Rare sculptures unearthed in house marked for demolition in Mysore

Rare sculptures unearthed in house marked for demolition in Mysore

On a rainy Friday, when Puttaswamy Gowda made preparations to demolish his hundred-year-old house at Hoskeri, KR Mohalla, in the heart of the city, little did he know that he would chance upon antiquity dating back to the 13th-14th centuries.

Demolition workers, inching their way to the flooring of his home on a lazy afternoon on June 7, literally chanced upon ten precious sculptures, all buried a foot underneath the flooring. Gowda, who was present when the discovery was made, was staggered by the find.

“At first I couldn’t believe my eyes,” he said. “But when the workers started unearthing more sculptures I started to become worried. I wasn’t sure if the find was a good or a bad omen. I immediately consulted a priest who said that the find was indeed a good sign.”

Unlike most people who would have tried to cash in on the situation or would have preferred to remain indifferent, Gowda did the best thing possible: he contacted the State Archaeology department, piled the sculptures into an auto and delivered them to the departmental headquarters at the Exhibition Ground. The sculptures are representations of ‘Mahishamardini’, ‘Vishnu’ (with sankalpachakra), ‘Daksha Bramha’ (sheep-headed son of Bramha), ‘Bhairavamurthy’, ‘Durga’, and those of ‘Mastigallus’ and ‘Veeragallus.’

Lack of care

But while Gowda may have treated the sculptures with care, officials at the State Archaeology department seem to have neglected them. The sculptures are not being given any special treatment by the department. They have been kept in a dingy storeroom at the department building for lack of any other place to display them. It may well be over two years before the sculptures find a decent abode.

R Gopal, Director, State Archaeology department, however, told Deccan Herald that the sculptures are important and date back to the periods between the Hoysalas and the Wadiyars. “It is an important discovery for there have been no such archaeological finds in the city in the recent past,” he said. “There have been accidental finds of such sculptures or inscriptions from around Mysore, but not within the city itself.”

He promised that the sculptures will put up on display once the department readies a gallery, but warned that there could be delays. “The department has placed a proposal before the government to set up a gallery in Mysore, to display paintings, inscriptions, sculptures and archaeological finds,” he said. “But the proposal is yet to take off. We are hoping that it will materialise in the next two years.”

An excited local historian, P V Nanjaraj Urs, speculated that the sculptures belonged to a ‘palegara’ (an area commander of the Princely state). Between 1897 and 1923, Mysore state had been witness to persistent outbreaks of plague. “Until then, the township was within the fort of the palace. But after the outbreak of plague, the township was moved outside the fort. Since Hoskeri is within the periphery of the palace fort, the sculptures could have either belonged to a temple, or they could have adorned the house of a ‘palegara’,” he said.

Gowda, who had originally been living at the home as a renter, purchased the 20 by 22 ft property from the original owner in 2002. He had later leased the house for about 12 years, before coming to the decision to demolish the building because it was in a “run down” condition.

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