Little-known facts about Sir M Visvesvaraya, one of the greatest engineers

Indians celebrate Engineers’ Day on September 15 to pay tribute to engineering legend Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya. M Visvesvaraya, was a pioneer in his field, credited for inventing the Block System for dams – the automated doors what shut during an overflow.

India’s legendary dam builder was born on September 15, 1861 at Muddenahalli near Chikkaballapur in Karnataka and went on to become one of India’s greatest engineers. He was populary called Sir MV. He is considered of the foremost nation-builders, creating modern marvels upon which modern India was built.

1) Birth

He was born to poor family and raised in Karnataka’s Muddenahalli village. Legend has it that he walked 60 k to attend the United Mission School and wasn’t averse to studying under the light.

2) Academics

He earned a licence in civil engineering from the University of Bombay and began working with erstwhile Bombay’s Public Works Division. He joined the Indian irrigation Commission.

3) Awards

He was appointed Chief Engineer of Mysore State in 1909, given the status of Diwan of Mysore in 1912, awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1955. He was also knighted by George V.

4) Krishna Raja Sagara Lake and Dam

His most famous project was the Krishna Raja Sagara Lake and Dam, which was India’s largest reservoir at the time. It provided drinking water for several cities.  PM Modi has also paid tribute to him in his Mann Ki Baat saying “lakhs of farmers and common people continue to benefit from the Krishna Raj Sagar Dam built by him”.

5) Planning Commission

He was the first to bat for economic planning, long before independence. To some he was better known as the author of the 1934 book A Planned Economy for India, which would make him the father of the Planning Commission as well. In 1938, when the first rudimentary economic planning was set up by Subhas Chandra Bose, he was to head it. He was the head of the planning committee but scientist Meghnad Saha said that a politician ought to head it, and Nehru was made the National Planning Committee in his stead.

6) Work in Education

He cared deeply about engineering founding the Government Engineering College in Bangalore in 1917. The college was later named after him  – the Visvesvaraya Institute of Technology. 

7) Legacy 

He is so honoured in Karnataka that he has his own lyrics in the 1972 blockbuster Bangarada Manushaya, the longest-running movie in Kannada film history which goes: “If Visvesvaraya had not toiled. And allowed Cauvery to flow. And not built Kannambadi?. Would this precious land have harvested gold? Prosperous Kannada land, our prosperous Kannada land?”

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