The reign ends

The sea of surging crowds to get a last glimpse of Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar, the last in the chain of the Mysore royals, was a testimony to the popularity and following the rulers of erstwhile kingdom had acquired over the centuries. What is sad is that the demise of Srikantadatta Wadiyar, who had no heirs, has signalled the end of the Yadu kingdom whose reign began way back in 1371. Always known to be benevolent and renowned for the welfare and developmental programmes they undertook making the Mysore region prosperous, the rulers - several of them scholars, artists and music composers themselves - allowed the cultural vibrancy of the region to flourish.

Wadiyar, who died at 60, may not have contributed to the progress of Mysore the way his illustrious predecessors did, but he was, nevertheless, a multi-faceted personality. A bright student, Wadiyar was a sports buff who tried his hand in many games. He was a cricketer who captained the Mysore University team and who went on to become the president of the Karnataka State Cricket Association twice, in 2007 and again in 2013, just days before his death. He was a piano and guitar player and had a band of his own. A fashion designer, he was fond of designing sarees which carried the logo of the Mysore kingdom with brand name Royal Silk of Mysore. He dabbled in politics and got elected four times although his contribution in Parliament was found wanting.

Wadiyar may have died a bitter man as far as his relations with the state government were concerned. He led a prolonged battle with it to retain his hold over the lavish, 101-year old Amba Vilas Palace of Mysore, one of the grandest in the world and the 450-acre Bangalore palace. In the mid-1990s, the government proposed to acquire the Mysore palace and Wadiyar questioned it and won the case in the Supreme Court. However, the state government framed a special law for acquisition which was approved by the President. The legal tussle for the Bangalore palace, which also the state government acquired, is still on. Should the government have done what it did? Could it not have treated the royal family with much more dignity? The debate rages, especially when erstwhile rulers in north India have managed to keep their palaces and turn them into hotel properties.

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