Amrit Mahal Cattle Breed: The Symbol of Power and Endurance

| Jul 03, 2024
Cattle Breed

During the 19th century, the Amrit Mahal cattle breed gained renown for its power and speed. Initially divided into three types- Hallikar, Hagalvadi, and Chitaldroog- these three kinds were isolated in 1860. The kings of the Mysore State established a herd of cattle comprised of the area’s most common breeds to provide milk and milk products for the palace, and the bullocks were used for transporting army equipment.

Their ability to march 100 kilometres in 2 ½ days, a feat that drew attention in the nineteenth century, showcased their resilience and endurance. Tipu Sultan, the Indian Muslim ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore, championed the conservation of the Amrit Mahal breed, giving it its name and drafting regulations for its welfare maintenance, which are still followed today.     

Amrit Mahal Cattle Breed

The Amrit Mahal cattle breed, known as the “Department of Milk”, has a unique place in India’s agricultural and cultural history. Descended from the Hallikar breed, it shares close ties with breeds like Hagalavadi and Chitradurga. Originally bred for military purposes, its exceptional endurance and speed made it ideal for transporting equipment, solidifying its place in India’s heritage.

The Amrit Mahal cattle breed, with its distinctive elongated heads, prominent foreheads, and unique horn formation, stands as a testament to India’s rich agricultural heritage. While the cows are known for their low milk yield, making them primarily suited for draft work, the breed has received royal support from various dynasties, including the Vijayanagara Kingdom, sultans, and the princely state of Mysore.

 Their journey from military service to dairy and draft work is a testament to their strength and the breed’s critical role in India’s history. Today, preserving and promoting the Amrit Mahal cattle breed is not just a necessity for maintaining biodiversity and supporting local economies but also a way of celebrating India’s agricultural legacy.

Characteristics of Amrit Mahal Breed

This breed has an excellent level of stamina. Once they are trained, they are fine bullocks. Nonetheless, since they roam freely in the pasture without constraints or control, they are highly restless, untamed, and disorderly. With strangers, they behave particularly dangerously. They should be trained with care; brutal treatment makes them stubborn. Unfortunately, they yield less milk. However, A2 desi cow milk obtained from them is nutritious.

  1. The Amrit Mahal cows have a range of grey shades, from white to black, and they have white and grey markings on their face and dewlap. Typically, the muzzle, feet, and tail switch of these cows are black, but they are lighter in older animals. The head is well-shaped, long, and tapered towards the muzzle.
  2. The forehead bulges slightly and is narrower and wrinkled in the middle.
  3. Horns emerge from the top of the head. They are close together in an upward and backward direction. They terminate in sharp black points.
  4. The eyes have a bloodshot appearance.
  5. Ears are small, horizontal, yellow inside, and taper to a point.
  6. The dewlap is thin and does not extend very far.
  7. The covering and belly button flap are petite and near the torso.
  8. A well-developed humped which is shapely in the bulls, with about 8 inches in long.
  9. Cows do not produce a lot of milk; they typically yield an average of 572 kg of milk per lactation.

Amrit Mahal Breed Profile

Height (Avg cm)132.7126
Body Length (Avg cm )134.1133.6
Heart Girth (Avg cm)156149.4
Weight (Avg Kg)500318
Birth Weight (Avg kg)2019.9

Tipu Sultan’s Contribution to Conserving Amrit Mahal Breed

Tipu Sultan showed a keen interest in animal husbandry and tried to make significant improvements in the animal husbandry sector. He renamed Benne Chavadi to Amrit Mahal, which meant the Department of Milk. He allocated bullocks for vast kavals (land), grazing, and training. Tipu organized them into three categories: bullocks for carrying guns, bullocks for carrying packs, and bullocks for ploughing.

Tipu made a Hukumnama, a set of regulations for properly administrating the Amrit Mahal department. These regulations included a systematic count of the heads of cattle conducted regularly. He attended the annual musters, rewarding those who excelled in their duties.

With these bulls, Tipu Sultan could cross the peninsula in just one month, covering 644 km of distance in less than four weeks, for the recovery of Bednore in 1783. This Amrit Mahal breed covered 102 km in two days before Meadows could attempt to cut off his safe route to Srirangapatna. After the fall of Tipu Sultan in the 4th Anglo-Mysore War in 1799, the Department of the Amrit Mahal Bulls came under British control.

Role of Amrit Mahal in Battlefield

The recorded history of The Amrit Mahal cattle shows that it is renowned for its capacity to endure excessive workload and incredible capacity to work tirelessly. Their build-up suggests extensive laborious work, yet they stand strong to fight a battle! A few incidents give us an overview of the use of this breed on the battlefield.

  • When Hyder Ali ruled the Mysore state, the Nizam of Hyderabad attacked the Chitradurga Fort. Hyder Ali had a fleet (a group of warships under one command) of Amrit Mahal oxen in his army! He attempted to tie burning torches to the Horns of 237 of these oxen and let them attack Nizam’s army, which resulted in the defeat of a 3000-strong attacking army.
  • Captain Javinson had Amrit Mahal oxen under his brigade in Afghanistan. According to records, when his herd travelled in the narrow valleys of Teri hills in 1842, the oxen were joyful even after pulling the carts for 16 continuous hours.
  • The Amrit Mahal oxen were credited by Commanding Officer Lord Wellesley for his victory over Napoleon in the Peninsular War.
  • Amrit Mahal oxen were also among the troops deployed in Mesopotamia in the First World War (1914-1918). They kept people shocked by walking faster than camels, tactfully crossing narrow valleys and bridges, adapting to adverse weather conditions, and fighting with less feed.


The Amrit Mahal cattle breed symbolises the spirit of resilience and adaptability, and this breed has served as a beacon of India’s agricultural history. Its preservation is not just about protecting a breed but about maintaining the values of sustainability and tradition.

As the world is falling within the challenges of climate change and food security, this breed becomes gradually relevant, with the importance of valuing India’s agricultural heritage. However, the Amrit Mahal cattle face significant challenges, a steady population decline, and changes in their characteristics due to inadequate conservation efforts. The breed’s importance spread beyond its economic value; it has created a critical link to India’s past and symbolised the nation’s agricultural diversity. 

Frequently Asked Question

  1. What is the Amrit Mahal cow famous for?

    Amrit Mahal is a famous draught breed known for its power and endurance. Its animals are active and fiery. The average milk yield per lactation is 572 kg.

  2. What is the difference between Hallikar and Amrit Mahal?

    The Amrit Mahal breed mainly includes draft cattle, a milch breed from earlier times. The Hallikar breed is a compact and muscular cattle breed.

  3. What is the price of Amrit Mahal’s cow?

    The Amrit Mahal breed costs 2 to 3 lakhs, depending on milk yield, production, age, and lactation status.

  4. What is the history of Amrit Mahal cow?

    The Amrit Mahal is a breed that originated in Mysore in Karnataka, India. It resembles the Hallikar breed and is closely related to the Hagalavadi and Chithradurg breeds.

  5. What was the Amrit Mahal used for?

    The mid-1800s rulers of Mysore state developed the Amrit Mahal cattle breed to suit the local area. The cattle were mainly used to transport war weapons, pack, plough, and gun bullocks.

  6. What are the defining traits of Amrit Mahal cattle?

    The Amrit Mahal cattle are typically grey, ranging from almost white to nearly black. Some may have white-grey facial markings and dewlap in a distinct pattern. The muzzle, feet, and tail switch are generally black, but the colour appears lighter in older animals.

  7. Which districts of Karnataka do we find the Amrit Mahal cow?

    Amrit Mahal has breeding tracts in Karnataka’s Chitradurga, Hassan, Shimoga, Tumkur, and Davangere districts.

  8. Which cow gives more milk in Rajasthan?

    Rathi cows are mainly found in Rajasthan; they are efficient and good milkers.

  9. Which cow milk is costly?

    The Gir Cows are superior quality, providing pure A2 milk from Gir Cows, which is precious, rare, and expensive. The Average cost of the cows is more than Rs1.25 Lakhs.

  10. What is the lifespan of a cow?

    A cow has a natural life expectancy of up to 20 years.


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