Maharaja Sri Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar
Today we remember the great Maharaja Sri Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar, the twenty-fourth king of the Mysore Kingdom. His adept ruling and dedication towards his people prompted well-known scholar Paul Brunton to identify him as the philosopher-king described in Plato’s Republic. while Mahatma Gandhi called him Rajarshi. His rule went on to make Mysore the best-administered state in the world. As a ruler, he championed noble causes like creating educational institutes, women empowerment, uplifting backward classes among others. He was among the first rulers to criminalise untouchability and ban child marriages. The fact that Namma Bengaluru has become the hub for technology initiatives can be traced back to Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar who donated land for the establishment of the IISC and also laid its foundation stone. The Maharaja’s capability as an educationist has been underscored by the fact that he was the first Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University and the University of Mysore.
Besides education, Maharaja also promoted industrialisation whether it was establishing the Visvesvaraya Iron and Steel Plant at Bhadravathi, or the setting up of the now world-renowned Mysore Sandal Soap factory. One of his lasting legacies is, of course, the Krishna Raja Sagara dam which the Maharaja constructed by personally making huge financial contributions. It is a matter of pride that in the near future a statue commemorating the Maharaj will be installed at the KRS premises. The Maharaja was a dedicated patron of the arts. He was himself adept in a number of musical instruments including the violin, flute, sitar, veena, saxophone, mridangam, piano and nadaswaram and had Abdul Karim Khan and members of the Agra Gharana- Ustad Vilayat Hussain Khan and Nattan Khan.
It is disappointing that an iconic historical figure whose legacy is the efficient administration associated with modern Karnataka is not known by the youth of the state from the current generation. For far too long, we have not been able to acquaint our youngsters with the true icons whose contributions are irreplaceable and inseverable from Karnataka. It is time we revisit these icons and give them their much-deserved recognition. Today let us remember with pride His Highness Maharaja Sri Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar.