R. Venkata Rao

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Rai Raya
Rai Venkata Rao
R. Venkata Rao.jpg
Diwan of Travancore
In office
Preceded by Reddy Row
Succeeded by Thanjavur Subha Rao
In office
Monarch Swathi Thirunal
Preceded by R. Ranga Rao
Succeeded by Thanjavur Subha Rao
Personal details
Died 1843

Rai Raya Rai Venkata Rao (also spelt Venkatta Row; died 1843), was an Indian administrator and statesman who served as Diwan of Travancore 1821–1829 and 1838–39. He was the father of R. Raghunatha Rao and paternal uncle of Sir T. Madhava Rao.

Early life[edit]

He was born in Coombaconum in Madras Presidency to Gundo Pant in a Thanjavur Marathi family. He was educated in the Madras Presidency and on completion of his education, joined the service of the British.

Public life[edit]

Venkata Rao served as the Head Sheristadar to the Chief Commissioner of Mysore 1834–38 and as Assistant Chief Commissioner of Mysore 1840–42. In 1842, he was appointed Diwan of Hyderabad and served till 1843, when he returned to Bangalore due to ill-health.

Diwan of Travancore[edit]

In 1819, Venkata Rao joined the Travancore state service as an assistant to Colonel McDowall, the British resident. He impressed the Queen-regent of Travancore by his abilities, and was soon appointed Diwan Peishkar or Governor of one of the divisions of the Travancore kingdom. During his tenure as Diwan Peishkar, Venkata Rao repaired and refurbished the Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Trivandrum and modified the dress codes of the sepoys.

In 1821, the Diwan, Reddy Row, accepted a jagir of two villages from the queen; the resulting scandal forced him to resign. Venkata Rao was selected to replace him, with the support of the British resident.

On taking office, Venkata Rao immediately waived taxes. He set up his base at Quilon and organised a number of irrigation works. The Kadinangulam backwaters were created during his tenure.


Venkata Rao fell ill in 1843 and died in Bangalore in July 1843.


Venkata Rao was given the title "Rai Raaya Rai" in 1838 in recognition of his services to the Crown.


Preceded by
Reddy Row
Diwan of Travancore
1821 - 1829
Succeeded by
Thanjavur Subha Rao
Preceded by
R. Ranga Rao
Diwan of Travancore
1838 - 1839
Succeeded by
Thanjavur Subha Rao