Claiming to be a descendent of the erstwhile rulers of Kodagu, a flour mill owner from Mysore has now gained possession of the historic 17th century palace and fort which is predominantly in the heart of Madikeri town.
“My efforts of 18 years have ended with the President of India ordering that the palace belongs to me,” a beaming H C Nagaraju, the owner of the flour mill in Shivarampet, told Business Standard.
He has displayed a notice in his shop that says: “As per the order of His Excellency President of India, the Mercara Palace belongs to H C N Wadeyar.” It quotes the order No.F.No.1-204/2013-RTI (Hq) dated 26-9-2013, Government of India, Janpath, New Delhi.
This is the latest notice displayed in his shop to inform his customers of his successful fight, in addition to already putting up copies of other documents and photos of his forefathers belonging to the erstwhile Haleri dynasty of Kodagu.
Nagaraju’s dogged fight for his ancestral property began from scratch, from corresponding on the issue with a number of authorities like the Departments of Archaeology, and the state and Central governments and moving the courts. Before approaching the courts, he began to acquire documents from various sources, including the British Library in London to establish that he descended from the Haleri rulers.
“My father often told me that we belong to the Kodagu royal family and the Madikeri Palace belongs to us, based on what his father and grandfather had told him,” he said, narrating how he began to establish his right over the palace and the surrounding fort in Madikeri. “To establish what my forefathers were saying, we had swords, shields, palm leaf manuscripts in our house which my father gave away, finding them of no use,” he adds.
Calling himself H C N Wodeyar, he has displayed his claim he is the Maharaja of Coorg and owner of the Madikeri Palace. According to him, his lineage starts from Queen Devajammanni, wife of Lingaraja. The palace, which witnessed rebellious uprisings against the colonial rulers in 18th century, it presently houses the Kodagu’s Deputy Commissioner’s office within the fort.
“They have agreed to shift to a new place and hand over possession to me,” he said, adding he intends to convert his ancestral palace into a tourist attraction. Beside the palace stand two life-size statues of elephants that attract people who visit the monument.
Lingaraja succeeded the famed Dodda Veera Rendra Wodeyar (1780-1809), the hero from Kodagu history, as the Coorg Raja. His successor Viraraja was deposed in 1,834 following which the British annexed Kodagu and exiled the last of the rajas, bringing an end to the nearly two-century-long reign of the Haleri dynasty that came to power in the 17th century, in the district nestling amidst the lush Western Ghats, known for coffee and oranges, besides elephants.