They too served Mysuru in various capacities
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They too served Mysuru in various capacities

March 5, 2023

By Gouri Satya, Sr. Journalist

While recording the development of Mysuru, we generally hail the contribution made by the Maharajas and the Dewans. We attribute most of the progressive works to them and also to some British Residents, like J.D. Gordon.

But there were many others, who, working in different capacities in the then Mysore Government, strove for the development of the State. However, their services have remained obscure. To list them and their services perhaps would run into a big volume. Here is an attempt to record the services of a few of them:

M. Krishnaswamy Rao — A distinguished individual

M. Krishnaswamy Rao of Mysore belonged to a family which had been closely identified with the State service for over two centuries. One of his ancestors, Bacha Rao, held an appointment next only to that of the Dewan in the time of Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar III.

The faithful services rendered by the members of his family are referred to by Buchanan and Wilks in their works.

Krishnaswamy Rao was born in 1870 as the son of Muhatub Ganghadhara Rao of the Mysore Palace service. After his education in the Mysore Maharaja’s College, Madras Christian College and Madras Law College, he joined the Mysore service as Revenue Probationer in 1896, became Deputy Amildar in 1898, and worked as Amildar in various places.

He later became an Assistant Commissioner. After serving as the Vice-President of the Bangalore City Municipality in 1906, he was transferred to Mysore as Vice-President of the Municipality and ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees for the Improvement of Mysore city in 1908, where he made a significant contribution.

Gubra Cutcherry Babu Rao — Dewan Purnaiya’s rival

During the rule of Krishnaraja Wadiyar III, there was an official who was considered a rival to Dewan Purnaiya. Commonly called Gubra Cutcherry Babu Rao, because he was its head at one time, this official entered service in his youth under Hyder. He was present at the Perambakkam battle where British Col. Baillie was defeated. He served in the army till Hyder’s death and entered Gubra Cutcherry, subsequently called Dewan’s Cutcherry.

He was treated by Krishnaraja Wadiyar III “next to that distinguished individual (Purnaiya) as most fit to perform the office of Finance Minister.” Babu Rao was thrice Dewan of Mysore during the reign of Krishnaraja Wadiyar III (1817-1818, 1820-21 and 1822-1825).

His first appointment was in 1817 and was recalled twice to that post even after his retirement by Col. Briggs, the Senior Commissioner. Briggs remarked of him that his “experience of the revenue details of Mysore exceeds that of any man in the country.” Babu Rao died in 1834.

Raghavalu Naidu — Engineer par excellence

Raghavalu Naidu was the Executive Engineer of the Mysore Palace Division. Born on September 19, 1852, he was educated at the School of Engineering and Natural Science, Bangalore.

After a brief stint with the Madras Government, he entered the service of the Mysore Government as Apprentice Engineer, Bangalore Division, in August 1878. Officiating as Executive Engineer from 1892 onwards, he engaged in many special works, including the construction of large tanks at Barankanive, Marikanive etc.

He was put in charge of the building of the new Palace in Mysore in 1897, to replace the former building which had been to a certain extent destroyed by fire. He was sent on deputation to Calcutta, Delhi, Agra, and other places in Northern India to study architectural designs for the new Palace, which were under construction in 1901, 1902 and 1903. The demolishing of the remains of the old structure and the building of the splendid new edifice was his work.

Several noted constructions

He was responsible for building the Marriage Pavilion for which he was awarded a bonus of a month’s pay by the Government, and the Maharaja, pleased with his work, presented Naidu with a gold watch in open Durbar.

He was also in charge of the construction works for the reception of Lord Curzon, and did his work so well that the Maharaja granted him a large increase in his personal allowance, and presented him with a handsome diamond ring. He designed and built the showcase for the exhibits at the Franco-British Exhibition of 1908, for which he was presented with a Diploma of Honour. He was also awarded a silver medal by the Madras Fine Arts Society for the exhibits sent from the Palace Division and a gold medal by the Indian Congress Exhibition held in Bombay in 1904 for the Palace Division exhibits. Entrusted with the improvement of Mysore, he engaged himself in the erection of nearly all the public buildings and Bazars in Mysore City. Naidu also designed and carried out extensions, parks, and large architectural buildings. He retired from service on January 26, 1909.

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Manepanda Muttannah — Noted forest keeper

A personality from Coorg to serve Mysore was Manepanda Muttannah. Born as the son of a large land owner on October 2, 1855, he had his education at Mercara Central School and Central College, Bangalore. Joining service as Probationer in the Forest Department of Mercara in 1878, he served in the Central Provinces, 1886-98, and then transferred to Madras Service where he served in the Sub-Assistant Conservator’s grade until 1889 when he was promoted as Assistant Conservator.

Later, his services were placed at the disposal of the Mysore Government, which appointed him as the Deputy Conservator of Forests. In December 1901, he was promoted to Conservator of Forests and Secretary to the Government of Mysore in the Forest Department.

In July 1904, he was appointed Conservator of Forests, Mysore. During 12 years of his stewardship, the Forest Department was organised on a sound footing. He was conferred ‘Rai Bahadur’ in 1899. He retired in 1914.

Sir Hajee K.T. Ismail Sait — Khan Bahadur

Even the rich came forward to serve the State under the Maharaja. Sir Hajee K.T. Ismail Sait, born on March 7, 1869, was a banker, mill owner, and merchant. He was a Hon. Magistrate, in Bangalore in 1888, and a member of the Madras Legislative Council. He served as Chairman and Director of several joint stock companies, including Mysore Bank Ltd., Bhadravathi Iron & Steel Works, and Government Sandalwood Factory. Sait constructed and endowed a Gosha Hospital in Bangalore. He was conferred the title ‘Khan Bahadur’ in 1911.

H. Nanjundaraj Urs — Lokahitaishi

In 1900, a plan to demolish houses within the Fort in Mysore was taken up. Before demolition, the assessment of houses to be demolished was initiated. H. Nanjundaraj Urs was placed on special duty for this purpose.

Urs was born in Mysore in 1858 and after his education in the Mysore Royal School under Colonel Malleson, he joined the State service as Attaché in the Military Department at Bangalore in 1880 and was transferred in the same capacity to Mysore, in 1885.

Illustrations of Ramayana at Palace

He was appointed Officiating Revenue Assistant Commissioner in 1888 and was placed in charge of Muzrai and general duty. In 1894, he was made the Vice-President of the Mysore Municipality. In 1902, he became the Superintendent, Amrut Mahal Department and a year later he was invested with the powers of 1st Class Magistrate. The title of ‘Lokahitaishi’ was conferred on him by the Maharaja in 1913.

The decoration of the walls of the newly built Palace was assigned to eminent artists. M. Shama Rao of Mysore, a Palace Artist at the time of Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV, was among them. He executed many excellent paintings adorning the walls of the Palace and also executed chromo-litho illustrations of Ramayana. Besides, he supplied coloured maps in Kannada characters to the Educational Department of Mysore State.

V.N. Narasimmiyengar — Effective controller

V.N. Narasimmiyengar entered service at the age of 18. He obtained the appointment of Revenue Munshi in the Superintendent’s Office of the Chitradurga Division. He was promoted to Revenue Sheristadar, and in 1864 acted as Public Prosecutor, earning the encomiums of the European heads of the Department.  In 1867, he was appointed to the Mysore Inam Commission as Assistant Commissioner. After his position as General Assistant Commissioner, he was placed on famine duty as Special Relief Officer. Through his services in this post, he earned the thanks of the Chief Commissioner.

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Special Test Census Officer

He also served as Special Test Census Officer after the great famine of 1877. In 1879, he was appointed Deputy Commissioner and later as Sessions Judge, Mysore. In 1886, he resigned from the service. However, in 1890, he was selected to conduct the Provincial Census. “In the performance of this duty,” it was described, “he worked with great zeal and assiduity and his report left nothing to be desired.” He was warmly thanked for this work by both the Indian and the Mysore Governments. His report was a model of good writing, by which he infused life into the dry statistics which he had to handle. Sir Seshadri Iyer declared that “his statistics decidedly spoke.” The last office held by Narasimmiyengar was that of the Palace Controller from 1897 to 1904, when he finally retired.

In this capacity, he showed ability and much firmness, detecting malpractices and putting a stop to corruption, waste and jobbery. He was a man of great erudition, both Eastern and Western, and was a profound scholar in Sanskrit and English. Imbued with liberal principles, both social and religious, he actively promoted social reforms.

Nuggehalli Narasimmiyengar — Yajaman

Many officers also won laurels from the British officers and one of them was Variyur Nuggehalli Narasimmiyengar, a member of the State Legislative Council, who earned encomiums at every stage of his service like his father.

Born in 1842 as the son of Dewan N. Narasimmiyengar of Tumkur, who held high office under the British Government, this gentleman by his sterling character earned the affections of the people and was remembered by the sobriquets of Dewan and Yajaman. He was respected alike by the British Government and his sovereign.

P. Palpu — Vaccine man who rose to heights

When we are hearing much about vaccines, here is the story of a pioneer who did yeoman service in the then Mysore State over a century ago. P. Palpu, L.M. & S., D.P.H. was born in  Trivandrum, on November 2, 1863. He was educated at Maharaja’s College, Trivandrum, Medical College, Madras, and King’s College, London. He also pursued his studies in Paris, Berlin and other centres of learning in Europe.

He entered public service in 1890 as Medical Superintendent of the Government Special Vaccine Depot, Madras, and was soon promoted to be Senior Superintendent. Next year, he was selected by Mysore Durbar to start a Vaccine Institute for the State. He joined the Mysore service on September 20, 1891, and started the Vaccine Institute at Bangalore so efficiently that not only Mysore State but also several districts of the Madras Presidency and other parts of India and Burma got their supply of vaccines from the Institute.

He also worked in the Medical Department of the State, in St. Martha’s Hospital, in Lunatic and Leper Asylums and in medical stores. In August 1894, he was placed in sole sub-charge of these Institutions. He continued in these appointments till August 1898, when on the first outbreak of plague he was appointed Superintendent of Plague Camps in Bangalore City.

On the subsidence of the plague that year, he was deputed to England where he obtained the D. P. H. of Cambridge. In 1900, he returned to duty in Bangalore and served as the Health Officer of the city, in which appointment he continued till the middle of 1905.

Inspector of Vaccination

In 1902 he was appointed ex-officio Vice-President of the City Municipality. In 1905, he was given the provincial appointment of Personal Assistant to the Sanitary Commissioner of the Government of Mysore where he functioned until August 1907 when he was promoted as Deputy Sanitary Commissioner and Inspector of Vaccination. In this capacity, he also became a Member and Secretary, Central Sanitary Board.

Palpu was a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Public Health, and a Member of the British Medical Association, London. He studied as special subjects — Bacteriology, Serum Therapy, and Tropical Medicine, in London, Sudbury, Paris, Lille, Berlin, and Rome.

Besides these few, there were many more efficient and dedicated men in the then-Mysore Government of the Wadiyars.

3 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “They too served Mysuru in various capacities”

  1. Raja Chandra says:

    Excellent Article by Sri. Gouri Satya.
    I just want to add to what he has said about the ancestor of M. Krishnaswamy Rao. Butche Rao was the Naib Dewan during Mummadi’s early reign. His father was Dewan Khande Rao under Krishna Raja Wodeyar II ( Immadi). Khande Rao was a Mahratta (DeSastha) Brahman and belonged to the Banaji family. His full name was Khande Rao Banaji . He started as a protege of Hyder had almost succeeded in ending Hyder’s hegemony but his misfortune led to his miserable death. For what was his alleged ingratitude to Haidar, Khande Rao was, according to the generally accepted local chronicle was condemned by Haidar to life-long punishment by being put in an iron cage and fed on rice and milk like a parrot, and exposed in the market-place at Bangalore—a most pathetic end.

  2. Jalandhara says:

    Again , Gauri Sathya does not give the importance the British Residents deserve s who acted on the riders of the British Viceroy who were the real rulers of all of India.
    Gauri Satya’s historical narratives extol Wadiyars and Dewans, and here a set of individuals as if these people were the real powers pf the State.
    Without the approval of the British Viceroy of the day, who exercised power through the British Resident in Bangalore, nothing moved in Mysore.,
    The resources of the country for the development were controlled by the British Viceroy, the Wadiyars and Dewans were mere servants of the British Viceroys. They were the masters whose approval and encouragement were needed. They l were the puppet masters , Wadiyars and Dewans were the puppets, who danced to the strings pull of the puppet masters.
    These bunch of lower strata of officials listed followed the orders emanated from the Viceroy, and communicated through the British Resident to the Wadiyars and Dewans and downwards.
    Hence, I tend not to take seriously Gauri Satya’s narratives.

  3. Ajjampur Vijayakumar says:

    Hello Gauri Satya
    What is the purpose of churning out these stories, which may or may not occurred decades ago, under British Raj?
    Look at the state of Mysore today! Stray dogs in every street, street corners are used as toilets, and politicians amassing wealth storing bundles of Rupees in their homes. Mysore/India provides cheap IT labour for Western companies.
    You are writing articles in the SOM, whose owner was a non Mysorean and arrived with thousands of non mYsorean in late 1970s. These people have no sense of what you are writing about! Yes, it gives you the fee, and aside provides no value, as these poeple you write about including Wadiyars, Dewans and officials etc.. were controlled and administered by the British, as the poster above says.
    In Mysore of today, non Mysoreans inhabit in large numbers, they do not speak Kannada, have no idea of the heritage you blabber about. With Mysore airport expanding, the 10-lne Mysore-Bangalore highway fetching yet more immigrants, as well the so called Vande Bharat Express, all adding to the non-Kannada-speaking, non-Wadiyar-heritage aware crowd settling in greater numbers in Mysore, these stories however structured becoming nonrelevant.
    I meet a quite a large numbers of young students, who come to New Delhi, who say they are from Mysore, and have no idea of the history of Mysore, most of them have not read about Mahabharta /Ramayana, do not even speak Kannada , but simply boast about their knowledge of programming languages ! That is the new generation , I am afraid in Mysore, who have no patience of reading your Wadiyar-related narratives.
    Once the Mysore Palace crumbles-there is the strt of the Fort of that Palace crumbling already, Chamundi Hill Devi Kere polluted, Chamundi Hill itself facing its existence threats through tourism and developments-Bommai recently allocated more cash in his budget for this, it is a futile exercise to churn out inane stories like this article.


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