The City of Palaces was shrouded in grief on Tuesday following the death of the last male heir of the Mysore Wodeyar dynasty.
With the demise of Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar, one of the most prominent royal families that began the rule of Mysore Samsthanam after the death of Tipu Sultan in 1799 has come to an end.
Wodeyar ascended the throne in 1974 and had been the scion of Mysore royal family ever since. Known for his gentle disposition, he was a postgraduate in Hindi and a got a law degree from Mysore University, and was part of the university’s cricket team.
A music enthusiast, he studied musicology in Trinity College of London before he ascended the throne. He plunged into politics in 1984 and had been a member of parliament for four times till 2004 and had lost twice.
Connoisseur of fine things
Srikantadatta Wodeyar was an avid collector of watches and cars. He had several cars from 1940s, which were gifted to him by his father. One of them, a 1948 Daimler, was given to Manjusha museum at Dharmasthala. Even today, VIPs who visit the temple town are escorted in the car. All his cars have 1953 (his birth year) as the registration number.
The Udupi temple connection
The Wodeyar family are known to be devotees of the Udupi Krishna temple, and successive Wodeyar scions have visited the temple many times and a chest of jewels presented by them to the temple adorns the Krishna idol on special days even today.
According to swamiji of Pejavar Mutt Vishwesha Thirtha, “Srikantadatta Wodeyar visited the temple during my Paryaya time in 2000 and had admired the temple and its unique way of administration and the Anna Dana (mass feeding) scheme. It is a great loss for Udupi in particular that we have lost a royal patron of the temple.”
Maverick of sorts
Wodeyar was also accused of being a maverick of sorts. On more than one occasion, he showed his dissent in the Dasara Jamboo Savari by not being present during the start of the event, though it is customary for the scion of the royal family to shower flower petals on the idol of Chamundeshwari, which is placed on top of an elephant.
Even during the 2013 Dasara festivities, he had done the vanishing act. He also made the trip to Bannimantap, which is part of the tradition, in his new BMW car instead of the customary silver chariot drawn by horses. However, he attributed the drift from tradition to his health condition.
Wodeyar had weight issues, and trouble going about the court proceedings. At one point of time during a Dasara music festival, he had told a group of reporters covering the event that he had also tried dieting and exercising but nothing worked.
Wodeyar was media savvy, and he used to readily oblige to lensmen during his visits to the Turf Clubs at Bangalore and Mysore. Though he was hurt by the comments made by a few cricketers that he had not even played cricket and was unworthy of holding high offices in the Karnataka State Cricket Association, Wodeyar had replied that playing cricket was his passion and he had represented Mysore University team during his heydays.
“Playing cricket is one thing and administering cricket is another,” he was often quoted saying.