Rao Venkata Kumara Mahipati Surya Rau

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Rao Venkata Kumara Mahipati Surya Rau (1885 - 1964) was Maharajah of Pithapuram. He was called by Telugu people "Abhinava Krishnadevaraya". Maharani Sita Devi of Baroda was his daughter.

Portrait of Rao Venkata Kumara Maheepati SuryaRao

Early life[edit]

Surya Rau was born to Raja Gangadhara Rau and Maharani Mangamamba Devi on October 5, 1885 in the Pithapuram Fort and was named 'Suryaraya'. Gangadhar Rau married seven wives, but did not bear any children for sometime. Before his birth, Maharajah adopted a boy from the Venkatagiri royal family. This late birth and adoption led to endless litigation between 1891 and 1899. Finally the Privy Council decided in favour of the new-born prince. According to the will written by his father, Gollaprolu Estate was given to the adopted son.

His childhood was passed by the sad experience of the death of his father at the age of 5 years and mother at the age of 9 years. However he was looked after by his stepmother Chittada Rani.

He was placed under the care of the Court of Wards and admitted in Newington College, Madras. The Principal Morrison allowed the young prince to come under the influence of Indian Culture through study of Sanskrit and Telugu languages. His tutor, who became later his mentor, was Mokkapati Subbarayudu, a great scholar and a noble soul. Mokkapati was equally proficient in English and Telugu and devoted to the ideal of 'plain living and high thinking'. Mokkapati was to be Maharajah what Aristotle was to Alexander - teacher, friend, philosopher and counsellor.

His teacher introduced his own teacher Raghupathi Venkataratnam, who in due course his spiritual master and inspirer of noble deeds. He also came in contact with another great soul Kandukuri Veeresalingam.

He married Chinnamamba Devi in 1905. She was the eldest daughter of Rajah Venkata Ramayya Appa Rao Bahadur, Zamindar of Kapileswarapuram (Nuzvid).

Contribution to Telugu Language[edit]

The zamindar of Pithapuram sponsored the monumental classical Telugu dictionary, Suryarayandhranighantuvu, and even commissioned the first typewriter in Telugu.


Surya Rau garu from the early age devoted his time and energy to the development of literature, patronage of authors and many other philanthropic activities. The following is list of books dedicated to him: