Mysore Maharajahs' fleet of Rolls Royce cars and ''doing a Mysore'' - colonial India

The Wadiyar dynasty of Mysore, which ruled almost continuously from 1399 to 1947, played a significant role in the history and development of their kingdom. Initially, they were vassals to the Vijayanagara Empire (1399-1646), later becoming independent rulers (1646-1799), and eventually allies of the British Crown (1799-1947). Despite a period of interruption during the rule of Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan, the Wadiyars were reinstated by the British and continued to influence Mysore's administration under British supervision

Mysore kingdom. expensive Rolls Royce car

Mysore rulers' RR
Above image: A the 1911 Silver Ghost Landaulette. Currently in the USA.............. 

RR car, Mysore kingdom,

Above image: 1920s Phantom 1, number 4RC, fitted currently with its second body, a Hooper saloon. Present owner: Luke Rebello of Chikmagalur, Karnataka state

RR car, Mysore kingdom

RR car Mysore kingdom

Above images: 1948 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith, WGC 31. Some body owns it in India.......

Taking the cue from the eccentric habits of the British aristocrats, the maharajas and other wealthy Indian clients aped them and asked the company to come up with strange embellishment for their cars  such as gold plating, ivory accoutrements, firearms, elaborate lighting for night hunting in the jungle, provision for carrying an assortment of firearms to confront wild beasts, strange  horns, sirens, and flagpoles. Many of the cars served as formal limousines to greet British Sahibs and Mem sahibs.

It is mentioned that as many as 200  Indian rulers  had about 3.5 Rolls-Royce cars.  During the British rule  one in every 5 Rolls-Royce made in England was India bound! Destination: the garages in the palatial palaces of rich Indian Maharajahs who headed the Princely States. That trend continued till the 1940s. According to an estimate , till the beginning of the second world war some 2,000 Rolls-Royce  were exported to India.  After India's freedom in the 1950s and early 1960s the rulers of India lost some of their palaces, etc and and faced a big cut in their annual dole from the Indian government. Consequently, with limited dole they were unable to maintain their life style and retinue  and also their fleet of expensive cars including RR.

During their heyday some of them like the Mysore maharajahs used to buy costly Rolls Royce cars  in multiples for various purposes

RR Silver Ghost 1911, Mysore

The Wadiyar rulers were known for their dedication to the welfare of their kingdom, focusing on healthcare, education, infrastructure, and public welfare. Their immense wealth allowed them to construct grand palaces and public buildings, often reflecting their opulence and status. Among their many luxurious possessions were fleets of expensive automobiles, particularly Rolls-Royce cars.

The Mysore Maharajas, especially Krishna Raja Wodeyar IV and Jayachamaraja Wodeyar, were avid collectors of Rolls-Royce cars. They frequently purchased these cars in large numbers, leading to the Rolls-Royce company's executives coining the term "Doing a Mysore," which referred to buying Rolls-Royce cars in batches of seven. Their garages, often referred to as stables, housed not only 24 Rolls-Royce cars at a time but also other luxury vehicles like Delahey,  Invictus, Lancia, Daimler-Benz, and Hispano-Suiza. This extravagant collection required a team of mechanics, technicians, and drivers to maintain the fleet.

Krishnaraja Wodeyar  IV Bahadur.

H H (Nalvadi) Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV(1894-1940) and  H H Jayachamaraja Wodeyar (1940-1950) were  lovers of RR  and other cars. Krishna Raja Wodeyar IV, 's embodiment of royalty and luxury  is quite evident in his opulent life style and possession of customized expensive cars like Rolls Royce.  When he died in 1940, he was one the richest men in the world; his vast estate was worth $ 35 billion.

Custom made RR car, Mysore

Above image; Owned by the ex-Maharajah of Mysore, 1911 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost-Ceremonial Victoria. This car was customized to shield his servants from the hot sun and was equipped with the latest technology. The roof could be raised and lowered. In 2011 auction in London it fetched 400000 British pounds.............

This trend of opulence among Indian Maharajas persisted until India's independence in 1947. However, post-independence, many rulers faced financial constraints due to reduced government allowances and the loss of their estates, leading to a decline in their ability to maintain such extravagant lifestyles and car collections.

The Wadiyars' love for luxury cars, especially Rolls-Royces, remains a fascinating chapter in the history of automotive culture in India, symbolizing the intersection of Indian royalty and British influence during the colonial era.