Madakari Nayaka and Hyder Ali: Fall of Chitradurga

Chitradurga, also known as Chitaldrug during the British rule, is a historical city in Karnataka that was ruled by local chieftains long before the Vijayanagara empire came into power. By the 1500s, it was largely dominated by Bedar (Valmiki) families who traced their origins to southern Andhra Pradesh. They gained the attention of the Vijayanagara rulers through various acts of bravery and courage. Matti Thimmanna Nayaka was appointed as the first Nayaka of Chitradurga by the Vijayanagar emperor Saluva Narasimha Raya.


After the fall of Vijayanagara in 1565, many of the Karnataka Palegars (Paleyagars) declared their independence, including Chitradurga, Madura, Mysore, Keladi, Tanjore and Gingee.

Thimmanna Nayaka's son Obanna, assumed independence and took the title of Madakari (meaning: rutting elephant) Nayaka. Madakari Nayaka V (r: 1754-1779) was the last and most powerful ruler of Chitradurga.

The Madakari Dynasty of Chitradurga came to an end when Nawab Hyder Ali Khan of Mysore (r: 1759-1782) defeated Madakari Nayaka V in 1779.

Siege of Chitradurga (1777-79):

The formidable hill fort of Chitradurga has seven circular walls one behind the other. It was first attacked by Hyder Ali in 1762. Madakari Nayaka was forced to make peace with Hyder (meaning: lion) and paid a tribute of four lakh rupees (according to Wilks, six lakhs including a fine). In 1763, Madakari Nayaka joined forces with Hyder to capture Bednore (also known as Ikkeri, Keladi, Canara and Nagar) from Rani Viramma.

The Nayaka also assisted Hyder in his campaigns against Bankapur and Peshwa Madhav Rao (r: 1761-1772) at Anavatti in 1763.

However, the Nayaka eventually betrayed Hyder and allied himself with the Marathas when Madhav Rao captured Nijagal in 1770.

In 1776, Madakari Nayaka came to Hyder's aid when he besieged Gooty and captured its ruler, Murari Rao Ghorpade. However, he allowed Shivaram Bhau, the nephew of Murari Rao, to escape from Madakasira to Pune via Chitradurga.

In early 1777, when Mysore was attacked jointly by the Marathas under Parashuram Bhau and the Nizam under Ibrahim Khan Dhoonsa, the Nayaka did not assist Hyder. According to Hydernama, it was the Nayaka himself who invited the two armies to invade Mysore.

Prejudiced by the Nayaka's conduct, Hyder appointed a news writer to closely monitor him. Unwilling to accept this, the Nayaka sent his vakil to the Pune court to persuade the Marathas to undertake a campaign against Mysore. The Marathas assured him that they would send an immense army to invade Mysore and permanently relieve him from Hyder's interference.

Meanwhile, Krishnappa of Rayadurga incited Hyder to attack Chitradurga. Hyder also secured the assistance of the chief of Harapanahalli. Prior to launching his attack, Hyder proposed that Madakari Nayaka surrender his capital and accept Mysore's service, along with an annual jagir of 50,000 rupees. However, this offer was ultimately rejected.

In July 1777, Hyder laid siege to the fort, that continued for three months. The Bedars valiantly defended the fort. Every Monday they would bravely venture into the trenches and return with a number of heads of Hyder's soldiers as offerings to the shrine of Kali, located within the fort.

As the siege prolonged without any success, Hyder proposed that if the Nayaka will pay thirteen lakh pagodas and promised his allegiance to him, he would forgive the latter's past conduct.

Receiving no assurance from the Marathas, the Nayaka was left with no choice but to make peace with Hyder and agree to pay the amount. He paid five lakhs and, for the rest, agreed to send his brother Parashuramappa as a hostage.

However, just as the Nayaka was about to accept the terms, news of the Marathas advancing from Pune to attack Hyder reached them. Hyder summoned the Nayaka to join forces with Mysore, who promised assistance but ultimately evaded it.

While Hyder was engaged with the Marathas, the Nayaka plundered Mysore territories, including Channagiri, Basavapattana, Santhebidanur and other places. Hyder dispatched his son Tipu to confront the Nayaka, who quickly retreated back to Chitradurga. Tipu closely pursued him and renewed the siege of the fort, eventually being joined by Hyder after successfully defeating the Marathas.

By this time, many of the Nayaka's followers and relatives had been killed or wounded. In one of the sallies, Madakari Nayaka and his brother Parashuramappa were both struck by bullets.

When the fort was about to surrender in early 1779, two detachments of Maratha forces advanced to provide relief to the Nayaka. However, Hyder's forces successfully routed them.



Chitradurga was finally captured by Hyder in March 1779. According to Rama Rao, 'The Musalman Jemadar of Chitradurga and other people in the chief's service who were disaffected towards him were bribed and on the plea of taking part in the Muharram festival the Musalman Jemadar came out and joined Hyder along with his followers.'

Hyder Ali appointed Shaikh Ayaz as the governor of Chitradurga. Madakari Nayaka and his family were taken as prisoners to Srirangapatna, where they eventually passed away. Hyder further sent 20,000 Bedars to Srirangapatna, and enlisted them in chela battalions. 

Following the fall of Srirangapatna in May 1799, Chitradurga remained a province of Mysore under the Wodeyars.


History of Mysore (1399-1799 A.D.): incorporating the latest epigraphical, literary and historical researches By C. Hayavadana Rao 

M.S. Putanna – Vobavva of Chitradurga, The Indian Heroes

Jhampanna Nayak's Kaifyat of Chitaldrug Palegars By R. Rama Rao

Encyclopaedia of the Folk Culture of Karnataka: Introductory articles