Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Turf Club and Lord HANUMAN

Last week I had mentioned about three Diwans from one family in the blog titled "You are fined two COINs today".   The reference was to T Ananda Rao, his father T Madhava Rao and his granduncle T Venkata Rao.  When I went into the history of Anandarao Circle a bit further, I found that there are many landmarks within two kilometer radius from Ananda Rao Circle with links to the glorious history of Old Mysore State.  There are landmarks bringing the memory of stalwarts like Sir Seshadri Iyer, V P Madhava Rao and P N Krishna Murthy.  Directly connected with P N Krishna Murthy comes Diwan Purnaiah, who left his mark during the rule of Hyder Ali, Tippu Sultan and Krishna Raja Wodeyar III.

Purnaiah was born in the year 1746 in a small village in Coimbatore district, presently in Tamil Nadu.  He was the elder son of a devout Madhwa brahmin couple, Krishnacharya and Lakshmibai.  Having lost his father in an early age, Purnaiah's family moved out of the village and he secured employment with a trader who was supplying goods to Hyder Ali's forces.  Purnaiah was very sharp in grasping issues and proficient in Kannada and Sanskrit.   He learnt Persian also to meet the needs of the times.  While working for the trader, he developed contacts with the army officials and joined the accounts department of the army as Treasury Officer.  By his hard work he rose to the post of Head of Accounts Department.  In recognition of his vast knowledge and capacity to find quick solutions to problems, Hyder Ali made him head of army supplies and logistics.  In due course he became a trusted member of the Nawab's Durbar and key adviser.  After Hyder Ali's death, his son Tippu Sultan treated Purnaiah with utmost respect and Purnaiah remained one of his close advisers.  After the death of Tippu Sultan in the Fourth Mysore War in 1799, capital of Mysore State was shifted to Mysore from Srirangapatna.   Purnaiah continued to serve the Wodeyars after Tippu Sultan and has the distinction of serving  in key position with such diverse rulers.  He was with the administration of Hyder Ali and Tippu Sultan for 29 years and  the British East India Company under Lord Wellesley chose him as Regent for the minor Krishna Raja Wodeyar, in which capacity he served for 12 more years, until 1811-12.  Managing the affairs of the state under the leadership of the Sultans as well as balancing the relations between the Britishers and Wodeyars is recorded by historians as a tribute to Purniah's skills of diplomacy coupled with integrity and commitment. 

In recognition of the valuable service of Diwan Purniah, Krishna Raja Wodeyar III gifted Yelandur and nearby villages to him.  Purnaiah got constructed a large choultry in Mysore near Ane Karoti, place for keeping the Royal Elephants.  The choultry was being used by the pilgrims coming to Mysore and students studying in Maharaja Sanskrit College.  Unfortunately, this choultry no longer exists and was demolished by the Government authorities to extend Vani Vilas Road up to Mysore Race Course Road and then link it with the road leading to Lalitha Mahal Palace.   The road has also been renamed as Mahatma Gandhi Road.  A pat of the land was given for construction of a Hospital and the present JSS Hospital stands partly on this land.  A small Ganesha temple which was a part of the choultry has been left as it was in the middle of the road.  Purniah  is believed to have spent a large part of his personal earnings in philanthropic activities.

P N Krishna Murthy, grandson of Purnaiah (son of Purnaiah's son Narasinga Rao) also served as  the Diwan of Mysore nearly a century later. He is credited with the preparation of the "Secretariat Manual" and the manual in use now is said to be largely based on his effort. 

As one drives past the Bangalore Turf Club (BTC) Race Course, the Vimana (Gopura) of a temple can be seen.  This is a private temple and actually a part of the building called "Purna Prasada", got constructed by Diwan Krishna Murthy and named in memory of his grandfather Diwan Purnaiah.  It is popularly known as "BTC Hanuman Temple" due to the close proximity to the Bangalore Race Course.  This building still exists and part of it is used as a Post Office.  The massive building looks like a castle and was used by Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India during his visit to Bangalore.

A part of this building is with the family members of Purniah and the Hanuman is worshipped by them.  Being a private temple, entry is restricted and permission is required to visit the temple.  Sri A K Gupta, a retired Senior Officer with Police under Ministry of Home affairs has written a detailed article about the temple and the Purna Prasada building.  Photograph shown above has been taken from this website.   The article can be read by visiting the website of vayusutha.in or clicking on the link:  http://vayusutha.in/vs4/temple72.html

Purniah's choultry at Mysore has been demolished now, but the small Ganesha temple in the middle of M G Road in Mysore and the magnificent "Purna Prasada" building in Bangalore stand even today as as a mark of the contribution of these persons to the society. 


  1. I learnt so many things, which was forgotten(history)
    Thank you

  2. Thank you for sharing the informative blog. It is indeed wonderful to read and useful.
    Read hanuman chalisa.