Family on the trail of 'Rice'

Family on the trail of 'Rice'


Douglus Rice, a retired English teacher, accompanied by his wife Aliceson, who is a retired pharmacist, and their son Richard, were taken aback when they learnt that Benjamin Lewis was a much-respected Englishman in Mysore. In an interaction organised by the Department of Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Mysore, at EMMRC in Manasagangothri here on Friday, the Rice family was elated about their findings about their illustrious ancestor.

Richard, who is in the travel business, was attending a conference in Cochin in neighbouring Kerala recently when he learnt more about his great grandfather’s rich legacy of archaeology from a local academic. Soon after returning to Devon in the West of England, Richard told his parents about Benjamin Lewis.

He insisted that his parents trace Benjamin’s footsteps. Inspired, the Rice couple decided to visit India. Accompanied by Richard they visited Cochin from where they landed in Chitradurga and Bangalore. In Bangalore they were overwhelmed to discover that a church had been dedicated to Benjamin.

Replying to a query, Douglus said he wanted to learn more about benjamin at the South Asia Study Centre in Cambridge. Asked if he had plans to write a book, Douglas said he would first upload the information onto an exclusive website on Benjamin. He lamented he did not possess extensive material on Benjamin whose tomb in India they were unaware of.

Douglus recalled that his grandfather H D Lewis was a PWD civil engineer in the erstwhile Mysore State. Some of his work included the Marikanave dam in Chitradurga and the road that led to the top of Chamundi Hills in Mysore. H D Lewis, Douglas informed, lived on the first floor of a bunglow which is now known as Hotel Metropole where the touring Rice family is putting up.

Quoting from H D Lewis’s autobiography, Douglas said a place was named after H D Lewis as ‘Douglus Rice Circle’ by the then Maharaja. Douglus was disappointed that he could not find that place during his recent visit to the hills.
Historian A V Narasimha Murthy hailed Benjamin Lewis as an untiring man who extensively travelled across Mysore State before publishing ‘Epigraphia Carnatica’. The Douglas family also visited Oriental Research Institute (ORI) where the Benjamin’s manuscripts are preserved.

Rice was the headmaster of Central High School in Bangalore in 1860. He held various positions as Inspector of Schools in Mysore and Coorg before becoming the Director of Public Instructions in Mysore State till 1883. He was made part-time director of Archaeological Researches when the department was opened in 1884.
Taking cognisance of his interest in the realm, Benjamin was appointed as full-time director of the department in 1890 till his retirement in 1906.

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