Reading an article titled ‘Is Lalitha Mahal Hotel going Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion way?’ in yesterday’s Star of Mysore written by no less a person than one who is well-qualified and experienced on the subject and a retired Senior Vice-President of India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) Mr. N.K.A. Ballal, a resident of Mysuru for many years now, I felt much disturbed as a Mysurean and thought I must add my comments to Mr. Ballal’s narration.
Mysuru is the second important and biggest city of Karnataka in addition to being the city of Palaces and a cultural capital. It is the most popular tourist destination, both domestic and foreign. When such is the iconic status of Mysuru city with ever-growing local and immigrant population, it is natural to expect the city to have proper infrastructure and preservation of its heritage structures some of which are of world class standard. Among them are the Palaces that dot the city in all directions. If the main Amba Vilas Palace is in the centre of city, in its eastern horizon is the famous Lalitha Mahal Palace, now in a dilapidated condition as described in the article.
Another article titled ‘Waiting for Lalitha Mahal to collapse?’ about the possible collapse of this Palace Hotel for want of proper upkeep and repair by Vikram Muthanna was published in his column In Black & White (SOM dated Nov. 5, 2022). Apparently, it had no effect on those who are responsible for the safety and preservation of the Palace till this day and naturally the deterioration of the structure is seen all over. Certainly there is no guarantee the authorities would act even after exposing this kind of neglect of the Palace.
As we know, Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel’s structural deterioration and decline in popularity began after it was handed over to the State Government in 2017 by ITDC which was maintaining and running the hotel successfully. Unfortunately, the State Government, instead of calling a tender and handing it over to a reputed multinational hotel like Taj Group or ITC or Hilton, Radisson, Oberoi etc., handed it over in a platter to already loss-making Jungle Lodges and Resorts, a State Government body, with no experience in running this kind of five star hotels. Since 2017 this Hotel became a dedicated hotel for politicians and lost its business and star status, leading to the disrepair of the building.
I am reminded of how the State Government, many years ago, refused to renew the lease of the famous Metropole Hotel in city run by the multinational Ritz Group and then could not decide whom to hand over the hotel because of cut-throat competition among local and outside politicians. As a result, the building began to crumble over the years looking like a haunted house. Finally it was given to the present management when S.M. Krishna was the Chief Minister. Thank God, not only that iconic heritage building constructed by Sir M. Visvesvaraya to provide accommodation to foreign visitors was saved, but also enabled the city to boast of a good star hotel. More than that, the Government is also earning a good revenue by tax. Imagine the revenue loss, as also employment loss due to its closure for over 6-7 years. Proof of poor governance.
As for the fate of Devaraja Market building, the Lansdowne building, the Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion and many other heritage structures including the wide-spanned iconic royal gates like those in front of Government House and near Crawford Hall, God only knows how long they will remain standing.
Now the question is at whose doorsteps we Mysureans should place the blame for this kind of criminal neglect of a historical city with an enlightened civilisation that existed during the time of Wadiyars till the reign of Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV? Is it at the doorsteps of the Deputy Commissioner of Mysuru District or at the doorsteps of Mysuru Zilla Panchayat or at the doorsteps of Mysuru City Corporation? I mention these three Government departments because the district is governed under the whip, seal and signature of those who head these bodies.
Yet, another question arises: What are our elected representatives doing about these problems which have been staring at their face for the last two decades and more? And again a question will arise, when nobody does anything to find solutions to these problems, why are local NGOs and social activists not getting agitated and get the Government at Vidhana Soudha to act?
I personally do not know how to get answers to these questions. Our city is getting well- connected by road, rail and air. However, for this we have to thank the local MP Pratap Simha and the Central Government rather than the dysfunctional State Government and the incompetent local political representatives. Just take the example of this fast growing city needing a helipad. For nearly a century, city has been having an ideally located and properly laid out helipad near the five star Lalitha Mahal Hotel. It was called Lalitha Mahal Helipad. It was a very good asset for the Hotel where VVIPs would stay and a great convenience for businessmen, tourists and more importantly the politicians.
Now this helipad is closed for the reason the land on which the helipad is has been declared by the Court as the property of Mysore Royal family. Naturally, the royal family has fenced and closed its operations.
But what should be the responsibility and concern of our people’s representatives or the District Administration or the MCC or any other Government authority which has the responsibility of the upkeep of the helipad? The moment the helipad was closed, those who are responsible for the management of the helipad (if there was one at all!) should have immediately written to the Government to make alternative arrangement by acquiring the same land saying that it was needed for public purpose by paying the required compensation or by purchasing the land by paying the market rate.
If this was done in time, many politicians would have been the beneficiaries during this Assembly election as they could land directly in city instead of landing at Mysore Airport in Mandakalli and driving for 20 minutes or more to city. Likewise, there are many issues to be sorted out for the benefit of tax-payers.
Take for example the manner in which the city’s most important problem of solid waste management is handled. The BJP was in power for as long as it would take to solve this most repulsive hygiene-related stinking problem. There were incidents of people in the locality complaining of earth filling of solid waste being done recklessly and a virtual mountain rising that could be seen by the passing motorists and also by the neighbouring people living in houses and apartments in Vidyaranyapuram. They were complaining of 24×7 stinking smell, worst than that of a skunk that residents had lived closing their windows and doors all the time. Yet the city MLAs could not finalise either a location or the required wherewithal machineries for setting up of waste management plant.
Still the works on this, I learn, have remained incomplete. However, in the North-Western part of our city, thanks to former MLC and CITB Chairman D. Madegowda, the Zero Waste Management Unit was commissioned at Kumbarakoppal and is said to be working. It is only people’s representatives like Madegowda, who could address the problems of our city while others merely went as chief guests for launching civic amenities works.
If I may add one more non- performing achievement of BJP Government and the local BJP MLAs, that would be the problems faced by thousands of site and house owners (including apartment owners) of JC Nagar, KC Nagar, Siddarthanagar, Alanahalli and was known as ‘B-Kharab case of Kurubarahalli Survey No. 4’ from 2008 when BJP was in power and then it was followed up by the victims during the Congress Government of Siddharamaiah that came to power in 2013.
The BJP which created this problem through its MLC when P.S. Vastrad was Mysuru Deputy Commissioner could do nothing while in power. It needed Siddharamaiah to solve the problem at last. Surprisingly, except the victims going to Law Courts and other victims going behind the BJP and Congress MLAs like their shadows, no popular movement by the NGOs or social activists was seen in city. All these cases mentioned above clearly show that in a democracy, unless the people of the area together take up the cause, they will never get justice. Wisdom lies, I guess, in the people of the city treating Mysuru as a City State, taking the ancient City States of Greece or ancient Panchayat system of management of villages as models. People’s representative should only be a servant or an implementer of the aspirations of people who have sent him or her as their representative.
Monsoon is already here and steps must be taken to deal with the problem of flooding of roads and low-lying areas. Similarly, the problem of power failure due to monsoon that will bring down many trees and their branches. Further as we know, the problem of parking not only in downtown city areas but also in the shopping high streets in different layouts within and outside the Outer Ring Road.
Now that we have three newly minted MLAs, two from the ruling Congress party and one from the BJP, we should expect some prompt action to solve all the problems narrated above. This should not be difficult because Chief Minister Siddharamaiah is himself from Mysuru and let us hope he remembers that charity begins from home.
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if there is any better proof needed that Mr Ganapathy has lost his mrables, it is here in his first paragraph:
“Reading an article titled ‘Is Lalitha Mahal Hotel going Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion way?’ in yesterday’s Star of Mysore written by no less a person than one who is well-qualified and experienced on the subject and a retired Senior Vice-President of India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) Mr. N.K.A. Ballal, a resident of Mysuru for many years now, I felt much disturbed as a Mysurean and thought I must add my comments to Mr. Ballal’s narration”
The Ballal , he refers to, like his name sake Ballal , the owner of the Ballal Hotel, and the circle nearby named after his hotel, has been a loudmouth all his life, a lackey, who is known for his talk and no delivery. That artcle refeered to by Mr Ganapathy was a crap.
Instead of carpong and blaming every one else, Mr Ganapthy and his crowd of non-Mysoreans who flooded Mysore in late 1970s, like Barmy Shenoy, caused mayhem and distruction of the city, as they instigated the development clearing forest around the city to provide them homes. Dozens of new extensions crtopped up and the city expanded all around enveloping Banni Mantap for example, which was until a distant place.
Now, Mr Ganathy is ranting like this;”As for the fate of Devaraja Market building, the Lansdowne building, the Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion and many other heritage structures including the wide-spanned iconic royal gates like those in front of Government House and near Crawford Hall, God only knows how long they will remain standing”
This Devaraja Market which was functioning until 1970s, became economically unsustainable as the city expanded so much that it was no longer at the centre of the city. Peoplke with homes in Chamundi Hill base-never heard of it until 1970s, had their own local markets, which provided them cheaper fruits and vegetables, fresh from villages nearby. No need to go to Devaraja Market whose complex ownershipand leases with tax burden made the stalls there expensive to run. They kept stale stocks of fruits and vegetables. As for the Lansdowne building, its match box size shops were not adequate for businesses tp expand in 12970s, and they left abandoning the building. These non-Mysoreans like Mr Ganapathy, Barmy Shenoy and of couse Ballal were responsible among other crowd of non-Mysoreans who invaded this city then to settle, are the very villains who destroyed the city, made these buildings unusable as the city needed tax payers money to create spaces fotr these invading scoundrels to settle.
No use in blaming his BJP buddies, who were busy increasing their personal wealth. The Congress, will be no different.
Mysore, where I was born, brought up, got educated and worked , was no longer the city I knew where I could walk on footpaths and no neec to avoid cars and other vehicles, by 1970s, when this non-Mysorean crowd arrived in thousands to settle.
Now, thanks to Modi, the UAE- based Keralie businessmen – so called, as their business has been to smuggle gold into Kerala and run Hawaala Money transaction scam, will get the UAE-Mysore non-stop flights, as soon as the expansion of the Mysore Airport is completed and it is ready to receive medium haul jets like the A320/Boeing 737. Modi promised this last year, during his top over at Abu Dhabi. Now, the 10-lane Mysore-Bangalore Tipu Highway, as it will be named, is so useful for the smuggled gold distribution and Hawaala operations too!
This Lalithamahal Palace was built at the time of flourishing British Raj who gave freedom to Wadiyars to plan whatever they wanted to do.. This Palalce was born out of the necessity of accommodating the visting British VIPs, in luding the Viceroys and others linked to the British Raj administration-as there were many of them visiting from England.
Even in 1950s, I remember from the Mysore Palalce officials, a few oof them were the friends of our family, mentioning that Jayachamaraja Wadiyarc who lost the Royalty and hence the ruling pwer, was not certain what he should do with this Palace, as the VIP visitors then were mostly the central government ministers and officials,, and as the capital of the state was shifted to Bangalore, these VIPs seldomvisited Mysore.
There after, we know the story of using this Palace as a luxury hotel which did not work well, and in this period, the maintenance of the building was neglected. The current crumbling state of this Palace follows from there.
This should be a lesson for the Mysore Palace too. Already , its Fort wall is crumbling and it is a matter of time, this Palace too need comprehensive repairs and mainteance which can be so expensive that the descendants of the Wadiyar, will be unable to meet it from their private resources.
Time for this Palace to be taken over by the central government to make itv a national museum, and house the artefacts of not only related to Wadiyars but other royal rulers in India too.
Mr Marigowda Ramanna needs to realize that he does not own Mysore. He is a regular citizen just like anyone else. He has no right to prevent anyone from moving into Mysore. Anyone can move to any part of the country as long as they legally do so. Mr Ramanna seems to be yearning for the Mysore of the 1970s, that is gone, just like the Mysore of the 1940s is gone too. In a few decades the Mysore of the 2020s will be gone too. Life moves on, he needs to move on as well.
What kind of name you have,! I guess you are one of those non-Mysorean thugs , on drugs and alcohol, who speak no Kannada, and needs your legs broken.
1970S MYSORE WAS DESTROYED BY INVADING SCOUNDRELS LIKE YOU. Even that with your very small brain does not know!