Born on September 15, 1860, in “Viswakuteera”, a house that has the picturesque Nandi mountain range at the backdrop, Muddenahalli’s Swami grew up to do the country proud as Sir M Visvesvaraya, the legendary engineer.
Even today, decades after his death, the village takes pride in his legacy, worships his home as a temple and is now gearing up to celebrate his 150th birth anniversary on September 15. Labourers are busy cleaning the approach roads and bylanes of this hamlet in preparation for the celebrations on a grand scale.
Muddenahalli’s reverence for Visvesvaraya extends beyond taking credit for being the legend’s birthplace.
The engineer would visit the village whenever he could. He would interact with the villagers, keep track of the educational progress of the children and even build houses for the locals that had all amenities.
The house in which Subbanna stays is one such. The thin and frail man is one among the few in the village who got to interact with “Swami.” Subbanna was a kid when Visvesvaraya was in his seventies yet his eyes sparkle behind his spectacles as he remembers the engineer. “He used to stress the importance of hard work and dedication. But you could relax, he told us, whenever you are having food,” recalls the 85-year-old.
“Once Swami returned home after spending two years in Bombay. As soon as we got to know that he had returned, we rushed to see him. But, to our surprise we were given a dressing down. He said we should not have left out work behind only to see him.
Visvesvaraya insisted that the villagers hold Bhajan sessions every Saturday. It was his way to ensure that the villagers shared a common bond and stood united,” Subbanna said.
Around two kilometres from Muddenahalli is Kandavara, where the school in which Visvesvaraya studied in the 1860s still exists. Built way back in 1839, the school now has about 150 students between Classes I and VII.
“Every batch passes out feeling proud that they have studied in Sir M V’s school. It is a great feeling,” said K V Venkatesh, retired principal of Government Physical Education College and an alumnus of the school. Visvesvaraya had constructed a new block for the school during 1900s, which is today used for conducting classes for students of Class VII.