Sir Mokshagundam Visweswaraiah
(other spellings include Visvesvaraya
: ಶ್ರೀ ಮೋಕ್ಷಗುಂಡಂ ವಿಶ್ವೇಶ್ವರಯ್ಯ; 15 September 1860
- 14 April 1962
) was an eminent Indian
engineer and statesman. He is a recipient of the Indian republic's highest honour, the Bharat Ratna
, in 1955. He was also knighted by the British for his myriad contributions to the public good. Every year, 15th September is celebrated as the Engineer's Day
in India in his memory and is a public holiday in some places, especially his birth state Karnataka.
Sir M. V. was born to Srinivasa Sastry and Venkachamma at Muddenahalli village, Chikkaballapur Taluk
, Chikballapur District
of present-day Karnataka
, in what was then the princely state of Mysore
. His father Srinivasa Sastry was a Sanskrit
scholar and an authority on the Hindu
scriptures, besides being an Ayurvedic
practitioner. Sir M. V.'s ancestors actually hailed from the village of Mokshagundam
in the Prakasam District
of present-day Andhra Pradesh
; they had migrated to Mysore state
perhaps three centuries ago. The family name "Mokshagundam", preserves the memory of this distant association.
The young Visweswaraiah lost his father at the age of 15. The family was resident at Kurnool of Andhra Pradesh when this calamity befell them; they moved back to Muddenahalli immediately thereafter. Sir M. V. attended primary school at Chikballapur and high school at Bangalore. He earned his B.A. from Madras University in 1881 and later studied civil engineering at the College of Science, Pune, now known as the College of Engineering, Pune (COEP).
Career as engineer
Upon graduating as an engineer, Visweswaraiah took up a job with the Public Works Department (PWD) of Bombay
now known as Mumbai
, and was later invited to join the Indian Irrigation Commission
. He implemented an extremely intricate system of irrigation in the Deccan
area. He also designed and patented a system of automatic weir water floodgates, which were first installed in 1903, at the Khadakvasla reservoir near Pune
. These gates were employed to raise the flood supply level of storage in the reservoir to the highest level likely to be attained by its flood, without causing any damage to the dam. Based on the success of these gates, the same system was installed at the Tigra dam in Gwalior
and the Krishnaraja Sagara
(KRS) dam in Mysore
Visweswaraiah achieved celebrity status when he designed a flood protection system to protect the city of Hyderabad from floods. He was also instrumental in developing a system to protect Visakhapatnam port from sea erosion.
Sir M. V. supervised the construction of the KRS dam across the Kaveri River from concept to inauguration. This dam created the biggest reservoir in Asia at the time it was built. Sir MV was rightly called the "Father of modern Mysore state" (now Karnataka): he was responsible for building the very first electricity generation plant in Asia at Shivanasamudram near Mysore in 1894. During his period of service with the Government of Mysore state, he was responsible for founding, under the aegis of that government, of the Mysore Soap factory, the Parasitoide laboratory, the Bhadravati Steel factory, the SJP Polytechnic Institute, the Bangalore Agricultural University, the State Bank of Mysore, the Mysore sugar mills and numerous other industrial ventures. He also encouraged private investment in industry during his tenure as Diwan of Mysore. He was known for sincerity, time management and dedication to the cause. He was also instrumental in charting out the plan for road construction between Thirumala and Tirupati.
As the Diwan of Mysore
After taking voluntary retirement in 1908, Visweswaraiah was appointed Diwan, or First Minister, of the princely state of Mysore
, one of the largest and most important in India
. With the support of Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV
, Maharaja of Mysore, Visweswaraiah made an arguably unprecedented contribution as Diwan to the all-round development of the State. Not only the Krishnaraja Sagara
dam and reservoir, but also the hydroelectric projects at Shivanasamudram
, the steel mills at Bhadravathi
, the Sri Jayachamarajendra Polytechnic Institute (SJP) at Bangalore
, the University of Mysore
and many other industries and public works owe their inception or active nurture to him. He was instrumental in the founding of the "Government Engineering College" at Bangalore
in 1917, one of the first engineering institutes in India
. This institution was later named the "University Viswesvarayya College of Engineering" (UVCE
) after its founder; it remains one of the most reputed institutes of engineering in Karnataka
While he was Diwan of Mysore
, Visvesvarayya was made Knight Commander
of the Order of the Indian Empire
by the British for his myriad contributions to the public good. After India
attained independence, Sir M. Visvesvarayya was given the nation's highest honour, the Bharat Ratna
, in 1955. Sir M.V. was honoured with honorary membership of the international Institution of Civil Engineers
(based in London
) and a fellowship of the Indian Institute of Science
(based in Bangalore
). He also was awarded several honorary doctoral degrees like D.Sc.
from various Universities in India. He was president of the 1923 session of the Indian Science Congress
The family temple at Muddenahalli
There is an interesting true story about how Sir M.V.'s mother discovered a stone that had an image carved into it. One day, when she was returning home by bullock cart, she noticed a stone lying in a field at the edge of the road. A few days later, she found the stone still there. After several trips past the stone, she stopped the bullock cart one day and asked the villagers who the stone belonged to. The villagers did not know who the stone belonged to nor how it had got there. The stone was taken to her house and she had a temple constructed which exists to this day.
Memorial at Muddenahalli
There is a beautiful and very picturesque memorial of Sir M. V. located on the family-owned land at Muddenahalli
, with the Nandi Hills
as a backdrop.
Institutions in his honour
Sir M Visvesvaraya Institute Of Technology
(popularly known as Sir M.V.I.T),Bangalore is named after Sir M.V.
- The University Visvesvaraya College of Engineering, Bangalore popularly known as UVCE, is an engineering college affiliated to the Bangalore University, established in the year 1917, by Bharat Ratna Sir M. Visvesvaraya. The collge was renamed University Visvesvaraya College of Engineering from its earlier name University College of Engineering, Bangalore in honour of its illustrious founder Sir. M Visvesvaraya.
- Visweswaraiah National Institute of Technology (V.N.I.T.), Nagpur (Formerly Visvesvaraya Regional College of Engineering) was established in the early 1960s in his honour. The college is among the elite 17 National Institutes of Technology (Formerly Regional Engineering Colleges) in India
- The Visweswaraiah Technological University, Belgaum, to which nearly all engineering colleges in Karnataka are now affiliated
- The Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum, Bangalore, set up as part of his birth centenary celebrations
- Vishweshwaraya Iron and Steel Limited, a public sector undertaking, in the founding of which he was instrumental
His alma mater, the College of Engineering, Pune (COEP) has erected a statue in his memory and honour on their campus in central Pune, immediately outside the historic COEP administration building.