C. P. Belliappa's Column

Belli’s input for the latest edition of Masti’s book on Kodagu Raja

“(By: C.P. Belliappa)

Masti Venkatesha Iyengar’s Jnanpeeth award winning historical novel – ‘Chikka Veerarajendra’ was first published in 1956. The 10th edition of this wonderful work has been just brought out. Masti Venkatesh Iyengar Jeevana Karyalaya Trust (MVJK Trust) has been updating this book with new material, vivid photographs and copies of relevant documents pertaining to the story, since the 7th edition which was published in 2002. My interest in history of Coorg and about Princess Victoria Gowramma was ignited after reading Masti’s compelling novel.

Masti’s granddaughter, Dr. Vasantasree, has taken an active part in the MVJK Trust in bringing out updated editions of her grandfather’s various literary works. Dr. Vasantasree requested me to contribute a short write-up about Princess Victoria Gowramma to be included in the latest edition of ‘Chikka Veerarajendra’. I was more than happy to be a small part of Masti’s magnum opus. In a way my book – ‘Victoria Gowramma: The Lost Princess of Coorg’ – is a continuation of the amazing saga of Chikka Veerarajendra and his daughter Victoria Gowramma. Another fact which stirred my interest was the fact that my great-great-great grandfather Dewan Chepudira Ponnappa figures in Masti’s best-seller.

I have just received a complimentary copy of the 10th edition of Masti’s ‘Chikka Veerarajendra’ from Dr. Vasantasree, and am delighted to see my contribution which occupies a page in this 530+ page tome. A photograph of Victoria Gowramma taken in 1854 by famous photographer of the time: Roger Fenton, which appears in my book, is reproduced in the new edition. Also, a photograph of Victoria Gowramma’s tomb at the Brompton Cemetery in London, which I located and photographed during my visit in 2010, is also included.

The latest edition of Masti’s book has added a great deal of academic value to the immense literary value of the book.