Demolition of heritage buildings will ring death knell for India’s treasured monuments
Voice of The Reader

Demolition of heritage buildings will ring death knell for India’s treasured monuments

May 19, 2020


I read with dismay the news that politicians are asking the Chief Minister for funds to demolish and re-construct Devaraja Market and Lansdowne Building while we are all  in the midst of this most terrible global pandemic (‘SOM’ dated May 17).

Politicians worldwide should be concentrating on the Coronavirus epidemic, not on asking for funds to demolish and reconstruct heritage buildings. 

I do not have any solutions to this standoff between heritage conservation and development but here’s a thought:

Will every “improvement” to India’s infrastructure require us to give up more and more heritage buildings?

The preservation of Devaraja Market and Lansdowne Building must be on all our minds. There will be no chance to renovate or to save this historic site once it’s gone. And we can never be certain what will be valued in the future. This reality brings to light the importance of locating and saving buildings of historic significance ― because once a piece of history is destroyed, it is lost forever.

The local Governments in India seem to be on a bulldozing-spree, targeting all historic buildings. This has happened because there’s little protection given to heritage buildings in India. All this will do is ring the death knell for many of India’s treasured monuments.

We have to and must preserve the monuments and showcase them to the next generation. The contributions and achievements of our ancestors worldwide are important. We need to care to make the past the present. COVID-19 has brought the best and the worst out in a society that we can see all around the world.

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I urge the Chief Minster to kindly put on hold all demolition, expansion rebuilding plans in the whole of Karnataka while we deal with this worldwide terrible pandemic.

– Alyia Phelps-Gardiner-Krumbiegel, GHK Foundation, Gustav Hermann Krumbiegel’s Great-Grand-Daughter, UK, 18.5.2020

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13 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Demolition of heritage buildings will ring death knell for India’s treasured monuments”

  1. prabhakar says:

    The reader should realise that Landdowne,and Devraja market will become a heap of rouble soon ,unless some restoration is done ,also restoration is a along painful process we might loose some structures, the said buildings have been neglected, and mishandled for a long time.

  2. H.R.Bapu Satyanarayana says:

    The one subject that has been talked about in the wake of Coronavirus is the focus appears to be without break in all the media is the problem of the migrants.This Caronavirus has caught everybody by surprise. No doubt it has stirred the conscience and traumatised the nation. Various estimates put the number between 8 and 13 crore which is so massive that it is as if a people of a small country are moving to their homes spread across in a big continent! We have already seen how it has taken a terrible toll of more than 100 migrants dying due to accidents and those mowed by the train when they were sleeping on the track. We have also seen the distressing scenes of thousands of migrants walking hundreds of kilometers carrying their megre possessions on their heads or dragging them. The most heart wrenching scene is the women carrying their children while some have died on their way. No doubt various agencies have come forth to feed them and in some cases giving shelters. There is also arrangement for taking them by buses and trains and the tragedy seems unending. The logistic scale of arrangement is massive and the government appears to be doing its best. Unfortunately it has also caught in political controversy and the result is the migrants have become the hapless victims. Let us hope it will end. But there are other tragedies that are happening which are not higlighted and in course of tiem may grow bigger. I saw the news of a billiionaire in Italy commiting suicide in his hotel because all the members of his family died due to coronavirus. In Bangalore an employee living in his rented house paying Rs 25000 rent committed suicide because overnight he lost his job. In Mysore comes the news of Southern Star terminating all their employees because there si no prospect of running the hotel. Similarly many hotel business will go out of busines. While well paid top management can absorb the shock waht happpens to the other lowdown in the scale. The tragedy will catch up with them soon. Similarly there are cases of NRIs who have been caught in India who cannot fly back to join their families because they got stuck here due to cancellation of flights. Similarly those employed in various jobs suddenly. In its wake we can foresee some problems and even tragedies. The other unanswered problem is about return of the migrants for how long can they exist even if they get some financial dole? In short this Coronavirus will overhaul everything including life style. It will be a new world of reality and even in international relationship impacting on new geopolitical relationship. I also saw a news that China is going to be vegetarian and so perhaps many nations for a notion is spreading that vegetarians have higher immunity. Hopefully all over the world a new awareness may set in to respect nature and there will be less exploitation giving impetus to the concept of sustainable development. Till some balance is s restored the new mantra will be frugality, no wastage of food, less vehicle usage and les pollution. Above all it may give rise to a new respect for doctors and policemen, safai Karmacharies and for migrant workers. It will hopefully a new labour laws that ensures that migrant workers are looked after well so that next time whenthis type of crisis strikes there is no scope for exodus.

  3. This is with reference to money being sought to demolish old Devaraja market in Mysuru city. Devaraja Market and Lansdowne building protection, preservation and conservation of heritage structures have been burning issues since many years and are being delayed with suspected intentions, one of them being to allow the structures to collapse under monsoon rains/summer sunshines, year on year. Politicians/ who is who in authority have been globe trotting at the cost of public money to study how countries like France, Rome etc., are preserving their heritage structures but to no avail. All such tours undertaken by public servants are required to either debrief higher authorities or submit tour notes etc., but none of such reports are in public domain. Even Heritage Experts Committee members have been crying hoarse about maintaining all such structures in old city and surrounding areas.

    Another tragedy in the making is Visveswaraya Bhavana in KR Circle. One has to visit the cellar floor and the staircases to get a glimpse of how badly the structure is maintained. Native Citizens’ concerns, sentiments and emotions have to be respected and any arbitrary decisions taken by the temporary politicians and transferable officials will hurt the heritage value of Namma Mysuru.

  4. The heritage howlers! says:

    @Bapu Confusing rant.
    Covid-19 has affected all countries in the world, and they including rich countries of Europe and US, despite pouring money to save businesses. think,thie fal out from the virus will be so severe that no country can save many businesses. These countries respect doctors and health care workers,because these professionals work for the health services which are publicly owned , and are tax payer -funded services. Hence, patients-rich or poor get free services,whatever their ailments are. But, look at Mysuru, which has a plethora private hospitals and clinics where the management and doctors fleece poor patients, Stories of these patients committing suicide burdened with the medical bills is very often heard.
    India does not have universal healthcare where doctors and healthcare workers work focusing on care to patients not on their purses, like in India.
    Comparing Rome where the heritage buildings and monuments go back to centuries in the Roman times with Lansdowne Building and Devaraja market is sheer foolishness. Lansdowne building built to commemorate the visit of viceroy of the same name, who inaugurated it. I could understand its heritage value , if it was inaugurated by Chamaraja Wadiyar. Its floor space for stall became inadequate for businesses in 1950s, and they all moved out,abandoning the building. From the points of view of economics and heritage, it is not worth saving.
    As for Devaraja Market,it had lost its purpose ,when Mysuru expanded fast, local markets in new extensions emerged, and the byzantine practices of leasing and ownership meant, no one could say,who the owners of the fruits and vegetable stalls were. The rent became so exorbitant that the prices of fruits and vegetables became so uncompetitive compared to the nimble sellers of the local street markets whose products were not only fresh, but also cheap. Besides, who would living in new extensions of expanded Mysuru come spending travel money to the Devaraja Market, which was not selling expensive non-fresh fruits and vegetables. In other words, Devaraja Market priced itself out.
    Hence ,MCC rightly decided not to save these buildings.
    The howling comes largely from a mob of retirees, who were not Mysoreans until they bought houses and properties in Mysuru with their retirement funds in early 1960s.
    The above 2 buildings are not as worthy of heritage as Rome’s Colosseum. If these howlers want Lansdowne building to be preserved, reminding Mysoreans of the Viceroy rule in India,then why not restore the names of roads as they were called before 1947. Why stop there? French Rocks instead of Pandavapura, Closepet instead of Ramanagara etc.., the list grows.
    If you so called heritage lovers do really want to restore these buildings whose purpose of existence ceased decades ago,why not collect money,perhaps asking the current resident of the Mysore Palace to chip in a few crores of rupees. After all, he thinks he is the descendant of the Wadiyars? After collecting enough funds,ask the government to provide matching fund. That is how a real heritage concern operates.
    @Bapu start doing the above, not mere posting a rant.

  5. Hare Krishna! says:

    Interesting that this crumbling edifice, which as a building was inaugurated by Lord Lansdown, the then Viceroy of India is touted as a heritage building to be saved at any cost. Well,Chamaraja Wadiyar at that time commissioned the building to please the Lord Viceroy, reminding his visit tohis colonial Mysore. In independence India, politicians after politicians, and others blame the British colonial rule for all the ills, India has to suffer.
    These days, even that thug Tipu Sultan , who kept the legitimate ruler young Wadiyar,is eulogised as a patriot and the first freedom fighter, who fought to throw the British out of Mysore and India. The President ofIndia, Kovind, praised this thug sky high , even attributing to him the discovery of rocket technology,ignoring that it was the Chinese who invented it several centuries previous to Tipu Sultan.
    Congress Party and their friends , herald Tipu as the freedom fighter. Tipu befriended the French who had garrison at French Rocks,now , Pandavapura, to fight the British and throw them out. So,in the annals of Tipu’s so called freedom fighting effort, French Rocks,place was so important.
    Hence,if Lansdown building is of heritage importance, why not French Rocks. Hence, Pandavapura should be renames as French Rocks as before to honour Tipu, who Kovind, Congress and countless others praise him as a patriot and freedom fighter.

  6. I wonder whether people have understood correctly the meaning of Heritage. If it is true heritage which is unique either in design, structure, elevation, represent the culture of that age or century and made with special building materials. Tow bcih of the above feature Devaraja Market belong . It is only front elevation with Surki Ghare(Kannada). Devaraja market is built by the Maharajas. Similar style buildings are there in Mysore Public and Private. To some extent Lansdown building nhas some heritage. But these were built to serve the purpose of that time. Just because they are more than 100 years can we just call all the buidlngs of more than 100 years as Heritage structure and not to touch these buildings . If immediate action is not taken to redevelop the buildings keeping the elevation as it is, Mysore is going to witness disaster of life and property. The redevelopment issue has reached the final stage and even Honble Court has expressed the opinion to see the advice of all not merely Heritage lovers. If the buildings are over used or misused by the tenants, how one would justify to retain them at the cost of life and loosing strength. When the worst happens all the lovers of heritage only express grief and again MCC has to bear the burden of cost . May be this is not the time to rake up as we are facing carona but sitting in some other country and bat for heritage is to express without understanding the reality on the ground

  7. We should welcome all views says:

    Without evidence, do not accuse those, who’ bat’ for the restoration of these buildings. Even if they lived in another country, they like you, have as much freedom to discuss the issue. After all, they did not go to some other country before taking birth in Mysuru/India, and getting educated in Mysuru/India , and acquiring professional qualifications.
    If they live in another country,their remittances in hard currency to their relatives in Myssuru is helping the state and central government to accumulate foreign currency reserves, which helps to import essentials. PM Modi is paying for the Rafale jets in foreign currency ,not in rupees, for example. The said 2 buildings went into a dilapidated state, atleast 3-4 decades ago. I am sure the people you accuse as ‘sitting in some other country’ knew about the reality. But to their credit, they have expressed a perfectly legitimate point of view. They have rights to do so.
    For a professor, you are too narrow minded and even jealous to welcome opinions which are different from yours.
    Please do not try to teach the meaning of heritage. Haven’t you heard something called the Internet and Web using which you posted your response? Plenty of articles one can find there about the meaning of heritage and examples of it.
    If I was using my title , as professor,I would be very careful to pontificate to others. Hence,try to respect others’ views. Otherwise, remove your title. It is a disgrace, as professors like you do not welcome discussions on alternative view points. My high school teacher used to define a professor as one ‘who professes to know what he does not know’! What golden words they were !!
    Having said the above, I think like the two posters above, who were dissenters. They have argued well about why these 2 buildings should not be preserved, and money spent for the restoration could be better spent else where.
    Every country is facing Covid-19 effects,more so in some other country,you mention.
    Finally, it is:”losing’,not ‘loosing’. The good’professor’ has a lot to learn, it appears!!

  8. H.R.Bapu Satyanarayana says:

    I believe the writer seems to have confused referring to my comment because I have not talked about heritage structures at all.

  9. Everyone irrespective of the post or position they held have freedom to express. If it is bitter for someone can’t help.
    All those who bat for preservation must also contribute but not merely in words

  10. Humility and not arrogance says:

    @Shastry You accused without any evidence that ” sitting in some other country and bat for heritage “s something to be ashamed of. Again, Could you enlighten us, what you have contributed for preservation is superior to those who in your warped view is sitting in some other country?
    Perhaps, if there is a request for contributing to the preservation funds, those ‘sitting in some other country’, unlike you, will dig deep into their pockets and contribute.
    Your brief response indicates again your arrogance and of course the ignorance that comes with it. There is no humility at all.

  11. Hello, hello! says:

    Hello Bapu
    Your lengthy rant appeared under the subject: “Demolition Of Heritage Buildings Will Ring Death Knell For India’s Treasured Monuments”. Reading the comment about the poster you refer to, to be fair, that poster replied about the main thrust of the Corona virus fall outs you referred to in the first 2 paragraphs. Then in a separate last paragraph, there was the discussion on the heritage structure.
    Before accusing that person,ask yourself why you posted that lengthy rant under a wrong subject?
    Do not broad brush all NRIs under one category. Those NRIs settled in Western countries , were picked up by the airline service belonged to those respective countries. Who in their right minds visit India, the land of corruption? That should have taught them valuable lessons.
    Unlike what you think, there will be more private vehicle usage and less usage of public transport. Hence, no question of the reduction of pollution . Indians consider cars as a prestige symbols That will not diminish, but will increase as the realisation of social distancing hits them..
    China going vegetarian? This will not even happen in India, where the young are increasingly non-vegetarian.

  12. H.R.Bapu Satyanarayana says:

    In appreciation of the services of AIIS&H
    I had gone to All India Institute of Speech and Hearing for testing my hearing impairment on 13th March. It was extremely elaborate testing with latest technology. After testing, I chose an hearing aid. The cost was less than one third of the one I was using that did not last long. However, the Covid-19 intervened and I went yesterday to follow it up. I was wondering with Covid-19, how chaotic will be the situation. But to my surprise I found there was a new arrangement made that went smoothly without any hitch or confusion. Instead of allowing the patients to crowd at the main building, the uniformed attendants at the entrance directed me to a building on the left of the entrance. Another person asked me to wash my hands with soap solution kept near the building entrance and requested me to proceed to a stand nearby where they kept the bottle of sanitiser. It was operated by a foot pedal and would squirt the solution to my hands unlike the hand held one in other places. Then, I was given a token and asked to sit under covered open area where chairs were arranged so that social distance was maintained. My identity card was taken by another person. After some time we were directed to go to a larger building. Soon after another person came and escorted we senior citizens to ENT block nearby. We were given thermal test by a doctor wearing protective dress and was given clearance on my token. We were asked to sit in a chair which was arranged maintaining the social distance. When my turn came, there was a lady sitting with a form. She filled all the details including my Mobile Number (I had not brought my Aadhar Card). She asked me series of questions which included whether I had any symptoms of cough, cold, headache etc and whether I came from outside from Mysore. She also asked me whether I know of others in the locality who had such symptoms. When my turn came I was asked go to the cash counter. I noticed, the person had already my file. Then another person came to take me to audiology department in the main building. After sometime a lady doctor came and mentioned the amount to be paid. Again a form was filled in triplicate which I had to sign. Then, I was directed to the building near Director’s office where I paid the amount by using my debit card and a receipt was given. Then I walked down to the audiology department and gave the forms. I was told to contact a particular number after a fortnight to ascertain whether my hearing aid is ready. The whole procedure went like clock work and completed within 75 minutes. Throughout all the persons who helped me were very courteous. Before leaving the building, I went to see the director Prof (Dr) M. Pushpavathi and thanked her and also congratulated her for the efficient way the work is done in these troubled times.. I found she was constantly monitoring the work. I learnt that AIIS&H has been working since 11th May and she mentioned that except for a few staff in the beginning all the staff are attending. She also informed me that she is getting masks prepared from an organisation from Chamarajanagar which needed such help from the public . If this is the efficient way things in a government institution are run in Covid-19 environment, it is a great tribute to the institution. I am writing this to create general awareness that a government institution can deliver excellent and efficient service at a fraction of a cost compared to a private organisation. My audio problem is only one aspect of many other services that the institution is handling. I am aware that many people do not know especially concerning speech impairment of children and the parents out of anxiety and ignorance run to the private institutions while there is excellent facility available in AIIS&H right at our doorstep.

  13. Hare Krishna! says:

    @Bapu S
    Are you aware that you are posting your lengthy experience under the topic: ” “DEMOLITION OF HERITAGE BUILDINGS WILL RING DEATH KNELL FOR INDIA’S TREASURED MONUMENTS”?
    Anyway, hearing testing is the least of worries in a COVID-19 pandemic situation, where people’s lives were at stake!
    Reading through your long post,it si not surprising that so many people were involved, before you saw the specialist. This is typically Indian bureaucracy in operation.
    Your testing should have been free in a government healthcare institution,for a senior citizen like you.


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