Victoria Hospital may not have seen as many years as Tipu’s fort or the Kote Venkataramana temple next door, but it has a history replete with generous patrons, medical discoveries, and spectral residents that make for a rich haul of fascinating stories.
The hospital was built during the reign of the Maharani Regent of Mysore, Kempa Nanjammani Vani Vilasa Sannidhana (the mother of Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar) who laid the foundation stone for the hospital in 1897 to mark the completion of 60 years of Queen Victoria’s rule. Victoria Hospital was inaugurated in 1900 by Lord Curzon, then the Viceroy of India.
Built in Victorian Gothic style, the complex of stone buildings retains the original wards, built on the pavilion system. The main building has sloping iron-crested towers, similar to the ones seen in K.R. Market.
Victoria Hospital’s main building has a number of interesting features, including a general library that can be accessed by patients and their relatives, a large portrait of Queen Victoria, and a gallery containing the portraits of all superintendents of the hospital since it began.
An artery of one’s own
There are plenty of stories surrounding the hospital, just waiting to be told. For instance, of the men whose portraits line the walls of the entrance hall, T. Sheshachalam, superintendent of the hospital from 1939 to 1949, has a blood vessel named after him; he discovered the artery that supplies blood to the appendix, now called ‘artery of Sheshachalam’.
Here’s another: the unimpressive-looking burns unit of the hospital has made its way into case studies and medical textbooks for its efficient handling of the victims burned in the Venus Circus fire of 1981, which claimed 92 lives and injured 300 more.
Hungry, thirsty spirits
Interestingly, for a place that sees so much death and tragedy, the ghost stories told about the hospital are rather benign, and are definitely not of the Gothic variety. A media report from a few years ago mentions a “hungry ghost” in the vicinity of the morgue that polished off a packet of biryani, while former medical students will tell you about a ghost that haunted a tree above the spot where a tea stall once stood. This ghost’s modus operandi? Taunting postgraduate students on the night shift by drinking up their tea when they weren’t looking.