Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV

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Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV

On his Jayanti my tribute to a visionary ruler, who built most of modern Mysore state as we know it, and left his legacy in the form of institutions.
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Today is the Jayanti of Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV, regarded as the builder of modern Mysore state, considered the ideal Philosopher king by Paul Bunton, and as Rajarshi by Mahatma Gandhi. A true visionary and one of the finest rulers ever.

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Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV or better known as Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar, was an inheritor of a rich legacy. His father Chamarajendra Wadiyar was the one who developed Bengaluru, and also many major landmarks in Mysuru like the Zoo, Maharaja’s College.

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In fact when one looks at the history of Mysore State, it is closely interwined with that of the Wodeyars, much like Cholas- Tanjore, Pallavas- Kanchi, Pandyas- Madurai. The contribution of Wodeyars in developing Mysore State has been immense both in the past and recent times.

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The Wodeyars get their name from a Kannada word Wadiyar meaning Chief, though in Kannada, it is generally pronounced as Odeyar. They trace their origin to the Yadavas of Dwaraka, and it’s believed they were one of the original Yadava clans, who migrated down South.

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Established by Yaduraya Wodeyar in 1339, the Wodeyars were initially part of the Vijayanagara Empire. After the fall of Hampi, the Wodeyars became an independent kingdom by themselves in 1565, and remained so till 1799, before the British took over.

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The most famous of the Wodeyar rulers were Kanitrava Narasaraja who expanded Mysore all the way till Trichy, and it’s greatest ruler Chikka Devaraja who not only expanded the empire, but also put in place a very robust administrative system.

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However between 1760 to 1799, the Wodeyars were more or less under the control of Hyder Ali and later Tipu Sultan, and after Tipu fell at Srirangapatnam, they essentially became a British protectorate.

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Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV or Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar was born in 1884, on this date in Mysore Palace. When his father Chamarajendra Wadiyar passed away at Kolkata in 1894, he was still a kid, and his mother Vani Vilas Sannidhana, ruled the state as a regent.

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Krishnaraja had his early education at Mysore Palace where he was trained in Western studies, Kannada and Sanskrit, as well as horse riding and music. He learnt about administration from Sir Stuart Fraser of the Bombay Civil Service, and his extensive tours of the state helped

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Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar, was married in 1900, to Maharani Pratapa Kumari of Kathiawar State, and he finally took over as ruler in 1902. At a ceremony in Mysore’s Jagmohan Palace, he was formally annointed as the Maharaja, beginning what was a glorious phase.

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Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV’s major contribution was in the field of education, he was the first chancellor of Benares Hindu University, had contributed generously on Maviya’s appeal, and he set up the first group of colleges under it.

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Krishnaraja Wadiyar’s other great contribution was the University of Mysore, established in 1916, the oldest university to date in Karnataka, the first to be chartered by an Indian princely state, and one of the finest universities in Karnataka even now.

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One of the persons who played a major role in setting up Mysore University was C.R.Reddy who wud later establish the Andhra University in Vizag. Reddy undertook a study of higher education around the world, and formulated the university’s structure along with Thomas Denham.

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HV Nanjunandiah, was the first Vice Chancellor of Mysore University till his death in 1920, while Shri M.Visweswarayya, who was Dewan under Krishnaraja Wadiyar, played a major role in it’s promotion. It’s motto Na Hi Gyanena Sadrusham is taken from the Gita.

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Krisnhnaraja Wadiyar IV, also played a crucial role in setting up of IISC at Bangalore, he gifted around 371 acres of land, generously donated funds for it. Along with Jamshedji Tata, his contribution in establishment of IISC was equally significant, especially in early stages.

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Today if Bengaluru-Mysore is one of the leading educational centers in India, credit is due to Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV, who set up the universities, as also many schools and colleges, and encouraged women’s education. He was a true visionary.

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It also helped that Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV, had some brilliant men serving as his Dewans, who were as visionary and foresighted as him. His first Dewan was P.N.Krishnamurthy, and it was during that time, Bangalore became the first Indian city to get electric street lights.

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His second Dewan Madhava Rao, passed law empowering Mysore Legislative Assembly as an autonomous body. Created Mysore Civil Service, introduced kindergarten schools, made primary education free, started a number of irrigation projects.

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Krishnaraja Wadiyar’s 3rd Diwan was Ananda Rao, and the major achievement during that time was setting up the power station at Sivanasamudram in 1910, as well as extending the Mysore Hassan Railway all the way up to Arsikere.

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In fact the Shivanasamudra Hydro Electric Project was the 2nd one in India, first was in Darjeeling. And it played a major role in development of Kolar, as also bringing power to Mysore State. Again another achievement of Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV.

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Krishnaraja Wadiyar’s 4th Dewan, was the great Shri Mokshagundam Vishweswarayya, one of the builders of Modern India. Vishweswarayya’s achievements would need another thread by itself, though suffice to say Krishnaraja Sagar Dam wud be his greatest one to date.

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The last Dewan who served under Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV, was Mirza Ismail, who in turn was mentored by Visweswarayya. Mirza Ismail built the now iconic Town Hall building in Bangalore, as also carried out a large rural electrification project. As well as many industries.

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Minto Eye Hospital in Bangalore was set up by Krishnaraja Wadiyar, one of the oldest opthamology institutes in the world, as also Vani Vilasa Sagara, the first dam in Karnataka state at Chitradurga across the Vedavathi river.

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Krishna Raja Wadiyar also established the State Bank of Mysore in 1913, Kannada Sahitya Parishad in in 1915, the School of Engineering in Bangalore, now better known as UVCE, the iconic Lalita Mahal Palace in 1921.

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Socially too Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV was a reformer, was among the first to announce 25% reservation of jobs for Backward classes, in Mysore states, that uplifted many of their lives, set up cooperatives for farmers.

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Industrially too Mysore State developed a lot under Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV, Bhadravathi Iron and Steel Plant, Sandalwood Oil Factory at Bangalore, Mysore Lamps, Mysore Chemicals and Fertilizers, as well the State Railway.

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Another field where Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV made signficant contribution was in health care, set up Mysore Medical College, as well as KR Hospital in Mysore, Vanivilas Women and Children Hospital( Bangalore), it was during his time Mandya district was formed.

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Krishnaraja Wadiyar also undertook a lot of initiatives for women, banned child marriage for girls below 8, scholarships were given for girl students, set up hospitals for women, as also many schools and colleges for them all over Mysore State and in Karnataka too.

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Krishnaraja Wadiyar was also a patron of arts and music. He himself was an expert musician, cud play 8 instruments including flute, saxophone, mridangam, piano. He patronized many classical musicians like Ustad Vilayat Khan. Kadagathur Seshacharya was one of the famous writers.

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Paul Bunton called Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV the ideal philosopher king, on the lines of what Plato envisaged. Mahatma Gandhi who visited Mysore State, called him a true Rajarshi, and his kingdom as Ramarajya. John Sankey acclaimed Mysore to be the best administered state.

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Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV passed away in August 1940, but his legacy would forever live in Mysore State. Today when you travel around Mysore-Bangalore, every institution, every landmark would have had his imprint or influence someway or other.

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What Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV did for Mysore State, would forever live. His legacy remains alive in all the dams, colleges, schools and institutions he built during his time, Naman to a true Rajarshi on his Jayanti, Mysore State would forever be indebted to him.

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Krishnaraja Wadiyar’s father Chamarajendra wanted to sponsor Swami Vivekananda’s trip to Chicago, but for some reason, the latter refused it. He however had high regard for the Maharaja and called Mysore an ideal state, while Chamarajendra saw in Swamiji the glory of India.

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Matter of fact Swami Vivekananda had a very special relationship with Mysore State, visited it for 4 weeks in November 1892. The then Dewan Seshadri Iyer was very much impressed by Swamiji, while Chamarajendra arranged for his stay in the Mysore Palace itself.

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Chamarajendra Wodeyar in fact had many discussions with Swami Vivekananda on the Vedanta. He once asked what Swamiji wanted, and it was then he outlined his vision for India, of a modern nation, with it’s spiritual moorings intact.

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So impressed was Chamarajendra Wadiyar by Swami Vivekananda’s vision, that he offered to help him in anyway, including sponsoring his trip to the West. But for some reasons Swamiji declined the financial offer, they however had high regard for each other.

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Chamarajendra Wadiyar and his Dewan Seshadri Iyer, regarded Swami Vivekananda as the man born for India’s redemption. In fact when Swamiji was to leave Mysore, the Maharaja was so upset, and requested him to stay a few days more, so attached he had become.

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Chamarajendra Wadiyar requested Swami Vivekananda to speak some thing into the phonograph he had then, so that he would always keep his memories with him. Swamiji did so, and that record is even now preserved in the palace.

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So much was Chamarajendra in admiration of Swami Vivekananda, that he even wanted to do Padapuja. Swamiji however did not allow him to do so. Later when he was in US, Swamiji wrote to Wodeyar, asking him to take steps for the uplift of the poor and lower classes.

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Though Swami Vivekananda initially stayed at the Mysore Palace, he later moved to Niranjan Mutt, near the Dewan’s residence. He also gave lectures at the Sadvidya Pathashala. The Ramakrishna Mission in Mysore is one of the oldest in India and very well known too.

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