Jeypore royals fight over Hawa Mahal

Much-coveted property: A view of the Hawa Mahal.   | Photo Credit: K.R. Deepak

Hawa Mahal, the one among the few surviving British period Gothic structures on the Beach Road here, has become the bone of contention for surviving members of the royal family of Jeypore, Odisha.

The stone edifice was built by Raja Ramachandra Deo of Jeypore Samasthanam in 1917, and was meant to be the summer resort for the family.

The imposing building on the picturesque Beach Road in Visakhapatnam has a slice of history, as this building with 19 rooms and wooden banquet and dance floor had housed many an eminent personality, including the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1961. Even the first President Rajendra Prasad stayed in the building.

But now, the family members are out in the open to stake claim over the ownership.

On Wednesday, Vishveshwar Chandrachud Deo, who claims to be the Maharaja of Jeypore Samasthanam, in a press meet said the property was jointly owned by five members of the family, and that one among them, Mayank Devi, was not allowing them to get inside the building.

According him, the property is co-owned by Rama Kumari Devi, Mayank Devi, Sarika Devi, Laitika Deo and Vishveshwar.

Explaining the family lineage, he said, Rama Kumari, the Rajmatha, had two sons — Shakti Vikram Deo (eldest son) and Vibhuti Bhushan Deo. While Ms. Mayank is the eldest daughter-in-law and mother of Ms. Latika, Ms. Sarika is the second daughter-in-law and Vishveshwar is her son.

Shakti was the former Maharaja and both he and his brother Vibhuti died a few years ago, leaving the property to the surviving members. “I was coronated in 2013, and now I am the Maharaja, but Ms. Mayank has staked claim forcibly and is not allowing my mother or my grandmother to enter the property. We are just asking to give possession of two or three rooms and she is not doing it,” allegd Mr. Vishveshwar.

Later in the day Ms. Mayank Devi also held a press meet and countered Mr. Vishveshwar’s claims.

“Vishveshwar cannot be the coronated king, because as per the royal traditions, after the death of a Maharaja, his widow becomes the Rajmatha. Being the eldest daughter-in-law, I am the legal Rajamatha and it is the duty of the Rajmatha to coronate the next raja. In this case, Mr. Vishveshwar was not coronated by me and hence he is not the raja, as he claims. He may be the only male descendant in the family, but that dies not make him the raja unless and until I declare him as my son,” said Ms. Mayank.

“Moreover, Ms. Vishveshwar, Ms. Sarika Devi and Ms. Rama Kumari, without the consent of me and my daughter Latika, had alienated the property twice — once to one Ramaraju of Hyderabad and second time to a chartered accountant. The lease agreement is not counter signed by all the owners and is null and void and the case is pending in the court. They do not live in Visakhhapatnam and I take care of it by living here. Their claim that they wanted just two rooms is false, actually they want to take control of the prime property and sell it away to some realtor or hotelier,” she alleged.

Ms. Mayank alleged that the other members of the family in collusion with some influential people were taking advantage of her vulnerability of her being a single woman and were threatening her and her daughter Ms. Latika.

In the past few years, Hawa Mahal has become an iconic structure and at times it is let out for are exhibitions and functions.

“We are doing it only for the upkeep of the property,” she said.

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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 7:43:34 AM |

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