Ramachandra Deva II (1721-1736 A. D.)

Another turbulent period in the history of the Bhoi dynasty began with Ramachandradeva II. He was forced to bear the brunt of Nizam’s invasion from Hyderabad immediately following his accession. Ramachandradeva’s territory, which included Tekkali, Raghunathpur, and the Chilka lake, fell under the Nizam’s control. At that pivotal point in his career, Ramachandradeva-I never wavered in his commitment to the indigenous paiks and zamindars. He fought valiantly against the army of Hyderabad but was easily routed by the Nizam’s army. The Nizam gained control of the aforementioned territory. Taqui Khan, appointed by Murshid Quli Khan as Odisha’s Naib, did not come to Raja Ramachandradeva II’s rescue.

Muhammad Taqui Khan was a bigot based on religion. He then proceeded towards Khurda, destroying numerous Hindu shrines in Odisha. Although Ramachandradeva II gathered the Paiks around him, they did not fight for the king due to the Brahmins’ influence, and even Bakshi Benu Bhramaravara Rai and Diwan Nilambara Harichandana fled the battle field. Now, Ramachandradeva appointed two Muslims as Baksi, Lodhu Miana Diwan and Khalifa Gadadhara Mangaraja, but their appointment was unsuccessful. Taqui Khan demanded Ramachandradeva II’s surrender after assassinating the newly appointed Diwan and Bakshi. Though the kings carried out his order, Taqui Khan marched towards Khurda, captured Ramachandradeva, and transported him to Cuttack. Meanwhile, Taqui Khan marched towards Khurda, and Ramachandradeva’s rebellious sons fled the palace. Taqui Khan pursued them and took control of the area between Khurda and Banapur. Bhagirathi Kumar, one of Ramachandradeva II’s sons, sought the assistance of the king of Kodala after leaving Khurda. Athagarh and their combined army were responsible for the Mughals’ demise. Taqui Khan, on the other hand, convinced Ramachandradeva II to fight on his own behalf against Bhagirathi Kumar, who was defeated and marched away from the battle field towards Dasapalla. Even so, Taqui Khan never trusted Ramachandradeva and kept him imprisoned in the palace of Khurda. Ramachandradeva II was well aware of Taqui Khan’s bigotry. As a result, he removed the images of Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra from the Puri Temple and transported them to Banapur, and later to Takkali. Taqui Khan’s invasion of Puri and entry into the Jagannath temple were rendered futile due to the idols’ absence. As a result, he attacked Khurda once more, but Ramachandradeva fled. Ramachandradeva reinstalled the Lords’ images in the temple following Taqui Khan’s departure to Murshidabad. Taqui Khan returned from Murshidabad in a hurry and imprisoned Ramachandradeva in the fort of Barabati. In that fort, Taqui Khan was assassinated by two Khandayats employed by Rajaguru Paramalakshmi. Murshid Quli Khan II was appointed Naib Nazim of Odisha following Taqui Khan’s death, and Ramachandradeva was released from the fort of Barabati. The feudatory chiefs greeted him. According to legend, he fell in love with Souria, Murshid Quli Khan II’s daughter, and married her after she converted to Islam.

This fact should be taken with a grain of salt. It is believed that because he was a weak ruler, he was coerced into becoming a Muslim. His entry into the Jagannath temple was prohibited following his conversion to Islam. He desired to enter the temple by force, but the Brahmins and temple priests stood in his way, and an open rebellion against him was declared. Mir Habib, Murshid Quli’s Deputy, is now in charge of Odisha’s administration. In 1736 A.D., he took poison and expired.

Surendra Mohanty, an eminent novelist of Odia literature, has lauded Raja Ramachandradeva II’s career and accomplishments in preserving the honour of the Gods of the Puri temple in his two monumental historical novels, Neela Saila and Niladri Vijaya. However, many of the facts in these two novels are based on the novelist’s imagination and should not be taken as factual. If this is accomplished, it will be a misnomer, leaving Odisha’s history befuddled.