Today is Jayanti of Shri #MokshagundamVisvesvaraya in whose honor #EngineersDay is celebrated. One of the builders of modern India, an engineering genius, and one of the greatest Indians of modern era, founder of the modern Mysore State, whose legacy lives on todate.
Every where you go in Mysore region, you can find his legacy, be it the mighty Krishna Raja Sagar Dam or institutions like State Bank of Mysore or the Bhadravati Steel Factory.
He was born in Mudenahalli, now located in Chikballapur district on Sept 15,1861 to Srinivasa Sastry and (Venkachamma) Venkatalakshmamma. His father was a well known Sanskrit scholar, from whom he learnt to respect the culture and traditions of Bharat.
When he came to Bangalore for higher education at the Central College, he had no funds nor a place to stay. Fortunately a well off Kodava family there, hired him as a tutor for their children, which gave him a place to stay, as also earn while studying.
Being disciplined , right from a young age, and coupled with hard work, enabled him to score high marks in B.A.Examination in 1881. With financial assistance from the Mysore Maharaja, he joined the College of Engg, Pune where he completed his degree in civil engineering, in 1883.
He immediately got a job with the Govt of Bombay, as Asst Engineer at Nashik, which began what woud be a rather illustrious career. In his very first job itself, he devised a way to supply water to a small town Sukkur from the Sindhu river.
He devised a new system of irrigation called the Block System, using steel doors, and this in turn prevented wastage of water. He would be using some of these irrigation techniques in the construction of the Krishnaraja Sagar Dam too.
Another of Vishwesarayya's lesser known achievements is his supply of drinking water to Aden, one of the major ports in Gulf. Being a desert area, it had no sources of water, and he managed to supply water to the port city, from a rainfed place 60 miles away.
He also got the lake near Kolhapur rennovated, after it was extensively damaged. He was stationed in Hyderabad, where his greatest achievement was taming the Musi river. The city was hit by devastating floods in 1908, that destroyed many homes, killed many.
It was Vishwesarayya who came up with a series of embankments, bridges near the Musi that would tame the river's flow, as well as dams on it. He also suggested the layout of parks near the river front. It's another thing that the Musi is no better than a drain canal now.
Prior to Hyderabad, he designed and patented a system of automatic weir floodgates at the Khadakvalasa reservoir near Pune in 1903. These gates enabled the raising of the water level in reservoir to the highest without damaging the dam itself.
Another achievement of Vishwesarayya , was building the breakwaters at Vizag Port. Being a natural harbor, Vizag was prone to erosion, he came up with a kind of breakwater system, that would curtail the waves, and prevent erosion.
He joined Mysore State in 1912, that would mark the most glorious phase of his career. He literally built modern Mysore State, laid it's foundation, of course with active backing from the visionary ruler Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV, one of the wisest rulers of his times.
He served for 3 years as Chief Engineer of Mysore State, before he was appointed as the Dewan( equivalent to Chief Minister) to the Maharaja. His greatest achievement would be the Krishna Raja Sagar Dam, a marvel of modern engineering.
The Mysore-Mandya region till then was heavily affected by drought, he came up with the idea of using the Kaveri waters for irrigation purposes in that region. And presented his blueprint to the Maharaja who gave the approval and a sum of Rs 81 lakhs for the construction.
He adopted many path breaking techniques in construction of KRS Dam. One was using Surki, a local mortar, as cement then was not available in India, and importing it would have been costly.
He also adopted the technique of automatic gates, that would open and close with the rise and fall in water level. Around 48 such gates were installed at the KRS Dam, and finally the dam was inauguarated in 1924.
It would be a boon to the farmers of the delta. Krishnarajasagar Dam would be Vishweswarayya's greatest achievement. It turned the drought hit Mysore-Mandya region, into fertile land, supplied electricity and water to the whole region, up to Bangalore.
To date many people in Mysore-Mandya region, remember Shri Vishwesarayya fondly, for the change he bought in their lives with the KRS Dam. I believe in some homes there, people worship him, and even place his portrait in the Puja room. That is his legacy.
He believed in the value of education, he felt only that would pull the nation out of poverty. When he assumed charge was Dewan, there were just 4500 schools in Mysore state. By the time he retired, 6500 more schools were added, and more than 3 lakh benefited.
If Mysore-Bangalore today is an educational hub in India, credit due to Shri Vishwesarayya, who set up a chain of schools, upgraded the Maharani college to a grade level, set up the first hostel for girls there. And more than anything else he founded Mysore University.
Till then all colleges were affiliated to Madras University, Vishwesarayya, played a major role in setting up Mysore University, first ever university set up by an Indian princely state. Also arranged for scholarships for higher studies, man was a visionary.
He also felt that education should help one to earn a living. He set up an Agricultural School, to teach latest methods. And also first Engineering College at Bangalore, now named after him, UVCE is one of the more prominent engg colleges in India known for it's standards.
He also recognized the value of industries for growth, and set up a whole lot of them in Mysore State. Steel plant at Bhadravati, Mysore Soap Factory among the more well known ones. He also founded the State Bank of Mysore and Mysore Chamber of Commerce.
He was also equally passionate about the arts and literature. He set up the Kannada Parishad for the development of Kannada language, favored the practice of holding seminars in Kannada itself. His contribution to Mysore State was invaluable.
Even after retirement, Vishweswarayya kept on working one way or other for the development of Bharat. Jayanagar in Bangalore was a result of his vision, one of the first planned neighborhoods. As also HAL in Bangalore, that was one of his dreams.
. It was not just Mysore State, Hirakud Dam was constructed in Odisha on the basis of his report to control the frequent flooding in Mahanadi river. He also regularly advised many city corporations on urban planning. He travelled around the world, bought back new ideas.
He was known for his simplicity and down to earth nature. When the Govt wanted to name a polytechnic institute in Mysore after him, he refused and asked it to be named after the Maharaja. Even in his 90s, he was as fit as any one, hitting the ground, working as hard.
He also had to face British high handedness and arrogance, especially when trying to set up Mysore University. They did not want a University in an Indian princely state, but he stood his ground, refused to yield to their bullying, and managed to set it up.
An intensely self respecting, proud Indian, MV resigned from his post in the Govt of Bombay, when it was said only a Britisher could be the Chief Engineer there. When Indians were made to sit on the floor in British Durbar, he boycotted it, and forced em to provide chairs.
When a British officer wrote a letter, to him saying that he wanted a cushion to rest his feet, because the chair was too high, he got the legs of the chair shortened, and wrote back saying now the chair was quite low. That was the man, not to take insults meekly.
Mokshagundam Vishwesarayya was given the Bharat Ratna in 1955, one of the few times, where it was given to a deserving person. But I would say, that the Bharat Ratna got more value by giving it to a legend like MV. A genius, and one of the most selfless souls ever. #Naman
Incidentally Shri Vishwesarayya also built the Ghat Road to Tirumala, which was a great boon to many pilgrims and travellers, who till then had to use the longer and more harder route.
People like #MokshagundamVisvesvaraya are born once in a generation. If today Bangalore is an IT-Educational hub, and Mysore is one of the more developed cities in India, the credit goes to this man, who had the vision to look forward. #Naman to him on his Jayanti.
On a side note, a pic of Shri #MokshagundamVisvesvaraya I clicked myself. At Institute of Engineers, Khairatabad Jn, Hyderabad. #EngineersDay

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