Bejai museum awaits a facelift

Bejai museum awaits a facelift

Road to the future uncertain, as the heritage building remains uncared for

The Seemanthibai Memorial Government Museum has been neglected and the magnificent edifice is drifting away from the memory of Mangaloreans, owing to lack of publicity.

The museum – which is simply referred to as Bejai museum – is situated atop a hill, at Battagudda area of Bejai, a few furlongs away from the Bejai main road. Also, the building is still recognised as ‘Mirajkar Bungalow’, by the local people, as it was originally the residence of Col V R Mirajkar, who served as a doctor in the Indian Army during British Raj. He had built the magnificent two-storied bungalow for his mother Seemanthibai.

She passed away in 1944 and Col Mirajkar handed over the bungalow to the Indian Government in 1956. The government converted it into a museum in 1960, where the collections of Col Mirajkar were placed – and the collection kept growing. The museum, which is now under the Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage, Government of Karnataka, has been named after the late Seemanthibai.

Very few citizens are aware of the historical significance of the museum and the wide range of collections that it holds. One of the reasons is the lack of publicity, the other being bad roads which lead to the museum. Although the museum lies well within the administrative limits of the Mangalore City Corporation, the local administration has not taken any care to develop the road leading to the museum. People who visit the museum on vehicles are forced to have a bumpy ride, due to the pathetic condition of the road.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Mangaluru South MLA J R Lobo said that he has brought the problems to the notice of the concerned authorities and pressed for allocation of funds in the State budget for the development of the museum, which also includes the repair of the roads. He visited the museum two months back.

Sathish, junior executive engineer with the Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage, Government of Karnataka, told the Deccan Heraldthat for the year 2015-16, funds of Rs 47 lakh were sanctioned and several works including the installation of CCTV cameras, construction of ramp for physically disabled, repair of windows, painting, repair of the water fountain and other minor works have been taken up.

Dhanalakshmi, curator of the Seemanthibai Memorial Government Museum, said that there was requirement of staff in the museum. “One post of assistant curator, two posts of monument attendants are lying vacant. Correspondences have been made to the concerned in this regard. At present there are four security guards, two D group staff, one clerk and a monument attendant,” she said, adding that she has also written to the Mangaluru City Corporation regarding the repair of the roads.

The curator further said that the publications of the Department of Archaeology are also available in the museum for sale and these books serve as good reference material for research students.

“Monday is the holiday for the museum and on an average 250-300 visitors come to the museum every month. Schoolchildren too visit the museum, as part of their school trip, on several occasions,” she added.

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