Tuesday 31 December 2013

When Bangaloreans relished Roman Beauty

Two days ago, there was an article in Deccan Herald about how apples in Bangalore have made a comeback and how the first harvest of apples are being harvested in Lalbagh.
Bangalore had never grown apples and the credit for introducing this fruit must go to the British, particularly the Superintendents who tended to Lalbagh.
Apple was one of the many temperate fruits brought to Bangalore mainly to sustain the demand for such items from European civil and military officials.
The demand for apples and other English and European fruits and vegetables had their beginnings in the establishment of the Cantonment in Bangalore in 1804.
The British had decided to pull our their troops from Srirangapatna as they were unable to face the mosquitoes. They choose Bangalore as their spot for setting up the biggest Cantonment n south India
The then Governor-General, Wellesley had asked several botanists and naturalists, including Benjamin Heyne, whop was employed in the Madras Government to take over Lalbagh in 1800 and introduce crops, including fruits and vegetables palatable to the British.
Thus was born the first experiment in India to grow alien crops and this started in 1800 and continued till 1807. Apple was one such fruit. Heyne also introduced cocoa, durian, clove, nutmeg and mangosteen and the fist saplings of these were planted in the Lalbagh.
By 1820, apples were popular in Lalbagh. In the same year, John Sullivan, the Collector of Coimbatore, sent a few Apple saplings to Arthur Hope, the British Resident in Bangalore in 1820.
In 1880, the Superintendent of Lalbagh, John Cameron, introduced Rome beauty Apple to Lalbagh. He actually imported seventeen varieties of apples and grew them in Lalbagh. Of them, he found the Roman Beauty the best to grow in Bangalore. He then introduced the Apple to other parts of Bangalore and its surroundings such as Whitefield.
The seeds of Roman Beauty were then distributed to farmers and owners of estates in Bangalore and Whitefield.. Slowly, the cultivation of Apple became popular and it soon became a commercial crop.
Cameron also introduced a variety of fruits and vegetables in Bangalore, including chow chow, cabbage, cauliflower, beetroot, radish, carrot, garden peas, turnips, rhubarb. Another Superintendent of Lalbagh, Gustav Krumbiegal, introduced Italian olives, Araucarias from Tasmania, and even caraway from France.
Krumbeigel took a series of steps to made the Apple a commercially viable and lucrative crop. 

By the 1920s, Bangalore’s Apple were named Roman Beauty and they had a unique taste. These Apples were grown in more than a thousand acres in and around Bangalore. It was very popular among Bangaloreans and it was sold in the neighbouring districts too. 
Compared to their counterparts in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, the apples from Namma Bangalore were priced cheap and they had their own taste. Bangaloreans relished it and even the Maharaja of Mysore planted scores of apple trees in what is today Lower Palace orchard, Upper Palace Orchard and Vasanthnagar. 
Several British bungalows and big houses of native Indians, as they were called, had trees that gave these Roman Beauties. People of all walks of life, including the British and large number of foreigners, relished them.
However, the change in the climate, growing urbanisation and depletion of the green cover sounded the death knell for the apples. A disease quickly spread among the apple trees and soon they became history. 

Monday 30 December 2013

The first drought of Bangalore

It was sometime in 1804 and Bangalore was just a small dot on the map of India. It was not even as big as Mysore, which had become the capital of the Wodeyar Kingdom.
The new king of the Wodeyars, Mumadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar (1794-1868), had gone about in right earnest rebuilding Mysore which had been ransacked and pillaged by Tipu Sultan years ago.
Though Tipu had died in May 1799 at the gates of Srirangapatna and the British had returned the Mysore Kingdom to the Wodeyars, the British were still wary of the south. The British forces in the South were completely exhausted by the four Anglo-Mysore wars that they had fought against Hyder Ali (1721-1781) and his son Tipu Sultan (1750-1799).
Though Tipu’s children and grandchildren had been taken prisoners and kept in the Vellore fort (they were taken to the fort on June 19, 1799), there was still a sense of uneasy among the remaining British troops that had been billeted in Srirangapatna. FSherzada Hyder Ali, the grandson of Hyder Ali and son of Abdul Kareem, had escaped from Vellore Fort and joined the Marathas in 1801.
The Mysore State was on the boil and there were revolts in different parts of the Kingdom. The British managed to suppress them, but they were vary of a backlash. They had wanted to completely destroy the fortification of Srirangapatna but had been asked to desist by the then Governor-General, Wellesley.
Wellesley had also refused to pay heed to the entreaty of  the British officers to shift the Army from Srirangapatna to Bangalore.  
Though the British had appropriated Bangalore to themselves, including the Lalbagh, they had conveniently left out the Pettah or Pete areas or old Bangalore to the Maharaja of Mysore, Mummadi Krishna Raja Wodeyar. Thus, old Bangalore was still in the hands of the Wodeyars, while the fort was in the custody of the British.
The British had a substantial military presence in Srirangapatna and Mysore. The Wodeyars had shifted the capital of Mysore Kingdom from Srirangapatna to Mysore and the boy king, Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar, was assisted among others by Dewan Purnaiah (1746-1812) and Barry Close (1756-1813), the British Resident, in running the kingdom.
The British in Mysore were more uneasy as they for the first time faced a sever drought. In one of the official despatches to the Madras Government, Dr. Heyne, on August 25, 1804, reported on the state of the garden- Lalbagh-under his care, stating that it had suffered due to drought, and requesting permission to purchase around 400 sheep to ensure a supply of manure for the Garden.
The Madras Government replied from its headquarters in Fort St George, on March 23, 1804 and October, 16, 1804. Both these letters were regarding Dr. Benjamin Heyne's report on the Botanical Garden at Bangalore.
It was in 1799 that Hayne had taken charge of the gardens under the order of Lord Wellesley. Dr. Heyne was a naturalist and a medical officer with the Topographical survey of Mysore. During the surveys, economic, demographic, botanical, geographical and cultural data of Mysore was collected.
Botanical data was given particular importance as Wellesley himself had instructed Heyne to take charge of the Sultan's Cypress Gardens, called the Lalbagh, and stressed that it should be turned into a botanical garden and developed “as a depository of useful plants sent from different parts of the country”.
Heyne also sent a letter to Fort St George, dated April 27, 1803, proposing the retention of a small spot of ground in Bangalore for the purpose of cultivating the potato, turnip and other culinary vegetables.
However, the drought of 1804 bothered him and he wanted the permission of the Madras Government to rectify this.
If Heyne was bothered about lack of manure and water to his Lalbagh, the British were concerned about the severe drought in Bellary during 1802-04 and again in 1805-07.
By then, Hayne had collected a large variety of plants and trees, giving special importance to economically useful plants and those that could be used medicinally. He left Lalbagh in 1812 to join and assists Francis Buchanan in his survey of Mysore.
He himself reported sometime in 1812 that some plots of  Lalbagh had all but disappeared and the major part of the garden was under the cultivation of ragi and rice.
At around 1804, the British Residency was just shifted from Mysore to Bangalore and the official residence of the British Resident of Mysore was the old post office building on Madras Bank Road.
Unfortunately, there is not adequate record of this drought though we are told that there was scarcity of water and foodgrains and that the people of the Petta suffered most. The ruling Wodeyars did their best to alleviate the suffering of the people.    
However, this drought was as severe or as painful as the one that struck Mysore Kingdom, including Bangalore, decades later. The drought and famine of 1875 that would sweep through Mysore State led to major changes in lifestyle and economy of Bangalore and Mysore.
Yet, the drought of 1804 is important as it is the first such natural calamity that occurred when the British were ruling the south and they had partitioned the Kingdom of Mysore between themselves, Wodeyars and Nizam of Hyderabad.

Thankfully, the Lalbagh had developed into a world class garden by then and it continues to exist today and the full credit for this goes to the foresightedness of its founders and its many superintendents.  

Sunday 29 December 2013

He introduced apples to Bangalore

The Lalbagh is perhaps the most famous landmark of Bangalore and it is one of the finest botanical gardens in the world. There are many people whose association with the Lalbagh is still recalled with respect and awe.
If Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan are credited with having started the garden and also developed it into the charbagh style, the British subsequently took pains to not only maintain the garden but also develop it.
The names of botanists and Superintendents of Lalbagh like James Cameroon, Krumbeigal, Mari Gowda and others quickly come to the fore but there are a few others whose contribution is as great as that of these men.
One such person is Benjamin Heyne (1770-1819), a surgeon, botanist and naturalist. Heyne nurtured Lalbagh during the early 1800s and it was he who gave the botanical garden its present shape. What is more it is this man who introduced apples into Bangalore along with several other fruits and vegetables.
It was in 1793 that a young Heyne joined the service of the British East India Company. In 1796, he was assigned to the Madras Presidency as Botanist to Samalkot (Samalkot today is s small mandal in Andhra Pradesh and it is about 64 kilometres from Rajamundhry. Samalkot then had a botanical garden and it was part of the Northern Circars that the British ruled).
In 1799, the British alliance defeated Tipu Sultan in the fourth and final Anglo-Mysore war. The British returned the Mysore Kingdom to the Wodeyars and appropriated the Lalbagh Botanical garden in Bangalore.
The British decided to transform Lalbagh as a “depository for useful plants sent from different parts of the country.” They then ordered Dr. Benjamin Heyne, the Company’s botanist at Madras, to take charge of  Lalbagh.
The order to preserve and protect Lalbagh came from the Governor-General of India, Richard Wellesley. The British asked Heyne to accompany the Surveyor, with the following instructions:
“A decided superiority must be given to useful plants over those which are merely recommended by their rarity or their beauty,... to collect with care all that is connected with the arts and manufacturers of this country, or that promises to be useful in our own; to give due attention to the timber employed in the various provinces of his route,... and to collect with particular diligence the valuable plants connected with his own immediate profession, i.e. medicine.”
Heyne was in charge of Lalbagh till 1812. He set about the task he had been assigned with diligence and he collected a lot of plants, shrubs and plants from Bangalore, Mysore, Coimbatore and even the Western Ghats.
A large collection of plant specimens which were forwarded to London. He collected more than 350 species from the Western Ghats and more than 200 species were named by him. He also sent many of his Indian botanical specimens to the German botanist Albreht Roth, whose work “Novae plantarum” ) is largely based on these botanical specimen.
Coming back to the Survey work he had been entrusted with,  Heyne was assistant to Francis Buchanan. Both took up and completed the epoch making Mysore Survey.
Benjamin Heyne died at Madras in 1819 but not before he had been appointed to superintend in 1803 the cultivation of potatoes and other culinary vegetables such as turnip in the Company's garden in Mysore State. The garden, of course, was in Bangalore.
He was also tasked with the job of introducing bread fruit in Mysore State. Bread fruit belongs to the mulberry family, Moraceae. In Karnataka, it is locally called divi Halasu.
It is to him the credit must go of commissioning botanical illustrations though none of them survive today. In the eighteenth century, botanical illustrations had become important and botanists depended on them to identify, classify and publish botanical nomenclature. Heyne was keen to train ‘native' artists in identifying and illustrating characteristics of plants and shrubs that he had collected and planted in Lalbagh.

In 1803, William Bentinck wanted Heyne to  apply his “mineralogical knowledge to the subject of gold sand, collected in the vicinity of Bangalore, and the mode of extracting it from the stones in which it is embedded”.

Bangalore's Van Gogh

He was an artist, freedom fighter, legislator, newspaper editor and he was posthumously conferred the Distinguished Citizen of Bangalore.
Yet, he remains an obscure figure known largely in the field of painting. He was among the first few who loved painting the many trees, flowering plants and the beautiful parks of Bangalore. He loved Cubbon Park and Lalbagh and he immortalized them in colours.   
He excelled in painting landscapes and he had a distinct and unique style of his own so much so that he was often labelled as the Van Gogh of Bangalore.
Though he remembered for his contribution to painting, he took to it only after he was 53. Till then, he was a freedom fighter and politician rolled into one and he actively participated in the Vidhurashwatha Sathyagraha in Gauribidanur taluk where several farmers were killed by the British.
For two decades till his death in a road accident in 1988, he was a familiar figure on the tree lined avenues of Bangalore and its gardens and fountains, who carried his own folding stool, easel and art materials. He set them up wherever his eye caught the fancy and he got the urge to capture it on paint.
Born more than a hundred years ago in Dodaballapur, this man was none other than Rumale Chennabasaviah. He was a man of several vocations and he started out as a freedom fighter. Born in 1910, he was a freedom fighter till 1947 and then till 1963, a politician. He took to painting only in 1963and today he is more remembered for his landscapes of Bangalore than for anything else.
Many of his paintings are in water colours though he was adept at using oil paint.  
It was his elder brother who noticed his talent for art and enrolled him in Kala Mandir, in 1929-30. He then decided to study art at the Chamarajendra Technical Institute (CTI),  but he gave up after he met Mahatma Gandhi in 1934. Strangely, he exhibited 18 water colours at the Dasara Exhibition in Mysore in 1935 before abandoning the profession to jump into the freedom movement..
He participated in the Vidhuraswatha protest near Gauribidanur where ten people were killed in the firing. He spent several months in jail between 1939 and 1940.
It was only after 1947 that he decided to concentrate on his art but it was not until several years later that he again took up painting. Meanwhile, he took over as Editor of Tainadu, a Kannada newspaper, from 1956 to 1960.
In 1960, he went on to found the Chitrakala Parishat and from 1962, he began taking painting seriously.
He soon became famous as Rumale and today the Rumale Art House in 3rd Block, 45th Cross, Rajajinagar has a collection of one hundred of his paintings. He loved Cubbon Park and Lalbagh and frequently painted tress and flowers from these two gardens.  

On February 1988 morning, Rumale died in Bangalore when the autorickshaw he was travelling was hit by a factory bus just adjacent to Lalbagh.

Tuesday 17 December 2013

The little known historic temple

Bangalore has several temples dedicated to Someshwara or Ishwara (Eshwara) and the most famous is the one at Ulsoor or Halsoor. The Ulsoor temple was built by the Cholas and subsequently improved upon, enlarged and renovated by the Vijayanagars and Kempe Gowda.
The Ulsoor temple is a marvel of stone and it is a tourist attraction. Much has been said and written about it but there is one more similar temple in Bangalore that has not received the attention that it deserves. Nor is this temple on the tourist map.
Though the areas where this temple is located is situated amid one of the most heavily traversed roads of Bangalore, very few people and fewer motorists care to stop and spend time at this temple.
What is more astonishing is that this temple too is built by the Cholas and it is located in one f the oldest localities of Bangalore. However, neither Bangaloreans nor tourists seems to have heard of it, let alone come to visit it.
This is the temple of  Someshwara in Madivala. The temple is said to be as old if not older than Madivala. The temple is a virtual delight for an epigraphist as its walls are full of writings and records, some as early as 1247. This was the time when the Hoysalas were dominant in this part of Karnataka and their Emperors, Vira Narasimha and Veera Someshara defeated the Pandyas, Gangas and the Cholas.      
The 1247 record refers to lands donated “'below the big tank of Vengaluru”  by a resident of  Veppur, now called Begur. This probably means that the earliest Bangalore we know existed somewhere in and around Begur-Madivala.
Today, Madivala has lost almost all its links with the past. Talk of Madivala and the only thing that springs to the mind is the Central Silk Borad Road junction and the massive traffic hold up ever day.
The road engineering here is so bad and the traffic so heavy that vehicles keep on piling up regularly and at all hours.
None of the exhausted motorists have any inclination or even desire to stop for a few minutes near the silk board junction and take in the centuries old Someshwara Temple.
The Someshwara temple is a structure in stone and large portions of its outer walls are covered with inscriptions in Tamil and Snaskrit. The script used here to inscribe writings in Sanskrit is Grantha and this is yet another proof of its antiquity.
This script was widely used between the 6th century and the 19th century mainly by Tamil speakers in South India, particularly in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, to write Sanskrit. This script is in restricted use in traditional vedic schools or patashalas.
Other inscriptions relate to grants made during the reigns of Hoysala king Ballala III and Chola king Rajendra. One record, from 1365, mentions a land grant at Tamaraikkirai  and this today is known as Tavarkere locality.
Apart from the inscriptions, the outer walls are sculpted with images of  various gods including Ganesha, Durga and Vishnu.
The garba griha and artha mantapa of the temple appear as they were constructed. These inner chamber is small and dark.
There is a beautiful Nandi placed in the artha mantapa. It faces the Linga, which is believed to have self manifested.
Though the temple was built by the Cholas, it was substantially renovated and repaired by the Vijayanagar Emperors.
The temple is open for worship from 7:30 a.m., to 11a.m., and again from 5:30 p.m., to 8:30 p.m.
Maha Shivratri, every February, Pradosham which occurs once a fortnight and every Monday is special for this temple.

The temple is very near the silk board junction. It is located near the Mariamma Temple and the place to alight if traveling by BMTC bus is Kuvempu Nagar bus stand.   

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. 

Saturday 14 December 2013

The Vajra Musti Kalaga

There have been several queries on Vajra Musti Kalaga. Several people have either written or called to find out how the sport is played and whether they can learn it.
Well, here are some details and we hope it will be of some help.
The Vajra Musti Kalaga is a sport played in Mysore only during Dassara and that too only within the confines of the Mysore Palace.
The name of the sport has its origin in Sanskrit. The Vajra Musti refers to a knuckleduster-like weapon. It also means the weapon which is employed in this unique forms of wrestling. The weapon is called by many names such as ayudha, bhukhandi or Indra-mukti which means Indira’s fist.
The Vajramusti is usually made of ivory or buffalo horn. Its appearance is that of a knuckleduster, slightly pointed at the sides and with small spikes at the knuckles. The variation used for warfare had long blades protruding from each end, and an elaborate bladed knuckle.
The Vajramusti is a fierce mode of  wrestling where the combatants wear the Ayudha or Vajramusti on their right hand. This weapon has several small holes along its length, so it can be tied onto the hand with a thread. This is to ensure that it cannot be  dislodged during the fight.
A weapon similar to the Vajramushti was also used by ancient Greek and Roman boxers and Pancrationists. They called it the Cestus and this was a ring, usually made of bronze, worn around the knuckles.
The first mention of vajra musti is in Manasollasa, a reference work, of the Chalukya Emperor Someswara III (1124–1138). However, history tells us that Vajra Musti was practiced even during the times of Mauryas.
The first English account of Vajra Musti is given by James Scurry (1766–1822), a British soldier and memoirist. He was captured by Hyder Ali and imprisoned in Srirangapatna for ten years from 1780.
After his release in 1790, he reached an English camp. He then prepared a narrative of his captivity in 1794, but it was published in 1824, after his death.
This work is called “The captivity, sufferings, and escape of James Scurry”. In one of the chapters, he describes the Vajra Musti thus: “The Jetti’s would be sent for, who always approached with their masters at their head, and, after prostration, and making their grand salams, touching the ground each time, they would be paired, one school against another. They had on their right hands the wood-guamootie -vajra-musti- of four steel talons, which were fixed to each back joint of their fingers, and had a terrific appearance when their fists were closed. Their heads were close shaved, their bodies oiled, and they wore only a pair of short drawers. On being matched, and the signal given from Tippu, they begin the combat, always by throwing the flowers, which they wear round their necks, in each other’s faces; watching an opportunity for striking with the right hand, on which they wore this mischievous weapon which never failed lacerating the flesh, and drawing blood most copiously. Some pairs would close instantly, and no matter which was under, for the gripe was the whole; they were in general taught to suit their holds to their opponent’s body, with every part of which, as far as concerned them, they were well acquainted. If one got a hold against which his antagonist could not guard, he would be the conqueror; they would frequently break each other’s legs and arms”.
After Tipu died in 1799, the Wodeyar Kings of Mysore continued patronising it. Over decades, it slowly lost out to other sports and was restricted to the royalty. It then became an integral part of the Dasara and came to be reduced as a ritual.
The Kalaga now precedes the Jumbo Savari on Vijaya Dashami and it is personally inaugurated by the Maharajas of Mysore. After the last Maharaja, Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar, died, it was his son, Srikantadatta Narasimnharaja Wodeyar who inaugurated this ancient sport in the palace courtyard.    
The sport commences on Vijaya Dashami and it takes place at the Savari Thotti, the courtyard in the Mysore palace. The Jumboo Savari procession commences immediately after this ritual.
This year, that is 2013, the Vajra Musti Kalaga began with Yuvaraja, Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar, performing pooje between 9.15 a.m., and 9.25 a.m., in the auspicious Vrischika lagna.
The palace priests, Narasimha Sharma and Manjunath Sharma, chanted the slokas after which the Kalaga or fight between Jetties commenced at 9.50 am.
This year, for jetties participated in the contest. Narayana Jetty from Bangalore, Vijaykumar Jetty from Mysore, Anil Jetty from Channapatna and Shamanth Kumar Jetty from Chamarajanagar.
The contest is stooped even as the first blood spills. Narayana Jetty
drew the first blood by pinning down Mysore’s Vijay Kumar Jetty.  Srikantadatta Wodeyar then pierced a pumpkin with a dagger,
signaling the commencement of Vijaya Yatre or victory parade.
Senior jetties Srinivas Jetty and Tiger Balaji were the referees of the the bout.
By the way, R Vijaykumar Jetti is an autorickshaw driver from Mysore. You can ask his address at the Mysore Palace office or any autorickshaw driver hailing from Mysore.
Last year, Manjunath Jetty, a KSRTC driver, had represented Mysore and had won the bout. The KSRTC officials will have details about him, if not the conductors and drivers. 
Even today, members of the Jetty or Jetti community are found in large numbers in Mysore, Chamarajanagara, Channapatna and Bangalore. They originally hailed from Delmal in Gujarat but migrated to Vijayanagar first and Mysore next when they saw that the Mysore Kingdoms –of Hyder, Tipu and Wodeyars-patronised wrestling.
History tells us that the first migration of the Jettys from Gujarat was in the 11th century when the Hoysalas ruled Mysore.
If you want more details abpout jettys and their art, you can contact M.R. Madhava, son of M.R. Sudarshan of the Jetty family, who lives in Mysore.
The family of  Madhava is synonymous with the vajra mushti kalaga. They trace their fighting skills to the times of Tipu Sultan. When Kari Jatappa, great great grandfather of Madhava, was a Raja Vastadi or royal courtier. Another well-known Vajra musti exponent in this family is Rama Jattappa who was patronised by  Mummudi Krishnaraja Wodeyar.
Rama Jatappa was considered to be invincible and people treated him with a lot of respect. They would say “Aakashakke eeni ella, Rama Jatappange kustili sati ella” (Just as there is no ladder to the sky, there is no equal to Rama Jatappa). Another wrestler in the family was M.R. Jatappa who supplied agarbattis to the palace durbar. It was famous all over India. His son was M.R.  Sudarshan, who was conferred the title Mr. Body Builder Mysore and with Mr. Olympics in Madras.
Tiger Balaji, the referee is one of the five sons of  M R. Sudarsha. The other brothers of Tiger Balaji are Ramji, Basavanna, Arvind and Madhav. All five were experts in wrestling and M.R. Madhava specialised in Varja Musti.
Now coming to the contact details, in case anyone is interested in getting more details about the sport or the participants, please check with the Mysore Palace Board. This board is in charge of the Mysore Palace and is involved in its day to day running. If you fail to get information here, you can contact the office of  the late Srikantadatta Wodeyar and we are sure they will be happy to help you out.  

There are many akhadas or wrestling houses in Bangalore and Mysore and they will be able to give you more details. If you still fail to gather information, check out with the Karnataka Wrestling Federation. They should be having some information. If all this fails, head straight to Mysore, talk to the auto drivers and ask them to take you to the house of  Madhava or any other Jetty.