A pall of gloom descended on this city of palaces over the death of its last prince, Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar, on Tuesday in Bengaluru, about 140km from here.
Thousands of grieving people from the old Mysore region have been flocking into the city since early on Wednesday for a last glimpse of their prince whose body was kept in the wedding hall of Amba Vilas Palace for public viewing amid tight security.
Wodeyar’s end came at a private hospital following a cardiac arrest while resting after lunch in his Bengaluru Palace at the city centre.
The body of the 60-year-old scion will be accorded a state funeral in the royal graveyard — Manuvanan — around a kilometre away from the palace and the last rites will be performed by a nephew [sister’s son] of Wodeyar, who did not have a offspring.
“Wodeyar’s body was brought to the royal palace from Bengaluru around 1.30am and placed in the hall at 3am in a glass casket to allow the public pay homage to our prince till afternoon,” a palace official told IANS.
Wodeyar was the last descendant of the Wodeyar dynasty, which ruled over the erstwhile Mysore state that is now part of the Indian state of Karnataka.
The system of “princely states” was phased out after independence from Britain in 1947. Even so, “I lived like a maharaja (king) without technically or legally being one,” Wodeyar had said in an interview with Indian media about his life a few years ago.
Wodeyar, who owned the sprawling Mysore and Bangalore palaces, was one of the richest scions of India’s former royal families.
He was known for his passion for luxury cars but also dabbled in left-wing politics as a youth, Indian media quoted him as saying.
All his cars bore the registration number 1953 — the year he was born, the Deccan Herald newspaper reported.
With the state government declaring a public holiday for its offices and educational institutions and a two-day state mourning as a mark of respect to Wodeyar, normal life was affected in the state’s cultural capital. Shops, hotels and markets in Mysore remained shut and streets were deserted as people kept away from public transport or commuting.
About 1,000 police personnel, including senior officials, were deployed at the palace and the royal graveyard to maintain law and order and regulate the heavy rush of people at both venues.
“The Chamundeshwari temple atop the hills on the city’s outskirts has been closed for the day as per the age-old custom and will be whitewashed to clean the eerie atmosphere associated with death and reopen Thursday,” the official said.
Visit to the majestic palace, including its durbar and museum, by tourists and common folk has been banned by the palace board and all the four gates around it will remain shut until further orders.
Portraits of Wodeyar were kept at vantage points inside the palace to enable the staff of the royal board pay their floral tributes.
As the 26th descendant of the six centuries old Wodeyar dynasty, Srikantadatta was the only son of the last Mysore Maharaja (king) Jayachamarajendra and Tripurasundaramanni and fourth in line with three elder and two younger sisters.
Eldest sister — Gayathridevi passed away a few years ago, other four sisters of the scion — Meenakshidevi, Kamakshidevi, Indrakshidevi and Vishalakshidevi live here and in Bengaluru.