The most vivid images of the earlier generation of people in Mysore shell-shocked by the passing away of the “Yuvaraja” on Tuesday — is that of being seated in the golden howdah with his father Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar, who was also the last maharaja of Mysore.
“I distinctly remember Srikantadatta Wadiyar seated behind his father in the howdah, slightly distracted. His father was trying to pass on a chocolate and mollify him,” recalled Krishna Vattam, a senior journalist who has seen the royal family from close quarters.
There was an element of simplicity about him and he did not brag about his regal pedigree, Mr. Vattam said. “I was walking on the Chamaraja Double Road pushing my scooter which had broken down. Srikantadatta Wadiyar happened to pass by and he immediately stopped the vehicle, got down and asked me what the matter was. He offered me a lift since it was late in the night and there were no garage open at that time,” Mr. Vattam recalled.
Kashinath, who was two years senior to Srikantadatta Wadiyar at the Maharaja’s College in Mysore, recalled that there was nothing grandeur or flashy about him as a student. “However, a section of the student would hesitate to talk to him as he was the mahajara’s son,” he said. Though he was a quiet student in school and college, he bloomed later and completed his masters in political science.
Both played cricket at college and Kashinath recalled that Wadiyar was slightly better with the bat. But he was as disciplined as any other player, did not question the captain or the umpire and was a true sportsman, Mr. Kashinath said.
Seshanna, former Principal, College of Physical Education, University of Mysore, recalled that Srikantadatta Wadiyar was playing for Manasagangotri cricket team when he entered the profession in 1972. “He used to come for coaching and practice regularly. He was good at softball and cricket, mingled freely with his teammates and never threw a tantrum. The impressions were that of a dignified person who was down to earth and not arrogant,” he added.
Veteran photographer Amaradas, who has photographed the royalty during Dasara and has had access to Srikantadatta Wadiyar, recalled: He was interested in photography and used to discuss various photographs I had taken of the family members, over a cup of coffee. “He used to offer me coffee in silver cup and during summer, would order cool drinks. In the recent years, Wadiyar discussed with me a documentary of the Mysore Palace but the project never took off,” Mr. Amaradas said.
This is one of the many projects which was conceived by Wadiyar but was not pursued. He wanted to make a foray into the aviation sector and had announced that he was serious about it. Wadiyar had conceived the name of the airline as Maharaja Airline or Palace in the Sky.
Similarly, he had expressed interest in an open university but the venture did not make any progress. The refurbishing of the Rajendra Vilas Palace and its promotion as an all-suite hotel was high on his agenda. Though the work made brisk progress in the initial stages, it remains to be completed.
Wadiyar was a modest person and used to mingle with his fellow classmates during his college days in Mysore.
Senior journalist K.V. Srinivasan, who was Wadiyar’s college-mate at Maharaja’s College here, recalled him as a man of simplicity. “Wadiyar used to sit along with other students in class and never sought special treatment being the scion of the Mysore dynasty,” he said.
Mr. Srinivasan was studying BA and Wadiyar was in a pre-university course during 1968-69. “Wadiyar was the convener for the Drama Committee and I was the Literary Committee convener for cultural events organised at the college. That time, he used to talk to us and mingle freely with fellow students and friends. He was a nice person,” he said.
Reminiscing the college days, he said Wadiyar’s personal staff used to drop him to the college in a car and pick him up after the classes. “There was no special chair as such for the scion in class and he used to sit on the same bench with other students,” he said.
Wadiyar completed his Bachelor of Arts in Maharaja’s College in 1972 and passed the Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of Mysore in 1974. As a coincidence, his father, Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar, the last Maharaja of Mysore, also died in Bangalore.