Monday, 6 January 2014

Purnaiah in wax

He played an important part in guiding Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. After the death of Tipu in the Battle of  Srirangapatna in 1799, he made efforts to see that the son of Tipu would ascend the throne. When that failed, he ensured that the Mysore Kingdom would be handed back to the Wodeyars.
This man was one of the key figures at the enthronement of a young Mumadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar as the King of Mysore in a makeshift tent in Mysore. He then went on to serve as his Dewan for several years.
He strengthened the finances of the State and took several administrative and legislative measures. When he quit as the Dewan, he was allotted the Jagir of Yelandur where he built a palatial bungalow.
This man is none other than Dewan Purnaiah, the legendary Dewan of Mysore State and the man who served three Kings-Hyder, Tipu and Mumadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar. He retired to this jagir at Yelandur where he constructed this beautiful bungalow.  
The British, several decades later, abolished the jagir system, and Yelandur reverted back to the Wodeyars. The bungalow, however remained with the Purnaiah family though it slowly lost its importance. After some public offices shifted their headquarters from the bungalow, it remained locked.
Now, this sprawling 10,000 square feet bungalow is in the news again. The State Archaeology Department is all set to open this 200-year-old heritage building in Chamarajanagar district as a centre which will provide tips to bureaucrats and politicians for modern administration, besides housing the State’s department’s first wax statues.
The department's first wax museum will be thrown open to the public shortly and it will have wax statues of  Dewan Purnaiah, Krishnaraja Wadiyar III or Mumadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar and one of the Governor-Generals of India, William Bentinck. A few  unseen paintings of  Purnaiah will also be displayed.
The department has taken the building on lease for 30 years from the Purnaiah family. The aim of the department is to make the public aware of the Dewan and provide a glimpse of him.
The museum is divided into two floors, with wax statues on the first and the paintings of Purnaiah with Krishnaraja Wadiyar III and other portraits and paintings displayed on the ground floor.
Besides, it will also contain 27 manuscripts of letters from Purnaiah to Sringeri and Keladi mathas. The translation in Kannada and summary of these documents will be displayed alongside the magnified images of these original scripts that have been obtained from the mathas. Some of the manuscripts will be brought from the museum at Keladi in Shimoga district.
The museum will screen documentary on the life and achievements of Purnaiah. It will also house sculptures, inscriptions pertaining to Chamarajanagar district and traditional Mysore paintings.
History tell us that, Krishnaraja Wadiyar III honoured Purnaiah with shawls and also gifted agricultural lands and a bungalow in Yelandur in 1807 after he gave up the Dewanship. This was the Maharaja’s manner of expressing his gratitude to the legendary Dewan.
Purnaiah’s bungalow earlier housed the taluk office and the police station. After these offices were shifted to new buildings, the bungalow was kept locked for more than a decade.
The purpose of the lease of this heritage building is only to set up a museum so as to protect the memory of the Dewan. The lease deed is for 33 years and the Directorate will pay Rs. 1,000 as rent to the descendants of Purnaiya every year.
The bungalow has already been declared as a protected monument in 1964 under the Karnataka Ancient and Historical Monuments Act and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1961.
Yelandur is the smallest taluk of Chamarajanagar district and it comprises of 33 villages. It is situated about 60 km south-west of  Mysore and about 150 km south of Bangalore on National Highway NH 209.
Apart from the Purnaiah bungalow, Yelandur is also famous for its Gauriveshvara and Varahaswamy tempes. While the Gauriveshwara temple was built in 1550 A.D during the reign of Devabhupala (Singadepa), a feudatory of  the Vijayanagars, the Varaharaswamy Temple is dedicated to one of the ten avatars of Vishnu.

Yelandur is near to the famous tourist and pilgrim spot of BR Hills. 

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