Plea to hand over old DC Office building to Heritage Department
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Plea to hand over old DC Office building to Heritage Department

June 26, 2023

Govt. must take a wise decision to save this 128 year old building without delay

Mysore/Mysuru: The Old Office of the Deputy Commissioner (DC) has been shifted from Krishnaraja Boulevard to the New District Office Complex in Siddarthanagar.

So, what will the Government do with the old Office now? Will it be left as-is, firmly under lock and key or will it be handed over to any other Government Office?

Amidst a public debate on who should occupy the heritage

building, opinions are being aired in favour of the University of Mysore or the Revenue Department. But there is another demand for the heritage structure to be handed over to the Department of Archaeology,

Museums and Heritage currently located at the Karnataka Exhibition Authority (KEA) Complex in Indiranagar (Doddakere Maidan), Mysuru.

The fundamental functions of the Department include archaeological explorations, excavations, and conservation of ancient monuments, study of early coins, publication of academic and research books and development and maintenance of museums. It has been preserving invaluable ancient sculptures, stone edicts, coins, copper plates, etc. in its museum for posterity.

“Shifting the Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage to the Old DC Office is the right choice as it has many advantages,” opined Prof. N.S. Rangaraju of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH)-Mysuru and Member of District Heritage Committee.

Speaking to Star of Mysore, Prof. Rangaraju said that the Old DC Office is more than 128-year-old building and there is a desperate need for conserving the structure as it has not been maintained so far. Under the Department of Archaeology this 128-year-old building will remain safe and steady as a heritage building with proper care and maintenance.

“I feel that the building must be handed over to the Department of Heritage, Archaeology and Museums as its present location does not have a place for the Department to set up a museum. Heritage Department is a new Department started in 2004 in Karnataka and since then, it is growing well,” he said. 

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Conservation first

The Heritage Department must first take up comprehensive measures to conserve the Old DC Office and after this process, the Department and the Museum can be shifted there. As of now, the Department does not have its own place and does not have existence or individuality, Prof. Rangaraju noted.

“The present location at  Karnataka Exhibition Authority  (KEA) grounds is not suitable for the Department as during Dasara season, the gates are closed and no one is allowed entry and permission has to be sought to enter the Department. Also, surprisingly, one must buy a ticket to enter the Office! There are many such complications,” he revealed. 

The Heritage Department can be shifted to the Old DC Office as it is an independent, impressive and standalone heritage building best suited for that. Almost all the museums in Karnataka are located inside heritage buildings and there is a set tradition as the maintenance of such buildings is the responsibility of that Department and they have the knowledge and wherewithal for the same, he said.

 There is no point in handing over the Old DC Office to any other Department as we have seen in the past how these buildings are maintained. “I am against the spacious structure being handed over to the University of Mysore. Though I served in the University, I am against the move as we do not want another Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion that is slowly deteriorating. There are over 25 heritage buildings inside the University and none of them have been maintained well. Even the Revenue Department will be a bad choice,” Prof. Rangaraju said.

Close to many educational institutions, ORI

Moreover, if the Heritage Department moves to the Old DC Office, it is close to Colleges, most of which have heritage structures and there will be a heritage pattern — Maharani’s College, Maharaja’s College, Yuvaraja’s College, Junior Maharaja’s College and the Heritage Department. 

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The Oriental Research Institute (ORI), formerly known as the Oriental Library, which collects, exhibits, edits and publishes rare manuscripts written in various scripts like Devanagari (Sanskrit), Brahmic (Kannada), (Nandinagari) (Sanskrit), Grantha, Malayalam, Tigalari, etc., is also just a stone’s throw away from the Old DC Office.

“At the present location of the Heritage Department, there is absolutely no space in the auditorium for even students to stand (if they are more than 100 in number) when we take  them to seminars and workshops conducted by the Department,” he added.

“If the museum is shifted here, students will have more and more learning opportunities. Moreover, in the National Education Policy-2020 (NEP-2020), there is an emphasis on heritage through a dedicated subject called Museology and it is a mandatory paper, Prof. Rangaraju revealed. 

“We are achieving many objectives here — conservation of heritage structure and its maintenance and the presence of the museum in the same building. It will be a student-centric or future generation-centric move,” he added. Students can come here even during leisure hours to learn.

Heritage Clubs at Colleges

Maharajas College, Yuvaraja’s College and Maharani’s College all have Heritage Clubs and it is mandatory to conduct heritage activities and the money for such activities is sanctioned by the Heritage and Archaeology Department.

“The Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage can be a part of the activities of these Clubs. A practical conservation Lab or an antiquity  preservation Laboratory can be set up there,” the heritage expert said.

“The present location of the Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage in the premises of Karnataka Exhibition Authority (KEA) Complex in Doddakere Maidan, is not suitable for the Department as during Dasara season, the gates are closed. No one is allowed entry and permission has to be sought to enter the Department. Also, surprisingly, one must buy a ticket to enter the Office! There are many such complications.” —Prof. N.S. Rangaraju, Member of INTACH, Mysuru and District Heritage Committee

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