Mysore/Mysuru: Retired Professor of the Department of Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Mysore, Prof. N.S. Rangaraju has said that technical aspects of archaeological and heritage structures are not included in the textbooks of Civil Engineering.
He came out with several observations during a talk on ‘Mysuru Heritage, Conservation and Materials used in Buildings’ organised by the Institution of Engineers-India (IEI), Mysuru Chapter, at its S.P. Bhat Hall, on JLB Road in city last evening.
“Nowadays, there is a necessity for the students of Civil Engineering to study the technical aspects followed in the civil works of archaeological buildings,” he said.
In Mysuru, over 600 heritage buildings had been identified earlier, but the State Government declared 131 structures as heritage buildings. There are 25 heritage buildings in the ambit of the University of Mysore alone. While the residence of renowned writer R.K. Narayan at Yadavagiri has been conserved with the help of officers after buying back the building from the contractor,” he noted.
Separate Department of Archaeology
When S.M. Krishna was the Chief Minister, a separate Department of Archaeology, Heritage and Museums, was constituted at the suggestion of IAS officer T.M. Vijay Bhaskar.
The Department is headed by either an IAS cadre officer or KAS senior grade officer, with Devaraju being the incumbent Commissioner.
Before the Department came into existence, Krishna had declared Mysuru and Srirangapatna as ‘Heritage Cities’. It was followed by the launch of the ‘Heritage Walk’ to create awareness of heritage buildings, said Rangaraju explaining in detail.
When the first Heritage Walk was launched, about 80 people had taken part and the concept is still in practice to create awareness, he said.
Benevolence of Jayachamaraja Wadiyar
Mysuru had 14 Palaces and one among them has been already demolished. When Rashtrakavi Kuvempu was the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Mysore, the existing Manasagangothri campus was bought for Rs. 10 lakh after talks with Jayachamaraja Wadiyar.
The benevolence of Jayachamaraja Wadiyar was such that Cheluvamba Mansion was handed over to set up Central Food Technology Research Institute (CFTRI) by registering the deed in exchange for Re. 1, lauded Rangaraju.
Visionary Maharani Kempananjammani
Recalling the history associated with the building of the eponymous Mysore Palace under the visionary Maharani Kempananjammani (popular as Vani Vilasa Sannidhana who was the Regent ruler of princely Mysore State from 1895 to 1902 as her son Maharaja Nalwadi Krishanraja Wadiyar was a minor), after the earlier wooden Palace was destroyed in a fire mishap, Prof. Rangaraju explained how the British engineer Henry Irwin constructed the present Palace structure blending various architectural styles, that was completed in 1912.
The 51 books related to history authored by a famous historian of Tamil Nadu on the rule of South Indian kings, lacks adequate mention of the rule of princely Mysore State. Being Mysureans we should be aware of this, appealed Rangaraju.
Institution of Engineers-India (IEI) Mysuru Chapter Chairman B.S. Prabhakara, Secretary H.S. Suresh Babu, Convener M. Chinnaswamy and Joint Secretary Dr. R. Deepu were present.
How Wadiyars built heritage structures
The heritage buildings built during the times of Wadiyars were made of a mix white lime of Kadakola and Bannur, jaggery cake, egg, river sand, sea shells, mara vajra, antuvala and aralekayi, that were churned in oil mills, the yokes of which were pulled by bullocks.
The mortar should be smoother than dosa batter, which was turning reddish if mixed with bugurikayi. The mortar was stored in drums for a week and used only after the materials used for the same start to rot. The method is still in practice to apply the coat of mortar for heritage buildings, Prof. Rangaraju explained.
He also made a mention of findings of a mix of Ganja in the mortar used at the heritage structures in Ajanta and Ellora that kept termites away, and three types of terraces — Madras Tharasi (Terrace), Kolkatta Tharasi and Jack Tharasi — seen in the heritage structures of Mysuru.
He regretted about how the good old Lansdowne Building is crying for attention even 10 years after a part of the heritage structure collapsed. Hence, the Civil Engineers should focus on the conservation of such heritage structures, he advised.
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