The untold story about the era of the greatest Kodava warrior – Kulletira Ponnanna!

History of Hinduism is great, it’s a history of brave warriors who fought till their last breath to uphold the Hinduism and protect their mighty kingdom. While our history only talks about the British rulers the Alexander and the Mughals our left leaning historians loyal to the pseudo secular political family made every effort to ensure the stories of real warriors are suppressed.

The land of Kodavas – Kodagu usually known for its warrior race has produced many warriors who’s stories usually went unnoticed. Legendary Field Marshal Cariappa and General Thimmaiah were the big names that made it the golden history of Mother India however this warrior race produced warriors who mastered the tricks of war fields.

It was during the year 1782 when Kodava race saw one of its bravest military chieftain.  He was 6.2 feet tall, well-built warrior, Kodavas were one of the best warrior race in the entire south India and Kodava acquired these skills by birth as a blessing from their ancestors and mother nature.

Kulletira Ponnanna  had not lost single battle from the year 1780 to 1788 during his tenure as military chief of his regiment. It was the year 1782, Hyder Ali ordered his military to attack Kodagu, Hyder’s military commander Ghulam Ali marched towards Vira Rajendrapet with an army of 3000 soldiers.  A massive war that lasted for 28 days was fought at Heggala when  Kulletira Ponnanna with his 1000 men army posed a strong resistance to Hyder’s army. The war ended with the defeat of Hyder Ali’s army and forced Ghulam Ali to retreat. This war was just the beginning of the rivalry Between Hyder Ali and Kodava warriors which later lasted for 2 generations. Kulletira Ponnanna was courageous and was very particular about inducting like-minded warriors in his troop.

Kulletira Ponnanna played a vital role in evacuating Vira Raja, son of Linga Raja from the captivity of Tippu at Periyapatna in the year 1788. Vira Raja always admired the bravery and warfare skills of Ponnanna. Post his escape from the captivity Vira Raja wanted to regain his kingdom hence he seeked military help of Kulletira Ponnanna to wage a war against Tippu.

In the same year a treaty was signed between Ponnanna and Viraraja at Virarajendranapete and the troops headed for war with Tippu and his army, Kulletira Ponnanna again win’s the war at Bisle ghat in the North to Manantvadi by defeating Tippu and his army of thousands to help Vira Raja reclaimed his kingdom. By now Ponnanna was already a known name among many kingdom in south India.  Meanwhile a dispute rose between the Kodagu Raja and Kote Raja for helping Nagappayya (nephew of Subbarasaya’s who made in-charge of Coorg by Tippu) to take shelter in his kingdom. This lead to another war and again Kulletira Ponnanna with his army marched towards Cherakkal in Malabar and defeated Kote Raja in a war which lasted for few days. This victory was a massive set back to Tippu who had already terrorized Malabar and was on the spree of forcefully converting people to Islam.

Kulletira Ponnanna was one of the greatest chieftain of Kodava land and was considered as a threat to the many kingdoms around Kodagu. After he won the war against Kote Raja he marched towards Kushalnagara fort which was considered as garrison of Tippus army. Tippu had built this fort to stock weapons and cannons to wage war against Kodagu. Ponnanna had told his men that he wanted to end the carnage of innocents and Tippu’s dominance in Kodagu forever. Ponnanna’s army was reduced to few hundreds after the Malabar victory because of incessant war and travel. Despite this Ponnanna was determined to protect Kodava land and teach invaders a unforgettable lesson.  Ponnanna with his army launched a massive attacked on the Kushalnagar fort destroying the fort completely and defeated Tippu’s army by killing the fort commanders and most of his soldiers.

Ponnanna also seized modern machinery stocked by Tippu’s army which was later used in future war against Tippu. Ponnanna was undoubtedly a greatest warrior of that decade, However the details about his death is still unclear. Few historians claim he had a natural death due to extreme fatigue and few other claims he was ingeniously  killed by serving him poisonous food post his victorious war in Kushalnagar by Tippu’s army men posing themselves as localities. Kulletira Ponnanna to this day is one of the most heroic chapter from the history of the warrior clan. He lived all his life protecting the Kodagu empire and fight the fanatic called Tippu. May his legacy be remembered forever.

Mac Thimmaiah