Bangalore Gate restoration on track

Bangalore Gate restoration on track

A tree growing out of the roof posed a challenge during the restoration of Bangalore Gate, a British-era building that dates back at least 100 years

Bangalore Gate, a 100-year-old historical structure that had remained in ruins for decades, will be fully restored by March.

Metrolife visited the site on Mysuru Road, four months after it had first reported on the heritage structure.

Bengaluru City Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao, who initiated the restoration and handed over the work to the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach), Bengaluru, says work is progressing according to schedule.

The building is in the premises of the Karnataka State Reserve Police headquarters, only a 10-minute drive from the KSR City Railway Station.

Pankaj Modi, technical coordinator for restoration, Intach, says the building is easily 100 years old because records show it existed in the 1920s. “Maps from 1870, however, don’t show the building,” he says.

The building has a central dome and three rooms surrounding it. This contributes to its unique shape, Modi told Metrolife.

The renovation is funded by Basant Poddar, director of Bengaluru-based K L Poddar and Sons. An old Bengalurean, Poddar has a penchant for all things antique.

Challenges involved

The biggest challenge in restoring the British-era building was the removal of a large peepal tree growing out of its roof. The roots had penetrated the walls and occupied most of the roof, thus weakening the structure. “This disturbed the structure. Cracks had developed and the roof had partly collapsed. After strengthening the building, we started restoring the rooms and the roof, and closing the cracks in the arches,” says Modi.

Did the restorers have to demolish any part of the building? “Yes. We had to open the roof part by part because the tree had punctured it. We had to dismantle parts of the structure that were unstable,” he explains.

UK firm consulted

Intach hired a UK-based company, Helifix, which specialises in strengthening structures, especially those with stone and brick masonry. “Stainless steel rods are used to strengthen the building. We wanted to adopt this strategy because we didn’t want to dismantle large portions of the building,” says Modi.

Helifix India, based in Gujarat, sent a team to Bengaluru for the restoration. Nimish Makadia, director of the company, says, “We have a team that specialises in stitching cracks. We use stainless steel in patented bars that are 6 mm in size. These are flexible and help stone and brick buildings to move. Any other material only stiffens the structure. We have used this technology to strengthen more than 80 structures across the country,” he says. He admits the restoration of Bangalore Gate was complicated because of the vegetation.

Neglected for decades  

Many historians believe Bangalore Gate was used to track the movement of people and horse carts between Bengaluru and Mysuru.

S Raghunath, professor with the Department of Civil Engineering at BMS College of Engineering, assessed the condition of the building before work began.

“We found that the foundation and soil of Bangalore Gate were good. The walls were badly damaged because of the growth of the tree. It had led to a lot of distress in the walls,” says Raghunath.

The building was in disuse and was filled with all kinds of trash and debris. “We had to first remove the vegetation. Along with the tree came a big chunk of the wall,” he says. Raghunath points out that regular maintenance is necessary to ensure the longevity of such buildings. “The first thing is to ensure that water does not stagnate, and vegetation does not grow. It is also important to not keep the building empty,” suggests Raghunath.  

A city’s pride 

Naresh Narasimhan, architect and urban designer, says people take pride in a city because of its heritage.

“It is a huge contributor to a sense of belonging and pride. Iconic structures give citizens a sense of identity,” he says.

For Bengaluru, identity comes from Lalbagh and Cubbon Park and for New York, from Central Park, he says.
“It is important to hold on to these things, because it reminds people that the city was not born yesterday. Most people think Bangalore and Infosys started at the same time. Bangalore is older than Chennai, Mumbai, and Kolkata. It is 482 years old,” explains Naresh.

He recommends heritage buildings be reassigned for contemporary purposes. “These buildings can be reused. NGMA was an old bungalow, Opera House on Brigade Road is now the Samsung Opera House. These beautiful structures remind you that there once stood another world. Heritage buildings ensure a sense of continuity and civic pride,” says Naresh.
  

Rs 50 lakh

Approximate cost of restoration
(According to Pankaj Modi, technical coordinator for restoration, Intach)

Where

The building is near Royan Circle on Mysore Road. It is in a compound that also houses the Karnataka State Reserve Police headquarters, just a 10-minute drive from the KSR City railway station.

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