Bengaluru Celebrates Raja Ravi Varma's Legacy with "Daughter of Providence" Exhibition

From being the granddaughter of Ravi Varma, queen of Travancore to a grandmother and a great grandmother she was the center of her family's life.


Gallery G located in Ashok Nagar, Bengaluru Photo Credits: Dharshini Iyer

Written by Dharshini Iyer

Bengaluru, Karnataka - To commemorate the 176th birth anniversary of the legendary artist Raja Ravi Varma, the Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation held a captivating exhibition titled "Daughter of Providence" from April 29 to May 30, 2024.

The exhibition unveiled a hidden gem – a previously unseen masterpiece by Raja Ravi Varma himself from the Travancore royal collection. This remarkable painting not only offered a glimpse into the artist's brilliance but also paid homage to a remarkable woman, Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bayi, the artist's eldest granddaughter and the last ruling queen of Travancore.

Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bayi, who reigned from 1895 to 1985, left an indelible mark on history. Her reign ushered in a period of significant progress for Travancore, characterised by progressive reforms and a focus on modernization.

The exhibition served as a dual celebration. It honoured both the artistic genius of Raja Ravi Varma, known for his ability to blend Indian traditions with European techniques seamlessly and the remarkable life and contributions of Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bayi. The showcased painting exemplified Varma's masterful ability to capture his subjects' essence with grace and depth. The Raja Ravi Varma Heritage Foundation reaffirms its commitment to preserving the artist's enduring legacy by presenting this hidden treasure.

Portrait of Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bayi

Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bayi's visionary leadership propelled Travancore forward. She implemented numerous reforms in education, healthcare, and public welfare, significantly impacting the state's development. A champion for women's education and empowerment, she championed a progressive agenda. Her contributions extended to the cultural realm as well, where she played a pivotal role in safeguarding and promoting India's rich heritage.

"Once I had a kingdom. But that is now gone, next, I thought I had a palace, but that is gone too, then I thought I had this house but now I can only say I have this room" The listeners were moved to tears as Sethu Lakshmi Bayi said this.

From being the granddaughter of Ravi Varma, queen of Travancore to a grandmother and a great grandmother she was the center of her family's life. A woman who once lived in a palace with 300 members of staff received a 21-gun salute on 22 February 1986.

The life of Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bayi was a testament to her dedication to her people and her progressive vision for Travancore. During her reign, she championed various reforms, including promoting education, especially for women, and improving public health and infrastructure. Her initiatives in women's education were revolutionary for her time, ensuring women received the knowledge and skills necessary to lead empowered lives.

"Daughter of Providence" served as a fitting tribute to Maharani Sethu Lakshmi Bayi's legacy, highlighting her role as a visionary leader and a cultural icon. Through thoughtfully curated displays, the exhibition offered visitors a deeper understanding of her remarkable contributions and the lasting impact she had on her society.

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