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Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Homage to Dwaram Mangathayaru – Jewel of Thiruvallikkeni

Homage to Dwaram Mangathayaru – Jewel of Thiruvallikkeni

It is with great sorrow I read about the passing away of a doyen of Carnatic music – she was 92 and perhaps died peacefully.  Nothing much has been known about her in recent past as she remained seclusive and the age-old house fell to hammer !!  My respects to her and painful homage remembering her frail image and the slow words that once heard, sitting closer to her in April 2006 at her house in Bandala Venugopala Naidu Street, Triplicane, a street that is lesser than 200 M.

Dwaram in Telegu means ‘doorway’ !!  - it is not a simple peephole or gap as understood in Tamil – a cursory reading takes us to one man whose very mention initiates a sojourn in to the World of Instrumental Carnatic music.  Unlikely that many Triplicanites ever understand his association with Thiruvallikkeni. This is a photo of a statue at Visakhapatnam [credit Wiki commons thotfulspot]

He is no ordinary person .. .. Maharajah's Government College of Music and Dance (మహారాజా ప్రభుత్వ సంగీత నృత్య కళాశాల) is an educational institution in Vizianagaram, Andhra Pradesh. Vizianagaram around 850 km away from Chennai - was ruled by different Hindu emperors of Kalinga and it was an integral part of Kalinga.   The area was under the rule of Krishna Deva Raya of Vijayanagara Empire too. The Maharaja college is the first music college of South India.  Its first President was  Ajjada Adibhatla Narayana Dasu  & the second was the famous - Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu whose statue is above.

Dwaram Naidu, popularly known as ‘fidelu’ Naidu was the first person to bring violin to the forefront of Carnatic music. He performed his first solo in Vellore in 1938.  Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu was partially blind. He played at the National Physical Laboratory auditorium, New Delhi in 1952, to raise funds for the Blind Relief Association was related to the famous kuchipudi dancer Padma sri Dr Shoba Naidu.  The  famous playback singer Ghantasala learned Carnatic music under Naidu.  

Thiruvallikkeni aka Triplicane is a famed land… It is a place where religion, nationalistic fervour, patriotism, sports, education and the individual dignity have interspersed for the benefit of the State and the larger interests of the Nation.  Triplicane was the seat of freedom struggle –  it is a place of rich history and heritage…. There existed  many famous people   .. .. ..

From the Icehouse which became Vivekananda House, as you travel in Dr Besant Road (named after Annie Besant) … there are smaller lanes and one such is BV Street [there are two BV – Bandi Venkatesa Naicken Street nearer Gangaikondan Mandapam and this Bandala Venugopala Naidu Street]  … in the Bandala Venugopala street, there is one ancient house, one may not attach any significance now – a house with a compound and a garden too.  It is ‘Dwaram house ’  ……..  Way back in March 2006, our Bliss (newsletter of SYMA) featured a post on its famed resident and Yours Truly interviewed that frail women, a reverred violinist.   

One need to travel back to 1800s, in 1893, was born Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu, who went on to be an inspiration to many aspiring musicians.  Raised in  Vishakapatnam, he was appointed Professor of violin in the Maharaja's Music College in Vijayanagaram, at the young age of 26, and became its principal in 1936. In early 1950s, Dwaram bought a house in Bandala Venugopala Street in Triplicane, and moved to Madras. The awards and titles that Dwaram won were legion  yet this post is not about this man too…..

‘Dwaram Mangathaayaru’,  was born on 29th Aug 1937 at Vizianagaram in a family which boasts generations of Carnatic musicians. She was the daughter of renowned violinist Dwaram Venkataswami Naidu, who at that time was  the principal of the music college of Vizianagaram.  This unassuming great personality was embellished with many titles & awards– Nadha kanal, Nadha Jyothi, Sangeetha Kala Jyothi, Thirupugazh Mamani, Nadha kala nidhi, Violin Vara gana sudha vani, Sangeetha nadha mani, TTK Award, Gangadevi Eminent Citizen award, Hyderabad to name a few and the conferment of Kalaimamani award on 25/2/06 was really another feather.

In her early age, She studied vocal music under the guidance of Janardhanachari, a renowned veena player. Even in her schooling curriculum she studied music as a special subject. At a very young age of 14 she made a remarkable debut performance on stage as an accompanist of Chembai Vaidhyanatha bagavathar at Vizianagaram. She contined her studies in Waltair obtaining a diploma of violin playing as main subject. During early 1950s their family shifted to Chennai and she had intensive lessons from her father – Great Violin Maestro Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu. At her tender age, she accompanied her father on concert platform before elite audiences that include – Presidents : Babu Rajendra Prasad, Radhakrishnan, Sanjiva Reddy; Premiers – Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv and many other noted personalities.

She studied vocal music from Sri Sandhyavandhanam Sreenivasa Rao. She was a recipient of scholarship for 3 years from the Govt of India under the tutelage of Sri Varahur Muthu Swami Iyer another violin vidwan of yesteryears. She imparted music to many as a Professor of Karnatic music in Maharaja college at Vizianagaram for few years and for over 15 years as a staff artist in All India Radio. In her later part of her career, she taught violin as HOD at Music Academy, Chennai. She  adorned many podiums as a professional accompanist and solo artist. Initially, she played violin in hundreds of concerts with the legend flautist TR Mahalingam. She performed duet concerts with her brother Dwaram Sathyanarayana moorthy. She has played alongside many vidwans on stage, the long list which includes – DK Pattammal, MSS, MLV, Veena Doraiswamy Iyengar, DK Jayaraman, Dr Balamurali Krishna, Oleti Venkateswaralu, S Ramanathan, Radha Jayalakshmi, Bombay sisters, Prema Hariharan, Mani Krishnaswamy & more.  Here is a rendition of hers available on Youtube.

This sublime artist lived in our midst in Triplicane imparting her talents to the young generation that  included some foreigners also. I was fortunate to sit nearer and talk to her for SYMA Bliss and during the conversation she felt that the young generation has less of patience and is drawn to the fast food culture sans nutrition. She was to say that they  devote less time to music and many seek to learn through rapid courses.

On 17th Oct 2021, I had posted that   Dwaram house was seen locked and grapevine that property had been sold.   A couple of months later, demolition began – sooner there would be some apartment complex   with its occupants blissfully unaware of its glorious past and association with music – that of Violin flow !! – what a pity.

Many people in Triplicane for sure would know Dwaram Mangayatharu and would painfully pay homage to her this day.  In fact when I spoke to my friend Carnatic acclaimed critic Essel (Lakshmi Narasimhan), he reminisced his acquaintance with Dwaram musicians including the renowned Violinist himself.


Homage to her – S. Sampathkumar

PS 1:  excerpted from my earlier article based on personal interview with Dwaram Mangatayaru in Apr 2006.  At that time itself, Kumari Mangathayaramma was close to 70 and age was taking its toll.  When the talk centered about SYMA running a Public convenience at the erstwhile place for Temple elephant – she told that she was under the impression that the majestic tusker was still there [Azhwan, the beautiful yanai passed away in 1977 !!]

2: Lt. Col. Pusapati Vijay Ananda Gajapathi Raju  better known as the Maharajkumar of Vizianagram or Vizzy, played Test Cricket for India and was in fact the Captain of the  team that  toured England in the 1936 -  played 28 first-class fixtures, winning four of them.  The test series was lost 0-2 with 2nd test ending in a draw. The team included -  Lala Amarnath,  Vijay Merchant, Mushtaq Ali,  C. K. Nayudu,  MJ Gopalan, Cotah Ramaswami .. .. … 



  1. Homage to the great doyen - already the house looks empty, slowly memories too will fade away ! - Pushpa

  2. Homage to the great vidwan!🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏

  3. Many thanks to you for posting about Dwaram Mangathayaru and Dwaram House. I have fond memories of the years I studied with Amma garu in the 1990s. Sad to see the house gone. Though it was not kept up, it was truly a landmark of Triplicane and full of musical memory which would sometimes pour out when Amma (Ammayi as her family called her) was in the mood. May she rest in peace.

  4. very well penned homage - true though Triplicane would miss - few years all would be forgotten - may be when people search your post will be of help in remembering her - Vilasini, a shorttime student of hers

  5. So sorry to hear of her demise. She was a long time friend of my parents. My fondest memories are of when she invited me to spend a week with her in her home in possibly 1970. I’d just completed high school and was awaiting college. She had come to Hyderabad for a kacheri with TR Mahalingam and gotten sick. She stayed with us until her recovery and then invited me to her home in Madras. I had a magical time with her and her mother and some close friends.

  6. Varahur Muthuswamy Iyer is my grandfather's brother ( father's father's brother).