Shameful example of how we handle Heritage
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Shameful example of how we handle Heritage

October 31, 2019

A contrast of Vasanth Mahal and Karanji Mansion…

As I was on my morning walk yesterday at Nazarbad Police Station Circle, the Karanji Vilas Palace (also called Karanji Mansion) that houses the Postal Training Centre of the Union Government attracted my attention. The heritage building seems to be maintained well as the structure has retained its heritage characteristics in all its glory, even as it underwent periodic renovations.

Just a few steps away is the beautifully designed Vasanth Mahal which stands on a 36-acre landscape and nestled amidst lush green ambience. Vasanth Mahal Palace was built in 1842 by the then ruler of Mysuru. The speciality of this Palace is that it is front portion is made of soft iron. While one can enter Vasanth Mahal freely without any restrictions, the case with Karanji Mansion is altogether different as one has to take prior permission to enter this secured Palace.

I observed that the beautiful Vasanth Mahal Palace is fast slipping into dilapidation due to poor maintenance and neglect. As a result, pieces of the structure are coming apart almost every day. Here one can see the difference in priorities when it comes to maintenance. 

Teachers least bothered

While the Karanji Mahal Palace houses the Union Government’s Postal Training Centre, the Vasanth Mahal houses the District Institute of Education and Training (DIET) run by the State Government. 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.

When officials from the Central Government are showing keenness in the proper maintenance of Karanji Mahal, the State officials seem to be in deep slumber, least bothered about the state of the building. The officials could have engaged the DIET students who are future teachers, in the conservation and maintenance of Vasanth Mahal. But it seems that no such efforts have been made. 

Heritage Committee must step in

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It is high time that the District Heritage Committee that is entrusted with the responsibility of conserving heritage structures in city steps in and takes urgent measures to save Vasanth Mahal from further deterioration. Heritage activists too must raise their voice.

What is satisfying to note here is that many heritage structures in city that come under the purview of Union Government, including the Cheluvamba Mansion which houses the main building of the famed CFTRI (Central Food and Technological Research Institute), is being maintained properly with the officials also ensuring that the original heritage characteristics are retained. 

Fix responsibilities

Compared to this, the heritage structures under the State Government are crying for attention and it is high time the Government fixed responsibility. Also the people of Mysuru, who are known as heritage lovers, must take the lead in pressurising the State Government to act and take necessary steps to conserve Vasanth Mahal.

The Vasanth Mahal Palace, which was originally built for pleasure, was later turned into a special school and at present it houses DIET. After entering the Palace, one can see a large portico which connects the other parts of the building. 

Tuscan Style Architecture 

The first floor resembles the ground floor. The huge, oval-shaped hall was used as 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.

The Karanji Vilas Palace that faces the magnificent Karanji Lake was built by Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar in 1902, probably for his sister Krishnarajammanni. This Palace has been called Karanji Vilas Palace as it adjoins the sprawling Lake. This Palace has Indo-Greek architecture and its windows are of Rajasthani style with lotus flower carvings.  

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By R. Raghu Kautilya

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