India's Mysore crowns new maharaja Yaduveer Wadiyar

Crowning of Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamraja Wodeyar Image copyright anurag basavaraj

A 23-year-old economics graduate from the University of Massachusetts has been crowned the new maharaja of Mysore, titular head of the 600-year-old Wadiyar dynasty in southern India.

Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar was anointed at an elaborate ceremony lasting nearly two hours.

It was conducted by more than 40 priests across 15 temples spread across the Mysore Palace grounds.

He succeeds his grand uncle Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar.

Srikantadatta Wadiyar, who died in December 2013, was childless and did not name an heir, but his widow Pramodadevi Wadiyar adopted Yaduveer Gopalraj Urs, a relative, at a ceremony in February.

After his coronation, the maharaja became known by his full title, Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar.

"It was quite a spectacle. This was enormous and certainly beyond expectations," Michael Ludgrove, curator of the Royal House of Mysore, told BBC Hindi following Thursday's ceremony.

"All sections of society were here, including the representatives of the people," he added.

Image copyright Mahesh
Image copyright Mahesh
Image copyright Mahesh

The crowning ceremony was attended by more than 1,000 guests from India and abroad, including former Indian prime minister HD Deve Gowda and Karnataka state Chief Minister K Siddaramaiah.

Mr Ludgrove says he has met the new maharaja just once but is quite impressed by him. "He is a man of the times. He is full of enthusiasm and potential."

The new maharaja will now become the custodian of more than 1,500 acres of land spread across Mysore, Bangalore, Hassan, Channapatna and other places in the southern state of Karnataka.

But, he will also be inheriting a legal battle with the Karnataka government, which wants to take over the palace properties.

He is also likely to face a legal challenge from one of the late maharajah's nephews, Kantharaj Urs, who is upset that he was not chosen as successor.

The dispute over the inheritance is because the Wodeyar kings have never had children - legend has it that the dynasty has suffered from a 17th Century curse.

Mr Ludgrove, who worked with the former maharaja for nearly three decades, says the Mysore royals are very similar to the British royalty.

"They are the constant. These are traditions which continue and they bring all people together. Something that is rarely seen," he says.

Historian Nanjaraj Urs says some of the members of Wadiyar dynasty had contributed greatly to the development of the state, but the crowning ceremony now is a "farce".

"The real maharajas had an intimate relationship with the people. There was affection and it is that emotional attachment which makes this family popular.

"But now it is just a function in a traditional family. You can call the ceremony by any name but all of it is within the family."

India's royalty lost their official powers when the nation gained independence in 1947 but the modern-day maharajas are still wealthy and influential.

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