Rai Raya Rai R. Venkat Rao
Rai Raya Rai R. Venkat Rao is well known as the father of Dewan Bahadur R. Raghunatha Rao. His earlier years are involved in obscurity. That he was born at Kumbakonam is fairly clear.
Mr. Venkat Rao was Dewan Peishkar in Travancore for two years (1820-2) form which position he was elevated to the Office of Dewan. There are many appreciative references to his ability, integrity and upright conduct in the correspondence between high officials of the Madras Government and the various Residents in Travancore, and the fact that he continued as Dewan for 10 years in the conditions then prevailing may be taken as bearing remarkable testimony to his powers. He was at his best in handling Rvenue Problems. The regularity and efficiency with which the various public departments were conducted received general approbation.
Venkat Rao’s services were soon to be transferred to another sphere. He want to the State of Mysore as Head Sheristadar, and was later styled as the Native Assistant to the Commissioner. The Commissioner, Mr. Morrison, derived great help from Venkat Rao in preparing his “Notes on Mysore”, intended as the foundation of a report on the State of the country, its establishment and finances, and said of him that Venkat Rao should be regarded as “the first native revenue servant in this part of India.” The esteem in which he was held by Col. Morrison’s successor will be evident from the fact that on receipt of an application for leave from him, Venkat Rao was provided with a military escort to accompany him the Kumbakonam and letters were addressed to all the Collectors on his way to afford him every assistance during his progress.
In recognition of his good work n Mysore, the Government of India honoured Venkat Rao in 1838 with the title of Rai Raya Rai.
The year 1838 saw Venkat Rao as Dewan of Travancore in succession to his brother, Ranga Rao. He continued in this office for two years, but circumstances did not admit of his continuing in office longer. In 1843 he passed away.
In Travancore, Venkat Rao’s name will be remembered among other things, in connection with the system of canals constructed by him for trade purposes between Trivandrum and Cochin. It remained for his nephew Sir Madhava Rao to remove the single Warkalay barrier which obstructed the passage by tunneling.