‘My daddy, His Highness, the Maharaja of Mysore’

Deccan Herald has an interesting feature today to mark Father’s Day. Four people of impeccable pedigree have been called upon to remember their dads, and among those walking down memory lane is Meenakshi Devi, the daughter of the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore, Jayachamaraja Wodeyar.

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“The word ‘No’ was never there for anything with him. He was kind hearted and generous to a fault. As a father, he was one of the best persons in the world. He used to be very fond of all his children. He used to spend time with all of us in spite of his busy schedule.

“The moment I think of my father Jayachamaraja Wadiyar (that is how he used to sign), the last king of Mysore, the image that comes to mind is his tall (over 6 ft), handsome, regal bearing, with a slant when he walked and his goodness. All this and more is true of him.

“We are six children, five daughters and a son to our parents. Gayathri Devi, myself, Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar, Kamakshi Devi, Indrakshi Devi and Vishalakshi Devi. As children we all went to the Palace School inside the palace premises itself. Daddy used to discuss various subjects when we were studying in school and college. His favourite subject was history.

“Though we had a sheltered life in the palace, Daddy brought us up the same way any father would bring up his children.

“Whenever my mother went to Bangalore, Daddy would spend a lot of time with us. He would take us all to Chamundi hill in the yellow and red sports Rolls Royce car, which he himself would drive. Of course we also had a Daimler and Austin Prince.

“The other special moments that I can recall is when I used to ride piggyback on him as a child.

“He never discriminated between us children. He got us to learn horse riding. He always used to take us out shooting when hunting was still allowed. My first experience was a tiger hunt when I was 14-year old. We went to Omkar, a favourite hunting place of my father which lies between Begur and Kakanakote forest range. I shot a spotted deer with Daddy’s supervision.

“Another time we had gone to the Kakanakote forest. I had a camera in my hand. I suddenly spotted a tusker and I was very excited. My Daddy with his typical sense of humour said, “Enamma, kaielli camera itkondu photone thegithaillavalla”. (What, child, you have a camera in hand and you are not taking a photograph).

“He never scolded any of his children even once. My mother was more strict and she used to cane us once in a way when we became very mischievous. When the privy purses were abolished in 1969, he was very upset though he did not show it.

“My Daddy’s last days were a bit traumatic. The biggest blow for him was the passing away of my elder sister Gayathri Devi of cancer in July 1974. He was not able to take the blow as he was very fond of her. He passed away the same year in September.

“He died in the Bangalore palace. To this day even after 33 years I have not overcome his death because he died at a young age of 55.”

(As told to N. Niranjan Nikam)

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Also read why Jayant Kaikini‘s father licked him after a bath: He was an atheist till death