Restoration of heritage Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion
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Restoration of heritage Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion

January 4, 2024

Mysore University alumnus pledges Rs. 30 crore; MoU signed

Funds from Mumbai-based Harish and Bina Shah Foundation; Execution by UK-based Deccan Heritage Foundation

Mysore/Mysuru: The Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion at Manasagangothri campus in city got a fresh fund push with a commitment of Rs. 30 crore to restore the former royal abode to its original glory.

University of Mysore (UoM) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Harish and Bina Shah Foundation of Mumbai to take up the restoration works. The Foundation will fund Rs. 30 crore and UK-based Deccan Heritage Foundation (DHF) will execute the works.

Vice-Chancellor Prof. N.K. Lokanath exchanged the MoU with Harish, an alumnus of the varsity who came forward to fund the cause. Harish is into pharmacy and other Industries in Mumbai. He graduated from Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT), Manipal, earlier under UoM in 1980.

Harish, flanked by his wife Bina said, “Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion is a magnificent structure in a beautiful city like Mysuru and we were keen on infusing funds towards restoration.”

The UoM had allocated a portion of the Mansion for the Centre of Excellence for Studies in Classical Kannada (CESCK). Unfortunately, they did not establish the office within the specified one-year period.

“To avoid any potential issues that may arise from further delays in the restoration of the building, we have opted to seek contributions from interested individuals to fund the necessary restoration works. The commencement of these works is imminent and the entire restoration process is estimated to span five to seven years,” Prof. Lokanath said.

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A committee of experts will oversee the restoration works as per heritage norms. Earlier too, the same Mansion was restored at the cost of Rs. 1.17 crore, with funds donated by Infosys Foundation. The works were taken up in 2002 and completed in 2006.

Picture shows US Consul General, Chennai, Christopher W. Hodges (centre) holding MoU copy on the restoration works of Jayalakshmi Vilas Folklore Museum as (from left) UoM Finance Officer Rekha, Latha Reddy, Prof. N.K. Lokanath, V.R. Shylaja, Deccan Heritage Foundation Founder Dr. Helen Philon and Co-founder Stephane Bloch Saloz look on.

Folklore Museum

The UoM also announced the ongoing US-funded conservation efforts at the Folklore Museum housed at Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion, with the US Mission in India.

This project, funded by US Government’s Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP), has already taken up the conservation of the West Wing of Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion Folklore Museum building and over 6,500 artefacts. DHF is implementing the works which are expected to be                                            completed by 2025.

US Consul General Chennai Christopher W. Hodges said, “The conservation project is yet another testament to America’s friendship and respect for the people of India and its rich cultural heritage.”

He added, “Widespread community engagement is at the heart of all of our AFCP projects. The US. The Mission India AFCP grant of 300,000 dollars to UoM is the second largest AFCP grant awarded in India in the last 20 years. The AFCP project in Mysuru will bring together conservation and museum experts, architects and designers and skilled crafts people-all with a shared passion for preserving cultural heritage.”

Prof. Lokanath said “The restored Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion Folklore Museum will not only add to the tourist attractions of Mysuru, but will serve as a centre for research and higher learning for scholars focused on ethnographic traditions of Karnataka.”

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He also recalled that the Varsity had received another grant from US Consulate General Chennai in 2012 towards the conservation of Oriental Research Institute (ORI) and its priceless collection of 40,000 ancient palm leaf manuscripts and books. The restored ORI building was inaugurated by former U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Verma in 2015.

DHF India Chairperson Ambassador Latha Reddy said, “We envision to establish best practices in architectural restoration and object preservation to create an inclusive polysemic museum that is sustainable in its operations.”

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