Oct '08 Mysore Highlight

Where did all the kings go? A look at India's past
By Philippa Asher

Known as "The City of Kings", palaces in Mysore abound. But what of the kings who once did reside in these palaces?

The beginning of foreign rule in India commenced in 1757 after the Battle of Plassey (although the East India Company had made its presence known since 1600) when many local Indian rulers gave up power in hopes of securing independence.

In 1784, the British government took political control of India from the East India Company. They established several "Princely States" of Hindu maharajas and Muslim nawabs that were overseen by the central government of British India under the Viceroy, while the remaining states were dependents of the provincial governments of British India under a Governor.

The last independent ruler in South India, Tipu Sahib, was Sultan of Mysore from 1782 until 1799 when he was defeated and killed by the British during the Anglo-Mysore Wars (1766-1799). With Sahib's defeat, Mysore became a Princely State and much of the territory was handed over by the British to the Wodeyar royal family.

In 1920, Mohandas Gandhi (Mahatma), re-organised the Indian Congress Party and worked to free India from British Rule. The last British Viceroy, Louis Mountbatten, administered the partition of the British Indian Empire from India in 1947. "Independence" saw the creation of the Muslim state of Pakistan (and now Bangladesh) and the Hindu state of (now) the Republic of India. Partition also included the division the British Indian Army, the Indian Civil Service, the railways and the central treasury.

The next few years saw a wave of colonial migration to Britain. (Currently, the largest ethnic groups in Britain are of Indian and Pakistani descent at about 8% of the population).

On the eve of Independence, two thirds of India was directly ruled by the British. The rest was under indirect rule by the maharajas and nawabs. However, in 1971, the government of Indira Gandhi abolished the princely titles of the former Indian rulers.

Mysore Palace is now a museum. Other remains of Sahib's territory may be seen down the road at Srirangapatnam.

Certified to teach by Sri K Pattabhi Jois, Philippa teaches daily Mysore-style classes in Soho, London.

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