For locals, Vivesvaraya's house is a place of worship
Items on display at museum give a glimpse of the genius’ lifestyle
Time seems to stand still at a museum in memory of M Visvesvaraya at Muddenahalli in Chikkaballapur district, the birth place of the legendary engineer.
The items on display tell the story of the little village boy who grew up to do the country proud. On display are awards, titles, certificates presented to Visvesvaraya, his collection of books, items of daily use and a lot more providing a glimpse of the life and times of the great visionary. The museum run by the Visvesvaraya National Memorial Trust is getting a new coat of paint in preparation for 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Visvesvaraya planned to be held on a grand scale on September 15.
Adjacent to the museum, is the very house in which Vivesvaraya was born on September 15, 1860. The house has been renovated and is revered as a temple by the villagers.
The Trust has several expansion plans this year. “We plan to open the house to the public. The present government has helped us to renovate the house. We will furnish it with household and personal item used by Visvesvaraya”, says Mokshagundam Satish, the grand nephew of the Visvesvaraya and chairman of the Trust.
Satish said the Trust also plans to expand the museum to cover the first floor wherein visitors will be treated to more photographs capturing various moments in the life of Visvesvaraya. Audio-visual shows on Visvesvaraya are also being planned by the Trust.
Visvesvaraya left Muddenahalli at the age of 15 to pursue higher studies. He earned a Civil Engineering degree from the Civil Engineering College, Pune, in 1884, the launch point of a career that gave him celebrity status. The degree certificate has been preserved and is on display at the museum.
Another interesting item is a dictionary given as a gift to Visvesvaraya in 1881 by the then Principal of Central College, Bangalore Charles Weters. Visvesvaraya used this dictionary for the next eight decades spanning a lifetime that witnessed him being appointed as the chief engineer and later as diwan of Mysore and work for the overall development of the state by establishing several institutions of repute.
Of course, Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award bestowed on Visvesvaraya by the Government of India in 1955, is a centre of attraction at the museum. Presently, the first floor of the museum is occupied by a branch of State Bank of Mysore (SBM), an establishment that Visvesvaraya founded in 1913.
The bank was opened on March 29 this year as a part of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Visvesvaraya. “We never expected to do much transactions here. But to our surprise we collected Rs 5.5 crore deposit and advanced Rs 1.25 crore. Such is the pride that the villagers associate with the legacy of Visvesvaraya that they voluntarily came forward to be part of the bank”, says bank manager V Sunil. The bank will soon be shifted to a building near Visvesvaraya’s memorial in the hamlet.
Villagers of Muddenahalli feel an exclusive centre to display models of various engineering marvels built by Visvesvaraya like the Krishnaraja Sagar dam across Cauvery need to be set up. “The models will spark a spirit of inquiry among the children when they visit here”, says Rajanna, member and former president of Muddenahalli gram panchayat. He said the GP has already sent a proposal to the effect to the government.