Mysuru: The beautifully designed Vasanth Mahal at Nazarbad that houses the District Institute of Education and Training (DIET) run by the State Government is in danger of being another mansion that is likely to lose importance in the heritage map due to sheer neglect and lack of maintenance.
Like almost all heritage structures in the Heritage City of Mysuru maintained by various Government Departments, this aesthetically built Mahal too leaks uncontrollably whenever it rains. Though DIET functions from the premises, entry is free for all as there are no restrictions for mischief-mongers who enter the premises in the name of playing cricket.
At night, the Vasanth Mahal is a favourite joint for anti-social elements who indulge in illegal activities and despite Police complaints being lodged by DIET Principal and DDPI (Development), no action has been taken so far. These mischief-mongers enter the campus in daylight and disturb the academic atmosphere there and also cause damage to the walls and window panes.
The situation is worse during rains. Concrete and limestone chips fall off from the wall and at many places the building leaks. The corners of the building are unable to withstand the pressure from rainwater collected on the ceiling and slowly, almost all the corners have started leaking of late.
The Vasanth Mahal which stands on a 36-acre landscape and nestled amidst lush green ambience, was built in 1842 by the then ruler of Mysuru. The speciality of this Palace is that its front portion is made of soft iron. Compare Vasanth Mahal with the Karanji Vilas Palace — (also called Karanji Mansion) that houses the Postal Training Centre of the Union Government — and the latter is well maintained.
After entering the Palace, one can see a large portico which connects the other parts of the building. Sadly, a beautiful piece of architecture that Vasanth Mahal is, it is sad to note that this wonderful heritage structure has become a victim of official apathy and negligence.
Who should maintain?
Though DIET functions from the premises of Vasanth Mahal, there is a tussle over its maintenance — whether the building must be maintained by the Department of Heritage, Museums and Archaeology or the Department of Public Instruction, that runs the DIET. Due to this constant conflict and shifting of responsibilities, the heritage building has become a victim.
The first floor of the Vasanth Mahal resembles the ground floor. The huge, oval-shaped hall was used as a royal dining and living area. The same pattern of structure is repeated in the second and third floors. The columns are reminiscent of Tuscan Style of Architecture and the whole Palace has a unique sense of modernity and simplicity.
When Jayachamaraja Wadiyar was the first Governor of Mysore State, he formed a trust in the name of Rajakumari Meenakshi Devi and registered the same. Over the years the State Government paid money to the trust and took possession of land and the building. Later, the building was transferred to the Department of Public Instruction.
In 2019, the Department had written to the Department of Heritage underlining an urgent need to repair the structure. The Heritage Department prepared a proposal to repair the structure at an estimated cost of 2.79 crore and sent back the recommendations to the Department of Public instruction. The proposal was sent to the Government later but nothing has moved so far.