Building Mania at Manasagangothri

By N. Niranjan Nikam

Pics by M.N. Lakshminarayana Yadav

The University of Mysore, founded by Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar in 1916, is the sixth oldest University in the country and the first in the State. The saga of the University began at Maharaja’s College where even the Post Graduate courses were being conducted. It was in 1960 that the courses were moved to the sprawling 450 acres Manasagangothri campus.

Many new buildings came up during the Centenary year of the University in the campus in 2016 at a total cost of Rs. 59.60 crore. This Weekend Star Supplement traces the nearly 60-year history of Manasagangothri and tries to find out why many new buildings in the campus are lying vacant. Incidentally, the buildings in the adjacent Mukthagangothri (KSOU) campus are also lying vacant as the UGC has derecognised the courses offered by Karnataka State Open University.

New Buildings in Manasagangothri waiting for inauguration while old ones deserted…

It took all the ingenuity of Poet Laureate and the 11th Vice-Chancellor of University of Mysore Dr. K.V. Puttappa, popularly called Kuvempu and the 12th Vice-Chancellor

Prof. N. A. Nikam to acquire the sprawling 450 acres of Manasagangothri campus. The story makes a very fascinating read.

Then it took nearly 55 years after the Post Graduate Departments were moved to the new campus Manasagangothri from Maharaja’s College in 1960s to get a fresh look during the Centenary Celebrations of University of Mysore.

The architects behind the beautification of the campus were the 24th Vice-Chancellor Prof. K.S. Rangappa and Executive Engineer H. Kishore Chandra.

Not only was the renovation of the campus with fresh coat of paint taken up but a few new buildings housing new Departments also came up. Incidentally, the buildings in the adjacent Mukthagangothri are also lying vacant as the University Grants Commission (UGC) has derecognised the courses offered by KSOU.

This is where the real story of the monumental neglect begins.

New buildings

As one enters the Manasagangothri campus from the South side, with the statue of Kuvempu in sitting posture and then passing through majestic gates, it is the old buildings on the left, the Library and the Round Canteen building that one sees immediately with new Clock Tower nearby.

There are other Departments as we move around the campus, all on the East-West side. But move a little interior on the Eastern side near the new statue of Buddha under the peepal tree (Ficus religiosa), suddenly one sees that there are a few new buildings with fresh coat of paint, some without, lying completely neglected.

The buildings that have come up are the Centenary Shoppe near the Round Canteen and the School of Law going down the road from Buddha statue. The Centenary Museum, Organic Chemistry, Molecular Biology, Genetics and Genomics buildings are almost in a cluster opposite Buddha statue.

Funds for buildings

The total cost of the buildings which also includes the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) and the Canteen complex opposite SJCE, called the Downs, is Rs. 59.60 crore.

The funds for Organic Chemistry, School of Law and Canteen Complex have come from RUSA (Rashtriya Uchchatar Shikshana Abhiyan), a Central Sponsored Scheme (CSS) which aims at strategic funding to eligible higher educational institutions in the country. The funds for other buildings came from University resources.

One of the buildings which is opposite to the entrance of the Manasagangothri campus is the Maulya Bhavan (Evaluation Bhavan) which however, is now occupied and valuation work is going on.

Except the SPA, all the other buildings are lying vacant and the reason is not far to seek. “The delay in the appointment of VC for more than one-and-a-half years is one of the main reasons for the buildings lying vacant and neglected. In fact, if a Union Minister or Minister from the State agrees, the buildings constructed under RUSA funds can be inaugurated. But the big question is, will it happen before a regular VC is appointed,” wonders Planning, Management and Evaluation Board Director Prof. Yashwantha Dongre.

The then Executive Engineer of University of Mysore Engineering Department  Kishore Chandra, speaking to Star of Mysore said, “It took us around 18 months to complete the buildings, the work for which began in 2016. However, all are lying vacant because of several issues.”

At the time of the beautification of the campus, some very innovative planning took place and with the 103rd Indian Science Congress being held in the Manasagangothri campus a lot of facelift was given including the one to the Open Air Theatre.

“Nearly a lakh people visited the campus on the five days of the Science Congress and everyone stood near the Centenary Clock Tower to take photos and selfies. The whole idea of designing the Clock Tower and building it in a strategic location was done by the Engineering Department. In fact, there were suggestions and advises to place the clocks on the Crawford Hall building or on the University Library. I shot down both the ideas and the result is this magnificent monument admired by all,” said Kishore Chandra.

Asked about the architecture of all the buildings, he said that they were in line with a mix of Indo-Sarcenic and Mysore style of architecture as it has to blend with the other heritage structures in the city.

  • Maulya Bhavan: Rs. 23 crore, Built up area: 95,212.75 sq. ft.

This imposing building on Bogadi Road, which is wrongly named Maulya Bhavan (it should be Maulya Mapana Bhavan because Maulya means value), houses three offices — the Evaluation Centre, Karnataka State Eligibility Test (KSET) Centre and College Development Council (CDC) Centre.

There are 12 valuation halls each of nearly 3,000 square feet and the valuation of all the Post Graduate courses takes place here. There is a parking in the cellar and it has all other facilities like separate toilets for the staff and office rooms.

  • Centenary Shoppe: Rs. 50 lakh, Built up area: 591.25 feet

The idea of constructing a Centenary Shoppe came up during the Centenary celebrations and there were plans of selling the University Logo, T-shirts, Caps and other mementoes. But the whole plan got delayed and now even though the shop is ready nothing is happening — Lying vacant.

 

  • Shopping Complex at Round Canteen premises: Rs. 60 lakh, Built up area: 2,547.75 sq. ft.

The construction was over more than six months ago — Lying vacant.

 

  • Genetics and Genomics Department: Rs. 3 crore, Built up area: 15,211.25 sq.ft.

It consists of four class rooms, one Seminar Hall, three Laboratories, Library, Director’s Chamber, Faculty rooms, Office room and Staff room.

This is the only building where the classes have begun from Aug.1. There are nearly 66 students with 33 in first year and 30 in second year. The Department was started in 2005 and finally it has a structure of its own.

  • Molecular Biology/Medicine Dept.: Rs. 3 crore, Built up area: 15,211 sq. ft.

It consists of four class rooms, one Seminar Hall, three Laboratories, Library, Director’s Chambers, Faculty rooms, Office room and Staff room — Lying vacant.

Molecular Biology andOrganic Chemistry Blocks

  • Organic Chemistry Block: Rs. 3.50 crore, Built up area: 15,211.25 sq. ft.

It consists of four class rooms, one Seminar Hall, three Laboratories, Library, Director’s Chambers, Faculty rooms, Office room and Staff room — Lying vacant.

  • University of Mysore School of Law: Rs. 3.50 crore, Built up area: 21,919.25 sq. ft.

It consists of Mock Court Hall, Library, Seminar Hall, six class rooms, Director’s Chambers, Faculty rooms, Office room and Staff room — Lying vacant.

University of Mysore School of Law

  • Centenary Interactive Museum: Rs. 3.75 crore, Built up area: 14,738 sq. ft.

It is a beautifully designed centenary interactive museum. The idea for building this also came up during the Centenary celebrations to mark the occasion by having an interactive museum. The then Centenary Advisory Committee was very keen to see that the building came up during the celebrations. However, due to paucity of funds the idea remained on the drawing board. Now the bare building is ready. But it needs a good museum expert to research and fill it with objects and make it a truly memorable place for everyone to visit — Lying vacant.

Centenary Interactive Museum

  • Downs Canteen Complex: Rs. 3.75 crore, Built up area: 7,095 sq. ft.

The old building had a Post Office, a small restaurant and a few shops. The building has been retained and new semi-circular complex has come up. The new one has 16 shops and on the first floor two big office spaces — Lying vacant.

  • School of Planning & Architecture: Rs. 15 crore, Built up area: 1,11,241 sq. ft.

There are ten Studio rooms, Auditorium, Basement, Digital Library, Library, Director’s Chambers, Faculty rooms and even a facility for canteen in the huge basement.

This is the only one among the new buildings in the campus that is functioning where students and faculty can be seen deep in work.

This building is an architectural marvel almost matching the majestic Crawford Hall, hidden deep inside the campus. Driving down Buddha statue and passing the University School of Law, the striking white building appears into view. It was the dream of SPA former Director Prof. Krishne Gowda to build an architecture school befitting its name. This is the first such School of Planning among State Universities in the country.

Opinions

It has taken us 13-long-years to have a building for our own Department. We finally moved into the building on Aug.1 and began the classes from 9.30 am. We did not have our own rooms all these years and we had to share it with the Zoology Department. At present, I am the only permanent faculty here and there are six guest faculty who are all with Ph.Ds. There are two theory class rooms and two practical class rooms. We also have four research labs and a wash-room for the Drosophila fly experiment.– Prof. N.B. Ramachandra, Chairman, Department of Studies in Genetics and Genomics

 

The School of Planning and Architecture is there in Central Universities. I have generated nearly Rs.13 crore funds  for this project from various sources and the remaining Rs. 2 crore came from the University funds. Right from placing the ‘Creation of Creations’ statue in front of the building to constructing an amphi-theatre where the idol of ‘Vishwakarma, the God of Architecture’ is installed, auditorium, a park with Ashoka Pillar (and nearly 500 trees planted) have all been completed. However, some of the works like the artificial lake and the playground is still incomplete.”– Prof. Krishne Gowda, former Director, School of Planning & Architecture

 

The students and the Departments are growing and if we have to meet the criteria of good Universities, then we definitely need to expand and provide both students and faculty a good working atmosphere. Hence, some of the new buildings that have come up are housing the new subjects introduced. In fact, even the Mathematics Department which is housed in Commerce Department should have a place of its own. It does not require a big building though. My only concern is not just the new building but the people inside the building who matter and that is what the Universities need to concentrate more on.”– Prof. T.K. Umesh, In-charge Vice-Chancellor, University of Mysore

 

Students’ Opinions

  • A positive step

The move by the University of Mysore to expand the campus through the inclusion of new Departments with its own buildings is a positive step which reflects the long-term visions to cater to the needs of increasing interest in higher education.

I belong to DoS in Genetics and Genomics and we did face space constraints. With the sanctioning of the new building, the problem of space constraint has been mitigated.

I am delighted that this academic year started in the new building which portrays the commitments shown by the Department members to make use of the facilities provided by the University.

But in my view, any expansion work in the campus needs to be scientifically monitored to not waste resources with needless constructions and destroy the greenery around. In this regard, I am happy that the University has considered planting saplings around the campus to compensate for the loss incurred during constructions.

– C.R. Koushik Ponnanna, Senior Research Fellow, DoS in Genetics and Genomics

  • Administration must gear up

The University of Mysore was established to achieve social inclusion of all the socially and economically underprivileged. As I see in the Law Department, there are two UG courses, namely B.A.LL.B., and B.Com.LL.B. As the strength of the pupils increases every year the rooms for the regular classes are reducing.

There’s a new building constructed exclusively for School of Law, but it has not seen its heyday.

The University of Mysore is 100-year-old and its reputation has reached the sky. To maintain  the standards, both the teaching and the administrative machinery have to gear up and work in the interest of students.

– Ashraya Chakraborty, Research Assistant,

  • Major Research Project, Department of Studies and Research in Law Construction of buildings essential

As per the academic concern, construction of new buildings in the campus is essential. It solves the problem of lack of classrooms. If there are more classrooms and laboratories, it will be convenient for the students and the teachers to work in a free space. Thus the expansion becomes important.

Meanwhile, keeping the campus green is our prime role to maintain ecological balance.

– C. Mahendra, Research Scholar, DoS in Botany

  • Safeguard greenery

Construction of buildings and infrastructure development in Mysore University is needed from development point of view. But at the same time they have to safeguard the greenery in the campus as day by day it is reducing because of hectic developmental activities.

University of Mysore (UoM) now has more buildings than trees. These developmental activities should not affect the University in any way.

– Gowtham Devanoor, Research Scholar, DoS in Journalism and Mass Communication

  • Nothing wrong in expansion

It’s a good thing if these buildings do serve a purpose which they hopefully are. Any good college or University has to keep growing as time passes by. So there is nothing wrong in expanding if it’s meant to fulfil the demands of the future. Plus the administration has taken care to maintain greenery in and around the campus and they should just continue to do that with more vigour and things will be just fine is what I believe. – Shobitha Ann Koshy, Student, UoM

  • Mark of growth

The buildings are a mark of the growth of each Department and the increase of student strength within the campus. So it’s a good thing. That being said, the buildings have to be completed and in functioning order within the allotted time or else the construction materials lying around just serve to make the campus look an eyesore. – Sneha Satish, Student, UoM 

View Comments (1)

  • Once known for greenery, the Manasa Gangotri campus has been converted into a concrete jungle. I wonder whether so many buildings were required when the existing buildings are lying vacant. A number of buildings meant for sports, seems to have not opened after inauguration. It was really a waste of crores of tax payer's money. While the greenery is missing, only concrete structures are seen everywhere.