Gaddige – Tombs of the Rajahs
- Kaveri Ponnapa
Gaddige, a royal memorial complex built on a hill at the northern limits of Madikeri once enjoyed a sweeping view of the town. Two regal tombs, built in an identical, Indo-Islamic style, with large, stately domes capped with brass kalashas, flanked by four turrets, stand on a square plinth, approached by a flight of carved stone steps. The platforms are surrounded by low, pierced stone railings, and the finely worked bars of the inner windows are engraved brass, stamped at intervals with the royal symbol of the Lingayat dynasty.
The bands of stone carving surrounding the window frames are particularly fine and detailed, depicting themes from Hindu mythology such as Siva, Ganesha, various sages, hybrid mythological creatures and decorative peacocks and lotuses. The turrets are decorated with basavas (bulls) symbolic of the Lingayat dynasty that ruled Kodagu. The first tomb was begun by Dodda Vira Rajendra, where his favourite wife, Mahadevamma, after whom the nearby locality of Mahadevpet is named, was laid to rest. Dodda Vira Rajendra was laid to rest beside her. The tomb was completed in 1809 CE at the death of Dodda Vira Rajendra by his younger brother, Linga Raja. The second tomb was built by Chikka Vira Rajendra, in 1821 CE, at the death of Linga Raja. Chikka Vira Rajendra, who was deposed and exiled by the British, was denied on his passing, the right to be buried beside his ancestors. His last resting place was Varanasi. Beside these tombs is a small memorial to Rudrappa, a respected guru of the Lingayat rajahs, built in 1834 CE by Diwan Ponnappa.
The tombstones of the two rajahs and their queens are maintained by a Lingayat priest, and daily offerings are made to the departed souls. At a short distance, within the same complex, are the tombs of Biddanda Bopu, and Biddanda Somaiah, both of whom served as Commanders-in-Chief of the Kodava army, and were given the honour of a resting place beside their kings.