Once Chokkanatha Nayaka, the ruler of Madura, sent his relatives and agents to his court with presents of cloth and jewels to request from Vijayaraghava Nayaka, the hand of one of his daughters. They told Vijayaraghava that the relationship between the two families was no new one and had continued from the time of Raja Pedda Virappa Nayaka to that of Tirumala Nayak. Vijayaraghava was very angry at the request since the grandfather of Chokkanatha Tirumala Nayaka who had married Achyuta Raghunathamma of the Tanjore house stabbed her for simply telling her husband that his new-built palace was not to be compared with her father’s palace. The Tanjore royal family thereupon resolved that from that time there should be no more marriage relations between the two houses. Vijayaraghava wondered how the Madura sovereign could think of a marriage alliance with Tanjore in view of this previous action and dismissed the envoys with scant courtesy.

Enraged at the insolent behaviour of Vijayaraghava, Chokkanatha Nayaka ordered his commander of the troops Dalavai Venkatakrishnappa Nayudu and the Peshkar Chinnatambi Mudaliyar to proceed against Tanjore with an army. They concentrated all their troops at Trichinopoly and proceeded against the fort of Vallam which soon after fell into their hands. From Vallam they marched upon Tanjore and laid siege to the fort. After sometime they were able to storm the fort and enter Tanjore. Then Vijayaraghava ordered his son Mannaru Dasa whom he had for some time imprisoned in golden chains to be released and brought before him. When he came before him both the father and son expressed regret for the past, and consulted as to what should be done. Mannaru Dasa said that in the actual circumstances of their position it was better to fight to the last without giving way. They prepared to fight to the death, and to prevent the enemy from triumphing and attaining his object after their deaths, ordered that on news of their deaths the harem should be blown up. The ladies of the harem approved of the step and awaited the signal.

­Vijayaraghava and Mannaru Dasa with their few followers fought till all were killed. Just before the fall of Vijayaraghava one of his guards gave the signal and all the members of the harem were destroyed in the explosion or by stabbing each other with swords and daggers. Just before this tragic event one of the queens of Vijayaraghava gave her young son who was four years old, to a nurse with all her jewellery which was worth a very large sum, and allowing her to escape, commissioned her to bring up the child. Chokkanatha Nayaka assumed rule over the whole territory of Tanjore and appointed his foster brother Alagiri as governor of the country. The nurse who had escaped with the

prince Chengamala Das went to Negapatam where she and the boy were both secretly maintained by a wealthy merchant who gave the boy a good education and made him a good gymnast.

Hearing about this one of the members of Vijayaraghava’s court, a Niyogi, Rayasam Venkanna by name, went to Negapatam and secretly collected some followers who still remained faithful to the house of Vijayaraghava. Collecting about 200 of these he escaped with Chengamala Das and the nurse to Bijapur. There they sought the assistance of the Sultan of Bijapur to reinstate Chengamala Das once more as ruler of Tanjore. Just before leaving for Negapatam, Rayasam Venkanna had commissioned some of the courtiers of Alagiri the ruler of Tanjore, to create hostilities between him and his master Chokkanatha of Madura.

­Soon there arose some disputes between Chokkanatha and Alagiri and the former was waiting for an opportunity to proceed against his subordinate. Rayasam Venkanna and Chengamala Das after escaping to Bijapur concluded an agreement with the Sultan to make Chengamala Das the ruler of Tanjore. The Sultan appointed Ekojee, the son of his Minister Shahji to lead the expedition against Tanjore. He marched with his, army against the kingdom of Tanjore and first reduced the fort of Ayyampet.

After its fall there was a severe battle between the forces of Alagiri and Ekojee in which Alagiri was completely defeated. He fled with the remnants of his troops to Tanjore. From there he wrote a supplicating letter to his former master the Nayak of Trichinopoly for assistance and begged to be excused for his past wrongs. But Chokkanatha did not send any assistance. The troops of Ekojee approached the fort of Tanjore and were erecting batteries for its siege. Ajagiri suspecting some treachery among his own followers within the fort, left the place with a few followers one night and escaped by way of Ariyalur to the territory of Mysore.

­On hearing of the flight of Alagiri, Venkanna arranged for the triumphal entry of Chengamala Das and Ekojee into Tanjore, and made preparations for Chengamala Das’s coronation. The forces of Ekojee retired to Kumbhakonam after the coronation, on receiving very substantial remuneration for their services and getting guarantees for the amounts that were due to the Sultan of Bijapur to defray the expenses of the expedition. But soon there arose a dispute in the court of Chengamala Das on his appointing the rich merchant of Negapatam who had protected him in his youth as his minister and commander-in-chief, a post to which Rayasam Venkanna himself aspired. Being disappointed he escaped to Kumbhakonam where Ekojee was with his troops and induced him to proceed against Chengamala Das and become the ruler himself, Ekojee was unwilling at first.

­But while these negotiations were going on news came that that Sultan of Bijapur was killed in battle with Aurangazeb and his territories occupied. On hearing the news Ekojee made bold to proceed against Tanjore. But Rayasam Venkanna had already written to Chengamala Das that in spite of his remonstrances Ekojee was marching against Tanjore and advised him to escape from the fort, the best course that could be adopted in the circumstances. He wrote that they might regain Tanjore on favourable opportunity. The young Raja of Tanjore and his minister were in great fear and escaped to Ariyalur by night; and Ekojee was able to capture Tanjore at very little cost.

Rayasam Venkanna by his ability brought the whole kingdom firmly under Ekojee and restored order in the territory. . But Ekojee thought that Venkanna was a dangerous servant considering how faithlessly he had acted to his former masters Alagiri and Chengamala Das. They suspected that he might act in the same deceitful manner towards Ekojee and wished to keep him under restraint. But Venkanna came to hear of this in time and escaped secretly from Tanjore blaming his own genius. Thus Tanjore finally came under the Mahratta dynasty.

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