600-year-old Suralu mud palace undergoes partial restoration in Kokkarne

600-year-old Suralu mud palace undergoes partial restoration in Kokkarne

The 600-year-old Suralu mud palace dating back to the Jaina dynasty Tolahar is now being renovated as a part of the process of conserving the traditional culture.

The palace, situated in the midst of a one-acre lush green land, stands as a mute spectator of the bygone era. Attempts are being made by Nirmiti Kendra to conserve the surviving mud palace, although the funds released are sufficient only to partially perform the job.

The palace is divided into 7 separate courtyards comprising Hebbagilu Chavadi, Rajangana, Pattada Chavadi, Perduru Magani Chavadi, Basadi, Goddess Padmavathi Temple and also other spaces such as the bathrooms and toilets, cattle shed, special kitchen and storehouse of paddy and other agricultural crops. Rs 8 lakh has already been spent on the renovation work nearly 8 years ago.

The government has assured a sum of Rs 1.60 crore, of which Rs 1.50 crore has been released. A total of Rs 19 lakh has been spent on the wood restoration. The Hebbagilu or the entrance to the structure, with a legacy of more than 350 years, exemplifies the extraordinary architecture of the ancient era, even in its dilapidated state.

Mud palaces were found in Bailangadi, Bangadi, Moodbidri, Aladangadi, Baraya, Vitla and Padu Panamburu, of which, the palaces in Moodbidri, Aladangadi and Vitla have partially survived the changes in the environment.

The Jain palace had housed about 8 to 9 families of the dynasty. Currently, Sudarshan Shetty, a descendant of the royal family, is in charge of the palace. Director of Nirmiti Kendra, Arun, told mediapersons that the renovation was taken up 3 years ago and will be completed by the end of May.
The renovation will only cover parts of the palace, including the Perduru Magani Chavadi, 3 corridors and the ground and first floors. The entire renovation work will cost Rs 15 crore. Arun said that a proper framework is required to plan the project. The Kannada and Culture department had assigned the work to Nirmiti Kendra, he informed.

Consultant Harish Pai said that renovation works are meticulously undertaken in order to save the essence of the original architecture. To replace the mud, a combination of sugarcane molasses, slake lime and the extract of the leaves of Careya arborea has been used, he said. Cement has not been used for construction.
Substandard work taken up previously has massively affected the beauty of the structure, Pai added. Nearly 25 carpenters, 10 polishers and 10 masons and helpers have been engaged in the work.

He said the wood of the ‘Bhogi’ tree has been used for the roof, while laterite stone, which is a form of compressed earth, has been laid as the flooring. He said the palace structure was designed in such a way as to not allow women to enter the area in the ground floor and the areas were interconnected.

Planks have been used instead of rafters to enhance the beauty of the roof. The entire work has been documented and the structure removed before layering the whole edifice, he said.

He said that the state Archaeology department had taken up the renovation works nearly 18 years ago. However, they could not go forward with the work. Besides, the Hasta Shilpa Trust, Manipal, had also spent Rs 60,000 on the structure. The place is badly in need of a total face-lift for the structure would not last for more than 15 years without renovation, experts say.