The royal establishments and their records

The royal establishments and their records

The Mysore Palace had an efficient system of archiving.

The erstwhile princely state of Mysore was meticulous when it came to keeping records and archiving material. Even today, one can find information on an array of topics regarding the royal administration and functioning of the state. Krishnaraja Wadiyar III, during his time, introduced modern methods in the civil and judicial administration. In 1868, after his death, he was succeeded by his adopted son, a minor, Chamrajendra Wadiyar X. That was when the British took over the palace affairs and began calculating the Maharaja’s debts and clear them in a one-time settlement.   

Major Elliot was appointed as the officer in charge of palace duties and settlements, and the superintendent of the Ashtagrama division. While C Rangacharlu, a deputy collector in the Madras Presidency, served as his assistant. The duo submitted its findings to the Commissioner, in the Government of Mysore, titled ‘Report on Palace Settlement’.

The settlement included the verification of debts of Krishnaraja Wadiyar III, the examination of both movable and immovable properties in his name. It was also suggested in the report to remodel the palace establishments to bring down the administrative costs and the major impact of this decision was on the personnel employed there.  

 At that time, there were 25 administrative and judicial institutions in Mysore. They were called kacheris, duftars, ooligas, thottis and so on. According to the material in the archives, there were 3,196 people employed in these establishments and its total cost per month stood at Rs 19,268. To cut the costs the committee advised to reduce the number of people working in different ilakhas, and this ensured a marginal decrease in the administrative costs and helped in balancing the debt. After a thorough cost-cutting, the number of establishments stood at 12. Among these, three were designated as kacheris, while eight were ilakhas. The last one came to be known as the general office, which included minor establishments that were a source of revenue. This helped the officials manage the administration and the costs.  

The bakshies were appointed as the head of the kacheris and the gaurikars headed the ilakahas. There were also the pundits, munshies and darogas. Interestingly, these offices could be traced to the times of Devaraja Wadiyar in the 17th century and some were inspired by the Mughal administration. 

 Among the various establishments, the kille kacheri with 586 employees on the roll was the biggest. It comprised the military which was stationed in the palace. Earlier, this force had eight companies which were later reduced. It was under the supervision of a bakshi assisted by a commandant. Then there was the avasarada hobli which was an illakha, and served during the royal festivals and durbars. It had 404 employees, which comprised personnel from diverse backgrounds — musicians, actors and so on.

Initially, the khas samukha had two other departments with it. Later a bifurcation took place and zenana became a separate entity that worked in the inner areas of the palace. It comprised cooks, maids, and other assistants. The religious scholars and astrologers came under chamundi thotti, some of them were paid and others were given irrigated lands. The others included garden establishment and marramath. The former took care of the lands and gardens of the Maharaja. The latter was involved in the repair and management of structures in the palace. The gaurikar would head this unit and it comprised masons, carpenters, rock cutters , etc. Furthermore, the aramane dufter kacheri, took care of the payments that were given to the other royal members. Above these, was the general office, which was an ilakha, which preserved the records and managed the budget. 

The aforementioned settlement was strictly implemented to manage the costs and administration until 1881, when Chamrajendra Wadiyar became the king.