virappa.[61] Buoyed by the victory, the Mysore army soon attacked Coorg itself; however, it had advanced only a short distance, when, while camping overnight on the plain of Palupare, it was surprised by a Coorg ambush.[62] In the ensuing massacre, the Mysore army lost 15,000 men, and the survivors had to beat a hasty retreat.[62] For most of the next two decades, the western reaches of Mysore remained vulnerable to attacks by the Coorg army.[62] In the border district of Yelusavira, the Coorg and Mysore forces fought to a stalemate and, in the end, had to work out a tax sharing arrangement.[62]
In 1724, major hostilities resumed between Coorg and Mysore.[63] Changing his modus operandi from guerrilla skirmishes in the hilly Coorg jungle to open field warfare, Dodda Virappa, attacked the Mysore army in the plains.[63] Catching it off guard, he took in rapid succession six fortresses from Piriyapatna to Arkalgud.[63] The resulting loss of revenue, some 600,000 gold pagodas, was felt in Mysore, and several months later, in August or September 1724, a large army was sent from Seringapatam, the Mysore capital, to Coorg.[63] Upon the Mysore army's arrival in the western region, however, the Coorg forces, returning to guerrilla warfare, retreated into the woods.[64] Emboldened by the lack of resistance, the Mysore forces next mounted an attack on the Coorg hills.[64] There too, they met no resistance.[64] However, a few days into this invasion, the Mysore forces, recalling their ignominious ambush in the 1890s, panicked and retreated during the night.[64] Soon, the Coorg army was attacking the Mysore outposts again.[64] This pattern of back and forth was to continue until the Mysore army was recalled, a few months later, to Seringapatam, leaving the region again vulnerable to the periodic raids of the Coorg army.[64] According to historian Sanjay Subrahmanyam,
The entire episode yields a rare insight into one aspect of war in the 18th century: the (Coorg) forces, lacking cavalry, with a minimum of firearms, lost every major battle, but won the war by dint of two factors. First, the terrain, and the possibility of retreating periodically into the wooded hillside, favoured them, in contrast to their relatively clumsy opponents. Second, the Mysore army could never maintain a permanent presence in the region, given the fact that the Wodeyar kingdom had several open frontiers.[65]
More than a century earlier, Lewis Rice, had written:
Dodda Virappa evinced throughout his long and vigorous reign an unconquerable spirit, and though surrounded by powerful neighbours, neither the number nor the strength of this enemies seems to have relaxed his courage or damped his enterprise. He died in 1736, 78 years old. Two of his wives ascended the funeral pile with the dead body of the Raja.[66]
The ruler was succeeded by his grandson, Chikka Virappa, whose unremarkable rule lasted until 1768, when Coorg was conquered by Haidar Ali, the new sultan of Mysore.[66]


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