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The Captivity of Kodavas at Seringapatam (written sometimes as Captivity of Coorgis at Seringapet) was the imprisonment of Kodava Hindus by Tippu Sultan, the ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore from 1785 onwards.

In 1783, the Kodavas erupted in revolt against Tippu Sultan and threw their forces out of Kodagu. In 1785, Tippu declared the Kodava of being guilty of polyandry.[1] He threatened the Kodavas that he would not revile or molest a single individual among them and instead make Ahmadis (Muslims) out of the whole of them, transplanting them from their homeland in the Coorg to Seringapatam.[2]

Tippu gave the task of implementing the orders to Runmust Khan, the Nawab of Kurool. This task was accomplished when in a surprise attack, the Kodavas were beseiged by the invading Muslim army. 500 were killed and over 40,000 Kodavas fled to the woods and concealed themselves in the mountains.[2] Thousands of Kodava Hindus were seized along with the Raja, Dodda Vira-Rajendra, and held them captive at Seringapatam. They were also subjected to forcible conversions to Islam, death, and torture. [1]

In Seringapatam, the young men were all forcibly circumcised and incorporated into the Ahmedy Corps, and were formed into eight Risalas or regiments.[2]

The actual number of Kodavas that were captured in the operation is unclear. The British administrator Mark Wilks gives it as 70,000, Historian Lewis Rice arrives at the figure of 85,000, while Mir Kirmani's score for the Kodagu campaign is 80,000 men, women and child prisoners.[2]

With Kodagu depopulated of it's original inhabitants, Tipu sought to Islamize it with Muslim settlements. To this end, he brought in 7,000 men from the Shaikh and Sayyid clans, along with their families. However, this attempt proved to be partly successful, as many of them were eventually slain or fled after Tipu lost Kodagu. The Kodagu capital of Madikeri was also renamed to Zafarabad.[2]

The Muslim descendants of the Kodavas who were forcibly converted into Islam, after Tipu Sultan's army on various forays into Kodagu had captured them and thrown them into the Seringapatam prison, called Kodava Mappilas.[3]

During the Mysore War of 1792, about 12,000 persons, including 5,000 Kodavas who were Muslim converts managed to escape. These Kodava Muslim converts remained Muslims as they could not be reconverted to Hinduism, even if they had so desired.[4] Their descendants, many of them now inter-married with the Malabar Mappilas and Tulu Bearys now constitute a very small population found in Kodagu. In spite of their change in faith, they maintained their original Kodava clan names and dress habits and speak Kodava takk, although now they do follow some Mappila-Beary customs also.

In 1788, Dodda Vira Rajendra, who had been taken prisoner, escaped and defeated Tippu and recovered his kingdom. In 1790 Dodda Vira Rajendra signed a treaty with the British, who promised to protect his kingdom against Tippu’s onslaught. In 1792 Kodagu became independent of Mysore once again. Eventually, the Kodavas backed the British troops and Tippu fell in the year 1799.[5]

See also



  • Cariappa, Ponnamma (1981). The Coorgs and their origins. The University of Michigan. p. 419.
  • Prabhu, Alan Machado (1999). Sarasvati's Children: A History of the Mangalorean Christians. I.J.A. Publications. p. 250. ISBN 9788186778258.
  • Ramaswamy, Harish (2007). Karnataka government and politics. Concept Publishing Company. p. 444. ISBN 9788180693977.
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