A period of transition

The nineteenth century marked a period of transition in the history of the Mysore kingdom. The colonial influence in the sociopolitical affairs brought a new outlook in the cultural fabric of the state. Krishnaraja Wadiyar III who had ascended the throne in 1799 was divested of political power in 1831. The administration of Mysore slipped into the hands of the British. 

The British, after his several representations, permitted him to adopt a male child. In 1864, he adopted Chamarajendra Wadiyar X who was later groomed and nurtured as a young prince.

The Maharaja was forbidden from exercising any administrative functions until his death in 1868. The death of the Maharaja came as news of shock and much concern. Immediately, garrisons were summoned from both Bangalore and French Rocks (Pandavapura) to Mysore to guard the palace and its premises. Security was provided to the palace and the treasury.

In the meantime, a proclamation was issued which was duly signed by the then commissioner, Lewin Bentham Bowring, which stated that Chamarajendra Wadiyar, the adopted son, was declared the Maharaja. It was read at public places in Bangalore. The translated version of the Viceroy’s proclamation was also read and its main content was communicated. Two telegrams were also sent by the Commissioner to the Secretary to the Government of India, Foreign Department on March 28 and 30, 1868. 

Lewin Bentham Bowring, after visiting the bereaved family, narrates his experiences through a letter to the then Secretary. He met the infant prince designate and at this juncture, he realised the importance of securing the properties of the deceased Maharaja to reduce the cost incurred in the administration. He appointed Major C Elliot to prepare an inventory of movable and immovable properties of the deceased Maharaja, his debts and liabilities. He was also expected to bring down the cost of maintenance of the palace and reduce the number of personnel in the payroll of the palace.

Earlier Numboor Krishna, a government pensioner, was chosen to assist Elliot, but due to his health reasons, he was replaced by Chettipunyam Rungacharlu. Rungacharlu proved himself to be a multitasker in the times of crisis, specifically with regard to issues concerning the coronation of the young prince, his education and the financial settlement of the kingdom and its members. 

The young Maharaja was installed on the throne on September 23, 1868. Lieutenant Colonel Haines was appointed to educate the young prince. Major Elliot and Rungacharlu accomplished every task successfully. They made a list of allowances made by the late Maharaja to various religious and charitable institutions, which were paid from the privy purse. The largest item in this was the grant made towards Sringeri Math. But the task pertaining to reduction and remodeling of the palace took the top priority among others.

Of the 9,600 persons, 3,196 working in the palace in different ilakhas were retained. Payroll in the palace was thoroughly checked. Gratuities were fixed. Major Elliot in his settlement proposed to retain 13 departments. An inventory was also made to take into account all the properties, movable and immovable, owned by the late Maharaja and the royal family in Mysore and Bangalore.

Major Elliot deputed Hudson, the Deputy Accountant General of Madras, to obtain details from Messers Licot and Company, to know the status of the Raja’s account with that firm and later it was revealed that Raja had substantially invested in Government securities. On information provided by Nursuppa, buckshee of the palace, Major Elliot set his eyes on the debts incurred by the Maharaja towards supplies made to the palace. The outstanding bills were scrutinised and arrangements were made for their payment by Major Elliot ably supported by Rungacharlu.

Budgetary allocations were made towards annual ceremonies and the Dasara festival. A sum of money was also earmarked for the repair and maintenance of the palace and other buildings. The whole task was so difficult to complete. However, their effort was much appreciated. It even attracted the attention of the higher-ups. For Rungacharlu, it was a time like an apprentice who during this time could read the local pulse and understand the region. By 1874, work had been completed. After seven years, he found himself at the helm of affairs as the Dewan of Mysore in 1881.

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