Thousands bid tearful adieu to last Wodeyar prince

Last Updated: Wed, Dec 11, 2013 15:10 hrs

Mysore, Dec 11 (IANS) Thousands of grief-stricken people Wednesday bid a tearful farewell to Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar as his mortal remains were consigned to the flames in the royal cemetery here just before sunset.

The 60-year-old last prince of the Wodeyar dynasty died Tuesday following a massive cardiac arrest at a private hospital in Bangalore, about 140 km from here.

As Wodeyar had no offspring, his first nephew Chaduranga Kantharaja Urs performed the last rites and lit the pyre in accordance with Shri Vaishnava tradition under the guidance of the royal family's head priest Bhanuprakash Sharma.

After priests performed the elaborate rituals, including chanting of Vedic hymns, Wodeyar was given a state funeral with a 21-gun salute and a police band capturing the sombre mood.

The body was taken in a flower-bedecked golden palanquin to the royal graveyard "Madhuvana" by 3 p.m. from the royal Amba Vilas Palace, a kilometre away.

Thousands of people lined the Mysore-Nanjungud road for a last glimpse. Many people could not enter the palace after its gates were shut at noon for performing ceremonies by family members.

For astrological reasons, the funeral procession began from the southern gate of the palace and the cortege was drawn by the royal jumbo Gajendra, accompanied by a cow, a horse and 13 caparisoned cavalry and palace staff amid tight security.

As a mark of respect to the last scion, the state government declared a public holiday Wednesday and a two-day mourning across the state.

Besides Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda, former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, Home Minister K.J. George, Revenue Minister V. Sreenivasa Prasad, Housing Minister M.H. Ambarish and scores of religious heads were present at the state funeral.

Earlier in the day, about 100,000 people from all over the old Mysore region thronged the palace to pay homage to Wodeyar as his body lay in the centre of the wedding hall in the palace since dawn after it was brought from Bangalore.

Police had a tough time controlling the surging crowd at the palace and resorted to caning the people to control the situation.

A huge portrait of Wodeyar was kept at a vantage point inside the palace for people to pay floral tributes.

The 26th descendant of the six centuries-old Wodeyar dynasty, Srikantadatta was the only son of the last Mysore maharaja Jayachamarajendra and his second wife Tripurasundaramanni.

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