BOBBILI, a town of British India, in the Vizagapatam district of Madras, 70 m. north of Vizagapatam town. Pop. (1901) 17,387. It is the residence of a raja of old family, whose estate covers an area of 227 sq. m.; estimated income, £40,000; permanent land revenue, £9000.
The attack on the fort at Bobbili made by General Bussy in 1756 is one of the most memorable episodes in Indian history. There was a constant feud between the chief of Bobbili and the raja of Vizianagram; and when Bussy marched to restore order the raja persuaded him that the fault lay with the chief of Bobbili and joined the French with 11,000 men against his rival. In spite of the fact that the French field-pieces at once made practicable breaches in the mud walls of the fort, the defenders held out with desperate valour. Two assaults were repulsed after hours of hand-to-hand fighting; and when, after a fresh bombardment, the garrison saw that their case was hopeless, they killed their women and children, and only succumbed at last to a third assault because every man of them was either killed or mortally wounded. An old man, however, crept out of a hut with a child, whom he presented to Bussy as the son of the dead chief. Three nights later four followers of the chief of Bobbili crept into the tent of the raja of Vizianagram and stabbed him to death. The child, Chinna Ranga Rao, was invested by Bussy with his father’s estate, but during his minority it was seized by his uncle. After a temporary arrangement of terms with the raja of Vizianagram the old feud broke out again, and the Bobbili chief was forced to take refuge in the nizam’s country. In 1794, however, on the break-up of the Vizianagram estate, Chinna Ranga Rao was restored by the British, and in 1801 a permanent settlement was made with his son. The title of raja was recognized as hereditary in the family; that of maharaja was conferred as a personal distinction on Sir Venkataswetachalapati Ranga Rao, K.C.I.E., the adopted great-great-grandson of Chinna Ranga Rao.
For the siege see Imp. Gazetteer of India (Oxford, 1908), s.v. “Bobbili Estate.”