Kempa Nanjammani Vani Vilasa Sannidhana

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Maharani Vani Vilasa Sannidhana with her grandson Prince Jaya Chamaraja Wadiyar

Maharani Kempa Nanjammani Vani Vilasa Sannidhana was the wife of Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar IX and mother of Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV.

Maharani Kempananjammanni of Vani Vilasa Sannidhana [in full] occupies as high a place as any in the annals of Mysore history. Her contributions to the citizenry, in her roles of Maharani-regent and as mother of Nalwadi Krishnarajendra Wadiyar, one of the most illustrious rulers of our country, stand aloft. She was considered as a rare gem in our erstwhile princely state.

Kempananjammanni was born in 1866 to Narase Urs and Kempananjammanni [same name] of Kalale.

She was married to the King, Chamaraja Wadiyar on 26.5.1878.

In 1881, the famous Rendition of Mysore was carried out and the British handed over the rule back to the natural prince [Sri Chamarajendra Wadiyar was now 18], after 50 years. In 1884, Nalwadi Krishnarajendra Wadiyar was born to the royal couple. In quick succession, they also had another son in Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wadiyar and three daughters.

Sri Chamarajendra Wadiyar, on a visit to Calcutta in 1894, developed diphtheria and died there, thus abruptly cutting short, a promising reign that lasted only 13 years. He was just 32 and had already left his mark as an excellent leader. His death suddenly created a void as prince Krishnarajendra Wadiyar IV was still in minority. The unexpected tragedy was regarded as a great national misfortune throughout India and was deplored by the British Government as an Imperial loss. The royal family plunged into great sorrow and the citizens felt orphaned. Such was his stature.

The burden fell on Maharani Kempananjammanni. She was nominated as Maharani-regent, a post this savior faire held for eight tough years [1895-1902] and served the people with great aplomb, dignity, devotion, discipline and distinction. She earned the respect of one and all for the fabulous way she held fort.

She had the services of Diwan Sir K.Seshadri Aiyar at that time and her brother( later Diwan) Sir. M.Kanatha Raj Urs as her Secretary. Regent helped Mysore recover from slump. Progress in all fields resulted from their efficient administration and beatified the entire citizenry. Generation of electricity from river Cauvery, promoting Indian Institute of Science, construction of Mari Kanave valley anicut ( VAni Vilas Sagara), construction of the new palace, extension of new localities in Mysore, water supply through pipes and laying of foundation stone of Victoria Hospital in Bangalore were enough testimony.

Maharani Kempananjamanni was a great believer in women's education and under her patronage Maharani's College got all its due attention. She was a staunch follower of Hinduism, but respected all faiths equally.

When Nalwadi Krishnarajendra Wadiyar came of age, it was time for her to retire. On 8.8.1902, he ascended the throne that marked the end of memorable regency and the beginning of what was to become Mysore's 'golden era', an era that came to be known by the encomium 'Ramarajya'. The British Government awarded her with a 'C.I.'. She continued to share her wisdom till the end.

After a brief illness, 69-year old Maharani Kempananjammanni died on Saturday midnight, 7 July 1934 [ekadashi, uttarayana], believed to be an auspicious and rare moment.

For a girl born in a poor family and achieving what she did in a most praiseworthy manner, considering Mysore's predicament in that period speaks for itself, her greatness, which few have equaled. Rao Bahadur R.Narasimhachar, paying tributes had said, "…there are three jewels in Mysore's history, who have struggled for the country's good. Maharani Lakshamanni, Sri Sitavilasa Sannidhana and Sri Vani Vilasa Sannidhana. She was not only a mother to Nalwadi Krishnarajendra Wadiyar, but also to all the citizens. For the contributions they have made, their names deserve to be written in golden letters…"

There are many edifices in old Mysore area with Prefix 'Vani Vilasa' like a Mohalla (extension), Water Works, Maternity Hospital, Girls High School, Bridge, Ladies Club and a Road which to this day commemorate her memory.