A Revised and Enlarged Account of the Bobbili Zemindari/The Founder of The Samasthanam/VI. Rajah Gopala Kristna Ranga-Rao Bahadur Garu

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VI.
Rajah Gopala Kristna Ranga-Rao Bahadur Garu.

Rajah Rayadappa Ranga-Rao adopted Rajah Gopala Kristna Ranga-Rao, the eldest son of Ravu Gopala Rao. The second son was Vengala Ranga-Rao. Gopal Rao is said to have been a lineal descendant of the Bobbili family, but from whom this line has sprung is not clearly known. It was in this reign that the memorable attack on the Bobbili Fort by Rajah Pedda Viziaramaraz of Vizianagaram, assisted by the French under Bussy, was made in 1758. The following account of the attack on Bobbili Fort, and of the circumstances which led to it, is extracted from " Orme's History of the Indostan" (Vol II., pages 254— 260) :-

"The first in rank of these Polygars, who all call themselves Rajahs, was Rangarao of Bobilee : the fort of this name stands close to the mountains about 140 miles N.E. of Vizagapatam ; the districts are about twenty square miles. There had long been a deadly hatred between this Polygar and Vizeramrauze, whose person, how much soever he feared his power, Rangarao held in the utmost contempt, as of low extraction, and of new note. Districts belonging to Vizeramrauze adjoined to those of Bobilee, whose people diverted the water of the rivulets, and made depredations, which Vizeramrauze, for want of better military means, and from the nature of Rangarao's country, could not retaliate. Vizeramrauze used his utmost influence and arguments to persuade Mr. Bussy of the necessity of removing this neighbour; and Mr. Bussy proposed that he should quit his hereditary ground of Bobilee, in exchange for other lands of greater extent and value, in another part of the province; but Rangarao treated the proposal as an insult. Soon after, it became necessary, to send a detachment of sepoys to some districts at a distance, to which the shortest road lay through some part of the woods of Bobilee : permission was obtained ; but, either by some contrivance of Vizeramrauze, or the pre-determination of Rangarao, the detachment was sharply attacked and obliged to retire with the loss of 30 sepoys killed and more wounded. Vizeramrauze improved this moment of indignation; and Mr. Bussy, not foreseeing the terrible event to which he was proceeding, determined to reduce the whole country, and to expel the Polygar and all his family.

"The Province of Chicacole has few extensive plains, and its hills increase in frequency and magnitude as they approach the vast range of mountains that bound this and the Province of Rajahmundrum to the N. W. The hills and the narrower bottoms which separate them are suffered to overrun with wood, as the best protection to the opener valleys allotted for cultivation. The Polygar, besides his other towns and forts, has always one situated in the most difficult part of his country, which is intended as the last refuge for himself and all of his own blood. The singular construction of this fort is adequate to all the intentions of defence amongst a people unused to cannon, or other means of battery. Its outline is a regular square, which rarely exceeds 200 yards; a large round tower is raised at each of the angles, and a square projection in the middle of each of the sides. The height of the wall is 22 feet, but of the rampart within only 12, which is likewise its breadth at top, although it is laid much broader at bottom; the whole is of tempered clay, raised in distinct layers, of which each is left exposed to the sun, until thoroughly hardened, before the next is applied. The parapet rises 10 feet above the rampart, and is only three feet thick. It is indented five feet down from the top in interstices six inches wide, which are three or four feet asunder. A foot above the bottom of these interstices and battlements runs a line of round holes, another two feet lower, and a third within 2 feet of the rampart. These holes are, as usual, formed with pipes of baked clay : they serve for the employment of firearms, arrows, and lances; and the interstices for the freer use of all these arms, instead of loop-holes, which cannot be inserted or cut in the clay. The towers, and the square projections in the middle, have the same parapet as the rest of the wall; and in two of the projections on opposite sides of the fort are gateways, of which the entrance is not in the front, but on one side, from whence it continues through half the mass, and then turns by a right angle into the place; and, on any alarm, the whole passage is choked up with trees, and the outside surrounded to some distance with a thick bed of strong brambles. The rampart and parapet is covered by a shed of strong thatch supported by posts; the eaves of this shed project over the battlements, but fall so near that a man can scarcely squeeze his body between. This shed is shelter both to the rampart and guards against the sun and rain. An area of 500 yards, or more, in every direction round the fort, is preserved clear, of which the circumference joins the high wood, which is kept thick, three, four, or five miles in breadth around this centre. Few of these forts permit more than one path through the wood. The entrance of the path from without is defended by a wall, exactly similar in construction and strength to one of the sides of the fort, having its round towers at the ends, and the square projection with its gateway in the middle. From natural sagacity they never raise this redoubt on the edge of the wood ; but at the bottom of a recess, cleared on purpose, and on each side of the recess, raise breastworks of earth or hedge, to gall the approach. The path admits only three men abreast, winds continually; is everywhere commanded by breastworks in the thicket, and has in its course several redoubts, similar to that of the entrance, and like that flanked by breastworks on each hand. Such were the defences of Bobilee, against which Mr. Bussy marched with 750 Europeans, of whom 250 were horse, four field pieces, and 11,000 peons and sepoys, the army of Vizeramrauze, who commanded them in person.

"Whilst the field-pieces plied the parapet of the first redoubt at the entrance of the wood, detachments entered into the side of the recess with fire and hatchet, and began to make a way, which tended to bring them in the rear of the redoubt; and the guard, as soon as convinced of their danger, abandoned their station and joined those in the posts behind; the same operations continued through the whole path, which was five miles in length, and with the same success, although not without loss. When in sight of the fort, Mr. Bussy divided his troops into four divisions, allotting one, with the field-piece, to the attack of each of the towers. Ranga Row was here, with all his parentage, 250*[1] men bearing arms, and nearly twice this number of women and children.

"The attack commenced at daybreak, on the 24th of January, with the field-pieces against the four towers ; and the defenders, lest fire might catch the thatch of the rampart, had pulled it down. By nine o'clock, several of the battlements were broken, when all the leading parties of the tour divisions advanced at the same time, with scaling ladders; but after much endeavour for an hour, not a man had been able to get over the parapet; and many had fallen wounded; other parties followed with as little success, until all were so fatigued that a cessation was ordered, during which the field-pieces, having beaten down more of the parapet, gave the second attack more advantage; but the ardour of the defence increased with the danger. The garrison fought with the indignant ferocity of wild beasts, defending their dens and families : several of them stood, as in defiance on the top of the battlements, and endeavoured to grapple with the first ascendants, hoping with them to twist the ladders down; and this failing, stabbed with their lances, but being wholly exposed themselves, were easily shot by aim from the rear of the escalade. The assailants admired, for no Europeans had ever seen such excess of courage in the natives of Indostan, and continually offered quarter, which was always answered by the menace and intention of death : not a man had gained the rampart at two o'clock in the afternoon, when another cessation of the attack ensued; on which Ranga Row assembled the principal men, told them there was no hope of maintaining the fort, and that it was immediately necessary to preserve their wives and children from the violation of the Europeans, and the more ignominious authority of Vizeramrauze. A number called without distinction were allotted to the work; they proceeded, every man with a torch, his lance, and poignard, to the habitations in the middle of the fort, to which they set fire indiscriminately, plying the flame with straw prepared with pitch and brimstone, and every man stabbed, without remorse, the woman or child, whichsoever attempted to escape the flame and suffocation Not the helpless infant, clinging to the bosom of its mother, saved the life of either from the hand of the husband and father. The utmost excesses, whether of revenge or rage, were exceeded by the atrocious prejudices which dictated and performed this horrible sacrifice. The massacre being finished, those who accomplished it returned, like men agitated by the furies, to die themselves on the walls. Mr. Law, who commanded one of the divisions, observed, whilst looking at the conflagration, that the number of the defenders was considerably diminished, and advanced again to the attack : after several ladders had failed, a few grenadiers got over the parapet, and maintained their footing in the tower until more secured the possession. Ranga Row hastening to the defence of the tower, was in this instant killed by a musket-ball. His fall increased, if possible, the desperation of his friends; who, crowding to revenge his death, left the other parts of the ramparts bare; and the other divisions of the French troops, having advanced likewise to their respective attacks, numbers on all sides got over the parapet without opposition Nevertheless, none of the defenders quitted the rampart, or would accept quarter ; but each fell advancing against, or struggling with, an antagonist ; and even when fallen, and in the last agony, would resign his poignard only to death. The slaughter of the conflict being completed, another much more dreadful presented itself in the area below : the transport of victory lost all its joy : all gazed on one another with silent astonishment and remorse, and the fiercest could not refuse a tear to the deplorable destruction spread before them. Whilst contemplating it, an old man leading a boy was perceived advancing from a distant recess : he was welcomed with much attention and respect, and conducted by the crowd to Mr. Law, to whom he presented the child with these words : 'This is the son of Ranga Row, whom I have preserved against his father's will.' Another emotion now succeeded, and the preservation of this infant was felt by all as some alleviation to the horrible catastrophe of which they had been the unfortunate authors. The tutor and the child were immediately sent to Mr. Bussy, who, having heard of the condition of the fort, would not go into it, but remained in his tent, where he received the sacred captives with the humanity of a guardian appointed by the strongest claims of nature, and immediately commanded patents to be prepared, appointing the son lord of the territory which he had offered the father in exchange for the districts of Bobilee; and ordered them to be strictly guarded in the camp from the malevolence of enemies.

"The ensuing night and the two succeeding days passed in the usual attentions, especially the care of the wounded, who were many ; but in the middle of the third night, the camp was alarmed by a tumult in the quarter of Vizeramrauze. Four of the soldiers of Ranga Row, on seeing him fall, concealed themselves in an unfrequented part of the fort until the night was far advanced, when they dropped down the walls, and speaking the same language, passed unsuspected through the quarters of Vizeramrauze, and gained the neighbouring thickets; where they remained the two succeeding days, watching until the bustle of the camp had subsided ; when two of them quitted their retreat, and having by their language again deceived those by whom they were questioned, got near the tent of Vizeramrauze; then creep- ing on the ground they passed under the back part, and entering the tent found him lying on his bed, alone, and asleep. Vizeramrauze was extremely corpulent, insomuch that he could scarcely rear himself from his seat without assistance : the two men, restraining their very breath, struck in the same instant with their poignards at his heart; the first groan brought in a sentinel, who fired, but missed ; more immediately thronged in, but the murderers, heedless of themselves, cried out, pointing to the body, 'Look here! we are satisfied.' They were instantly shot by the crowd, and mangled after they had fallen ; but had stabbed Vizeramrauze in 32 places. Had they failed, the other two remaining in the forest were bound by the same oath to perform the deed, or perish in the attempt."

One of the two who stabbed Viziaramaraz was a Sirdar of Ranga-Rao named Tandra Papayya, who had the charge of the fort at Rajam, and who with three others hastened to Bobbili, when he heard of the destruction of the fort, swearing to wreak vengeance on the author of that destruction.

It must be mentioned here that Vengal Rao, brother of Ranga-Rao, took a very prominent part in the defence of the fort and fought with increased fierceness after the fall of his brother.

During the battle Vengal Rao, who armed himself with a spear, is said to have challenged to single combat, and killed, a Sirdar of the Nizam's forces, who, armed with a sword, mounted himself on a charger. The two opposing forces anxiously observed the duel from a distance. Vengal Rao was severely wounded in the head, and lay unconscious in the fort from the effects of the wound until the battle ended. Afterwards he went to Rajam with his nephew, and till his death in 1765 remained a determined opponent to the authority of the Pusapatis. The valour displayed in this Bobbili battle is greatly praised in "Rangaraya Charitra" and in ballads which are sung up to the present day in every part of the Telugu-speaking country.

There is also something said about the battle in a Persian book called "Hadekhath Alam," written by Meer Abdul Kasim (A. D. 1796). It was again lithographed in 1848 by the permission of Serajal Mulck Bahadur. The author, Abdul Kasim, generally known as Meer Aleem, was the Prime-minister of Nizamalli Khan Bahadur and also of his son Sekenderja Bahadur. He was also the head of Sir Salur-Jung's family. The book contains the History of the Nizams of Hyderabad. In it, in page 231, it is stated as follows : —

"Some battles were fought between Viziaramaraz and the Zemindar Ranga Row of Velama family, who had 700 infantry of the Velama people. Afterwards Viziaramaraz went with M. Bussy to fight against the Zemindar Ranga Row, fought with him and killed all his caste people."

Again, and in the same page, it runs as follows : —

"In the battle 700 brave Velamas desperately fought with the Rajputs and the French troops and killed many of them before they themselves were killed."

It may not be out of place to quote here some translations of Extracts from the Local Records, maintained in Fort St. George, about the enmity, and some of the battles fought between Bobbili and Vizianagaram before the great battle at Bobbili.

"When Viziaramaraz was sending his army through the Bobbili Zemindari under Saki Narayanaraz to conquer Narayanapatnam, which is about five miles north-east of Parvatipur, Ranga Row's forces attacked those of Vizianagaram to prevent them from passing through the Bobbili Raj and defeated them.

"Afterwards Viziaramaraz collected all his forces together with those of some of the Polygars under him and attacked Bobbili. In this battle Viziaramaraz was defeated and was pursued by the Bobbili army till he took refuge in the fort at Kumila, which was the former capital of the Vizianagaram Raj.

"Again, with the intention of taking revenge on Bobbili, Viziaramaraz built a fort at Belgam near Parvatipur and entered into intrigues with the Bobbili people. From here he subdued the chief of Narayanapatnam, and attacked Bobbili, but without result. In these expeditions and battles Vizianagaram lost four thousand men, either in the way of fighting or by the malarious fever caught by the drinking of bad water at Narayanapatnam. The chief of Narayanapatnam sent his vakil to Vizianagaram to represent that he fought with Vizianagaram, believing what Bobbili Varu promised him, that he now tendered his apology, and that he begged that his estate might be restored to him. Thereupon Viziaramaraz pardoned him, collected from him the batta expenses of the army, and restored his estate to him.

"Again, Viziaramaraz got all his army ready and collected the Desastulu (fighting men in the Raj) to invade Bobbili. But the Desastulu said that it would be quite impossible for them to gain victory over the Velamas, who combined together with a determined intention to fight to the last. Then the Dewan Burra Butchenna persuaded the Rajah not to go himself with the army, but to send Pusapati Ramachandraraj in his stead. The Rajah accepted his Dewan's advice and sent his army to Bobbili. There all the Velama Doralu and noted hill-tribes attacked the enemy with a firm determination to fight to the last. They thought that unless Viziaramaraz was killed, the unceasing attacks on Bobbili would never cease even with the sacrifice of their lives. In this battle they killed all the enemy in front of the elephant on which Ramachandraraj seated himself in an Ambari (hooded-howdah), and stabbed him to death with long spears. But to their surprise they found that he was not the Rajah and so did not rejoice in their victory, as they themselves lost many of their bravest men. They then beheaded Ramachandraraj, put Vishnava marks on his forehead and sent it back to Vizianagaram." Then comes the account of the last and great battle at Bobbili as found in the local records, somewhat similar to the account quoted above.

The purport of an account of the battle of Bobbili as given in the Kaifiyyat of Barabatti Kristna Deo Gajapathi, the Rajah of Cuttack.

"In the year Vuva, corresponding to the 1677th year of the era of Salivahana, Mir Nizamalli Khan Bahadur, the Nawab of Golconda, conferred the Commander-in- Chiefship of Kalinga on M. Bussy, and appointed Haidar Jang as his Dewan. The Nawab placed in his charge a very large army, and directed him to restore order and peace in the country, and to fill the treasury with the tributes collected from the Zemindars of the Circars.

"Leaving Golconda, Bussy passed Masulipatam on his way. and then crossing the Godaveri encamped at the Kotilingams (Kotipalli) near Rajahmundry. He then directed his Dewan to issue orders to all the Zemindars of the Circars that they should come out of their estates to pay their respects to him. The Faramanas accordingly prepared by Haidar Jang were forwarded to the Zemindars concerned.

"In obedience to the summons, Viziaramaraz, Rajah of Vizianagaram, went to the camp of Bussy, followed by forty thousand infantry and four thousand cavalry. So also went many another Zemindar and Proprietor. Only the Zemindar of Bobbili was conspicuous by his absence. Ranga-Rao learnt that Viziaramaraz, who bore in his heart his successive failures to capture the fort of Bobbili, and who cherished a vindictive spirit towards Bobbili, was the first to pay his humble visit to the Commander-in-Chief only to induce the latter to help him to gratify his vindictiveness and to achieve his long-cherished object; and so he anticipated inevitable collision with his enemy, the Rajah, in case he should also go there. It was for this reason that Bobbili put off his visit, intending to pay his respects to the French Commander-in-Chief at a future date.

"When Bussy was attended by his Dewan, Viziaramaraz paid his respects to him, and after a short formal conversation, represented that he would pay the permanently fixed amount of twelve lacs of rupees, and requested him to return to Golconda. The Commander-in-Chief having replied that they must go as far as Chicacole before they returned, the Rajah who wished to turn to his advantage their march to Chicacole by instigating them to join him against Ranga-Rao, led away Haidar Jang from his master's presence, and offered him the tempting bribe of three lacs of rupees to induce Bussy to help him in obtaining a certain object of his. The DewAN having sHown an inclination to accept the offer, the Rajah introduced the subject by saying : — 'Ranga-Rao frequently raises insurrections in our country and obstructs the proper cultivation of our lands. The payment of the revenue in kind or in money is greatly hindered. He has under his control an army of four thousand men and a band of one thousand Velama warriors. Never has he surrendered to us in spite of our repeated attacks on Bobbili.' 'We have often heard,' said Haidar Jang, 'that you have, under your control, a mighty army, and that you are a warrior of no ordinary type. Do you really fear any danger from him?' 'Do not think so,' rejoined the Rajah; 'it is but true that we have a large army. But he has a Sirdar named Tandra Papayya, who alone is enough to throw the whole army into confusion. With the help of this Sirdar, the Zemindar of Bobbili sets us at defiance, and even the Commander-in-Chief. This will be evident if you only consider the fact that even when we who have been so famous for strength and courage have implicitly obeyed your summons, he has not thought fit to pay his respects to you in answer to your call. I need not say any more on the matter.'

"Roused by the inflaming words of the Rajah, Haidar Jang exclaimed, 'For us who have conquered so many countries, you seem to say it is a great matter to overcome Ranga-Rao, who is but a common Zemindar of a hilly tract. God help it, we shall reduce Bobbili and instal you as its lord.' He then touched his sword and swore to do it without fail.

"Ranga-Rao having heard, by means of his spies, the details of conversation between Haidar Jang and the Rajah, summoned to his presence such principal Velama Doras as Damera Dammanna, Inuganti Rangayya, and Kandimalla Dharmarayadu, and said to them, 'We hear that Bussy, the Commander-in-Chief, is coming to Kalinga; and Haidar Jang, it appears, assured Viziaramaraz that he would subdue us and instal him as the master of our Zemindari. The Rajah is elated with joy that he will rule over our estate. Bussy has become the supreme master of this country and hence has come to rule over it. It is true that the Rajah and ourselves are enemies; but there has not been any enmity between Bussy and ourselves. Then why would Bussy carry arms against our fort at the instigation of the Rajah? Let us, however, send a Vakil of ours to Haidar Jang to sound his heart. We shall then adopt what steps may appear advisable. We have, moreover, a real friend in M. Cummander who is acquainted with our sense of dignity. We can get him to write letters to M. Bussy and Haidar Jang to say that he is responsible for all political matters so far as Bobbili is concerned, and that it is against the principles of political justice to wage war against us at the instigation of Viziaramaraz.' "In accordance with this deliberation, he wrote letters to Bussy and Haidar Jang, and entrusting them to Panthena Butchenna, despatched him with the following instructions: — 'Go to Haidar Jang and sound his feelings towards us. If you do not find him favourably inclined to us, you will then go to Masulipatam, pay your respects to M. Cummander and fully representing to him the state of matters through Maddala Reddinayadu, the interpreter, deliver this letter to him. Get letters written to Bussy and Haidar Jang to keep up the usual relations with us; and after they peruse the letters, mark if any change is effected in their attitude towards us.'

"Meanwhile Haidar Jang, who had been won over by the Rajah, approached Bussy to persuade him to help the Rajah against Ranga-Rao, and spoke thus : 'Ranga-Rao, the Zemindar of Bobbili, a plain region in Kalinga, is raising riots in the country. He obstructs the collection of rent due to Viziaramaraz. If, therefore, we should drive him out of his fort, and instal the Rajah in his place, the disturbances would be stopped, order would be restored in the country, and the revenue due to the Government would be conveniently collected. That Ranga-Rao is defiant and contemptuous towards you is best proved by the fact of his abstaining from coming to pay his respects to you, while so many Zemindars have come here in obedience to our summonses.' By means of such arguments he convinced Bussy of the necessity of reducing Bobbili and installing Viziaramaraz there.

"Panthena Butchenna had reached Peddapuram by the time that Bussy had arrived at that place. The Vakil whom Ranga-Rao had deputed to sound the feelings of Haidar Jang towards himself then paid his visit to Bussy's Dewan, who having learnt that he was a Vakil come from Bobbili, thus accosted him, 'What business could you have here, seeing that your lord feared nothing from us, and so has not come to cultivate our friendship? Go back to your master.' The Vakil finding him very angry, and unwilling to remain there any more, addressed him thus : — 'The Ravu Varu are entirely innocent, and towards the Circar are implicitly obedient. The evil design that you harbour towards them at the instigation of some person, you will be persuaded to give up only when the person who is competent to check you in your procedure restrains and censures you.' Then the Agent rose up from his seat, and before he left the place, once more tried to pacify him with the following conciliatory words: — 'Ranga-Rao has hesitated to come here because Viziaramaraz, his enemy, was the first to come. But if you should promise to treat the Ravus with the same respect which you show to the rest of the Zemindars, Ranga-Rao would before long pay his respects to you.' - No, he need not come to us,' said Haidar Jang, 'he must vacate the fort.' 'The Ravus will not leave the fort so long as they live,' replied Butchenna; 'and for this evil design of yours, strictly you are not to blame, for it is some ill-adviser that tempts you to act thus. You will give up these bad thoughts, only when those who are in a position to check you persuade you to do so.' Then the Agent left the place for Masulipatam in accordance with his master's instructions.

"Thereupon Haidar Jang despatched a pair of scouts to Bobbili to bring him information as to the paths to Bobbili, the extent of the plain before the fort, the forest in its vicinity, and the strength of the fort. They were also entrusted with letters to Ranga-Rao, asking him to vacate the fort. Ranga-Rao, having read the contents of the letters, gave expression to his feelings in the following words : — 'Shall we, with life, ever leave the fort? We shall leave our lives and fort simultaneously.' He then prepared replies to the same effect, and having given presents to the messengers, directed Damera Dammanna to accompany them to Haidar Jang to try once more if reconciliation was possible. Dammanna assured Bussy's Dewan that, if he should promise to renew the lease, Ranga-Rao, who put off his visit for no other reason than his fear that his enemy might play Bussy against him, would ere long pay his respects to them. But Haidar Jang, whose heart continued proof against any such arguments, sent Dammanna back to Bobbili with no better answer than he had given before.

"Meanwhile Butchenna, whose endeavours to conciliate Haidar Jang had failed at Rajahmundry, directed his steps to Masulipatam, where he paid his respects to M. Cummander, and had the whole story represented to him through Maddala Reddi Nayadu. The French General felt sorry to hear it and then wrote to Bussy a letter, the contents of which ran as follows : — ' If it should be known to the world that the French, instigated by the Rajah of Vizianagaram, attacked the fort of Bobbili without any offence on the part of Ranga-Rao, and thereby caused great loss and injury to him, our nation would be exposed to a great deal of infamy. I, therefore, advise you not to adopt this line of rash and imprudent procedure which would certainly make us liable to much blame and bad repute.' Entrusting the letter to the Vakil, he commanded a countryman of his, one M. Martin, to accompany Butchenna, and to tell Bussy in his name the following words of good advice : 'Viziaramaraz has always sought to bring Ranga-Rao into troubles; but as the latter is a great warrior, and has a high sense of dignity and honour, he has never once yielded to his enemy. The Rajah, bearing this in his heart, instigates you to take action against him. And if you should act up to his ill-advice and carry arms against the fort, the Velama Doras, who have high notions of self-respect, especially the Ravus, who are famous for their keen sense of honour, Ranga-Rao being the chief of them, will not let you return with safety; if you should at all return with life, all the residents in the fort, including men, women and children, will have certainly perished to a man before you can do so. The ultimate result would in that case be the unquestionable liability of the French to much blame and gross infamy. Do not, therefore, attack their fort at the Rajah's instigation.' According to his master's orders, M. Martin, accompanied by Butchenna, reached Kasimkotah, where Bussy lay encamped, and, after the Vakil delivered the letter, fully represented to Bussy what M. Cummander had directed him to do. The Commander-in-Chief, after having perused the letter and heard Martin's representations, called Haidar Jang near and thus remarked : 'As M. Cummander is a great friend of mine, and is as worthy of my honour as my teacher, I must abide by his good counsels.' He also read out to Haidar Jang M. Cummander's letter, on hearing which the Dewan said nothing in reply as if its contents had met with his approbation. On the third day after that, Martin returned to Masulipatam. The very evening of that day the Rajah went to Haidar Jang's tent and thus spoke to him : 'Do you not now find a strong attestation to my remarks about Ranga-Rao? He has sent, you know, his Vakil to M. Cummander, by whom he had a letter written to Bussy, besides prevailing upon him to send a special messenger to speak on his behalf. But he has not at all thought fit to come and pay his respects to you. It is now manifest how defiant he is in his attitude towards you.' Haidar Jang, whose wrath and vindictiveness were still further roused by the Rajah's inflaming words, mentally confirmed the resolution he had already formed to put an end to the Zemindari of Bobbili.

"When M. Bussy left Kasimkotah and encamped at Devupalli (near Gajapathinagaram), Chelikani Venkayya, who was sent with Chittela Ramanna to present pan supari to the Commander-in-Chief and his Dewan (probably a mark of respect in those days), visited Haidar Jang, who, his wrath being kindled at seeing him, thus accosted the Velama Dora : 'Has your master left the fort with all his people, old and young, or does he still occupy it?' 'In what way have we offended the Circar,' replied Venkayya, identifying himself with his lord, 'to be thus ordered to vacate the fort? Are we guilty of leaving in arrears the peishcush due to the Government; or have we resisted the demand of the peishcush by the Circar?' Unmindful of the Velama Dora's relevant questions, Haidar Jang angrily declared that the fort must be vacated by Ranga-Rao. Then Venkayya, remarking that Haidar Jang's unreasonable enmity to the Zemindar of Bobbili must only be a continuation of the feelings of hostility that he might have cherished in a previous life, and that it could in no other way be accounted for, took leave of him and returned to Bobblli. He then represented to his lord that his fighting was inevitable, and that Haidar Jang would not accede to terms according to any principles of political justice.

"Bussy then left Devupalli and arriving at the destination, encamped himself at about a gunshot in front of the fort. Ranga-Rao, who observed the enemy, sent for all his Velama Doras and other fighters; and having made his preparations for fighting, he ordered Naubath to be played on the Naubathkhana. Haidar Jang, who heard the sound, asked Hussain Ali Khan what the sound was, and was told in reply that it was the Naubath played on the ramparts of the fort at the orders of the Zemindar. Haidar Jang, whose anger was roused at hearing the sound, deputed Hussain Ali Khan to direct the master of Bobbili to have the playing stopped, and to vacate the fort, as the Commander-in-Chief lay encamped in front of it. The Mahommedan Sirdar, having accordingly gone into the fort to deliver the message, was received by Ranga-Rao with due respect and courtesy, and after a short formal conversation, fully represented to the Zemindar what he was directed to do. The Velama lord, whose feelings were bitterly wounded at the contents of the message, gave the following unambiguous reply: 'Sir, the Naubath was granted to us by the Moghul Emperor, but was neither stolen nor unjustly wrested by force from anybody. We, there-fore, do not see why we should lose our long-enjoyed privilege of the play of the Naubath on our rampart. As to our leaving the fort, let it be observed that, even when the direst calamities befell us, we never left this place for any other, and that we have here enjoyed all kinds of prosperity and affluence. We have, moreover, never incurred the displeasure of the Circar, that we should thus be ordered to leave the fort for good. But if you should think it desirable to mark the difference be- tween the valour of Viziaramaraz and that of ourselves, you can adopt the following plan. Let the yellow banner of the Circar be placed in the charge and protection of Viziaramaraz at the head of his forty thousand sepoys. If we should then succeed in wresting it from his possession with the help of our small force which consists of only four thousand, be then pleased to make us masters of his Zemindari. If, on the other hand, we should fail to take the flag from him, you may then do what you please with us and our Zemindari. But if your favour depend on the amounts of the bids offered, we bind ourselves to pay twice the amount the Rajah has offered to pay, in case you should promise to give away to us the Rajah's fort and estate. We suggest a third course for your consideration. Let the Rajah with his forty thousand fight with us who have but four thousand men at our command. If, in the battle, we should suffer a defeat, let Bobbili be given away to the Rajah. If, on the contrary, the Rajah should be routed by us, let his estate and fort be ours. But, if you will take into your consideration none of the above proposals, let this be borne in mind that we are determined not to surrender the fort so long - as we live.' Hussain Ali Khan then returned to the camp and intimated to Haidar Jang that Ranga-Rao would neither stop the play of the Naubath nor vacate the fort, and that, if his fort should unjustly be attacked, he would offer his utmost resistance. He also mentioned to him the alternative proposals that Ranga-Rao made for the consideration of Haidar Jang. The latter, who, without weighing the proposals, only burnt with increased rage at the Zemindar's last words of defiance, exclaimed : 'If that is the case, I shall see that he is presently expelled from the fort.' His burning words were immediately supported by the Rajah who was near. Thereupon Hussain Ali Khan, who knew the whole truth, said to Haidar Jang : 'Should you be guided by the instigating words of Viziaramaraz and attack the fort of Ranga-Rao, who is a well-to-do Zemindar possessing a keen sense of dignity, honourable, and at the same time innocent, do you think you can make him surrender the fort without the loss of a great many lives? Would not all the residents of the fort, from the oldest person to the youngest, have fallen to a man before you should be able to force entrance into the fort? Do not, therefore, undertake to commit such a horrible deed; for Nemesis will before long make you suffer the consequences of such an atrocity.' But Haidar Jang was deaf to all such words of warning and advice. He and his instigator then approached Bussy and told him that Ranga-Rao would not surrender unless and until their artillery should open fire upon the fort. The Commander-in-Chief having granted permission, the attack commenced." (Here follows a description of the battle, which is here omitted, the description given in Orme's History of the Indostan being superior), "When the cannon balls were found to be committing havoc on the inner apartments of the fort, Ranga-Rao called the Velama leaders together and said, 'The danger has passed beyond its limits. The army of the enemy is vast. It shall, therefore, be our look-out at present to guard our honour and win everlasting glory. Let Chelikani Venkayya go into the inner apartments and completely do away with women and children.' The Velama warrior went in faithful to his master's order, and observing the wife of Ranga-Rao sit with her son in her lap, simply told her that the enemy's army approached too near. No sooner had he said so than the honour-loving consort of Ranga-Rao entrusted her son to a female servant with a request to take him out of the fort and save him, then praying to God, uttered curses on Viziaramaraz, then planting a sword in the ground, threw herself upon it and died. Venkayya then thoroughly made away with the rest of the women. At the same moment a hundred Velama families related to the ruling family and residing in the fort met a similar fate. Ranga-Rao's son, while he was being taken out through a private entrance, fell into the hands of a sepoy of the opposite party, and was taken to Bussy, who took all care of him.

"After Tandra Papayya killed Viziaramaraju, Bussy, struck with wonder at the daring of Papayya, admired his loyalty to his master; and then calling near him Ranga-Rao's brother and son, he granted them permission to rule over their ancient estate as usual, and in addition bestowed upon them the Jaghir of Kottapalli."


A short account of this battle is also given in the following histories : —

1. Imperial Gazetteer of India, by W. W. Hunter, Vol. XIII , in pages 484, 485. 2. Cyclopedia of India, by E. Balfour, Vol. II., page 271.

3. Malcolm's Life of Lord Clive, Vol. II., pages 2 — 4.


  1. * This number is evidently not correct. In the other histories it is said there were 4,000 men and 1,000 Velamas. If the duration of the battle, which lasted from the early morning till the evening, be considered, it would appear impossible for a small force of 250 men to have defended tin- tort torso long a time against the large combined army which attacked it.