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Centuries-old palace to get a makeover

Rich heritage:The wooden pillars of Perdoor Magane Chavady (women’s quarters) in the centuries-old Udupi ‘mud’ palace. — Photo: Special Arrangement  

The restoration of a part of the 500-year-old ‘mud’ palace in Sural village, about 30 km from Udupi, will be completed within a fortnight. Work on it began three years ago.

The palace, which belongs to the House of Tulu Jain Tholahars, the Jain chieftains, who ruled parts of Udupi district, is said to be have been built in 1511. One unique feature of the palace is that it has no foundation. Hopea-wood, jack-wood and wild jack-wood were used in its construction. Wooden pillars support the roof, using the inter-locking method. Not a single nail was used.

Rs. 1.6 crore project

Its restoration was taken up by the Nirmiti Kendra at a cost of Rs. 1.6 crore, funded by the Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage, under the Ministry of Kannada and Culture.

The palace has ‘angalas’ (courtyards) and a ‘Pattada Chavadi’ (royal durbar room), and a small shrine of Padmavati Amma. Though the initial efforts to restore it began in the 1990s, there were many roadblocks. After persistent efforts by the district administration, restoration of one portion — the Perdoor Magane Chavady quarter — was sanctioned in 2013.

The 5,000 sq. ft Chavady has a ground floor and a first floor. Its walls are being built using laterite stones cemented together using a mixture of slaked lime, sugarcane molasses and extract from leaves of Slow Match Tree ( Careya arborea ) as was done in the original construction. “These materials bring down the room temperature. We have maintained originality in the entire restoration,” said T. Harish Pai, who is in charge of the exercise.

Wooden blinds

Mr. Pai said this quarter was used by women. “There were wooden blinds through which they could see the courtyards below and the army’s parade grounds,” he said.

The Tholahars were prominent till 1691 as per a copper plate inscription of Queen Madanadevi Tholaharti. They ruled from Sural for 400 years and co-operated with the Alupa and Vijayanagara dynasties. “The restoration of the entire palace will make people aware of the rich heritage of coastal Karnataka,” said Mr. Pai.