Died: 12 April 1962, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
Parents: Venkatalakshmamma, Mokshagundam Srinivasa Shastry
Education: College of Engineering, Pune (1883), University of Madras (1881), United Mission School
Awards: Bharat Ratna
Achievements: Architect of Krishnarajasagar Dam; devised steel doors to stop the wasteful flow of water in dams
Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya was an eminent engineer and statesman and played a key role in building of modern India.
Sir M. Visvesvaraya was born on September 15, 1860 in Muddenahalli village in the Kolar district of the erstwhile princely state of Mysore (present day Karnataka). His father Srinivasa Sastry was a Sanskrit scholar and Ayurvedic practitioner. His mother Venkachamma was a religious lady. He lost his father when he was only 15 years old.
Visvesvaraya completed his early education in Chikkaballapur and then went to Bangalore for higher education. He cleared his B.A. Examination in 1881. He got some assistance from the Government of Mysore and joined the Science College in Poona to study Engineering. In 1883 he ranked first in the L.C.E. and the F.C.E. Examinations (equivalent to B.E. Examination of today).
When Sir M. Visvesvaraya cleared his engineering, Government of Bombay offered him a job and appointed him Assistant Engineer at Nasik. As an engineer, he achieved some marvelous feats. He planned a way of supplying water from the river Sindhu to a town called Sukkur. He devised a new irrigation system called the Block System. He devised steel doors to stop the wasteful flow of water in dams. He was the architect of the Krishnaraja Sagara dam in Mysore. The list is endless.
Sir M. Visvesvaraya lead a very simple life. He was a strict vegetarian and a teetotaler. He was known for his honesty and integrity. In 1912, Maharaja of Mysore appointed Visvesvaraya as his Dewan. Before accepting the position of Dewan of Mysore, he invited all his relatives for dinner. He told them very clearly that he would accept the prestigious office on the condition that none of them would approach him for favors. As Dewan of Mysore, he worked tirelessly for educational and industrial development of the state. When he was the Dewan many new
industries came up. The Sandal Oil Factory, the Soap Factory, the Metals Factory, the Chrome Tanning Factory , were some of them. Of the many factories he started the most important is the Bhadravati Iron and Steel Works.
Sir M. Visvesvaraya voluntarily retired as Dewan of Mysore in 1918. He worked actively even after his retirement. Sir M. Visvesvaraya was honored with Bharat Ratna in 1955 for his invaluable contribution to the nation. When he reached the age of 100, the Government of India brought out a stamp in his honor. Sir Visvesvaraya passed away on April 14, 1962 at the age of 101.
Some of the honors and laurels conferred on Sir M. Visvesvaraya
- 1904: Honorary Membership of London Institution of Civil Engineers for an unbroken period of 50 years
- 1906: “Kaisar-i-Hind” in recognition of his services
- 1911: C.I.E. (Companion of the Indian Empire) at the Delhi Darbar
- 1915: K.C.I.E. (Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire)
- 1921: D.Sc. – Calcutta University
- 1931: LLD – Bombay University
- 1937: D.Litt – Benaras Hindu University
- 1943: Elected as an Honorary Life Member of the Institution of Engineers (India)
- 1944: D.Sc. – Allahabad University
- 1948: Doctorate – LLD., Mysore University
- 1953: D.Litt – Andhra University
- 1953: Awarded the Honorary Fellowship of the Institute of Town Planners, India
- 1955: Conferred ‘Bharat Ratna’
- 1958: ‘Durga Prasad Khaitan Memorial Gold Medal’ by the Royal Asiatic Society Council of Bengal
- 1959: Fellowship of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore