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Funds crunch hits restoration of palace

Ganesh Prabhu
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The Mud Palace in Sural village near Udupi.— Photo: Umesh Marpalli
The Mud Palace in Sural village near Udupi.— Photo: Umesh Marpalli

The work on the restoration of the historical 600-year-old Mud Palace in Sural village, about 35 km from Udupi, which began in October 2013, has come to a halt due to lack of funds.

The palace belongs to the House of Tulu Jain Tholahars — the Jain chieftains who were ruling parts of Udupi district — and is said to be have been built in 1511.

The Mud Palace, which is the only one of its kind in the district, is in a dilapidated condition. The palace is not built on any foundation. Hopea-wood and wild jack-wood were used in its construction. Wooden pillars supported the roof, without a single nail being used. The wooden pieces have been interlocked into one another.

The palace occupies about an acre of land. There are “angalas” (open spaces) a “Pattada Chavadi” or the room where the royal durbar was held, and a small shrine of Padmavati Amma.

Efforts to restore the palace which began in the 1990s have hit roadblocks. The latest attempt at restoration, taken up by the Nirmiti Kendra in March 2013, came to a halt in November last year.

The cost of restoration of the entire palace is estimated at Rs. 10 crore. The Nirmiti Kendra, which took up a portion of restoration work, sent an estimate of Rs. 1.6 crore to the Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage.

According to Arun Kumar, Project Director of Nirmiti Kendra, in anticipation of the funds, the Kendra had finished works for Rs 1 crore. “But we had no alternative but to stop the work as there are no funds,” he said.

“There is no indication whether the funds would be released. If it has to be released, it should be done before the end of this financial year,” Mr. Kumar said.

C.G. Betsurmath, Commissioner, Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage, Mysore, said that an amount of Rs. 50 lakh was released in November 2013. “I will release Rs. 50 lakh soon. I do not want the work to be stopped.” The earliest references to the Tholahar dynasty can be found in the stone inscriptions at Sagar (1042), and at Barkur in Udupi district (1139). The Tholahars were prominent till 1691 as testified by a copper plate inscription of Queen Madanadevi Tholaharti.

A descendant of Tholahar family and incharge of the palace Sudarshan Shetty said that he had already spoken to Mr. Reju and the elected representatives on restoration.

“The restoration of the mud palace will make people aware of the rich history of Coastal Karnataka”, said retired teacher and resident of Sural, Shambhu Sherigar.

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