Karnataka

Lalitha Mahal Palace hotel to be with Karnataka govt.

After the signing of the MoU, the hotel will become the property of the State’s Tourism Department.   | Photo Credit: M.A. Sriram

The iconic Lalitha Mahal Palace, a heritage hotel in Mysuru that has hosted national and international celebrities for over four decades, will now change hands from the Union government to the State government nearly six years before the lease is to expire.

While this government guest house during colonial times later became a luxury hotel and was handed over on lease to the Union government to run a hotel through the India Tourism Development Corporation till 2023, the Union government decided to hand over the hotel to the Karnataka government. The State will be paying ₹7.45 crore to the Centre for the handover, which will be formalised through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) soon.

On Wednesday, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave its approval for the transfer.

A release said, “As per disinvestment policy of the Government of India, it has been decided to lease/sub-lease the ITDC hotels/properties jointly with the States and where States have not agreed to the proposal of leasing/sub-leasing, the properties may be returned to the States at their officially valued price. The policy has been formulated keeping in view that running and managing hotels on professional lines is not the job of Government or its entities.”

Minister for Tourism Priyank Kharge told The Hindu that the State government was in talks with the Centre for over a year. “We did not agree to a ₹22-crore handover as a lot of our criteria were not met. There was no maintenance, conservation was not taken up, and the traction for the last few years was not good. We thought it best to take it back,” he said.

After the signing of the MoU, the hotel will become the property of the State’s Tourism Department. “We are looking at how we can make it a heritage hotel. It has never been run professionally. First of all, we have to keep it running. We will run a joint inventory with them (ITDC) to see what should be done,” Mr. Kharge said.

A chip off the old block, Lalitha Mahal Palace was commissioned in 1931 by the then Maharaja Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar to treat his guests, including the Viceroy, and the architecture was inspired by the St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. It was among the listed properties which was transferred to the government after the last maharaja Jayachamaraja Wadiyar signed the instrument of accession and the property was maintained as a guest house. But by and large it remained closed and was out of bounds to the public. It was handed over to the ITDC, converted to a heritage hotel, and was thrown open to the public in 1974.

Sources close to the Wadiyar family said it was an opulent structure and required professional maintenance. The hotel has played host to iconic figures in the field of politics and cinema and was popular for film shooting.


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Printable version | Aug 2, 2021 12:32:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/lalitha-mahal-palace-hotel-to-be-with-karnataka-govt/article19723489.ece

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