A section of the residents are opposed to the announcement of Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy that the century-old Nanjaraja Bahadur Choultry, in the heart of the city, would be demolished for the expansion of Maharani’s Women’s Arts College.
C Krishnappa, president of the management committee of the choultry, said, it is not so easy to demolish the heritage building. When his attention was drawn towards the CM’s statement that steps will be taken to avert any legal issue, Krishnappa said, it is unfortunate that the government is attempting to erase history. The lands of the choultry have already been given to many government departments, including the recent grant of 30-year lease, of one acre of land, to Maharani’s College for the construction of a hostel building, he pointed out.
He said, Nanjaraja Bahadur, a philanthropist, had donated Rs 50,000 for the building that was constructed at a cost of Rs 63,547 on the 10-acre plot. “The then government, of Tenth Chamaraja Wadiyar, had issued the order on June 26, 1883, that the building be built for the benefit of visitors to the city. The government had appointed the Nanjaraja Bahadur Chatram Fund Committee, of six prominent citizens, for the purpose,” he said. Krishnappa said, the apathy of the officials concerned, over the years, resulted in the present condition of the choultry. “We, in the management committee, are taking steps to evict encroachments and are also preparing a master plan for the overall development of the heritage building and also its premises. We have plans to construct a commercial complex on a portion of the land, to generate revenue for the maintenance of the heritage building and its environment in a healthy way,” he said.
Echanuru Kumar, a chronicler, said, some vested interests are behind the decision to raze down the Nanjaraja Bahadur Choultry. “The works on the first portion of the choultry was completed in 1890. Nanjaraja Bahadur, a descendant of Dalvoy Nanjarajaiah, was an alumnus of the Maharaja’s College. He also funded the establishment of the Dalvoy School, behind the Mysuru City Corporation building,” he recalls.
“During the first part of the 19th century, there was Sachidananda Chatram on the banks of the JK (Jakkarayana) Lake, now JK Grounds. Once, it was demolished, the government of the Wadiyar kings decided to build a similar building near the railway station for the benefit of passengers. Thus, Nanjaraja Bahadur Choultry was built,” he said.
“The choultry is like a memorial for Nanjaraja Bahadur. If the building is demolished, it is like erasing history. It is a great disservice to the heritage city. Considering the service and age of the building, it should be conserved for the future generations,” he said.
“In 1897, when the old Mysuru Palace was gutted in a fire mishap, some of the belongings of the Wadiyars was stored in Nanjaraja Bahadur Choultry, while the members of the royal family resided in Jaganmohan Palace. When the present building of Sri Brahmatantra Swatantra Parakala Mutt was constructed during the later part of the 19th century, the seer and the mutt was shifted to a portion of Nanjaraja Bahadur Choultry. Besides being the venue for a lot of weddings and serving tourists, the Nanjaraja Bahadur Choultry is also featured in many movies,” Kumar recalls.