A silver lining on heritage conservation in the ‘City of Palaces’

The majestic bungalow that was the residence of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan — when he was a professor and taught Philosophy at the University of Mysore — has been restored to its original glory.

Slated for inauguration on Saturday, this is the first positive news of significance on the heritage conservation front in a city that suffered the shock of the collapse of another landmark structure in Lansdowne Building early this year.

Over 100 years old

The structure, popularly called Radhakrishnan’s Bungalow, at Saraswathipuram is reckoned to have been in existence for more than 100 years and was constructed even before the University of Mysore came into being in 1916.

All norms followed

N.S. Rangaraju of the Department of Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Mysore — who closely monitored the restoration of the structure — told The Hindu that all conservation norms and principles were followed.

“There was no replica for the original materials, including lime mortar and tiles used for roofing, and hence these were handmade to the original specifications at the site itself,” said Professor Rangaraju.

Ramshackle structure

The structure was dilapidated — the portico had collapsed and a portion of the ceiling was on the verge of collapse. The outhouse too had collapsed, while the pillars of the main building were damaged, Professor Rangaraju said.

But in view of the structure’s association with Radhakrishnan, it was deemed fit to restore the building and it was made possible due to the munificence of M.R. Doreswamy, MLC and founder president of PES Educational Institutions. He contributed Rs. 78 lakh for the purpose.

Museum on the anvil?

The university plans to convert the structure as a museum, besides establishing a research centre with focus on the philosopher President.

From the university’s perspective, this is the second major conservation exercise associated with it. The Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion, which houses the folklore museum, was restored in 2001-02 with funding by Infosys Foundation.

Interestingly, the Professors’ Quarters, next to Radhakrishnan’s Bungalow, is also being restored. It will be the headquarters of the Indian Heritage Cities Network.