Early this week, two gentlemen walked in to the City Express office at forenoon. Holding a faded voluminous book wrapped in brown parchment paper, one of them, S Seshadri excitedly mumbled that there was no mention of Sir M Visveswaraiah's contribution to the development of erstwhile Mysore state in the publication. Flipping from page to page, he was neither audible nor voluble and I could hardly make out what he was actually trying to say.
Finally, I took one look at this precious work that was published from Bombay in September 1938. To my amazement, it revealed its own sanctity and importance. I found that it was the first albeit special issue of Salar-E-Hind which spoke of Mysore's achievements, good governance and aims. The issue was dedicated to the Mysore Royal family and the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore, Sri Krishnaraja Wadiyar Bahadur.
A retired insurance personnel, Seshadri found this veritable treasure trove nearly thirty years ago at a book stall of the Government Press in Basavanagudi. The first special volume is still in the best of conditions with beautiful photographs of the royal family, maps of the Mysore state, a survey of the state's progress and development, photographs of many temples, palaces, gardens, parks and an entire page dedicated to caparisoned tuskers participating in the world famous Mysore Dasara procession.
In this issue, the Salar-E-Hind has some special stories pertaining to the railway developments in the state and they write, "The total length of new lines constructed in Mysore and Shimoga districts is 58.24 miles involving a total outlay of ` 42.80 lakh. To this has to be added the recent extension of the railway line from Anandapuram to Sagar, a length of 16.22 miles costing about ` 12.90 lakh."
Another interesting feature in the publication is about the development of water power in the state. It reports that as the Cauvery Falls constitute an obvious site for power generation, the possibility for harnessing them was visualised even in the very early days of electrical engineering before the close of the 19th century and that the development of electrical energy was established as early as 1902 by installing the first generating units in the Sivasamudram power house of the Cauvery power scheme. The feature also includes information about extensions contemplated for further development and also about high tension transmission in India in those days.
Replete with hundreds of black and white photographs of the attractions of Mysore like Brindavan Gardens, Krishnaraja Sagar Dam and a plethora of baby fountains and a high fountain of 120 feet from the centre of a charming pool, and beautiful terraced gardens visible from the pavilion, it makes up for an interesting read.
Apart from this, the maiden publication has come up with a wide assortment of stories for tourists which recommends many places like Nandi Hills, Chamarajsagar, KGF, Sivasamudram, Melkote and other places in the erstwhile Mysore State for people to visit. There are also a few photos of the forgotten and banned tradition of Khedda operations in the BR Hills where the writer goes on to describe how elephants were captured and tamed in the 1930s.
The issue has a few pages of writings in Urdu for the benefit of those who cannot read English.
Further, there is a felicitation piece on Sir Mirza Ismail, the Dewan of Mysore who got an extension for five more years. This also includes his yeomen contribution to the economic development of the state.
The preservation of the copy is unbelievable maybe because of the high quality of publication and the half tone printing of those days.
The exotic photographs embellished with different colour tinges ranging from red, brown to blue depending on the subject and issue takes one down the memory lane.
Namma old Bengaluru
Taking a peek at old Bangalore, the Salar-E-Hind talks about Victoria Hospital, calling it one of the prides of Bangalore. The feature says there was a poor fund account in the hospital. "Donations made by the benevolent people will be made use of by providing artificial limbs to the poor patients and railway fare. Clothing and special drugs are also provided to the needy out of this funds," the special issue says.
The publication has some of the rarest of the rare pictures of Central College, Seshadri Memorial Hall, Engineering College, Bangalore, the Town hall, the Indian Institute of Science, Sanskrit College and the Government guest house at Kumara Park. Further, a street scene from Chickpete, the Golf Club of Bangalore, and the Bangalore Race Course are interesting because of its neatness and lack of traffic chaos.