Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Maharaja's Passion

Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar | Painted lithograph
Throughout history, there have been kings and queens who have had an odd yen for playing traditional board games. In the West it was gambling with dice or any game that involved a wager but in the East many of the games were enigmatic puzzles and it was in the realm of board games that one king in colonial India became famous as an inventor of board games.

Maharaja His Highness Sir Sri Krishnaraja Wadiyar Bahadur III, ruled Mysuru between 1799 and 1868 C.E.; during this period the kingdom of Mysuru became a rare hothouse of cultural renaissance. He played all popular board games, improved many of them and even invented new ones. He also chronicled board games and had his court scribes and artists prepare elegant manuscripts about them. His passion for the Knight's Magic Tour and its unique solution, has earned him fame.

Murals of portraits and puzzles, Ranga Mahal, Jaganmohana Palace, Mysuru
The king's love for liberal arts and his penchant for traditional board games was given a boost since the administrative control of his kingdom was in the hands of the British East India Company. The time-tested ploy of ruinous mismanagement, which the English Resident charged the king with, saw the reigns of the kingdom with the English and the king was put on pension. Mummadi, with enforced leisure on his hands, did not succumb, as so many other native princes, to carnal pleasures but sought inner peace in the mysterious world of traditional board games.

The Jaganmohana Palace, where the king used to retire, exists to this day as Sri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery. It is in the many storeys of this Palace that one looks on with awe as entire walls are covered with exquisitely painted murals of board games and puzzles, in the old-Mysuru-tradition of painted pavilions.
A page from the manuscript of Kautuka Nidhi (Sri Tattvanidhi) illustrating the board game of Navagraha Pagaday

The king was also a scholar par excellence, a dramatist of merit, a polyglot at ease with Kannada, Persian, Telugu, Marathi and Tamil, and above all he was a patron of arts. It was also said that the king was a satirist of no mean order and that he had a personal 'court jester' to entertain him and his courtiers. Diaries and official communiqués from the Resident's office to the Viceroy's Home Office speak of his demeanour as being 'courteous and soft-spoken,' 'erudite yet diffident', a 'knowledgeable conversationalist with a sense of humour' and as a man of fine taste.

The king commissioned scholarly works; he wrote literary masterpieces in elegantly ornate Kannada (State language), about seventy in number. The monumental Sri Tattvanidhi is said to have been compiled by him. This multi-volume compendium of iconographical incantations speaks of the enormous grasp the king had over the realm of 'agama' based ritual and spirituality. Among the many literary works, mention may be made of Chamundika-Nighantu, Saugandhika-Parinaya, Sri Nanjunda Sataka and Navagraha-puja-Manjari.

Yet in the midst of this intellectual endeavour, the king's passion for board games was unbounded as was his passion for horses. His Pachisi innovation with its spiritual implications is remarkable for its ingenuity. Eight of the 24 squares in each arm are inscribed with a pictorial image along with an inscription in Kannada. The inscription instructs the player on whether the counter can jump forwards or backwards along the track. This may appear to be similar to the game of Snakes & Ladders. But there is a surprise to this Pachisi game for there is a subtle Karmic philosophy that is embedded.

In a similar vein is the 12-armed Pachisi, called Navagraha Pagaday that resembles a lotus in bloom. It has 12 x 12 or 144 squares. The game's 12 arms or petals are clustered together around the 12 signs of the zodiac. There are other planetary symbols at the centre giving the game an astrological characteristic.

Mummadi playing Chess with Rama Vilasa Sannidhana | Mysore painting | K.S. Shreehari | 2007
The king's passion was not limited to thinking up enigmatic variations but long hours of play with a few choice confidantes. In a private temple dedicated to the god Venkataramana, on the street close to the Jaganmohana Palace, one can see to this day a relief sculpture of a local but well-known religious balladeer, one Subbaraya Dasa. It was with this Subbaraya Dasa that the king enjoyed many a game. The king would also sit down for a game with his favourite consort, the Maharani Rama Vilasa Sannidhana.

It is believed that there are at least six illustrated board game manuscripts that credit authorship to Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar. There is Chaturanga Sarasarvasva, the Sri Krishnaraja Chaturanga Sudhakara, the Sankhya Shastra, the Kempu Kitabu and two versions of the Chaturanga Chamatkrita Chakramanjari. Another classic, the Chaturanga Chakra is in the library of the Kuvempu Institute of Kannada Studies at the Manasagangotri campus of the University of Mysore.
Incomplete puzzle of knight's magic tour in the form of a Vyali, Mural at Jaganmohana Palace, Mysuru

Mummadi admired mathematical puzzles. They form a recurring theme in many of his works. For instance there is the knight's magic tour which is a classical maths puzzle that has intrigued board game theorists across the world. The aim of this chess-inspired conundrum is to use a single chess-counter, the knight, to 'tour' (more of a symbolic word) each square without 'revisiting' any square twice. But each square also contains a letter. By stopping sequentially on a selection of letters, the knight's magic tour puzzle now assumes the nature of an acrostic, a riddle in which the first, last or other letters can be 'arranged' to form a verse or a set of meaningful words.

The polychrome mural painting of the knight's magic tour can be seen in the top floor of the Sri Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery in Mysuru. Along with these murals many objects exists in this gallery, like a set of brass plates which are inscribed with different grids and configurations for board games or knight's 'tour' diagrammatic drawings with numbers as well as annotations that explain rules in addition to further interpretative remarks. Why would the king go to such lengths if not for letting board game players and enthusiasts across the world into the secrets of anagrams, cryptograms and magic squares that he had devised?

Game of Panchi | Inscribed brass plate | Collection and courtesy: British Museum
It is believed that several sets of these brass plates were made and a complete set of 23 is in the collection of the British Museum in London. The entire collection of board games and other assorted gifts including a miniature version of the Mysuru royal throne in silver were sent by Mummadi to the ruling British sovereign along with a request to end the rule of the British Commissioners; these were usually sent at the opening session of the British Parliament.

Mummadi is also said to have improved the card game of Ganjifa (Chad). In the Kautuka Nidhi (9th book of Sri Tattvanidhi), he describes 13 new variations of Ganjifa card games. These require anywhere between 36 and 360 cards. For example, the 360 cards sets had 18 suits. Each suit having 18 cards was presided over by a particular god or goddess. There  were also a number of additional cards that did not belong to any particular suit. These cards had different role in the game .
A Ganjifa card from the Chamundeshwari Chad

Jeff Hopewell, an acknowledged authority on Ganjifa cards, has written scores of scholarly articles on them. He has organised exhibitions of Ganjifa in Belgium and England. In one of his articles he mentions the 'Chamundeshwari Chad' with 16 suits devised by Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar in which one is headed by Chamundi, the ruling deity of Mysuru. Hopewell describes the set thus: 'There are six court cards depicting the deity on an elephant, in a palanquin, on a chariot, on a horse, seated and standing by a fort with the regal standard fluttering in the wind.'

Yet another example of Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar's invention surfaced in 1982 when it went under the hammer at a London auction house. The auction house described it as a 'double-sided reversible folding game board in rosewood, inlaid with ivory.' It was the Karmic game of Shivasayujya Mukti Ata.

This game revolves around spiritual and philosophical thoughts and is meant for four players. Here, the final winning square is in the centre of the board depicted as the abode of Shiva who is shown in the form of 'Mukhalinga'. The four players have six pieces each whose starting squares are marked within the lotuses at the corners of the board. On the reverse of this game board is the Devisayujya Mukti Ata game dedicated to the goddess Chamundeshwari and even this game is based on the philosophy of Karma.

Mummadi has left an unusually detailed record of his devotion to board games. Sadly many of these records are available not in Mysuru or even in some of the great museums in India but are on display at well known museums in foreign countries. Several others are to be found in the catalogue of auctioneers like Sotheby's and Christie's and in private collections abroad.

The corpus of work on board games by Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar is mindboggling. Yet there is still a vacuum that needs to be filled. Many of his board games and puzzles are worthy of research by board game aficionados and scholars; this would add substantially to one's understanding of this enigmatic ruler. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

A Fitting Tribute To a Scholar King

A Fitting Tribute To a Scholar King

Major-General H.H. Maharaja Sri Sir Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar Bahadur
Maharaja of Mysore - 18 Jul. 1919 to 23 Sep. 1974

18 July 2016, a well known circle of Mysoreu, Hardinge Circle was rechristened as Jayachamarajendra Circle (eventually will be shortened as JC Circle) as the city finally honoured the last ruler of the erstwhile Mysuru State with the installation of a full-body portrait statue of the last Maharaja of Mysore. There are still a few more Colonial appendages like Lansdowne Building (it was originally known as Lansdowne Bazaar and was inaugurated by Lord Lansdowne) or the Dufferin Clock Tower or Chikka Gadiyara opposite Devaraja Market (inaugurated by Lady Dufferin) or the Curzon Park (honouring the visit of Lord and Lady Curzon) and Irwin Road.

Hardinge Circle was named in commemoration of the visit of Viceroy Lord Hardinge to Mysore. There used to be a flowery hedged circle with a high post with five domed lights in the middle of the crossroads. The circular garden vanished without a trace yet the name remained, ‘Hardinge Circle’, called raucously by bus conductors, ‘Aardinsurkel.’

Towards Kuppanna park on Mirza Ismail road

The location of the Jayachamarajendra Circle at the culmination of the Albert Victor road is meaningful as we already have the statues of two other iconic rulers of Mysore in a row. KR Circle, as it is known, is a commemorative statue to His Highness Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar whose achievements for the well-being and development of Mysore has been well-documented, likewise the majestic commemorative statue of Chamarajendra Wadiyar in front of the Jayarama and Balarama gate of the Palace.

Hardinge Circle and Mirza Ismail Road (seen in the background, a narrow road) as seen from Albert Victor road
History seems to have ‘overlooked’ the reign, brief though it was, of  Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar. Major-General H.H. Maharaja Sri Sir Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar Bahadur, Maharaja of Mysore. He was born on 18 July 1919 at the Chamundi Vihar Palace to Yuvarani Kempu Cheluvajammanni Avaru and H H Yuvaraja Kanthirava Narasimharaja Wadiyar Bahadur.

Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar had his early schooling at the Lokaranjan Mahal Royal School followed by graduate studies at Maharaja’s College of Mysore University and awarded a BA in 1938.

The death of his father on 11 March 1940 led to the title, ‘Yuvaraja Bahadur’ being conferred on him. The death of his uncle, the Maharaja on 3 August 1940, led to Jayachamarajendra ascending the throne on 29 August 1940 and anointed and installed as the Maharaja of Mysore on 8 September 1940.

Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar was installed as the ruler of Mysore at a time when the winds of freedom were blowing across the country. The nascent freedom fighters had already made inroads in various parts of the State. Mysore was not an exception. Maharaja Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar signed the 'Instrument of Accession' on 9 August 1947 and Mysore became a part of the Dominion of India on 15 August 1947. With an agreement merging Mysore with Indian Union on 26 January 1950, he ceased to be sovereign.

Later he was installed as ‘Rajapramukh’ of the State of Mysore and held this post till 31 October 1956. He was made the Governor of Mysore on 1 November 1956 and continued till 3 May 1964, further he was made the Governor of Madras and he served till 25 June 1966.

The then Maharaja had made certain conditions to the accession of Mysore to the Republic of India and this assurance made by the then party in power was rudely given a jolt when an Amendment to the Constitution was passed in 28 December 1971 by which the position of countless rulers were deprived of their rights as 'rulers’ and the privy purse guaranteed under the accession agreement was abolished. Overnight, kings became ‘commoners.’

This betrayal led to an anguished Maharaja forsake the grand Dasara celebrations; placing the royal sword on the throne he retreated to a private forest reserve near Bandipur.

HH Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar married twice. The first marriage which took place at the Kalyana Mantapa of the Palace on 15 May 1938 was to Satya Premakumari Devi-ammanni avaru, the daughter of Pratap Singh Deo Bahadur of Jigni. The couple had no children. The Maharaja’s second marriage was to Maharani Tripurasundari Devi Ammanni Avaru, daughter of Balananja Raje Urs, an officer in the Mysore State Forces. Both Maharanis died at Mysore in 1983 within a span of fifteen days.

Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar died on 23 September 1974 at the Bangalore Palace leaving behind one son and four daughters (the eldest daughter had predeceased him).

Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar was an accomplished musician in both Carnatic and Western classical music. He was an excellent pianist and there was a time when he expressed the desire to be a concert pianist and play with the great orchestras of Europe. In 1948 he was elected President of the London Philharmonic Orchestra Society. He was also an Honorary Fellow of Trinity College of Music, London (1946) and a Licentiate of the famed Guildhall School of Music.

Blessed with an ear for music Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar discovered Russian composer Nikolai Karlovich Medtner. A contemporary of Rachmaninoff and Scriabin, he wrote several compositions, all of which include the piano.  Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar discovered Medtner when the latter was living in London and in failing health. The Maharaja founded the Medtner Society with the objective of recording all Medtner's works and managed to record several concertos with the London Philharmonic Orchestra whose first president was the Maharaja. In gratitude to his patron, Medtner dedicated his Third Piano Concerto to the Maharaja of Mysore.

The Maharaja was also equally at home in the realm of Carnatic music, both as an instrumentalist and a composer. There are 74 Carnatic compositions by him.

He was also the (Vice) Chancellor of Mysore, Madras, Annamalai Universities as well as the Benares Hindu University. Like his forefathers he was a Patron & Chief Scout of Mysore State between 1940-1956, Chairman of the Wildlife Board of India. He was conferred a Hon LL.D by the Banaras Hindu University (1942), a D.Lit. by the Annamalai University in 1955 and a Hon. D.Lit. from the University of Queensland, Australia.

That he was deeply spiritual can be gauged by his scholarly books: “An Aspect of Indian Aesthetics” (1956), “Dattatreya-the Way and the Goal” (1957), “The Quest for Peace: an Indian Approach” (1959), “The Gita and Indian Culture” (1963) and “Religion and Man” (1965).

It is said that he had visited the ashram of the sage, Ramana Maharishi, in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu. No Palace diarist has recorded this meeting but what is available is a book published by the ashram, ‘Day by day with Bhagavan’ by one Devaraja Mudaliar. In an entry dated 1945, there is Devaraja Mudaliar and others talking to Ramana Maharishi. Asks Mudaliar: ‘It is said that the Mysore Maharaja had come to see you.’ Nodding in agreement, the Sage replies: ‘He just sat quietly. He did not ask any questions. After sometime he bowed and took his leave saying that he would like to live here but the call of his people was too strong.’

Maharaja was also a good equestrian and fond of dogs. Regular visitors to the Palace in the late 50s would normally be shocked when they were in the Amba Vilas waiting to see the Maharaja, they would instead be forced into immobility as a pair of giant hounds wandered in and sat flanking the hapless visitor. The Maharaja would arrive, apologise on behalf of the dogs. “They will not hurt a fly” the Maharaja is said to have remarked leading one of the visitors to comment later on, “but I am not a fly.’ The Maharaja was quite accessible to his subjects and visitors.

Those fortunate enough to have met him would unanimously say, 'A gentleman and a scholar.'
18 July 2016. Unveiling of JC Circle
L-R: Rajamata Pramoda Devi, Maharajakumaris Kamakshi Devi and Indrakshi Devi, Maharaja Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar, Maharani Trishika Devi and Sri R. Rajachandra


PS: Lord Hardinge of Penshurst, British Diplomat and Statesman, served as Viceroy of India from 1910 to 1916. His tenure was a memorable one. King George V visited India and the Delhi Durbar was held in 1911. He also oversaw the shifting of the captial from Calcutta to New Delhi in 1912.
He had friendly relations with most of the ruling princes and this enabled him to negotiate the deployment of native Indian troops to areas outside India during World War I in 1914.
Lord Hardinge of Penshurst

In 1916 after he stepped down as Viceroy, he returned to his former post in England - Permanent Under Secretary at Foreign Office. In 1920 he was appointed as the Ambassador to France before his retirement in 1922. He died on 2 August 1944, aged 86.

This article was published in Star of Mysore on 02 July 2016

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Order of Gandaberunda

Fig.0. HH Sri Sir Chamarajendra Wadiyar Bahadur.
Artist: K. Keshavayya. Collection: Mythic Society, Bengaluru
The Royal ‘Order of the Gandaberunda’ was instituted by His Highness, Sri Sir Chamarajendra Wadiyar, 23rd Maharaja in 1892 to confer recognition of : (1) Meritorious service rendered by public servants, (2) Voluntary acts of private philanthropy and (3) Services rendered in the cause of learning. At least 304 individuals were given this Order between 1892 and January 26th 1950. The ‘Palace Annual Gradation Lists’ in the State Archives mentions a few such awardees.
The reason for recalling this princely honour is that 2017 marks 125 years of the institution of Order of Gandaberunda (Figure 1).

Fig.1. Order of the Gandaberunda
For the record, Chamarajendra Wadiyar was officially adopted by Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar on 18-6-1865. His adoption was ratified by the British overlords on 16-4-1867 and it was during the silver jubilee of the ratification of his ascension to the throne that he instituted the Order of Gandaberunda in 1892.

During Krishnaraja Wadiyar the IV’s rule these Orders and titles were conferred from the throne on the European Durbar Day during the Dasara festivities but from 1942 Maharaja H.H. Jayachamraja Wadiyar conferred awards on his birthday festivities till 1949.

Fig.2. Dewan Sheshadri Iyer.
Artist: Felix Wicksler.
Collection: Banquet Hall,
Vidhana Soudha, Bengaluru
But an order or title could not be instituted without the permission and approval of the design from the Viceroy’s office. The Order of the Gandaberunda instituted by Chamaraja Wadiyar in 1892 was  seen as a threat to the supremacy of the King Emperor. It marks the ingenuity of the courtiers that when the Order of the Gandaberunda was designed it was chain worn around the neck with the pendant close to the throat. The British had made it clear that the Order or for that matter any other princely order or title could not be placed in a superior position on the chest to any award given by and on behalf of the King Emperor. The Gandaberunda Order fit snugly at the base of the throat making it quite clear what was superior! Thus cock a snook at the King-Emperor’s diktats! (Figure 2)

Earlier when H.H. Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar wanted to continue giving of the Gandaberunda Order, the Resident wanted to know why there was any necessity at all. H.H. Maharaja Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar’s caustic riposte: “They are merely the continuance of the ancient custom of conferring Birudus and Mana Mariyadas (titles, decoration, souvenirs, Khillats etc) on persons who by their learning, benevolence or services to the public, the State or the Sovereign, have deserved recognition at his hands.” (Dewan of Mysore’s letter to the Resident, September 7th 1920/ Residency records of Mysore/India Office /IOLRR2/ (37/354).

Fig.3. Double-headed Eagle Stupa, Sirkap, Taxashila
The origins of the two-headed ferocious raptor as an insignia may perhaps lie in Vedic mythology as well as in the hieroglyphic etchings found at Mohenjo-Daro and the relief sculpture found at Taxashila (Figure 3).

Fig.4. Vishnu Nidhi of Sritattva Nidhi
It may be of interest to know that H.H. Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar’s magnum opus, Sritattvanidhi contains several references and illustrations of the mythical Gandaberunda (Figure 4).

Fig.5. Berundeshwara, Balligave
In the temple at Balligave in Shimoga district, the Gandaberunda assumes an anthropomorphic form having a gigantic human torso complete with two arms and legs while retaining the twin avian heads. This unique scultpure is worshipped as Berundeshwara (Figure 5).

Fig.6. Ceiling relief, Rameshwara temple,
Keladi, Shimogga District, Karnataka
The ceiling carving of the Rameshwara temple in the town of Keladi in Shimoga District, which was the capital of the Keladi Nayakas, is an evocative depiction of the power of the mythical bird. This relief carving shows a double-headed eagle (Garuda Be-runda) grasping two lions in its beaks and two elephants in its talons (Figure 6).

The unique form of the Gandaberunda led to kingdoms like Chalukyan, Hoysalas, Keladi Nayak, and the Kadambas and of course the Wadiyars using the motif in crests and seals. The Vijayanagar king Achyuta Deva Raya (1529–1542) was perhaps the first to use the Gandaberunda image on gold pagodas (gadyana) (Figure 7).

Fig.7. Obverse and reverse of Gadyana
However, the earliest recorded twin-headed bird clutching two hares in its talons is found at the Hittite temple at Turkey dating back to 14th century B.C.E. (Figure 8)

Fig.8. Sphinx Gate, Hittite temple, Alaca Hoyuk, Turkey
The Gandaberunda honour was classified into several categories. For instance, the Order of the Gandaberunda for Meritorious Service by a Public servant was a precious stone chain with a pendant (Padaka) (Residency Records of Mysore/ IO: RR/2 (37/354): Resident of Mysore to the Government of India, December 23, 1920).

The Padaka consisted of the Royal emblem, the twin-headed bird with wings displayed, all within a wreath open at the top. From the points of which were attached the chain to pass around the neck. The body and wings of the bird and the leaves of the wreath were composed of Rubies, Emeralds, Sapphires interspersed with diamonds depending on the class. There was also another variation in design wherein the Gandaberunda was encased in a gem-studded collet. The Order was suspended around the neck by a golden chain with button shaped flower encrusted with precious stones according to the class awarded.
Fig.9. Original illustration of Class B Pendant.
Collection: Ramsons Kala Pratisthana

By 1944 the Gandaberunda Order was reclassified: A1 reserved for Dewans and chief ministers, A2 for the chief justice, B1 (Figure 9) for ministers and judges of high courts and important Sirdars, B2 for heads of departments, C1 for significant donations to charities, C2 for proficiency in fine arts, and D (Figure 10) for scholars and musicians.

Fig.10. Original illustration of Class D Bracelet.
Collection: Ramsons Kala Pratisthana
The Palace Office Annual Gradation List mentions  several awardees : Rajabhushana Sirdar Mudduraj Urs, Secretary-in-Waiting to His Highness, RajaSabhaBhushana Thumboo Chetty, Karnataka BhashaRathna Mahavidwan Karibasappa Sastri, Rajadharmapravina K.S. Chandrasekhar Aiyer, a retired Chief Judge, Rajakaryaprasakta Dewan Bahadur M.N. Krishna Rao, Rajamantrapravina K. Matthan I-G, Education Department, Rajamantra pravina H.V. Nanjundaiya, a former Chief Judge, acting Dewan, the first Vice Chancellor of Mysore University and founder President of the Kannada Sahitya Sammelan, Rajadharmapravina Dewan Bahadur Ramachandra Iyer, Vastukalasevasakta T. Cheluvachar (Figure 11), Rajamantrapravina Dewan Bahadur Raghavendra Rao who was a tutor to HH Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar and later revenue commissioner and several others whose names have to be left out for lack of space.
Fig.11. Collection: M.R. Rajaram, Mysuru

A variation of the Gandaberunda Order for military service seems to have stemmed from the fact that in the Great War (1914-1919) Mysore State had attached regiments of the Imperial Service Lancers (Mysore Lancers) and the Mysore Transport Corps and it was felt that a war medal be instituted to honor men who had shown exceptional bravery. These were in four classes: First Class, Second Class, Third Class and Fourth Class and promulgated in the Mysore Durbar Orders. (From letters of Lt. Col R. E. Holland, C.I.E., Political Secretary to the Govt of India., to H.V. Cobb, Resident at Mysore, December 1919 –Residency Records/Mysore/ IOLRR/2//36/350/Mysore War Medal)
Two of the awardees of the Order of the Gandaberunda First Class for bravery in the Great War were Col. Desaraj Urs and B. Chamaraja Urs. Col. Desaraj Urs was the brother-in-law of the Maharaja H.H. Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV while Sirdar Bahadur B Chamaraja Urs was the grandfather of Maharani H.H. Tripurasundaramanni Avaru!

Fig.12. Col. Desaraj Urs.
Photo Courtesy: R. Raja Chandra
Col. Desaraj Urs (Figure 12) (attaché in Mysore Military Department) served in Egypt (October 1914-January 1916) and his name was mentioned in the despatches of General Maxwell, Commander-in-Chief of the forces in Egypt. In August 1917 in appreciation of the services rendered by him His Highness the Maharaja in June 1918 decorated him with a first class medal of the Gandaberunda Order.

Sirdar Bahadur Chamaraja Urs saw action in Gaza (Palestine) in November 1917. On the 7th February 1918 Brigadier- General C.R. Harbard, Commanding the Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade ‘mentioned in despatches‘ the bravery of Risaldar B Chamaraja Urs of Mysore Lancers with the recommendation that the Maharaja of Mysore be informed forthwith. The Maharaja honored Chamaraja Urs with the first class Medal of the Gandabherunda Order and the position of Lt. Col. in the Mysore State Forces.

Incidentally the insignia of the Gandaberunda was incorporated in the design of golden cuff-links gifted to Europeans on the Durbar Day during the reign of H.H. Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV (Figure 13)
Fig.13. Golden Cufflink of Gandaberunda

One more interesting tidbit is that among the scores of Gandaberunda insignias found in stained glass, iron fretwork, Stone, stucco and even cement seen at the Chamarajendra Technical Institute (CTI), the Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel, K.R. Hospital, Fire Brigade, several ones in the Palace, the Police Commissioner’s office and other places are not identical. Each seems to have its own unique variation.

To those interested in the memorabilia of Indian princely medals, this writer recommends two eminently readable books: “Indian Princely Medals” by Tony McClenaghan and Wing Commander E.H. O’Toole’s “Decorations of the Indian Princely States.”

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Royal Weddings – an affair to remember

Raja Ravi Varma painted the official wedding portrait of the royal couple H.H. Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar Bahadur IV and H.H. Maharani Sri Pratapa Kumari Lakshmi Vilasa Sannidhana; the oil on canvas portrait is in the collection of Mysore Royal family. Featured above is the 61x76 cms sized oleograph, printed in Germany. This popular print can still be seen at bhajana mandiras and residences of aristocrats in Mysuru. The wedding took place on 6 June 1900 at Jaganmohan Palace where a large hall was specially constructed for this wedding as the main palace was under construction. This oleograph depicts the sixteen-years-old Maharaja with his eleven-years-old royal consort. The invitation in Kannada reads the bride's name as Chi. Sou. Ku. Pratap Kuvari, daughter of Jhala Rana Vinay Simha. Whereas, the official version in the 'History of Mysore' by Hayavadana Rao states the details as Maharani Pratapa Kumari Ammanni avaru Lakshmi Vilasa Sannidhana (born 1889) youngest daughter of Rana Sri Bane Sinhji Saheb, Rana Sahib of Muli (Vana) in Kathiawar region of western India. Collection: Ramsons Kala Pratishtana, Mysuru.

“God created the Maharajas to provide a spectacle to humanity” wrote Rudyard Kipling. And what a royal spectacle they were, their lives, the stuff dreams are made of, their alliances and misalliances and of course their fabulous and fabled weddings. Vintage photographs of some of the royal weddings show the bridal couple simply dripping with ruby, emerald, sapphire and diamond studded jewellery.

A hand written invitation with a simple floral trellis border issued under the joint oval seal of dowager Maharanis H.H. Rama Vilasa Sannidhana and H.H. Seeta Vilasa Sannidhana is for the wedding of Chi. Ra. Devaparthiva Raja, grand son of Krishnaraja Wadiyar III. The invitation dated 23 June 1877 has an ornate box below the oval seal stating 'Rani sahebarugalavara hukum'. Collection: Ramsons Kala Pratishtana, Mysuru

Little wonder that India was and continues to be known as the ‘land of Maharajas’ and their weddings are 'heavenly spectacle on earth.’

1897. Wedding portrait of Maharajakumari Jayalakshmammanni avaru and Sri Kantharaj Urs who later rose to become Dewan of Mysore state (1919 to 1922). He was the brother of H.H. Dowager Maharani Kempanajnammanni Vani Vilasa Sannidhana. It was during this wedding that the front portion of the old palace was engulfed in an accidental fire. Collection: Ramsons Kala Pratishtana, Mysuru

We are about to witness one such royal wedding, that of Yaduveer Krishnadatta- Chamarajendra Wadiyar with Trishika Kumari on June 27th/28th. Incidentally the young couple got engaged in May 2013 and their engagement was blessed so it is said by the Late scion of the Wadiyar dynasty, Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar and his wife Pramoda Devi Wadiyar.

1898. Royal couple in regal finery. Maharajakumari Cheluvajammanni avaru, sister of H.H. Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV with her consort Sri Lakshmi Kantharaj Urs.Collection: Ramsons Kala Pratishtana, Mysuru

What is it about a royal wedding that makes the spectator go ‘Ooooh’ with a gasp of wonder?
The formal wedding photograph of Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV and Pratapa Kumari taken on June 6th 1900, gives a glimpse of the opulence surrounding the wedding.
6 June 1900. The British Resident in attendance at the royal wedding reception. Standing L-R: M.Kantharaj Urs, A. Veerappaji Urs, V.N. Narasimha Iyengar, B. Krishne Urs, H. Nanjunda Raj Urs, M.N anjaraj Urs, T. Basavaraj Urs, H. Lingaraj Urs, Col. J.Desraj Urs. Sitting L-R: Col. Robertson, Resident, Yuvaraja Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wadiyar, H.H. Maharani Lakshmi Vilasa Sannidhana, H.H. Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV, Lakshmi Kantharaj Urs and Dewan Sheshadri Iyer. Source: India Office Records, UK

Following the various formalities, the newly wedded couple were on June 14th taken in as grand a procession as the Dasara with all its fanfare. A note about the wedding was sourced from the India Office Records (Govt of UK). It says...

“Grand procession commenced at 10 pm with the Maharaja seated in the gold ambari on a magnificent state elephant. After leaving the fort, it proceeded through the main streets of the town and reached the palace around 1 am next day for the wedding ceremony.” The pity is that there is no photographic evidence of the crowds that thronged the street to rejoice in their Maharaja’s wedding to a Princess from the ‘North.’ However, the oil on canvas portrait of the young couple by the celebrated artist Raja Ravi Varma captures the opulence of the occasion.

Another entry of 1910 states that nearly 5000 people thronged the palace premises to witness the ritual of 'Kashi Yatre' performed at Yuvaraja Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wadiyar's wedding within the fort.
1910. The 'Kashi Yatre' ritual of Yuvaraja Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wadiyar, younger son of H.H. Maharaja Chamarajendra Wadiyar Bahadur and H.H. Maharani Kempananjammanni Vani Vilasa Sannidhana. This was the first major event in the palace which was under-construction. In the foreground, H.H. Maharaja and H.H. Yuvaraja stand beside white royal parasols. Just behind them are the famed Mysore Lancers. In the background, the massive stone pillars that are visible behind the temporary ceremonial portico is now the inner courtyard of the palace. Collection: Ramsons Kala Pratishtana, Mysuru

It is curious to discover that some of the Mysore Royals are ‘matrimonially connected’ to Royal families in the northern regions of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

The genealogical chart of the Mysore Royal House right from the reign of Chamarajendra Wadiyar X (ruled 1881–1895) until the present day indicates marriage alliances were being forged with Kshatriya kingdoms from the North. These exogamous marriages have been increasing since the end of the 19th Century.

In the book, 'Speeches of Dewan Kantharaje Urs' it is mentioned that H.H. Chamarajendra Wadiyar was desirous of finding Rajput grooms for his charming daughters. However, the first exogamous marriage was between Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV, son of Chamarajendra Wadiyar, and a Rajput princess from the north.

After Chamarajendra’s death, the dowager Maharani Kempananjammanni Vani Vilasa Sannidhana who became the Regent on behalf of her young son Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV sought the British Resident’s assistance to secure an alliance. The Resident, W. Macworth Young, agreed, and sent several letters to the other British Residents and Agents in Rajputana, Central India and Bombay Presidency in December 1895.

The Residents and Agents claimed that the Rajput rulers were not convinced that the Mysore family belonged to their caste, and it is noted that there would be difficulties in effecting a matrimonial alliance with Mysore unless a beginning could be made by marrying a Mysore princess to a Rajput chief. This too seemed to be an uphill task. Meticulous minutes by the Assistant Resident point out to one proposal that had to be vetoed because of demands of a dowry! This proposal came from the Maharao of Kota, Mahendra Umaid Singh II to marry a princess of Mysore. The Maharao wanted a dowry of Rs 5,00,000, this was a huge amount of money considering that the civil list of the Mysore Maharaja, which was one of the largest amongst Indian princes, was at that time only Rs 14,00,000. The alliance failed to materialise. (India Office Records, Govt of UK).

Again we take recourse to the Resident’s minutes which states that the late Maharaja Chamarajendra Wadiyar had met the Raja of Morvi, Thakur Waghji Ravalji II, and offered one of his daughters to the son of Morvi ruler. But this proposal too was dropped when it was discovered that the Mysore and Morvi families belonged to the same gotra.

18 June 1941. Twin weddings of younger sisters of H.H. Maharaja Jayachamaraja Wadiyar were performed on the same day. Left: Maharajakumari Vijayalakshmammanni with Pradyumna Sinhji Himmat Sinhji, Raja of Kotda Sangni, Saurashtra. Right: H.H. Maharani Sri Jayachamundammanni with H.H. Maharaja Sri Brajindra Sawai Brijendra Singhji Bahadur, Bahadur-Jung of Bharatpur, Rajasthan. The couples pose for an informal picture at the end of the rituals at the Mysore Palace. Collection: Ramsons Kala Pratishtana, Mysuru

The much sought after Rajput alliance came when Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar’s marriage took place with H.H. Maharani Lakshmivilas Sannidhana Pratapa Kumari Devi ammani avaru who belonged to a family of Parmar Rajputs of Saurashtra.

Later several alliances with ruling Rajput families were forged. For example all three daughters of Yuvaraja Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wadiyar, had been married off to Rajput royal families outside the State. Princess Sujayakanthammanni and Princess Vijayadevi had been married into the royal houses of the principalities of Sanad (Baghela Rajputs) and Kotada Sangani (Jadeja Rajputs) respectively in Gujarat. However, the third sister, Maharajakumari Sri Jayachamundammanni had married the Maharaja of Bharatpur in Rajasthan, the family belonged to the Sinsiniwar Jat lineage.
March 1943. Youngest daughter of H.H. Yuvaraja Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wadiyar and Yuvarani Kempu Cheluvajammanni avaru, Maharajakumari Sujayakanthammanni avaru was married to H.H. Rudradutt Sinhji, Yuvaraja Saheb of Sanad, Gujarat. The couple are seen seated on the swing at the Sejje of Mysore Palace. Collection: Ramsons Kala Pratishtana, Mysuru

The wedding of Jaya Chamarajendra Wadiyar may be said to be the last of the royal weddings. The first marriage which took place at the Kalyana Mantap of the Palace on May 15th 1938 was to Maharani Satya Premakumari Devi-ammanni avaru, the daughter of Pratap Singh Deo Bahadur of Jigni who are Bundela Rajputs.
15 May 1938. First wedding of H.H. Jayachamaraja Wadiyar (later in 1940 he became Maharaja)  with H.H. Satya Premakumari Devi ammanni avaru, the daughter of Pratap Singh Deo Bahadur of Jigni, Charkari state. A relaxed bride and the groom on the silver swing about to play with a ball made of jasmine strings, the ritual is known as 'Urutane on Uyyale'. The same ritual will be performed between the newly-weds on the evening of Monday 27 June 2016 at the Durbar Hall. Collection: Ramsons Kala Pratishtana, Mysuru

The second marriage of Jaya Chamarajendra Wadiyar to Maharani Tripurasundari Devi ammanni avaru, daughter of Balananja Raje Urs of the Mysore State Forces was also celebrated with a lot of fanfare. There was great rejoicing throughout the State, and special services were held and prayers offered in all the important religious institutions in the State and at Tirupathi.

Buntings and banners had been put up. 'Long Live the Maharaja’ were hung across the palace Jayamartanda Gate and all along the main streets and the processional route .At the appointed time Jaya Chamarajendra along with relative and courtiers walked out of Palace stopping only to feed some sugar cubes to the bedecked white stallion. Then seated in the howdah is taken in procession.
1963. The newly married couple, Maharajakumari Gayatri Devi and Sirdar K.B. Ramachandra Raje Urs seated on the ritual low-stool (hasemane) with an ornate back-rest having the bas-relief of Girija Kalyana scene in Mysore style. On the left of the picture is H.H. Maharaja Jayachamaraja Wadiyar, the father of the bride. They are the biological maternal grand-parents of Sri Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar. Collection: Ramsons Kala Pratishtana, Mysuru

The Rajput connections continued, Maharajakumari Kamakshi Devi is married into the royal family of Wadawan in Gujarat. Her husband Rajakumar Atmanya Devji belongs to a family of Jhala Rajputs. Likewise, Maharajakumari Vishalakshi Devi is married to Rajakumar Gajendra Singhji who is a Rathore Rajput from Auwa, Jodhpur.

Royal processions were also taken out during the weddings of the daughters of Jaya Chamarajendra Wadiyar, Gayatri Devi, Meenakshi Devi and Kamakshi Devi. The marriages were solemnised in the Kalyana Mantap of the Palace. However, when Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar married Pramoda Devi in 1976, there was no procession due to various reasons but the wedding by itself was an opulent affair.
8 February 1976. H.H. Maharaja Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar and his newly-wed consort H.H. Maharani Pramoda Devi Wadiyar acknowledging the greetings of the assembled invitees after having darshan at one of the main temples within the Mysore fort. Collection: Ramsons Kala Pratishtana, Mysuru

Incidentally, the biological aunt of Yaduveer, Kirtimalini Devi, is married to Shailendra Singh, another Bundela Rajput from the principality of Ajaigarh.

When Yaduveer weds Trishika Kumari, another Rajput connection of the Wadiyars will be forged. She belongs to the Ahra Guhilot clan of Sisodia Rajputs who are descendents of Maharanas of Mewar.
7 March 1977. Wedding of Maharajakumari Indrakshi Devi (daughter of H.H. Maharaja Jayachamaraja Wadiyar and H.H. Maharani Tripurasundarammanni avaru) with Sri Rajachandra Urs. The couple circumambulating the sacred fire as a part of the nuptial vows at the Kalyana Mantapa, the Peacock pavilion of Mysore Palace. Collection: Ramsons Kala Pratishtana, Mysuru

Perhaps the Maharajas of Mysore not being extravagant and not parsimonious either, have always celebrated their marriages with just amount of graciousness that bespokes of royalty. The scion of the Wadiyar legacy, Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamarajendra Wadiyar with Trishika Kumari also promises to be an affair to remember.


Royal Weddings

Another fairy tale royal wedding that took place in 1946 was the wedding of Princess Prem Kumari, the eldest daughter of Maharaja Sawai Man Singh of Jaipur to Yuvraj Jaideep Singhji of Devgadh Baria. This was the first wedding of Maharaja of Jaipur’s daughter in almost 100 years. So the celebrations were grand. All major royal houses were invited. The logistics and catering arrangements were prodigious and the preparations were made with military-like precision. The book of instructions to the Jaipur Palace employees was about two inches thick, detailing every party, festivity, ceremony and entertainment and containing programs for each group of guests and their staff. Even the menus for the servants and vantage points assigned to them for watching the processions were carefully worked out. The wedding festivities lasted for around two weeks.

The 1948 wedding of Princess Rajendra Kanwar of Jodhpur and Yuvraj Fatehsinhrao Gaekwad of Baroda was meticulously planned. A 12-man committee was formed to look after the wedding and logistics. Maharaja Hanuwant Singh personally supervised the marriage of his sister. The massive Umaid Bhawan palace and Meherangarh fort specially decorated for the wedding. Wedding reports state that the 4500 wedding guests were accommodated and the catering was done by 60 butlers and 125 English style cooks. There was a grand ceremonial procession through the streets of Jodhpur. This was followed by the main ceremony at Umaid Bhawan. The traditional Vedic ceremony lasted for two and half hours while the guests enjoyed cocktails and raucous folk music (Bollywood had not yet come into existence). This was followed by series of receptions. The total cost of the wedding? A whopping 1.4 million dollars and this was in 1948!

Cut to the present and we have the wedding of Rajkumari Shivatmika Kumari, the elder sister of Trishika who married Tikka Saheb Jaideepsinhji Mandhattasinhji (Jaideep Jadeja) of Rajkot on January 24th 2015 in Bangalore. Shivatmika and Trishika’s mother is Maheshri Devi, the Rajkumari of Vizianagaram and she has been living in Bengaluru.

Rajkumari Shivatmika’s wedding with Jaideep Jadeja began with a week of traditional festivities in Rajkot, a still sleepy dusty town of less than a million inhabitants. The seven day wedding celebrations culminated in an 8 km long procession through the main streets that had caparisoned camels, horses and elephants and the Yuvaraj Jaideep Jadeja rode in the golden howdah secured on the back of the bedecked Ambari elephant in the wedding procession known as ‘Fuleka.’ All the royal guests dressed in traditional attire were ferried in a fleet of 50 vintage cars that included a Buick Super, Hillman Minx, Oldsmobile Dynamic 76 Series, Chevrolet Phaeton Master Eagle Convertible Golden, Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet Bellaire and a Willys Station Wagon.

- This article appeared in the Star Weekend Supplement of the popular evening newspaper of Mysore, 'Star of Mysore' on 25 June 2016, few days before the wedding of current scion of Wadiyar, Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar with Trishika Kumari

The Coronation of the Wodeyar Kings

The coronation of the Kings after the abolish of Privy purse is no longer a grand public event but a very private ceremony. The most glittering coronation was that of the last king of Mysore State, Major-General His Highness Sri Sir Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar Bahadur, Maharaja of Mysore, GCB, GCSI, on 29 August 1940. To those of the citizens of the heritage city of Mysuru privileged to attend that event it was a spectacle that would never be forgotten. The coronation of the last Maharaja’s heir in 1974 was private and subdued.

Anachronistic as it sounds in a country that through an act of the Parliament removed the very word of ‘Royalty’ from its lexicon and rendered the hundreds of kings, nawabs and other minor royalty bereft of all trappings of pomp and transformed them into plain Mr. and Mrs., the fascination for a bejeweled Maharaja being seated on a throne to the sonorous chants of arcane hymns, smoke of the incense reaching the chandeliers high above, the nobles and other invitees dressed in outfits, with swords, draws a concerted and collective in-drawn breath of awe. And for one brief moment in time, one is sucked into the vortex of past and imagined  dormant memories of kingly rituals.

The coronation of the new king of Mysuru slated to be held before the onset of the annual Dasara will be muted but just as grand for those privileged  few. For here is an unbroken tradition of a Wadiyar ascending the throne of a erstwhile kingdom  whose history goes back to several hundreds of years.

Though the Mysuru kingdom can be traced to the establishment of a small principality by Yaduraya in 1399, it was only in 1578 that the kingdom was established by Raja Wadiyar (1578–1617). Between 1939 till the ‘reign’ of Jayachamaraja Wadiyar, there have been 25 kings of the Wadiyar lineage.

It was Raja Wadiyar who first ascended the Golden Throne and proclaimed with his coronation, his rule over the kingdom of Mysuru at Srirangapatna. A word about the Golden Throne is necessary. Shrouded in mystery, this throne which it was claimed belonged to Yudhishthira, the eldest of the Pandava brothers.

The saint Vidyaranya, who is the head of the Sringeri Mutt in 1338, is supposed to have shown the hiding place of the throne to the Vijayanagar King, Harihara, who lived between 1336 and 1357.  Harihara then removes it to his capital and the throne is used for the next two centuries as the royal throne of the Vijayanagar kings. The fall and annihilation of the Vijayanagar empire finds the throne being removed by one of the feudatory chieftains to Srirangapatna. In 1609, Tirumalaraya II gives it to Raja Wadiyar and goes to Malangi. A year later Raja Wadiyar declares himself to be an independent ruler and ascends the Golden Throne and claiming to be the inheritor of Vijayanagar tradition inaugurates the Navaratri and Vijayadashmi at Srirangapatna.

The canons of the Manasara, a 600 CE treatise on architecture and sculpture, which contains an entire chapter on thrones, mentions several kinds of thrones. Thrones  are symbolic seats of authority and symbolize divinity and power, both cosmic and earthly.  There is mention of the  Padmasana Throne, which is the ‘Seat of the Gods,’ the Bhadrasana or auspicious throne and the Lion or Simhasana throne which only those kings who had all the royal attributes could ascend. Scriptural canons say that the Bhadrasana throne is used for coronations and the Simhasana Throne for royal festivals like the Dasara. The Wadiyar kings follow this custom to this day. Thus the heir-designate will ascend the silver throne on the day of his coronation.

There are pictorial records apart from royal murals that show the king being seated on the Golden throne which is a part of the coronation rituals marking the first Durbar of the newly coronated king.

The photograph of the painting shows the coronation of boy King Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar in 1799 at the Kote Venkatramana Temple. In the painting, Dewan Purnaiah is seen on the right side of the king who is seated on the throne.  To the left of king, Lt.Col. Wellesly is seen seated. The throne itself seems flush to the level of the raised platform.

Incidentally, the  Devatanama Kusumamanjari, a Sanskrit work written during the reign of Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar in 1859 in verse form is laudatory and  there is  mention of the various attributes of the throne. The verses about the throne also mention the  mystical  and magical powers that exude an aura around the throne. These powers prevent one who is not worthy from ascending the throne. Mummadi in his illustrated iconographic classic: Sritattvanidhi's first part called Shakti Nidhi gives more description on related topics like:

1. Names of swords which are worthy of King's worship as given in the Hemadri in the section called Khadgapujavidhi.
2. Names of Lions that stand in the eight cardinal directions of a Throne in Hemadri.
3. Names of decorative dolls fixed in the throne as given in Prabhavali- the commentary on Sankhyaratnakosha authored by him.

A legend from the ancient past is evocative enough to be recounted here. The steps of the Golden throne are embellished by figures  of 32  divine maidens. The King Bhoja has discovered the throne under an earthen mound and has it restored in his Palace. With all ceremonies and rituals befitting a king, Bhojaraja ascends the throne only to be thwarted by an invisible force emanating from the divine maidens which prevent from taking another step.  Then damsels then take turns narrating a story that enumerates the virtues  of an ideal king who alone is worthy of being crowned on the throne. The king then through good deeds goes about acquiring the virtues of a godly king and then is able to ascend the throne. . Shades of Arthur’s Excalibur!

Coming back to coronation one discovers that from surviving records of the 1940s that the Wadiyar kings were first installed on the Silver Bhadrasana and then there is the Durbar on the golden throne afterwards it is only during the Dasara festivities that the king ascends the Golden throne. Photographs from the 1940 show the Maharaja Jayachamaraja Wadiyar being installed on the Silver Bhadrasana  while a 1974 photograph shows His Late Highness Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar coronated on the Silver throne.

Be that as it may. There are two abiding reasons why the coronation of the new king is of importance. First this year 2015, marks the 75th  anniversary of the coronation of Jayachamaraja Wadiyar. It is also the  40th anniversary of the Coronation of Srikanatadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar.

Second the history of Mysuru and its peoples is remarkably entwined  with the Kings of the Wadiyar dynasty. From reign of Yaduraya (1399–1423) to Hiriya Bettada Chamaraja Wadiyar I (1423–1459)  and on to Thimmaraja Wadiyar( 1459–1478 ); from  the reign of Hiriya Chamaraja Wadiyar II (1478–1513),Hiriya bettada Chamaraja III Wadiyar (1513–1553),Thimmaraja Wadiyar II (1553–1572),Bola Chamaraja Wadiyar IV (1572–1576),Bettada Chamaraja Wadiyar V(1576–1578),Raja Wadiyar I (1578–1617),Chamaraja Wadiyar VI (1617–1637) and Raja Wadiyar II (1637–1638) and then onwards to various other kings culminating through Khasa Chamaraja Wadiyar IX (1766–1796),Krishnaraja Wadiyar III (1799–1868),Chamarajendra Wadiyar X (1868–1894), and during the regency  of Vani Vilas Sannidhana, queen of Chamarajendra Wadiyar X from 1894 to 1902 and then thence to the reign Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV (1894–1940) and Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar (1940–1950) and lastly Srikantadatta Narsimharaja Wadiyar, (b-1953), ascended the throne in 1974. Once again the dynasty continues unbroken.

We go back in time to the coronation of Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar III. His ascendancy is significant because he was the first Wadiyar king to resume the rule of Mysore by the Wadiyar lineage after a gap of  36 years. It was only the courage, patience and sacrifice of the Queen  Lakshmammani that kept the Wadiyar dynasty alive. On June 30th 1799, the five-year-old Krishnaraja Wadiyar III was crowned the king of Mysore in a traditional coronation ceremony that took place in a special pavilion constructed near the Lakshmiramana Swamy temple in Mysore. Reports say that the  young boy was led by the Duke of Wellington to the throne.

Mummadi died on March 27, 1868. In due course, Dasara festivities started in September but a formal proclamation from Viceroy paving way for the formal installation of the young Prince was not forthcoming thus creating some apprehension in the Royal house hold. But on September 19, (third day of Dasara) Col. Elliot conveyed the good tidings about receipt of a telegram from the Viceroy in this regard. 

On Sept 23, 1868 (Wednesday) (Vibhava Nama Samvatsara, Ashvayuja Shudha 7, Budhavara, Moola Nakshatra) Young Prince Chamaraja Wodeyar X ascended the historic throne assisted by Chief Commissioner Bowring and Col. Elliot holding his hands on either flank.The twenty third Maharaja of the Wodeyar dynasty was selected from the Bettada-Kote Ursu clan. But the British Rendition ended only in 1881 when the Maharaja was invested with the administrative powers.

23 September 1868. Magnificent Mysuru style miniature depicting the coronation of Chamarajendra Wadiyar X in the old wooden palace of Mysuru. Also seen are the royal animals, carriages and palanquin. On the left side of the throne is seated the British Resident and State Officers, on the right side is Aliya Lingaraja Urs who played a significant role during the Regency of Vanivilasa Sannidhana. Artist: Venkatasubbu. Image courtesy: Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery, Mysuru.
A booklet, “ Proceedings of the Installation of His Highness, The Maharaja Chamarajendra Wadiyar Bahadur in the Government of the Territories of Mysore” dated, March 25th , 1881,” states among other things: ”  On March 23rd 1881, the Governor of Madras, Major-General Sir Thomas Munro,  and his staff along with the J. D Gordon, Chief Commissioner of Mysore and the Provisional Commander-in-Chief ‘enter’ Mysore. They are met at the entrance to the town by officers of the Station, the relatives of the Maharaja and officers of the Palace household.”

The publication then goes on to say that: “The Governor announces that he has been empowered by the Viceroy and Governor General and calls on the Chief Secretary to read out the Proclamation …” which announces to the chiefs and people of Mysore that His Highness Maharaja Chamarajendra Wadiyar is hereby  placed in possession of the territories of Mysore and invested with the administration of the Mysore State.....” .

Addresses are presented by various organizations and one in particular is fascinating. The address from the  Coorg Planters’ Association  says among other things that , “ Although we are not part of the Mysore Raj still Your Highness cannot but be aware of the ties which do and must ever exist between Mysore and Coorg.”   

The Wesleyan and London Missionary Societies representing the churches and educational and medical missions are next in the protocol presenting their addresses.

Interestingly the congratulatory address by the Catholic church is in Latin and it is worth reproducing here. It begins thus: “ Serenissimo Principi Ac Domini, / Domino Chamarajendra Wodeyar Bahadur, Mayssurensium Regi,/ Vicarius Apostolicus Mayssurensium and goes on thus : In hac auspicatissima die qua primo regni scetpra tenes, ac imperii habenae tuia juvenilibus manibus committuntur, quum laeto animo haec tuorum subditorum densa corona sua offcia et vota tibi offerunt, et nos Catholicae Religionis asseclae, neque numero, nec certe fida erga tuum Majestatem devotiene infini, te Regem ac ducem nostrum venerabundi salutus . (  “On this most auspicious day when for the first time Your Highness holds the scepter of your Kingdom, and the reins of Government are entrusted to the guidance of your youthful hands, with how glad a heart does this dense throng of your subjects present to Your Highness an offering of their duty and their loyal congratulations. We also, the followers of the Catholic Religion, neither small in number nor certainly the last in devotion to Your Highness, respectfully welcome our Prince and Ruler.” )

Like time-travelers we go to the coronation of  “Maharaja Sir Shri Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar”, who was coronated under unusually sad and untimely demise of his father. The ritual coronation was performed under the Regency of his mother H.H. Vanivilas Sannidhana on 01 February 1895.
Photographed by C.G.Brown, Bangalore, on 01-02-1895 and it was taken during the installation of HH Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV. This picture appeared in GRAPHIC dated June 1, 1895. It was Col. Henderson then Resident in Mysore, who conducted the prince to the steps of the throne and read out the Viceroy's proclamation. He also presented the Maharaja a handsome necklace on behalf the Viceroy.
After attaining majority, Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV was formally invested with the powers of administration through a formal function on 08 August 1902 and the venue was a specially erected pavilion in the Jagan Mohan Palace since the old wooden palace was partially gutted in a accidental fire and the present palace was under construction.

One takes recourse to the India Office records which reveals:  “The road to the approach to the installation pavilion was lined on either side by the Infantry and the Cavalry of the Maharaja’s army. The Guard of Honor was by the Royal Warwickshires, a battle-scarred elite regiment of the British army and the Band and Colours  (Imperial cavalry guards) were stationed at the entrance of the Durbar hall. The Viceroy Curzon  who is to install the new king is met at the Government House by a deputation consisting of the Diwan and the principal officers of the Mysore State.”

A further excerpt extricated from India Office archives: “…the Viceroy Curzon  was accompanied by Mr. Wood, Under secretary ( Foreign Department) , Lt.Col. E. Barring, Military Secretary, Mr Carnduff and His Excellency’s Personal Staff. Also present was J A Bourdillon, the Chief Commissioner.“   The report mentions that there on the dais were two silver Thrones, one of which was subsequently used as a Masnad to which the Maharaja was formally conducted by the Viceroy after being installed.

The Coronation of the last Maharaja Jayachamaraja Wadiyar is evocative as it reflects the love of the people for their sovereign.   A  manifesto published in 1942 titled  ‘Ananda Chandrika‘ by  Ramakrishna Sastri, an Hindi Pandit describes the Pattabhisheka (the installation)  of Jayachamaraja Wadiyar. The author says that Palace astrologers have after consultations chosen the date of the Installation and that invitations have been distributed to all the important citizens. There are buntings and flags festooning the city. Several bullock-carts laden with sugar are sent around the city and sugar-candy was distributed to all the citizens and visitors to the city. 

On the day of the installation all prisoners are pardoned and released.  The King-to-be is dressed in white and bedecked with jewels. He is escorted to the Lakshmi-Vilasa of the Palace where the installation is to be held. The king then performs Kalasha Pooja, sacrificial rituals to Agni and other Gods.  The State elephants, horse and oxen are in attendance even as Palace musicians play compositions some of which have been composed by the Maharaja Jayachamaraja  Wadiyar himself. The king is then installed on the Silver throne!

The scion Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar was coronated on the silver throne in what was a very private ceremony. No chronicler seems to have recorded the proceedings or the arcane rituals that preceded his ascension to the throne. Similar will be the ascension of the heir–designate, Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar who will continue the legacy of the Wadiyar dynasty. The heir designate will be formally adopted on February 23rd 2015 and much before the onset of the Dasara festivities will ascend the silver throne in the Palace within whose premises so much of history has taken place and will continue to do so in the future.

Incidentally, Yaduveer Gopal Raj Urs traces his lineage to Chamaraja Wadiyar. His great great grandmother Jayalakshmammani was the eldest daughter of Chamaraja Wadiyar and Vani Vilasa Sannidhana. Further  his mother, Tripurasundari Devi, is the grand-daughter of the last Maharaja, Jayachamaraja Wadiyar who was the only son of H.H. Yuvaraja Kantheerava Narsimharaja Wadiyar, the second son of Chamaraja Wadiyar and Vani Vilasa Sannidhana.

The Heir-designate is to assume the name “Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar” on his coronation, and will be given the official Royal signet ring (Mohur), the royal seal  and the State sword. 

- A version of this article appeared in the Mysore's popular evening newspaper 'Star of Mysore' on 21 February 2015. Sri Rajachandra pointed out few corrections and the same have been carried out in this article. A warm thanks to respected Sri Rajachandra Sir.