Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar: He lived like a Maharaja
Bangalore: He lived like a Maharaja although he was not one technically or legally and inherited palaces but sans a kingdom. That was 60-year-old portly ex-prince Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar, arguably one of the richest scions of a royal family in the country, who died on Tuesday afternoon following a massive heart attack. The last descendant of Wodeyar dynasty, he also wore many hats: he was a fashion designer, a businessman, cricket administrator, a politician, hotelier and an investor.
A man of many passions, Wodeyar was known among other things for his fetish for imported cars and collection of watches. All his cars bore registration number 1953, the year he was born. He owned about 15 luxury cars. He was also an art collector. "... I live like a maharaja without technically or legally being one," Wodeyar had himself acknowledged in an interview some years ago.
The people of city of palaces of Mysore, however, believe that though he lived like a royal, he did not think like one. Wodeyar was arguably one of richest scions of a royal family in the country. He had declared assets worth Rs. 1,522.53 crore in the 2004 Lok Sabha polls. He also had declared in the affidavit that he owned seven other large properties in South India, including the famous Mysore and Bangalore palaces.
Born in 1953, the only son of Maharaja Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar and Maharani Tripura Sundari Ammani, Wodeyar succeeded his father as the head of his dynasty in September 1974. Dabbling in politics, Wodeyar was elected as a Lok Sabha member from Mysore for four times as Congress candidate. He had lost once as the Congress nominee and the other time as BJP candidate.
Wodeyar was married to Maharani Pramoda Devi, who hails from the Bettada Kote Ursu family of the erstwhile princely state of Mysore. The couple have post-graduate degrees from the University of Mysore in Political Science and Hindi, respectively. Wodeyar was an acknowledged fashion designer and promoter of Mysore silk sarees under his Royal Silk of Mysore brand name.
His interests included reading books on philosophy, theology, political science and economics. A connoisseur of music that came naturally to him as the Mysore Maharajas patronised music and art, Wodeyar had passed Practical Piano Forte senior examination with merit and theory intermediate from Trinity College of Music, London.
Passionate about cricket, he had donned the role as a cricket administrator. He was recently elected president of the Karnataka State Cricket Association defeating a combine backed by Anil Kumble. He had served as KSCA president during 2007-10. During his college education, Wodeyar was almost a "Leftist-communist", though it was antagonistic to royal lineage, as acknowledged by himself in an interview.
The Wodeyar dynasty ruled the kingdom of Mysore from 1399 to 1947. The last king of the Wodeyar dynasty was Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar, who ruled from 1940 until Indian independence in 1947 when he acceded his kingdom to the dominion of India, but continued as the Maharaja until India became a Republic in 1950.