Kempa Nanjammani Vani Vilasa Sannidhana

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Kempa Nanjammani Devi
Maharani of Mysore
Maharani Vani Vilasa with grandson Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar.jpg
Maharani Vani Vilasa with grandson Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar
Born 1866
Kalale, Kingdom of Mysore
Died 7 July 1934
Spouse Chamarajendra Wadiyar X
Issue Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV, Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wadiyar, Jayalakshmi Ammani, Krishnaraja Ammani, Chaluvaja Ammani
House Wadiyar dynasty
Father Narasarajae Urs
Mother Kempananjammanni
Religion Hinduism

Maharani Kempa Nanjammani Vani Vilasa Sannidhana was the wife of Maharaja Chamarajendra Wadiyar X and the mother of Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV. Maharani Kempananjammanni of Vani Vilasa Sannidhana occupies as high a place as any in the annals of Mysore history. Her contributions to the citizenry, her roles of Maharani as regent and as queen mother of young prince Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV, one of the most illustrious rulers of India, has remained commendable. She is considered as one of the three rare gems in the history of Mysore queens.


She was married to Maharaja Chamarajendra Wadiyar X on 26 May 1878. In 1881, the famous Rendition of Mysore was carried out and the British handed over the rule back to the natural prince Chamarajendra Wadiyar X, who was now 18, after 50 years. In 1884, Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV was born to the royal couple. In quick succession, they also had another son, Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wadiyar, and three daughters.

Maharaja Chamarajendra Wadiyar, on a visit to Calcutta in 1894, developed diphtheria and succumbed to sudden death 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. History posed a new challenge to her: a severe bubonic plague struck Mysore city, reducing the population to half. Under such circumstances, she was nominated as queen-regent, a post this saviour faire held for about eight tough years, from 1895 to 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 Iyer at that time, and later, her brother Diwan Sir M. Kantaraj Urs as her secretary. She 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.

…there are three jewels in Mysore's history, who have struggled for the country's good. Maharani Lakshamanni, Maharani Sitavilasa Sannidhana, and Maharani Vani Vilasa Sannidhana [Kempa Nanjammani]. She was not only a mother to Krishnara Wadiyar, but also to all the citizens. For the contributions they have made, their names deserve to be written in golden letters…

Prof. Rao Bahadur R Narasimhachar

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.

Retirement and last days[edit]

Whe Krishnarajendra Wadiyar IV came of age, it was time for her to retire. On 8 August 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 CI. She continued to share her wisdom till the end.

After a brief illness, a 69-year-old Maharani died on Saturday midnight, 7 July 1934 (ekadashi, uttarayana), believed to be an auspicious and a 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.

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.