The Bowring Institute, a remarkable colonial building, Bangaluru - restored back to old splendor

The Bowring Inst. Bangaluru, KA

Old picture The Bowring Inst. Bangaluru.

The Bowring Institute, Bangaluru,

The Bowring Institute, Bangaluru city is yet another  protected monument and has been around for  more than 130 years. The institute was founded at a time when  industrial revolution was on in Europe . Though the foundation was laid  on November 22, 1888, the club, with elite members, had already started functioning  from 1868. It is a 12 acre property located on St. Marks road, a  prime locality in the heart of Bangaluru. The purpose of the club was to  discuss and debate on matters related to intellectual improvement and growth of knowledge  with fcilities like good library, etc., and this led to the formation of  a society in February 1868 called  'the Literary and Scientific Institute. The British who took serious efforts to get the club off the ground,were Stewart Clarke and B.L. Rice, the former was the treasurer, Bowring Institute, and the project coordinator for the institute;s structural restoration  work and the latter was  the director of Public Instruction. It was named after Lewin Bentham Bowring, an ICS officer who was the first President of the society and  then  the chief commissioner of Mysore and Coorg before retiring in 1870.

It was at the initiative of B.L. Rice, a spacious building, came up with help from Sri Kishnamuthy, a govt. official  and philanthropist  Narrainsawmy Mudaliar. The needed fund was raised by them and others. It was commander of the Mysore Division,  Major General Rowland in 1888  who granted Rice a site near what was then the St Mark’s Square.The construction cost was Rs, 23000, Rs.10000 was contributed by the Mysore Govt and Rs. 5000 from the British government, rest was from the Bowring Testimonial Fund.  


The Bowring Institute, Bangaluru, KA en.wikipedia org. 

restored  Bowring Institute, Bangaluru,

The architect was one G.Gibson of Bangalore Municipality under whom the Victorian building was completed in 1890. The foundation stone was laid by Lady Pendergast, wife of the British Resident of Mysore. As part of restoration work of Bowring Inst. building, the 45000 sq.feet hall  was undergoing repairs in 2015.  Adequate care was taken to preserve its heritage value. Hence “the original structure made of  lime, mortar and brick, high Madras ceiling, wooden panels and Mangalore tiles, - all would be restored back to old glory. It is said the additional structures near the original building would  be pulled down  to retain the old charm. The work on restoration began in earnest in 2015 and the govt. allotted Ra 11 crore for the restoration work;  first monument in Karnataka to be restored as per original specification. The noted feature is  no modern technology  was used. The necessity to restore the structure arose after the  teak wood rafters began to give way promoting seepage that might damage the building. As for the three-layered Madras ceiling, interlocking bricks made from special clay were used. The pillars were given traditional mirror-finish plastering with  using  ground lime with 2 million eggs. These  fully traditional methods were used to maintain the authenticity of this old structure.

Add captionThe Bowring Institute, Bangaluru, KA

Being managed by the ASI the Institute had a row with the Bangalore Corporation regarding a piece of  land measuring 150 feet x 100 feet which, it is said,  was leased out to the Institute (Club) with provision for sub-letting and the lessee had to remit 50% of the rent. In 1969 it had sublet the land  to IOC petrol  bunk with permission from the government. But, the government said they violated the not remitting the 50% rent regularly. The club had to hand over the land and a fine of Rs. 3 crore. The legal battle, it seems, is not over yet..