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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Great Kamma Rulers - Pemmasani Nayakas

The hard earned independence of Telugu land came to an end in fifty years with the martyrdom of Musunuri Kapaneedu in 1370 A.D at the hands of Velamas who colluded with Bahmani sultan (See Musunuri Nayaks). A large number of remaining Nayaks who served under Kapaneedu migrated to Vijayanagar and sworn allegiance to Bukka Raya, a close associate of Kapaneedu in protecting the Hindu dharma in Dakshnapatha. Among them, Pemmasani clan which earned laurels for their bravery and defense of Vijayanagar Empire in the coming four centuries was the most illustrious. Generations of Pemmasani clan were commanders for various dynasties of Vijayanagar Empire. The ancestors of Pemmasani clan (Gothram: Vallutla) belonged to Bellamkonda in ancient Kammanadu.

The first of Pemmasani clan was Kumara Thimma Nayudu who fought many a battle and won the trust of Bukka Raya. He built many forts in Jammulamadugu, Vajrakarur, Kamalapuram, Tadipatri, Pamidi etc. Later, Dharma Nayudu served as a General of Proudha Devaraya (Devaraya II).

The most famous of Pemmasani Nayaks was Thimma Nayudu. He valiantly fought in the battle of Kalubarige (1422 A.D.) and was made governor of Gandikota (Cuddapah district). Thimma ruled for a long time, constructed many temples and tanks and brought recognition to Gandikota.

Thimma Nayudu II participated in the expeditions of Krishna Deva Raya and captured Udayagiri, Addanki, Kondapalli, Rajahmundry and Katakam (Cuttack). He also played a crucial role in the conquest of Ummattur.

Ramalinga Nayudu ruled Gandikota (1509-1530) during the time of Krishna Deva Raya. His exploits in the well known battle of Raichur were extolled by many Telugu poets. He was most feared by the Muslim Generals of Bijapur, Ahmednagar and Golconda. Ramalinga constructed many temples in Anantapur region.

Vijayanagar king (Sadasiva Raya) sent Lingama Nayudu to defeat the Chola king in Madura (Madurai) and restore the throne to Vitthala Raya in 1559. Lingama succeeded but later declared independence. The king asked the court who would teach Lingama a lesson. To everyone’s surprise, Viswanatha, son of Lingama, volunteered to do so. He subdued his father and brought him as a prisoner to Vijayanagar. The pleased king made Viswanatha governor of Madurai. After the downfall of Vijayanagar Empire in 1565 A.D Madurai Nayaks became independent. The glory of Madurai Nayaks and the great contributions of Tirumala Nayak, in particular, are celebrated in history.

After the death of Krishna Deva Raya, his son-in-law Aliya Ramaraya was dethroned by Salakam Chinna Tirumala Raya with the support of Bahmani sultan. Ramaraya sought the help of Bangaru Thimma Nayudu. Bangaru Thimma defeated Salakam Raya and restored the crown to Ramaraya. During the twilight of Vijayanagar Empire Gandikota rulers Bojja Thimma Nayudu and Venkatagiri Nayudu steadfastly helped Sriranga Raya by keeping Golkonda and Bijapur armies at bay.

The last ruler of Gandikota was Chinna Thimma Nayudu. At the behest of the minister Podila Linganna, Mir Jumla, the General of Golkonda Nawab raided Gandikota in 1652. There was stiff resistance. The fort was captured only after Linganna plotted and poisoned Chinna Thimma. Pinnayya Nayudu, son of Chinna Thimma and still very young, was saved and taken to Mysore by his relatives. Most of the Gandikota families (sixtysix surnames) migrated to Guntur, Kavetirajapuram (Chittor Dt), Madurai, Tirunelveli, Ramanathapuram etc. These people are collectively called Gandikota Kammas. A section of them is called ‘Gampa Kamma’. The meaning of Gampa in Telugu is ‘Large Basket’. It is not clearly known how this name came into being.

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