A passionate restoration

The present generation of the Sajjan Rao’s family has been restoring whatever their predecessors had given to the city


After S.L. Mannaji Rao, it was the turn of his son, S.M Ramakrishna Rao, to carry forward the baton of charitable services dedicated to Bengaluru, started by S. Sajjana Rao. Next to Satyanarayana Swamy Temple was a vacant land allotted to build another choultry. It was decided to undertake the task and the foundation stone was laid by Sri Dharma Vira the Governor of Karnataka State for Sree Satyanarayana Swamy Kalyana Mantap on January 20, 1972. It took more than a decade for the building to come up. Finally on January 23, 1984 it was inaugurated by the Seer of Sringeri, Shri Shri Abhinava Vidyateertha Mahaswamiji, presided over by the Chief Minister Ramakrishna Hegde and the Chief Guest was the ex-governor, Dharma Vira.

Yet another vacant land at the present Jain Temple Street, Visvesvarapuram was being used to grow flowering plants to procure flowers for Sri Subrahmanya Swamy Temple. S. Sajjana Rao had catered to the medical, religious and social needs of the city. Next, he would have chosen the sphere of education.

To fulfil this requirement, an alternative source for the flowers to the temple was arranged and a Kannada medium school was started for the benefit of, particularly for the children of economically weaker families of the nearby localities. Inaugurated on May 19, 1991, with the divine presence and blessings of revered Swamy Harshanandaji of Ramakrishna Math, Bull Temple Road, Sajjan Rao Vidya Samsthe, is also widely known for efficiently running educational and vocational training centre for special children as per all the norms set by the concerned authorities. Except the recognition from the Government, the establishment is run from own resources including training the parents to handle their special children.

The most significant aspect of the trust is strictly adhering to the dictum of S. Sajjana Rao that his descendants are only the custodians of the property he had made for the charitable causes in Bengaluru. The present generation of the family has been passionately restoring whatever their predecessors had given to the city.

Ajay Kadam, who, on behalf of the trust and the family had taken this responsibility, shares the hardships and the challenges that crop up to bring back the glory of original works. S. Sajjana Rao, along with the temple had built two wooden and one silver chariot for the annual car festival. They were built as per the direction, and specifications of the Seer of Shankara Matha Sringeri.

Since then, the Silver Chariot festival held during the month of December is an iconic event of Bengaluru, similar to Karaga and groundnut fare .

During subsequent decades, the Silver Chariot used to be washed frequently using strong chemicals not realising the damage that would cause to the structure. Not only the glitter of the silver had faded, even the wood within had been damaged. When, an organisation reputed for efficiently handling restoration of such structures was consulted, it was suggested to demolish and build a new one at the cost of several lakhs of rupees. Expenses apart, the emotional and the sentimental connect did not allow the opinion to be accepted. The present Seer of Shankara Math at Sringeri was approached. He sent his experts, who, after a thorough study, said it could be restored. The entire chariot was very systematically dismantled, packed and transported to Sringeri in 1999. Under the direct supervision and the directions of the Seer the work was completed in about two years. Since 2001, with the regained glory and grace, Silver Chariot festival is being carried out.

Another uphill task undertaken by Ajay Kadam is the restoration of Sajjana Rao Choultry built in 1934. ‘…Few years back we noticed seepages here and there and the problems were attended using local material. Suggestions were also mooted to build a new structure in its place. But finally we decided to restore it in its original form.

Several sessions of consultations with the experts in the field, visits to some restored heritage centres and a few other such preliminary tasks were done before initiating the project in November, 2018.

Now, we have specialists in the field working on it. Some basic ingredients required are procured from Anegundi and the final product for the work is done here. With little modifications we have retained the grandeur of wedding hall, dining hall and the front elevation.

A few decades back, people used to come and stay for nearly a week for wedding. To accommodate them, there were about 23 rooms. Now we have reduced the number and restructured them and also a few other areas of the choultry to cater to the present day requirements. “It may take a few more months to get the work completed,” says Ajay Kadam. Recently, he has established an exclusive Heritage Centre in the school building, methodically displaying all the old materials, documents related to the trust. A restored colour portrait of S. Sajjana Rao is a major attraction of the centre.

“We know that the task we have undertaken is expensive, time consuming, and strenuous. Yet, we have great satisfaction of bringing back one of the glorious buildings of the city to life. That is the tribute we are paying to our predecessors and also doing the duty of handing over the wealth of heritage, and the tradition to the care of the next generation,” he says.

In the name of urbanisation and expansion, Bengaluru has been losing many of its architectural marvels, though with little thought and vision they could be preserved for the posterity.

S. Sajjana Rao’s descendants and some others in the city have shown that intense passion. At the domestic and bureaucratic spheres it is required to preserve the history, culture and heritage wealth of Bengaluru.


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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 10:19:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/a-passionate-restoration/article30931683.ece

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