Monday, 16 December 2013

No King died in this palace

This is rated as one of the finest palaces in the world and lakhs of tourists come every day to look at the resplendent royal home. The palace has become so famous that it has been giving the Taj Mahal of Agra a run for its money as the most visited monument in India.
Before Independence, the palace was not only the centre of attraction but also the chief employer of the erstwhile princely Kingdom. Though it was designed by a British architect, it is essentially an Indian creation, combining many styles.
Strangely, this is not the first palace but one of the many that stood there. The palace that stands today was rebuilt starting from 1897 after a major fire destroyed most of the structure during a wedding ceremony.
This is the majestic and awe-inspiring Palace of Mysore, also mistakenly and more popularly called as the Amba Vilas Palace, of Mysore. This is the official residence of the Wodeyars - the royal family of Mysore, which ruled the princely state of Mysore from 1399.
However, what sets this royal palace aside from others of its ilk is that it has never seen the death of a Raja on its premises for over a hundred years. All the Kings and princes who have sat on the ornate and magnificent Chinnada Simhasana or Golden Throne have never died on the palace premises after the structure was rebuilt.
The last King to die in Mysore was Mummadi Krishna Raja Wodeyar and this was sometime in 1868. Then, the palace was a wooden structure and it had been built in 1799-1800 after the British had killed Tipu Sultan in the fourth and final Anglo-Mysore battle.
The British had restored the Wodeyars to the Mysore throne and Mummadi Krishna Raja Wodeyar was crowned King in a makeshift tent in today’s Nazarbad area of Mysore. As Tipu had completely razed the erstwhile royal residence and forcibly transported the royal family of Wodeyars from Mysore to Srirangapatna where he kept them under strict watch, a new palace had to be built.
The palace, built of wood, came up exactly at the very place, where the Main palace stands today. History records that the first palace was built by the Wodeyars here sometime in the 14th century. However, this structure did not survive for long and it was demolished and reconstructed. The palace seems to have been constructed multiple times.  
The current palace was commissioned by then regent of Mysore, Maharani Vani Vilas Sannidhna, in 1897 and it was completed in 1912 and expanded later around 1940. British architect, Henry Irwin, designed the Indo-Saracenic three-storied structure .  
Today, the palace sees more than 2.7 million visitors every year. Strangely, after Mummadi Krishna Raja Wodeyar (1794-1868) died (March 27, 1868) in the old wooden palace, no other reigning monarch has died here. He had ruled the Mysore kingdom from June 30, 1799.
After Mummadi Krishna Raja Wodeyar, his grandson, Chamarajendra Wodeyar, the tenth, was enthroned in 1868.  Born in 1863, the young king was just 31 years of age when he passed way in distant Calcutta.
Chama Raja Wadiyar X was also known as Chama Rajendra Wadiyar X ruled from 1881 and 1894. He was born at the old palace or wooden palace in Mysore on February 22, 1863, as the third son of Sardar Chikka Krishnaraj Urs of the Bettada-Kote branch of the ruling clan. His father had died a week before his borth and his mother, Rajkumari Sri Puta Ammani Avaru, was the eldest daughter of Krishna Raja Wodeyar, the third, the then Maharaja of Mysore.
Krishnaraja Wodeyar adopted as heir his grandson, Chamaraja, on June 18, 1865. This adoption was recognised by the British Government of India on April 16, 1867. Since Mysore was under the direct administration of the British from 1831, Chamaraja was handed over the Kingdom only in 1881.
Chamaraja Wodeyar died of diphtheria in  Calcutta on December 28, 1894. His last rites were performed at Calcutta itself and even today there us a small memorial where his last rites were performed.
Chamaraja was succeeded by his 10-year-old son, Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV. Since he was young, his mother, Maharani Kempa Nanjammani Vani Vilasa Sannidhana Avaru, served as regent of Mysore, for some tine.
Krishna Raja Wodeyar IV, also known as  Nalwadi Krishna Raja Wodeyar, was the Maharaja from 1902 until his death in 1940. He died in Bangalore palace.
His successor, Jaya Chamarajendra Wodeyar Bahadur,(1919 – 1974) was the 25th and the last Maharaja of Mysore and he reigned from 1940 to 1950. Jayachamarajendra too died at the Bangalore palace in 1974.
Jayachamarajendra’s son was Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar. He was only a Yuvaraja and he was the last scion of the Wodeyars. He too died at the Bangalore palace just a few days ago.
Thus, we see that apart from Vani Vilasa Sannidhana, who was the Regent of Mysore (1894-1902) and who died in the Mysore palace, none of the rulers have breathed their last on the premises.
The last reigning monarch to die at the palace was Mummadi Krishna Raja Wodeyar and this was in 1868. Since then, the rulers-Chamaraja, Nalwadi Krishna Raja, Jayachamarajendra and Srikanta Datta-have all died outside the palace.
All these rulers with the exception of Chamaraja have died at the Bangalore palace which was built in 1862. This palace was bought or purchased by Chamaraja Wodeyar  in 1873 from Rev. Garrett, the first Principal of Central High School of Bangalore.   
What would you call this. Coincidence or a mere play of history. Whatever it is, this is as mysterious as the royal curse. Incidentally, both the palaces-the Mysore and Bangalore palaces, are under litigation and both act as the residence of the Wodeyars. A section of both the palaces have been turned into private museums by Srikantadatta Wodeyar. He lived, just like his father and grandfather, in both the palaces. 

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