Braving odds for a last glimpse of their king

Outpouring of affection

Braving odds for a last glimpse of their king

The sound of shehnai ringing through the night air had set a melancholic tone to the city even before it woke up to formally bid goodbye to its last living ruler.

On Wednesday morning, the historic Amba Vilas Palace in Mysore bore testimony to the respect, love and admiration commanded by the Wadiyar family from the residents of Mysore region.

Thousands of people from several towns and villages of Mysore region thronged the palace with the hope of catching a last glimpse of the scion. Despite elaborate arrangements made by the police, the crowd turned out to be difficult to handle, with the police resorting to mild caning to disperse the crowd.

Crowds started thronging the palace, braving chilly weather, as early as 4.30 am. Among the people who had come as early as eight am was 77-year-old Kamalakshi. Having lived all her life in Mysore, she grieved the demise of a king of the Wadiyar dynasty, a first such incident in the 21st century. “Mysoorge raja antha obbaridru. Eega yaaru illa (There was one person called king of Mysore. Now, there’s none),” she lamented.

“I was only 17 when Srikantadatta Wadiyar was born. Throughout Mysore, erstwhile king of the empire, Jayachamaraja Wadiyar, had distributed sugar to celebrate his arrival. He was a noble man,” she said, after catching a momentary glimpse of the mortal remains of the Maharaja.

Shivalingappa, a resident of Doora village in Mysore taluk, said that he was deeply disturbed by the unfortunate death. Having seen Wadiyar from close quarters during his election campaign, he remembered the Maharaja to be an amicable personality. He, however, could not get into the Kalyana Mantapa inside to see his Maharaja for the last time, despite standing in the queue for well over two hours.

With Mandya, Chamarajanagar, Mysore and parts of Hassan district closed to condole the death of Wadiyar, the palace was the epicentre of activity.

The last journey

The last journey of the erstwhile Maharaja was also witnessed by tens of thousands of people, who gathered along the sides of the road, while the body was being carried towards Madhuvana. Pattada Ane (Royal Elephant), Gajendra, led the procession, followed by a team of mounted police. As the body of Wadiyar came out of Varaha Gate (South gate) of Mysore Palace, the gathered crowd raised slogans, hailing the king and registering their admiration.

The flowers, which were distributed as ‘prasadam’ by priests accompanying the remains of the Maharaja, were given away to the people.

People climbed over all elevated spots, such as compounds, vehicle tops and roadside shops, to catch a glimpse of the king.

Children who wanted to witness the procession were seen seated on the shoulders
of their parents for one last view.  Even though security arrangements were in place to ensure that no untoward incident was reported during the procession, police had to struggle to prevent the unruly crowds from entering Manuvana, despite setting up barricades around the royal crematorium.

Following elaborate prayer rituals, the funeral pyre of the Maharaja was lit. As the sun set in the west, flames of Wadiyar’s pyre rose high.

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