Mysore royal family scion bats for preserving city's built heritage

Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar recalled the contribution of his ancestors, who were patrons of art, culture, education and architecture.

The current scion of the Mysore royal family, which built iconic forts and palaces during its rule, has pitched for preserving the heritage of Bengaluru, including the now-threatened Asiatic building.

Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar, on Thursday, inaugurated an INTACH project to restore the 111-year-old Fort High School at its premises and recalled the contribution of his ancestors, who were patrons of art, culture, education and architecture.

"Buildings like the Fort School were built by our ancestors, but this heritage is not just our family's legacy, but people's legacy. And, we all must celebrate it together," Wadiyar told PTI.

The 26-year-old royal scion, a graduate of the University of Massachusetts in the US, was two years ago anointed as the new Maharaja of Mysore, the titular head of the over 600-year-old Wadiyar dynasty.

From Mysore, the seat of the family, to Bengaluru, the successive rulers built some of the most beautiful architectural splendours that dot the two cities, such as the Mysore Palace, Oriental Research Institute, Lansdowne Bazaar in Mysore (now officially known as Mysuru); and Bangalore Palace, among other buildings here.

The British also constructed several architectural landmarks in Bengaluru, where it had a resident administrator.

Chamarajendra Wadiyar and his son Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar were great patrons of art and culture, and several famous landmarks in both the cities owe their existence to them.

"Post-independence, however, the glory of many of these landmarks faded, while some were lost, replaced by modern structures in the name of development. And, the latest heritage building facing demolition threat is the Asiatic building," city-based conservation architect Yashaswini Sharma said.

Wadiyar said Bengaluru was a charming city, filled with beautiful buildings and public gardens and fountains, and it "pains me to see Bangalore (now Bengaluru) losing its heritage and charm".

"We lost the Krumbiegel Hall last year that stood in Lalbagh Garden. It should have been preserved. And, the Asiatic building deserves to be protected for its architectural style.

"Nothing wrong in building modern buildings, but not by erasing our built heritage. I am happy that Fort High School restoration would allow children also to appreciate the value of heritage and care for it," he said.

The school building, constructed on a plot next to Tipu Sultan's palace here in 1907, represents the Mysorean design that was brought into the architectural vocabulary of buildings being erected in the 1900s.

"The restoration by INTACH would be carried out over a period of one year with a cost of Rs 2.5 crore, said Meera Iyer, Bengaluru Chapter's Co-convener of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

The Asiatic building, currently housing the Janatha Bazaar, was inaugurated in 1935 by Yuvaraja Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wadiyar, the son of Chamarajendra Wadiyar.

Several local heritage activists had staged a protest recently against the proposed demolition move and the INTACH's Bengaluru Chapter has also sent a petition to the PWD here appealing to preserve the building.

"All the ideals, wants, aspirations of our collective ancestors, of the architects and government, were poured into making those buildings at that time. Preserving and reinvigorating them is important so that we can pass on this heritage to future generations," he said. 

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