Wednesday 16 January 2013

The Emperor who lost all his hair

He is the only bald king to have ruled over the Mysore Kingdom. He is also perhaps the only King who had lost all his hair when lightning struck him when he was going to a temple.
Even today, several centuries after he lost his hair, he is still recognised as Bola or  the bald King.
He reigned for just four years.Yet, he was instrumental in establishing a Kingdom. He is also responsible for the construction of a temple in Mysore.  Yet, this ruler today is better known for the loss of his hair than any of his exploits.
This “hairy”  story is that of  King Bola Chamaraja IV of Mysore. He is important in the history of Karnataka as he is the first ruler of the Wodeyar dynasty of Mysore to withhold payment of tributes or Kanike to the Vijayanagars.
The Wodeyars till the time of  Bola Chamaraja Wodeyar were vassals of  Vijayanagar. The bald king withheld tributes which had to be paid to the Viceroy of Vijayanagar stationed at Srirangapatna.
There is an interesting story about how the King lost his hair.
The then Wodeyar Kingdom included Chamundi Hills, which is situated in Mysore. It was the custom of the Wodeyars right from the time of its founder, Yaduraya, to visit the Chamundi Temple and pray before Goddess Chamundi.    
Bola Chamaraja Wodeyar (he was born on July 25, 1507) one day decided to pay a visit to Chamundi Hills. Till then, it had always been the custom among the Wodeyars to first visit Chamundi and then go to other shrines.
On that day, for reasons best known to him, the King first visited the Mahabaleshwara temple atop the Chamundi Hills.
The Mahabaleshwara temple is located  near the Chamundeshwari temple and it is among the earliest known structures of the Hills. It is also called Mahabalagiri after the deity Mahabala. In fact, the area was earlier known as Mahabali Hills 
Raja Bola Chamaraja Wodeyar (1572-76)  entered  the Mahabala temple without first offering  customary poojas to Goddess Chamundeshwari. Consequently, the king was struck by lightening. The King lost his hair but survived the lightning attack.  The “hairy episode”, it is believed, is what converted generations of Mysore rulers into staunch devotees of  their family deity Chamundeshwari. As far as Bola Chamaraja Wodeyar was concerned, he became an ardent devotee of Chamundeshwari and visited the temple often thanking the Goddess for saving his life.
There is another legend about Bola Wodeyar and his hair. It is believed that he had gone hunting in the forests of Chamundi Hills when lightning stuck. He lost all his hair but managed to survive.
Bola Chamaraja Wodeyar was the son of Hiriya Bettada Chamaraja Wodeyar. He was a contemporary of the Vijayanagar Emperor, Sriranga Deva Raya, the first. After Bola Chamaraja Wodeyar, the son of his elder brother, Bettada Wodeyar (AD 1576-78), came to power.  
Bola Chamaraja built the Trineshwara temple in Mysore and also drained the Cholagere tank in Mysore town.
His full name is Maha Mandalaswara Birudu Antembara Ganda Raja Sri Hiriya Bola Chamaraja Wodeyar IV, Raja of Mysore and paramount ruler of the Wodeyar territories. If you think this is a mouthful how about the full name of Kanteerava Narasaraja Wodeyar, perhaps the greatest Wodeyar Emperor. His full name: Maha Mandalaswara Birudantembara Ganda Karnataka Charawara Andhra Bala Sanga Karikula Aryandhra Nripa Garva Parvata Kulisayudha Tirumala Nayaka Chaturangabala Vallari Lavitra Parabala Meghanila Ripuraya Nikara Sarabha Bherunda Samastorvisa Makuta Manigana Ranjeeta Pada Padma Sanagara Vijaya Vadhutisa Kote Kolahala Raja Sri Randhira Kantirava Narasaraja Wodeyar I, Raja of Mysore. 
Coming back to Bola Chamaraja Wodeyar-It was his son Raja Wodeyar who tried to molest Alamelu, the wife of  a Vijayanagar Viceroy,  and ended up being cursed by her. The curse continues even today. Raja Wodeyar was his son from marriage to Kempa Ammani of Bilikere.
Bola Wodeyar died on November 9, 1576, the one and only bald king of Mysore. However he left behind a bouquet of  rituals and riches to the Chamundi which subsequent Emperors diligently followed.

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