Thursday, 18 April 2013

The Rayankere farm

This area once formed part of the private estate of the Royal family of Wodeyars. It was once part of the daily establishment of the royal family and it remained so till the 1960s after which it was closed.
Today, the land still stands and it is so near Mysore that people pass by it every day. Yet, many Mysoreans seem to have forgotten about its existence and as far as tourists go, I can safely claim that not a single one of them goes there.
This is the Palace dairy farm in Rayanakere which once was situated five miles away from Mysore in Rayanakere Kaval. The locality is on Manontody road, now called Manandavadi and it is on the road to HD Kote.
This is one of the pioneering institutions that the Wodeyars set up and it had a salutary effect in inspiring and encouraging dairying in  Karnataka.
It supplied for at least six decades the palaces and their inmates, including the Maharaja, with milk, cream and butter. The farm, when it was set up in 1919, was one of the most modern and sophisticated not only in India but also in Asia.  
The methods adopted in the farm and the equipments and appliances were all up to date. The farm was also the place where some experiments in dairying were carried out such as in cross-breeding, feeding, preparation of ensilage, anti-serum production and treatment.
The farm was also home to the famous Amrit Mahal cattle, which is described as one of the most hardy animals to have in war.
The Amrit Mahal is a special breed which even today commands a premium in the cattle market. This cattle has been famous for centuries and the Wodeyars had set up an exclusive department for their breeding and care.
Their value has been amply demonstrated again and again by Haidar Ali, Tipu Sultan and the Duke of Wellington, as draught cattle for artillery.
It was Hyder who improved the breed. He introduced a Trichy breed, which, crossed with the Mysore cattle, produced the famous and unrivalled Hallikar breed. It was this cattle which helped the Duke of Wellington to cross rapidly into Mysore territory and engage Tipu.  In fact, the Duke was so enamoured of the breed that when he took on Napolean in the Peninsular War in Europe, he often regretted that he did not have the assistance of the Amrit Mahal cattle.
He found the cattle to be highly active, fiery and quick. They could walk faster than the troops he had with him. The average height is 54 inches, the cows are white, the bulls generally have an admixture of blue over the fore and hind quarters.
The Wodeyars divided the Amrit Mahal into herds and permitted their upkeep in their wild state, without any shelter. It required several months to break the bullocks in and their employment was extremely difficult and dangerous.
Apart from the Amrit Mahal, other breeds at the farm here were  Sind-bred cows, Delhi cows, Ajmer cows, Baroda cows, Mande cows, English half-bred cows, Angola cows, Gokai cows, Hallikar cows, Ayrshire, Holsteins and Jersies.
As mentioned earlier, milk was supplied to the palace and hospitals in Mysore regularly from this farm which encompassed 750 acres. The farm was attached to the dairy where fodder for the cattle was raised and stored for use. The fodder normally consisted of sunflower, cowpea, jola, horsegram, guinea grass, seed grass, kiki-yu grass, lucerne, elephant grass and phalaris kommertat. If there was any surplus fodder, they were supplied to the palace stables and Gajashala (elephant stables).
The Wodeyars endowed the farm with modern machineries such as tractors and ploughs, electric motors, chaff cutters, a self-lift cultivator, “simplex” bullock levellers and others.
Animals infected with diseases were segregated at Konan Kottige near Hinkal. Sometimes, milching cows were even sent to Ooty and to other camps to supply milk to the royal party.
Until 1919, when steps were taken to establish the Rayanakere Palace Dairy Farm, these cattle were kept near the present fort. They were under the care and supervision of the Government livestock expert in the beginning and later the assistant secretary with a government veterinarian in immediate charge.
According to the Palace Administration Reports, employees in the farm were categorised into three divisions: menial staff comprising 13 permanent workers, 37 temporary workers and 45 extra temporary hands; ministerial staff comprising four clerks; and the executive staff comprising an overseer.
The farm once housed cattle stalls, dairy building, silo towers, residential quarters and structures that denoted a busy dairying centre. To its rear, the farm had rolling fields and pastures.
Near the roadside was a temple of Krishna with the paddocks for calves surrounding it. On entering the gate near the temple, a visitor would see dairy building in which the milk yield of each cow was recorded. The milk thus collected was dispatched by a motor van to Mysore in sealed cans for the use of palace and palace departments.
To the rear of the dairy building were four cattle stalls with attached calf-pens and two drinking troughs for the cattle in the farm house.
In order to ensure that clean and pure milk was produced, the stalls were open all around for good ventilation and had granite stone flooring and cemented mangers.
Since milking was done by hands, milkmen were provided with clean, white garments and care was taken to disinfect milkmen’s hands and the cows’ udder and teats with potassium permanganate solution.
The farm had electricity and electric machines chaffed fodder and ground feeding stuff for the cattle, while electric pumps supplied  water to an elevated reservoir.
The Dairy was closed in 1960 but the records do not give the exact  reason.


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  2. A really nice read..nobody knows about all this nowadays..

    The Maharaja's Stud farm at Rayanakere still stands as Mysore Public School today...and furthur up the road and off towards a place called a place called "Palace Grase" which is the meadows when the cattle, camels, elephants and other palace animals were taken to grase..