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

Ramachandra Deva-II with Rajguru (Representation Only)

With Ramachandradeva II, another turbulent phase began in the history of Bhoi dynasty. Immediately after his accession, he had to bear the brunt Nizam’s invasion from Hyderabad. Ramachandradeva’s territory extending between Tekkali, Raghunathpur and the Chilka lake came under the sway of the Nizam. At that crucial phase of his career,Ramachandradeva-I never lost his heart and assembled the native paiks and zamindars. He gave a tough fight to the army of Hyderabad but was easily routed by the army of the Nizam. The above mentioned territory was lost to the Nizam. Taqui Khan, the Naib of Odisha, appointed by Murshid Quli Khan, did not come to the rescue of Raja Ramachandradeva II.

Muhammad Taqui Khan was a religious bigot. Destroying many Hindu shrines in Odisha, he proceeded towards Khurda. Though, Ramachandradeva II had gathered the Paiks around him but by the persuation of the Brahmins, they did not fight for the king and even Bakshi Benu Bhramaravara Rai and Diwan Nilambara Harichandana fled from the battle field. Now, Ramachandradeva appointed two Muslims, Lodhu Miana Diwan and Khalifa Gadadhara Mangaraja as Baksi but the result was negative. Taqui Khan demanded the surrender of Ramachandradeva II after killing the newly appointed Diwan and Bakshi. Though, his order was executed by the kings, Taqui Khan marched towards Khurda, captured Ramachandradeva and brought him to Cuttack. In the meanwhile, Taqui Khan marched towards Khurda and the rebellious sons of Ramachandradeva fled away from the palace. Taqui Khan pursued them and occupied the territory lying between Khurda and Banapur. After leaving Khurda, Bhagirathi Kumar one of the sons of Ramachandradeva II sought the help of the king of Kodala. Athagarh and their combined army brought the disaster for the Mughals. However, Taqui Khan persued Ramachandradeva II to fight on his own behalf against Bhagirathi Kumar who was defeated andleft the battle field marching towards Dasapalla. Still then, Taqui Khan never took Ramachandradeva into confidence and kept him in the palace of Khurda under housearrest. Ramachandradeva II was quite aware about the bigotry of Taqui Khan. So, he had taken steps to remove the images of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra from the Puri Temple, to bring them to Banapur and subsequently to Takkali. The invasion of Taqui Khan to Puri and his entry to the Jagannath temple was proved futile because the idols were absent. So, he again attacked Khurda but Ramachandradeva fled away. The departure of Taqui Khan to Murshidabad, led Ramachandradeva to reinstall the images of the Lords in the temple. Taqui Khan hurried back from Murshidabad and made Ramachandradeva a prisoner in the fort of Barabati. Taqui Khan was murdered in that fort by two Khandayats employed by Rajaguru Paramalakshmi. With the death of Taqui Khan, Murshid Quli Khan II was appointed as the Naib Nazim of Odisha and Ramachandradeva was released from the fort of Barabati. He was greeted by the feudatory chiefs. It is stated that he fell in love with Souria, the daughter of Murshid Quli Khan II and married her being converted to Islam.

This fact is to be taken into account with a pinch of salt. It is to be believed that as he was a weak ruler, he was forced to be converted into Islam. His entry into the temple of God Jagannath was banned after he was converted to Islam. He wanted to enter into the temple by force but he Brahmins and the temple priests obstructed this way and an open rebellion was proclaimed against him. At this juncture, Mir Habib, the Deputy of Murshid Quli, look after administration of Odisha. Out of frustration, he took poison and breathed his last in 1736 A.D.

Surendra Mohanty, a notable novelist of the Odia literature, has glorified the career and achievements of Raja Ramachandradeva II for preserving the honour of the Gods of the temple at Puri in his two monumental historical novels, the Neela Saila and Niladri Vijaya. However, many facts of these two novels are based on imagination of the novelist and should not be taken as solid historical facts. If it is done, it will be a misnomer leaving the history of Odisha on the cross road of puzzles.