A long-standing monument celebrating the democratic experiment in India is celebrating yet another milestone. The Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru, the seat of power in the state, turns 60 this year. The ground-breaking ceremony was attended by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1951.
In addition to the satraps of state politics, the Vidhana Soudha has also played host to personages like Queen Elizabeth II, and international leaders who congregated at the Legislative Assembly chamber for the 1986 SAARC Summit.
Legend goes that the labour of over a thousand chisellers, masons, and carvers went into creating the impressive façade of Bengaluru’s most identifiable building. The edifice, which took four years to erect, also involved the work of 5,000 labourers, the majority of who were convicts. They were exonerated, and walked away as free men when the project was completed.
While the iconic building has witnessed many a political intrigue, over the years, it has also rendered itself fertile ground for citizens’ groups who gather in front of its premises, seeking to influence public policy by bringing issues of importance to the attention of the political class.
Here is a collection of photos chronicling the history of Bengaluru’s Vidhana Soudha, and how it mirrors the evolution of Indian polity and the exacting efforts at nation building by the founding fathers, following the tumultuous years post-independence.
Vidhana Soudha under construction.
The Chief Minister of Karnataka, Ramakrishna Hegde, greeting Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M.G. Ramachandran and Indian Union Minister for Water Resources, B. Shankaranand (third from right) at the Vidhana Soudha on June 16, 1986, when they meet for talks on sharing the Cauvery waters. The Chief Minister of Pondicherry, Farooq Maricar, (second from right), and Kerala Power Minister, R. Balakrishna Pillai (right), look on.
Queen Elizabeth during a State drive before Vidhana Soudha, on 21/02/1961. Seated by her side is the Governor of Mysore, Sri Jayachamaraja Wadiyar.
Participants in the "Jeevandaam Padayatra" to create awareness on kidney transplantation waiting for the flagging off the march near the Vidhana Saudh on June 8, 1985.
Lightning, thunder and heavy rains, at the back ground of Vidhana Soudha September 27, 2015.
Participants take part in Blind Walk in the occasion of World Sight Day at Vidhana Soudha on October 12, 2017.
Vidhana Soudha lit for the inauguration of Bengaluru International Film Festival in Bengaluru on February 02, 2017.
Cows lounge on the median in front of Vidhana Soudha
Mounted Police get ready for receiving the Governor Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala to the Joint session at Vidhana Soudha on February 06, 2016.
Vidhana Soudha staff decorating the cabinet hall for Ayudha Puja celebrations on October 07, 2016.
Karnataka State Industrial Security Force (KSISF) personnel march in front of the Vidhana Soudha. The personnel are deployed to guard crucial installations in the State like reservoirs, power plants and major religious centres, besides administrative buildings like the Vidhana Soudha, the Vikasa Soudha and the High Court. The KSISF was set up by the State Government on the lines of the Central Industrial Security Force.
A red ribbon, the universal symbol of awareness and support for those living with HIV, is displayed at the entrance of Vidhana Soudha to mark World AIDS Day on December 1, 2014.
School children waiting in a queue to view the assembly proceedings. As part of their social sciences subject, these students from a city school were taken to the seat of power to attend the assembly session in Bengaluru.
A man quenches his thirst from a water pipe line, used for watering the plants in front of Vidhana Soudha, following the steep rise in temperature across the city.
These boys, with their heads covered with bamboo baskets meant for making flower bouquets, have a look at the Ashokastambh on the Vidhana Soudha, which has no cover against the scorching sun.
The joint session of the Karnataka legislature addressed by the governor, A.N. Banerjee on January 20, 1986.