- The Sheshadri Iyer Memorial Hall or the State Public library in Cubbon Park
- The High Court or the Attara Kacheri, Bangalore
Cubbon Park, working as lungs of Bangalore, also houses some deserving heritage monuments. I wrote about the State Public Library and now we move on to the high-court, the Attara Kacheri or the अठारह कचहरी.
The Mysore Ruler Chikkadevaraja was quite influenced by the administration of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Adopting his administrative skill and style, he also divided the governance into eighteen departments like civil and military accounts, custom department, IB, treasury department. Tipu Sultan continued with the same. After Tipu, even the British continued with the same. Initially the offices of these eighteen departments under British also operated from Tipu’s Summer Palace of Srirangpatnam; soon these Revenue and General Secretariat expanded quite a lot and the Summer Palace could not accommodate all of them, so it was decided to move them here in this area of Cubbon Park.
Mr L.B Bowring, who took over as commissioner after Mark Cubbon and continued for eight years from 1862 to 1870 AD, visualized and planned the construction of this spread out handsome building for the Secretariat. Bangalore also remembers Mr Bowring for bringing the railway line from Madras to Bangalore. The construction of Attara Kacheri was done under the supervision of Arcot Narayanswami Mudaliar. The constructed of this building started in 1864 and was completed in 1868. The total cost of construction was around Rs 4.5 Lakhs.
What we see from inside the Cubbon Park, the so-called backside of the Court, was originally the front-side of the High Court facing Cubbon Park. The Judges arrived to the main-gate of this calm, quiet and tranquil area, in their horse-drawn chariots, got down here and walked over to their offices. An Annexe was built-in its North-East corner in 1917 and the current front portion of the high court was built Forty-Five years later. It was an exact replica of the previous building facing the Cubbon park. Initially, after India’s independence this building even housed Karnataka’s legislative assembly.
There is an interesting story behind the construction of Vidhansaudha. In 1950, a Russian delegation visited Karnataka and they were taken on tour by then chief minister of Karnataka, Kengal Hanumanthaiah. The Russians were shown the impressive Colonial buildings but they appeared unimpressed and then one of them asked Mr Hanumanthaiah, “Do you have any new building that is based on impressive Indian Architecture?” This comment pinched the chief minister and the foundation of current VidhanSaudha was laid down in 1952 and the construction was complete in four-year in 1956. Its architect Shri B R Manickam designed Vidhan Saudha as an amalgamation of Dravidian, Mughal and Rajasthani architectural style.
The high court building was designed in classical Greco-Roman style that is conspicuous in its pillars, arches, decorated ceiling walls and open verandas. The high court has open extended verendah in front to keep the interiors of the building cool. It has projected sides with lesser elevation to define and highlight the center. The work was done with lime and mortar. This also helped in giving shape to desired moldings. Pankaj, our guide for the day, opened his bag to show us the tools that were used to get these moldings, with measures of 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 unit system .
In 1982 there was a proposal to demolish this structure. A few alert citizens of the city protested against the idea and filed a PIL (Public Interest Litigation). It was the first PIL to be filed in Karnataka High-Court to save its own High-Court building from imminent demolition. The case was heard in the same building and in 1984, the judgement was delivered against the demolition.
A walk from the high court towards the State Archaeological Museum takes us to a bandstand. This bandstand was originally constructed near Saint Mark Cathedral. When a need was felt to vacate the area, the bandstand was dismantled and shifted to Cubbon Park. In the olden days the Royal Air force Band used to play here. Even today many performances take place here.
It is impossible to miss the typical red color of all these buildings in and around the Cubbon Park – the high court, the state library and the Archaeological Museum.
These buildings of Nineteenth Century were specially painted in Pompeian Red on the orders of Richard Sankey. This color was the sensational fashion of that time after discovery of Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The vivid frescoes in these two towns were found in the dark Red. They were originally painted in ochre, but when Mount Vesuvius erupted, the gases emitted from it reacted with their original color and converted them into deep red. The Pompeian red became the most admired color of the time and the British too wanted to use the new rage hue in their work.
There are so many interesting things related to any monument, even the choice of the color of a building may narrate a story, tell about a tradition 🙂 I would like to end this trip here. We also entered inside the Archaeological Museum, but I feel it deserves another visit and we would visit it some other day exploring it in more details.