A legacy of art & architecture

A legacy of art & architecture

In the 19th century, specifically in the last two decades, many developmental activities were undertaken in  Princely Mysore. Records, documents and files available from that period provide sufficient evidence to this. On March 25, 1881, Chamaraja Wadiyar X assumed powers of Princely Mysore. On that day, by ‘the Rendition of 1881’, the British handed over the reigns of governance to him, and Princely Mysore was restored to the Wadiyar dynasty.

Chamaraja Wadiyar X was born in 1863 and was later adopted by Krishnaraja Wadiyar III. After the latter’s death in 1868, Chamaraja Wadiyar was installed on the throne. Then, Mysore was under the administrative control of the British. Guardians and tutors were appointed by the British to groom and teach Chamaraja Wadiyar. The government also purchased a huge building for the young Maharaja in Bangalore. Lt Colonel Haines, Lt Colonel G B Malleson, J D Gordon and C Rangacharlu were some of his mentors. In 1878, Chamaraja Wadiyar married Kempananjammani Vani Vilasa Sannidhana. Of his children, three daughters and two sons survived adulthood. His son Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV succeeded him as the Maharaja of Mysore.

An era of development
The period of Chamaraja Wadiyar X is considered to be an era of development in many fields. The Maharaja travelled widely both within the province and outside. His first Dewan was C Rangacharlu who had vast administrative experience. The Dewan had known the Maharaja from his younger days.

It was during the Dasara in 1881, that the Dewan constituted the Mysore Representative Assembly. In its first session held in October 1881, 144 members from different parts of the province participated. This is considered to be a significant step towards ensuring democratic governance. With this, a new era in the history of Princely Mysore began. After the demise of C Rangacharlu in 1883, Sir K Sheshadri Iyer was appointed as the Dewan. He carried the mantle forward and laid strong foundations to strengthen the administration. In the late 1870s, the state had witnessed severe drought and famine. Hence, stabilising the administration and generation of resources to balance the economy became the priorities of the two Dewans. Many measures were implemented to reduce administrative cost.

The Maramat Department (Public Works Department) was strengthened during the period. Many buildings were constructed. One among them was Victoria Jubilee Institute. Public utility works like roads, bridges and canals were planned, laid and opened for smooth transportation. Many existing roads were repaired.

Significant progress was made in the field of railway transport system. A public loan was raised to commence Bangalore-Tiptur line. Later, a survey was conducted to extend it from Tiptur to Harihara through Arasikere and Kadur. In 1889, this line was opened for traffic. Another line connecting Birur with Shimoga was also planned. Mysore-Nanjangud and Bangalore-KGF lines were also opened. The Maharaja wanted to extend markets to the produce of Malnad, especially coffee.

Reaching the peak
Priority was also given to improve irrigation facilities in order to support agriculture-related activities. Construction of new tanks and renovation and expansion of the existing ones were the priority of the Government. On the basis of revenue, tanks came to be divided into three divisions for maintenance.

This system was implemented as a model experiment in the selected eight taluks across the eight districts. Later, it was extended to other taluks also. In 1891, a programme to extend well irrigation was implemented. Marikanive and Hesaraghatta water projects were chalked out. Though harnessing hydro-electric power was planned during this period, the actual generation of electricity commenced much later.

The Maharaja was enthusiastic to introduce and sell the products of Mysore outside. The products of Mysore were exhibited at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition held at London in 1886. Eventually, the government began to hold exhibitions of industrial products in Mysore city. Both the Dewans of the Maharaja gave a lot of encouragement to industrial activities including the development of indigenous industries. In Bangalore, Woolen, Silk and Cotton Mills was set up in 1884. In 1897, the Government Central Industrial Workshop was established to provide equipment and technical know-how to entrepreneurs.

Many small and cottage industries emerged during the period. The state’s industrial growth reached its peak with the large-scale gold mining at Kolar Gold Fields. The mines were owned by M/s John Taylor and Sons. An agreement was signed between the company and the government. The government received royalty for mining operations. 

Substantial progress was made in the field of education too. There was a gradual increase in the number of schools with increase in enrolment. In 1890, a separate department of education was formed with H J Bhabha as its director. The department gave primacy to girl education. Many schools were upgraded and teachers training schools were established. Many educational institutions managed by private individuals were taken over by the government. A number of government scholarships were introduced to provide financial help for students to study engineering, medicine, veterinary science and forestry. In 1892, for the first time, competitive examinations were introduced in the state.

The Department of Archaeology carried out many significant works under the able guidance of B L Rice, who as its director diversified the activities. As a result, many inscriptions came to light. Excavations and survey of archaeological monuments were conducted. A survey of monuments also commenced. All the excavations were documented and published. B L Rice’s contribution to the recording of the historical monuments holds significance even today. The department also worked towards protection of inscriptions and other monuments.

It was during this period that Swami Vivekananda visited Mysore. The Maharaja made generous financial contributions to his famous journey to Chicago in 1893. During this time, the province of Mysore made a name in the cultural and literary domain. The Maharaja was a great patron of art and literature too. A theatre enthusiast, he floated the Palace Drama Company. Basavappa Shastry, who was asthan vidwan, composed many literary works, especially dramas. Kayo Shri Gowri, the state anthem of Princely Mysore was also composed by him.  Basavappa’s work Shakuntala also became popular and he was honoured with the title Abhinava Kalidasa. Famous writer M S Puttanna and journalist M Venkatakrishniah were some others who got the king’s support. The king’s court had many well-known musicians too.

The Dewans of the Maharaja were great administrators. We get more information about them in D V Gundappa’s work Mysurina Dewanaru. English Band was introduced in Dasara celebrations leading to an amalgamation of western and traditional music. In Mysore, one can see some of the important constructions of his time like the Dufferin Clock Tower, Town Hall (Rangacharlu Memorial Hall) and the Oriental Research Institute (formerly Victoria Jubilee Institute).

In 1894, the Maharaja visited Calcutta along with his family. He died there. With his death, Mysore lost a Maharaja who had attained both name and fame.  

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