The early accounts of Coorg are purely legendary, and it was not till the 9th and 10th centuries that its history became the subject of authentic record. At this period, according to inscriptions, the country was ruled by the Gangas of Talakad, under whom the Changalvas, kings of Changa-nad, styled later kings of Nanjarayapatna or Nanjarajapatna, held the east and part of the north of Coorg, together with the Hunsur talk in Mysore.
After the overthrow, in the 11th century, of the Ganga power by the Cholas, the Changalvas became tributary to the latter. When the Cholas in their turn were driven from the Mysore country by the Hoysalas, in the 12th century, the Changalvas held out for independence; but after a severe struggle they were subdued and became vassals of the Hoysala kings. In the 14th century, after the fall of the Hoysala rule, they passed under the supremacy of the Vijayanagar empire.
During this period, at the beginning of the 16th century, Nanja Raja founded the new Changalva capital Nanjarajapatna. In 1589 Piriya Raja or Rudragana rebuilt Singapatna and renamed it Piriyapatna (Periapatam). The power of the Vijayanagar empire had, however, been broken in 1565 by the Mahommedans; in 1610 the Vijayanagar viceroy of Seringapatam was ousted by the raja of Mysore, who in 1644 captured Piriyapatna. Vira Raja, the last of the Changalva kings, fell in the defence of his capital, after putting to death his wives and children.
Coorg, however, was not absorbed in Mysore, which was hard pressed by other enemies, and a prince of the Ikkri or Bednur family (perhaps related to the Changalvas) succeeded in bringing the whole country under his sway, his descendants continuing to be rajas of Coorg till 1834. The capital was removed in 1681 by Muddu Raja to Madikeri or Mercara. In 1770 a disputed succession led to the intervention of Hyder Ali of Mysore in favor of Linga Raja, who had fled to him for help, and whom he placed on the throne on his consenting to cede certain territories and to pay tribute.
On Linga Rajas death in 1780 Hyder Ali interned his sons, who were minors, in a fort in Mysore, and, under pretence of acting as their guardian, installed a Brahman governor at Mercara with a Mussulman. garrison. In 1782, however, the Coorgs rose in rebellion and drove out the Mahom-, medans. Two years later Tippu Sultan reduced the country, but the Coorgs having again rebelled in. 1785 he vowed their destruction. Having secured some 70,000 of them by treachery, he drove them to Seringapatam, where he had them circumcised by force. Coorg was partitioned among Mussulman proprietors, and held down by garrisons in four forts. In 1788, however, Vira Raja (or Vira Rajendra Wodeyar), with his wife and his brothers Linga Raja and Appaji, succeeded in escaping from his captivity, at Periapatam and, placing himself at the head of a Coorg rebellion, succeeded in driving the forces of Tippu out of the country. The British, who were about to enter on the struggle with Tippu, now made a treaty with Vira Raja.
During the war that followed the Coorgs proved invaluable allies. By the treaty of peace Coorg, though not adjacent to the East India Companys territories, was included in the cessions forced upon Tippoo. On the spot where he had first met the British commander, General Abercromby, the raja founded the city of Virarajendrapet.
ViraRaja,who, in~consequence of his mind becoming unhinged, was guilty towards the end of his reign of hideous atrocities, died in 1809 without male heirs, leaving his favorite daughter Devammji as rani. His brother Linga Raja, however, after acting as regent for his niece, announced in 1811 ,his own assumption of the government. He died in 1820, and was succeeded by his son Vira Raja, a youth of twenty, and a monster of sensuality and cruelty. Among his victims were all the members of the families of his predecessors, including Devammji.
At last, in 1832, evidence of treasonable designs on the rajas part led to inquiries on the spot by the British resident at Mysore, as the result of which, and of the rajas refusal to amend his ways, a British force marched into Coorg in 1834, On the 11th of April the raja was deposed by Colonel Fraser, the political agent with the force, and on the 7th of May the state was formally annexed to the East India Companys territory. In 1852 the raja, who had been deported to Vellore, obtained leave to visit England with his favorite daughter Gauramma, to whom he wished to give a European education. On the 3oth of June she was baptized, Queen Victoria being one of her sponsors; she afterwards married a British officer who, after her death in 1864, mysteriously disappeared together with their child. Vira Raja himself died in 1863, and was buried in Kensal Green cemetery.
The so-called Coorg rebellion of 1837 was really a rising of the Gaudas, due to the grievance felt in having to pay taxes in money instead of in kind. A man named Virappa, who pretended to have escaped from the massacre of 1820, tried to take advantage of this to assert his claim to be raja, but the Coorgs remained loyal to the British and the attempt failed. In 1861, after the Mutiny, the loyalty of the Coorgs was rewarded by their being exempted from the Disarmament Act.