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Heritage mantapas torn down in Basavanagudi

Activists and citizens call for measures to keep tabs on unchecked demolition
Last Updated : 17 March 2023, 10:55 IST
Last Updated : 17 March 2023, 10:55 IST
Last Updated : 17 March 2023, 10:55 IST
Last Updated : 17 March 2023, 10:55 IST

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Earlier this week, Bengalureans’ attention was drawn to the demolition of a twin heritage structure in Basavanagudi. Aishwarya Ananthkumar, a city-based lawyer, took to Twitter to talk about BBMP’s decision to raze two mantapas located on the stretch between Ashoka Pillar and RV Teacher’s College.

The tweet, which has received 1.47 lakh views, amplified the call for a commission to put an end to unchecked destruction of heritage buildings.

What happened

A few days ago, residents of the locality noticed that two mantapas built in the middle of the road were brought down by the BBMP. “That road was shut for some time due to road work or upgradation, and I presume this demolition was part of it,” says Aishwarya.

The history

It is unclear when exactly the structures were built, but heritage conservationists, residents and activists claim that it was at least 40 years old. “I remember driving by it in the 80s, when I was a kid,” says Praveen Singh, a former resident of Basavanagudi and founder of Hidden Gems Tours, which specialises in heritage walking tours of Bengaluru neighbourhoods.

According to Aishwarya, it was an extension of Lalbagh. “It is similar to the structures inside Lalbagh. If you look closely, you can see that these
twin mantapas were miniature versions of the bandstand. I think they were erected around the same time,” she says.

Cause and effect

Priya Chetty Rajagopal, founder of Heritage Beku, calls it ‘a random act of cruelty.’ “I do not understand the need to bring down something with history that was not causing any harm,” she says.

While Meera Iyer, convenor of INTACH, Bengaluru chapter, is also not sure of its origins, she states that the demolition is uncalled for. “Some say it’s 15 years old, some say it’s much older. No matter the age, I do not think it was necessary to raze it to the ground,” she says.

The solution

Priya brings up Krumbiegel Hall, a century-old building in Lalbagh. Initially marked for restoration, it was bulldozed after authorities deemed it to be ‘beyond repair’ in 2017. “It shows an indifference and disregard for history and culture,” Priya states, adding that a ward-level heritage manifesto is the need of the hour so that ‘there are a thousand eyes keeping tabs on preservation and
these activities.’

“Currently, I’m concerned about the Ferdinand Kittel Park opposite Mayo Hall. A friend spotted a JCB digging it up the other day and the fencing seemed to have been removed,” she reveals.

Aishwarya calls for the setting up of a heritage commission. “When the BBMP makes decisions, if there are heritage buildings involved, they will first have to get the approval of the commission before proceeding with the work,” she says.

BBMP officials who Metrolife tried to contact were unavailable for comment.

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Published 16 March 2023, 19:08 IST

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