Devaraja Market and Lansdowne Building of Mysuru - must be saved according to Mysore Grahakara Parishat


 Lansdowne Building and old Devaraja Market, Mysuru.

Above image: Shopkeepers of  Lansdowne Building and old Devaraja Market are being supported by the Mysuru royal family in their protest against the Mysuru City Corporation Council's resolution to demolish the two heritage structures.................

 Lansdowne Building and old Devaraja Market Mysuru

The historic buildings and structures of a city, apart from giving character and identity,  often represent something famous or important to people who visit them often. Restoring  old buildings to their original look/ glory  not only adds character to the area but also  it sees to it  the link with the past is not broken. Old buildings have their own distinctive identity and character that make them stand apart in a modern scenario or cityscape.Retaining the old structures means we preserve the old construction technique, design style, construction materials and workmanship prevailing in the past era. Though decades have gone by  since freedom from the British, Indians are lagging behind in the area of conservation of monuments and heritage sites. 

With  Mysuru City Corporation (MCC)  bent on to demolish and rebuild a modern structure in the place of  Devaraja Market and Lansdowne Building,  the delay in the legal process and non intervention on the part of the state government, the heritage activists in the city  this time  expressed their anguis and staged a demonstration in March 2023. They took the cudgels against the state government and wanted their direct  intervention in the matter of conservation of two landmark buildings of Mysuru. Led by N.S. Rangaraju, former professor and head of the Department of Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Mysore the activists from the Mysore Grahakara Parishat ( a non-profit organization founded in 1989) not only wanted to save these two buildings but also others heritage  structures that define the culture and ethos of this old city. MGP  is currently handling various civil issues related to significant infrastructural challenges that are impeding its progress and development of Mysuru.

Paradoxically, this declared heritage city bears testimony to the lethargic attitude of the city officials  and how they are insensitive to the fall of  every bit of heritage elements across the city. In the case of  Devaraja Market and Lansdowne Building more than a decade it is quite disparaging  that nothing has been done toward restoration.  as of today.  

Mysore city has the rare distinction of having more than 600 heritage buildings, including  palaces, museums, educational institutions, etc , amazingly  all there contributions from the Royal Wadiyar family for the welfare of the people.  Positively the city would lose the tag of heritage city as many of them are being poorly managed by the govt, agency in charge of heritage structures. A memorandum was sent the former CM about the gravity of the situation vis-a-vis heritage buildings in the city, particularly those two buildings Devaraja Market and Lansdowne Building that have become an eyesore because of poor maintenance coupled with court cases. 

The Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar Foundation was ready to take up the restoration works of both the Devaraja Market and Lansdowne Building if the government agreed, according to  Pramoda Devi Wadiyar who is keen to save the Indo-Saracenic buildings built by the erstwhile maharajah 137 years ago. .

Red tapism and official apathy, besides  delay in sanctioning funds from the  government agency in charge of heritage buildings  are the reasons why across India thousands of monuments face the similar fate.   For example in the neighboring state of  Tamil nadu on the 5th August this year  around 2 pm  a large section of sunshade fell off the first tier of the 9 tier East Gopuram at the popular Srirangam temple dedicated to God Vishnu. Fortunately, there was no casualty. This is due to negligence on the part of HR & CE, the government agency that manages more than 40000 Hindu temples across the state People are wary of this department that is involved in so many illegal activities  like theft of antique idols, sale of temple lands, temple jewels, misappropriation of temple revenues, etc. 

In the case of  Devaraja Market and Lansdowne Buildings a decade has gone by without any solution and in consequence of this delay and dragging of  court cases at stake is the livelihood of of thousands of people who ran shops in the buildings.