In an era of nuclear families, the complex joint family at Vittal Aramane’s (palace) is a rare spectacle.
The size of this extended family, which consists of 135 members, ensures that there is never a dull moment in the 30-room building. The families, who have separate kitchens, get together on festive occasions.
The practice of a matrilineal system in the family where a girl marries her mother’s brother has prevented descendants from leaving the fold.
Besides, an adoption process started by Ravivarma Narasimha Raja, that left 10 children as his successors between 1873-1934, was another reason for the descendants residing together and becoming a unique example of a complex joint family.
Further, owing to a genetic trait, most of the family members are less than five feet tall. This has made them shy and reluctant to mingle with the outside world.
The inmates of the one-storey Vittal Aramane, living as commoners, are actually descendants of the royal Arasu dynasty, which has a history of 750 years, making it more ancient than Wodeyar dynasty.
Descendants of the dynasty, Janardana Varma Arasa (79) the oldest living member of the family, and Nanda Varma Arasa said the dynasty was known not for its wars but for charity. Historians like the late Ganapathi Rao Aigal, B A Salethore and Gururaja Bhat had highlighted the wars waged by Hyder Ali against Vittal in 1768 and Tipu Sultan in 1784 but there is not a single instance of Vittal kings declaring war.
Two stone pillars are the only relics of a magnificent palace burnt down by Tipu’s army. The present Vittal Aramane, located 150 metres from these remains, was built in 1800.