Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion in Mysuru gets over ₹30 crore for restoration

Harish & Bina Shah Foundation to offer ₹30 crore, US-AFCP to chip in with $300,000 for restoring the heritage building in the University of Mysore

Updated - January 04, 2024 05:09 pm IST

Published - January 04, 2024 04:49 pm IST - MYSURU

Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion in Mysuru

Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion in Mysuru | Photo Credit: SRIRAM MA

The nearly 120-year-old Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion belonging to the University of Mysore will be restored to its original glory at a cost of around ₹30 crore.

While the Harish & Bina Shah Foundation  (HBSF) has agreed to contribute ₹30 crore, the US government’s Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) will chip in with nearly ₹2.5 crore ($300,000).

The restoration will be carried out by Deccan Heritage Foundation, which specialises in conservation of historic structures and has worked on projects in Hampi, Hyderabad and Kalaburagi.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the varsity and the two funding organisations was exchanged in Mysuru on January 4 in the presence of Latha Reddy, Chairperson, Deccan Heritage Foundation India.

US Consul General Chennai Christopher W. Hodges said that the conservation project at the Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion is yet another testament to America’s friendship and respect for the people of India and its rich cultural heritage. The US has partnered with India to support 24 such projects through AFCP in the past 20 years. The AFCP grant of $300,000 to the University of Mysore is the second-largest awarded in India in the last 20 years, he said.

The project will bring together conservation and museum experts, architects, designers and skilled crafts persons – all with a shared passion for preserving and protecting India’s cultural heritage in Karnataka.

Prof. N.K. Lokanath, Vice-Chancellor, University of Mysore, said the US AFCP is supporting the conservation work of the western wing of the mansion. The work is already underway. In 2012, the varsity had received another grant from the US Consulate General Chennai, for the conservation of the Oriental Research Institute, which has a collection of over 40,000 ancient palm leaf manuscripts.

Prof. Lokanath announced that HBSF will contribute ₹30 crore for conservation of the remaining portion of the mansion and restore the building to its former glory.

Harish Shah, whose foundation recently offered ₹250 crore to Ashoka University, said the museum would be a landmark in Mysuru, and the HBSF is proud to be involved in the conservation project.

Mr. Shah studied at the Manipal Institute of Technology. He belongs to the 1975-80 mechanical engineering branch when MIT was affiliated to UoM. As an alumni, he wants to be involved with the conservation project.

A file photo of Prof. (retd.) N.S. Rangaraju with the artefacts in the Chemical Conservation Laboratory at the Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion in Mysuru.

A file photo of Prof. (retd.) N.S. Rangaraju with the artefacts in the Chemical Conservation Laboratory at the Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion in Mysuru. | Photo Credit: SRIRAM MA

Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion was built in 1905 as a residence for princess Jayalakshmi Ammani, daughter of Chamaraja Wadiyar. It was subsequently acquired by the University of Mysore to establish the PG centre in 1959 when poet laureate K.V. Puttappa, better known as Kuvempu, was the vice-chancellor. The mansion has around 125 rooms and 300 windows, and 280 carved doors. It houses the varsity’s folklore museum, which was established in 1969 by Dr. Javaregowda and has a collection of nearly 14,000 artefacts.

It was restored once around 20 years ago with funding from Infosys Foundation. But, over the years, degeneration set in, and a portion of the roof collapsed. There was a threat of complete collapse during the monsoon.

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