Mysore's New King Is A 22-Year-Old Boston Grad Who Now Faces Royal Court Battle Over Rs 10,000 Crore Estate

28/05/2015 1:19 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

On Thursday, Mysore welcomed its new titular head – a bespectacled, 22-year-old Boston graduate – in a glittering ceremony attended by royals from all over the world and Karnataka’s top political leaders, even as the family remained embroiled in a legal battle over the ownership of the estate.

Elaborate preparations were in place for the coronation of the erstwhile royal family's scion Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wodiyar as the 27th titular head.

For the coronation of the new king - whose forefathers ruled the erstwhile Mysuru kingdom from 1399 till 1950 - at the imposing Amba Vilas palace here, about 150 km from Bengaluru, the palace would be out of bounds for visitors from Wednesday to Friday due to security reasons.

"Preparations are underway for the crowning of the 22-year-old new prince (Yaduveer) on Thursday at the auspicious time in the Durbar Hall of the royal palace in the presence of his parents, relatives, special invitees and queen Pramoda Devi, who adopted him on February 23, 2015," a palace representative told IANS.

"As per the royal family tradition, Yaduveer visited the temple of Hindu god Ganesha in the palace compound and performed rituals amid the chanting of vedic hymns around a sacred fire (homa) in the palace, where his parents, queen Promada Devi and other kin were present," the official said.

About 40 priests will conduct the coronation ceremony at the makeshift 'akalyana mantap' in the Durbar Hall. Special prayers and worshipping of Hindu gods and goddesses will be held in all 16 temples on the palace premises.

Pramoda Devi will escort the young prince to the silver throne for his crowning and bless him in the presence of about 1,200 members of the royal family from across the country and overseas, besides other dignitaries, including state Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, cabinet ministers, lawmakers and special invitees.

"Yaduveer will be taken around the illuminated palace after the coronation, astride a decorated elephant Balarama and to greet the people from the palace balcony, as the new king of Mysuru," the official noted.

However, there is a legal battle brewing. Jason Burke, writing for The Guardian, said a court in Bengaluru will hear in June the claim of Kanthraj Urs, the eldest nephew of the 28th Maharaja of Mysore, the late Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar.

Pramoda Devi, widow of Srikantadatta, adopted Yaduveer as the couple had no children. Srikantadatta passed away in Bengaluru on December 8, 2013 at the age of 60. Yaduveer, a son of Tripura Sundara Devi and Swarup Anand Gopal Raj Urs, is the grandson of late princess Gayathri Devi, the eldest sister of Srikantadatta and eldest daughter of the last maharaja (king) Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar.

He is pursuing a degree course in English and Economics from Boston in the US.

Kanthraj Urs wants the estate to be split equally among the family, according to the Guardian report. "It was expected that I would be named (as heir of the estate). Who wouldn’t be upset?," the report quoted Urs as saying.

Pramoda Devi has explained her position. "In the case of childless royal couples, there is no hard and fast rule that the next heir has to be the brother’s son or any specific relation," Burke's report quoted her as saying. "The preference is given to the brother's son. I know what my husband would have expected in an heir. I know what is expected of an heir to carry on customs and legacy. Based on these I have made the choice," she said.

The royal family is said to own assets worth over Rs.10, 000 crores.

According to a legend, Raja Wodeyar, founder of the present dynasty, was cursed by Rani Alamelamma in 1610 that "the kings of Mysore will suffer the pangs of childlessness".

Since then, every alternate generation of the Wodeyars have problem in chosing heirs, including the last scion Srikantadatta.

Considered one of the richest royals in the country, the Wodeyars have huge moveable and immovable properties, including royal palaces in Mysuru and Bengaluru, located amid vast estates valued at crores of rupees.

Srikantadatta, a two-time lawmaker, declared assets worth Rs 1,500 crore in an affidavit for contesting the 2004 Lok Sabha poll. Among his assets were 15 luxury cars and expensive watches.

(With inputs from IANS)

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