The stately Manikyavelu Mansion - a colonial bungalow, Bangaluru, now houses an art gallery

Manikyavelu Mansion, Bangaluru.

There are innumerable heritage structures across India that are slowing dying because of inadequate funds provided by the government, poor management of the ASI attached to the state and utter lack of interest among the local  people where the time-honored heritage structures are located. Only a few heritage lovers and like-minded people, knowing the value of such buildings and the importance of preserving them for progeny, take painstaking efforts to safeguard them. Because of these people numerous structures in West Bengal, UP, Kerala, Karnataka, etc are saved from total or partial damages. Way back 2015 an impressive colonial Bungalow in the heart of Bangaluru city was repaired and restored and now a NGMA Gallery is functioning. The  restoration  work of this old building  showcases how heritages structures can be adapted and  reused for public space.

before restoration Manikyavelu mansion, Bangaluru

Restored  Manikyavelu Mansionmansion, Bangaluru,

The Manikyavelu Mansion (1500 sq. meter),built in a stunning  colonial style on Palace Road., Bangaluru, is on a  lush green land of 3.5 acres. Until 2001 the entire edifice was in a bad shape, slowly crumpling due to aging and lack of care. The two-story  colonial residence  that is said to have been built in 1915 was owned by the Royal family of Mysore - the Wadiyars. Later  prince  Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wadiyar, for unknown reasons sold it in July 1919 to a leading mines owner Manikyavelu Mudaliar.  Hailing from a poor family, Manikyavelu Mudaliar  married into an aristocratic family and became a successful ‘mining business man. The manganese and chrome mines  that he took
on lease, gave him the needed lift in his life.
Hidden gem, Manikyavelu  mansion, Bangaluru.

The east facing white painted building with a big front porch  and nicely kept huge garden it  was the second largest residence  after the Raj Bhavan..Features like  molded pediments, pierced parapets, den-tilled cornices, pinnacled gables and stately columns confirm that it is  clearly cast in the European Classical  syle.   In the  1970 s, the state government took over the bungalow and the land and handed it over to the Ministry of Culture on a 30 year lease  for  the construction of  an art  museum.  The NGMA  came into being in 2009.

The cost of respiring and restoration of this historic building was around Rs.8 crore. A large and  old residence building was transformed  as to accommodate a modern museum. A Gallery  Block  covering 1,260-square meter extension was  been added to the the mansion. 

The credit goes to the the  ministry  in charge and the govt. officials who acted promptly to restore this stately building. The distinctive feature is the restoration work took care of its heritage value and gave a pleasant face lift without compromising on its old appearance and grandeur. They never touched the old trees, etc planted by the early owner Manikyavelu Mansion. The skillful handling of the external fa├žade  and the extension of a building for the gallery by the architect and engineers  make it a good example of an old surviving bungalow carefully balancing the blend of the  spaces needed for a modern structure and the old conventional bungalow. Yet another feature of the restoration work is  giving due attention to minimum conservation architectural design retaining the old charm  and the ambiance with the garden, water bodies; at the same time, space for a modern gallery is diligently handled.  

From  elements of architecture point of view,  the  style  adopted in the construction of  bungalows falls into two  types. The classical - it is just one-story structure with required features. Their expansion is horizontal. The other one being Gothic with two floors. Here, the addition is vertical.  Invariably colonial bungalows have tiled slanting roof and even the windows  have tiled slanting shade. This type is quite suitable in places  where there is plenty of rain. The tiled veranda will prevent the sunlight entering inside in the summer. Another notable feature is the high roof, besides good ventilation  to prevent radiation and heat in the summer.

''The city planners should see an ‘opportunity’ to conserve and restore heritage spaces rather than treat them as a ‘burden’', according one Narashimhan , who participated in the   restoration of Metropole in Mysuru and the Maharaja’s Hotel in Brindavan Gardens. He was also part of the restoration of colonial Bungalow

The NGMA -  National Gallery of Modern Art that celebrated its 11th anniversary in February in 2020 and the additional features are an auditorium, an open-air theater, library, store space, etc.