Bangalore's colonial heritage

Bangalore's colonial heritage

The city of Bangalore is home to many archaic buildings that have either been lost in time or modernised, writes S Narayanaswamy

Bangalore is a modern cosmopolitan city. Yet, it is dotted with many heritage buildings of the colonial era, known for their architecture, antiquity and aesthetics. Many of them have become public spaces today.

The Bangalore Palace was built by Rev John Garret, who was the first Principal of the Central High School, now known as Central College.

The construction of the palace started in 1862 and was completed in 1944. In 1884, it was bought by the then Maharaja of Mysore, Chamarajendra Wodeyar X. The palace itself is constructed in the Tudor style of architecture.

In the 1850s, the Balabrooie Guest House was home to Sir Mark Cubbon who was the then chief commissioner of Bangalore. Balabrooie means river bank farm. Perhaps Cubbon named it so, as he hailed from Isle of Man, where a number of residences are named the same way.

The Carlton House on Palace Road is a classic European style building. It was at one time, the office of Sir Mirza Ismail, Dewan of the then Mysore State.

The Carlton house was built about 100 years ago by a certain Carlton, who ran a successful auctioneers firm in the City and who lived in it for few years before selling it to the Government of Mysore. Today, it is the headquarters of the Corps of Detective (CoD).

Archaic structures

The Beaulieu, which houses the office of the Chief Post Master General of Karnataka, was built and owned by Lancelot Ricketts, the then Director of Agriculture. The name Beaulieu is derived from a Latin word bellius locus, meaning beautiful place. Lancelot Ricketts was the original owner of Beaulieu. 

Ricketts was, in fact, born and brought up in Bangalore and was baptised in the City on September 20, 1832. He built the building at the centre of vast grounds abutting the Cubbon Park, and named it Beaulieu, perhaps in memory of his native farm house of England. The Beaulieu estate of Bangalore was built across 24 acres originally. 

The Avalon on Bellary Road near Palace Grounds was the residence of the sister of Maharaja of Mysore. It is now the head quarters of National Tuberculosis Institute. The Institute was established in 1959 by the Government of India in the Avalon building made available by the erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore. 

Raj Bhavan originally served as the residence of commissioners. Later, it was the home of many British residents. Today, it is the Governor’s residence.

The Windsor Lodge in High Grounds is the place were Sir Mirza Ismail lived after retirement. It gave way to the water storage ground tank, just opposite the old high ground police station, where there is an ornamental building and a equally ornamental tank.

The Mayo Hall was built in memory of Lord Mayo, Viceroy and Governor General of India in 1870s, who was killed in Burma. Now it houses corporation offices and also a museum of Kempegowda, the founder of Bangalore.

The High Court is located in a Graeco-Roman style two-storied building called Attara Kacheri (eighteen offices).

The construction of the building was supervised by Rao Bahadur Arcot Narayanaswami Mudaliar and completed in the year 1868. It was earlier named as Old Public Offices and got its current name when the 18 

departments in the general and revenue secretariat of the Mysore Government were shifted here from their crowded premises in Tipu Sultan’s summer palace.

Park House was part of the Residency Park area. It used to be the Resident’s Secretary and Cantonment collector’s house. At present, it houses the offices of Karnataka Public Services Commission.

The Jayamahal Palace Hotel was owned by the royal family of Gondal of Gujarat state. It was built by Ami Jagirdar (Maratha Brahmins of Arcot District of Tamil Nadu).

It was called Ami House till it was purchased by Maharaja of Mysore in 1920’s, and it was gifted to one of the princesses of Mysore. It was purchased by Maharaja Bhojraj of Gondal, a princely state in Gujarat and became his residence. 

Royal residencies

The KCN Bhavan near Hotel Janardan, was once owned by V P Madava Rao, the hen Dewan of Mysore. It was called Pattan Bhavan till it was purchased by KCN Gowda and family, the movie producers of Bangaarada Manushya fame.

Kumara Krupa, now a guest house of the state hospitality wing, was built by Dewan Sir M Seshadri Iyer in 1890s. Hence the name Kumara Park was given to the area around it.

The building which could not be traced is the Gouri Mahal in the pete or fort of Bangalore. It was once the residence of Shahaji, the Maratha Chieftain and father of celebrated Shivaji — who lived here for two years before he founded the Maratha kingdom.

Hyder Ali, the Fouzdar and Jahagirdar of Bangalore, did not have his own house to live in Bangalore in his earlier days. The existing palace of Tipu was built in 1790s. Hyder Ali expired in 1882 in a war tent near Chittoor.

The V V Tower or Visvesvaraya Tower, was built in 1980s by the Government. Sir M Visvesvaraya lived in that building during his last days in Bangalore. 

Bowring Institute was the place where St Mark’s Square existed prior to 1880s. Around it, all social, cultural and shopping activities were conducted by families from cantonment. Bowring Institute was founded in 1868 by B L Rice, Director of Public Instruction, Mysore. 

Unfortunately, some monumental buildings have disappeared into oblivion, but their memory still haunts some of the historians. The Darwinia in Lalbagh, perhaps, one of the first buildings to have been built in Lalbagh, was the curator’s office for three decades.

Later, it was modified into two restaurants; one for natives and the other for foreign visitors to Lalbagh. The very name Darwinia excites scientists, for he was the founder of the theory of evolution.

Charles Darwin brought forth his theory in 1859. It was pulled down in 1956 for developing Charbagh garden  and to commemorate Centenary of the Lalbagh Botanical Garden.

The Sudarshan Guest House, which was a hostel for MLAs of opposition parties and also for MLCs till 1990s, was for some time owned by AG’s office. But it is now no longer there. Today, Vikas Souda stands in its place.

The historic old GPO, a one-storey building built in 1805, existed till 1980. It was demolished, and it now hosts a five-storied building. 

Bangalore has in its ambit many building and structures of historical importance. Some buildings have disappeared. Some have been replaced by many modern and ultra-modern structures dotting the skyscape and landscape of the city. Antiquity and modernity have been embedded in to the city of Bangalore. 

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