The Lady Jehangir Kothari Hall, Bangalore - a little known colonial building

 Lady Jehangir Kothari Memorial Hall, Bangalore

The Lady Jehangir Kothari Memorial Hall, Bangalore

In this fast phase of life in those  Indian towns and cities where the  past colonial rulers had considerable influence people hardly take a look at the old buildings built during that period. Lack of publicity by the local authority, heavy vehicular traffic on the roads and lack of interest in old structures may be the reasons for not paying attention to them. 

People who ride or drive  past the Indian Express Circle, Bangalore in a hurry burry or to avoid  get  tied up in traffic mayhem,  hardly get a chance to look at the  old structure ''The Lady Jehangir Kothari Memorial Hall written in bold black letters. Displaying of  ugly  huge ad hoardings  or  banners in public places, particularly right in front of important buildings in big cities and towns is a  menace to the public.  They  mar the beautiful surroundings and hide the nice frontage of some buildings. Hidden in the maze of hoardings that block the view is the the Lady Jehangir Kothari Memorial Hall which can be marked out in this locality from its unique architecture. It is neither a public building built by the British nor was it constructed by the ruler of this kingdom in honor of a British official. It was built by a Parsee businessman and the  work on the building began in 1831 and completed in 1832. 

Once you get into the complex leaving behind the huge hoardings, you will realize how a beautiful building's  architectural aura and charm  lies hidden.  The builder of this structure is one Jehangir Kothari, a Parsee businessman and a traveler. Once he came to Bangalore in 1923  on a holiday and unfortunately his beloved wife fell sick from which she could not recover and finally died. She was interred at the Parsee Aramgah or burial ground in the city.   The building was built by Sir Jehangir in memory of his wife, Lady Goolbai Kothari.

Jehangir Kothari OBE

Businessman Jehangir Kothari OBE  /

Above image: Kothari (9 November 1857 – 1 November 1934), a native of Karachi (now Pakistan), was a successful businessman and traveled all over the world. He was quite influential during the Raj.  Kothari's grandfather, Hormusji Sohrabji Kothari (d. 1876), travelled with  General Sir Charles James Napier as a commissariat agent during the conquest of Sindh Province in 1842-43. Originally from Gujarat, the family settled in Karachi. Kothari  held many covetous posts: A member of the Royal Society of Arts and North British Academy of Arts, Life Governor of the Royal Masonic Institution for Boys and Royal Masonic Institution for Girls, Honorary Special Magistrate in Karachi since 1892, During Delhi Durbar ( May 1911)  Kothari was awarded the gold Kaisar-i-Hind Medal (first class). He contributed  a big amount for the World War  and was   acting as honorary secretary and treasurer in India for the Imperial War Fund.  Kothari was bestowed with  the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1918  and  later  knighted in 1921; it was conferred at Buckingham Palace by King George V on 8 July 1922.(.

Sir Jehangir who was close to his wife built this building in her memory.  This building is being used  for conducting  various exhibitions by the business establishments. Parsee club is also functioning here. The cost was met by donations to the tune of INR Rs. 25,000 and  since 1932 it has been  functioning. The hall today belongs to the Bangalore Parsee Zoroastrian Anjuman.

Built in English  Tudor type architecture, granite is widely used in the building. Even the  the ceiling is made of granite slabs. The front part has a small veranda with tall pillars at the entrance. the interior is well built with high ceiling and large windows all around.  Once inside, in spite of the huge stacks or rows of products put up for sale, you will see the pretty white interiors. It has a high ceiling with large open windows all around. This arrangement keeps the interior cool all through the year. This predominantly white building has turned pale grey over the years due to pollution. It is very much visible on windows, doors and even  pillars.

Sir Jehangir Hormasji Kothari, who  was known for for his philanthropy was the first Indian from his region - Punjab and Sind   to be knighted  by the colonists. Many Parsees in the 18th and 19th century became successful business men in the kingdom of Mysore.