Jagdeesh Laxman Singh
aka Jugie Singh
Text & Photography
Sir Robert Abercromby (1740 – 1827) Governor of Bombay, Commander in Chief of Indian Army (of British India) and the Bombay Army met Kodagu Raja Dodda Veerarajendra in 1791 and requested him to provide passage for moving British troops from Bombay via Tellicherry through Coorg on their way to Srirangapatna to fight the Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan. Dodda Veerarajendra built Virajpet a year later in 1792 by inviting craftsmen and traders from the neighbouring states to settle in this town (Virajpet). Even today some of the street names are Telugu Street, Bengali Street Jain Street etc.
Tipu Sultan arrested several Catholic Christians in Mangalore during 1784 -1799 for political gain. During the Second Anglo Mysore War between 1780 – 1784 it is alleged that they supported the British and not Tipu Sultans army. During Hyder Alis regime (Tipu’s father)’s the Mangalore Catholic community flourished. Tipu Sultan was more involved in internal squabbles than fighting the British. Few Christian prisoners at Periyapatna, escaped from Tipu Sultan and sought refuge with Dodda Veerarajendra at Virajpet. The Kodagu Raja ordered the construction of a church in 1792 and granted funds for the project. However,in 1811 this structure was dismantled and in 1868 the church was rebuilt. The St.Anne’s church is one of the oldest churches in Karnataka. The steeple is 180 ft. in height resembling a giant candle. Two large bells of the church are still in use, built in Gothic style. One can see the towers of the church from almost all parts of Virajpet. St. Anne’s school is located adjacent to the church. This structure stands tall even today, proudly displaying its copper roof. The interiors of the church had depictions and displays biblical in nature . . . however this church is being renovated today.
Kodagu Raja Veerarajendra presented a brass lamp, a gold crown and an ornamental box to the church. Today, only the brass lamp locally known as Kuthu Bolucha bearing the inscription “V”in Kannada for Veerarajendra and the words nalaknad Aramane, etched on the lamp remains.
St Michael’s Church
St Michael’s Church at Madkeri too has an amazing history built in 1781 by Father Jochim Miranda friend of the then ruler Hyder Ali Tipu Sultans father. This church was built for the soilders in the army Garrison.
Virajpet has worshiping edifices of all faiths and religions and is a peaceful town. Madkeri’s dussera, a ten day cultural extravaganza is held in the month of October every year. A lot of places suited for staying for every budget exist. The surrounding areas of Virajpet is a trekkers paradise. River rafting and wildlife are other attractions.