Bellary, Karnataka and its British legacy - a brief note

Deputy Commissioner's office building: 

 the Deputy Commissioner's office a colonial building in

12i year old colonial building Bellary,

Above image:  Just across the  Bellary railway station, Bellary city  in the state of Karnataka  stands  a  3-story colonial building that houses the Deputy Commissioner’s (DC) office. This typically exotic building is on the  Mysuru-Bannur Double Road in Siddhartha nagar. Also function here  the assistant commissioner’s office, and others. Made of thick walls the interior looks impressive with many symmetrical arches and also windows. This structure has wide corridors around the floors to keep the interiors cool and well-lit during days. With a dome at the center, the facade of the building has Indo-Saracenic design - a blend of European architecture with Indian elements.  A new building complex  (total built-up area: 23000 sq.m) on a plot of 15 acre of land  came up at a cost of  Rs. 85 crore  and the DC office was supposed to shift there long ago.  Until April 2020   the new building   remained unoccupied by the DC office and  it continued  to function in this building which is more than 121 year old................................. 

Across south India particularly, in cities like Chennai, Bangalore and Mysore (Mysuru)  there are many historic colonial buildings built by the  British government or by the rulers or business people or patrons of the British rule. On the district level also many colonial structures came up to house the district collectorate, police departments, revenue departments, etc.

The region including Bellary was ruled by various dynasties including  Pallavas, Badami, Vijayanagara,  Hoysalas  and Cholas. After the fall of Vijayanagara, it came under the Bellary Nayak, a vassal of the Bijapur Sultanate. Marathas, Moguls and the Nizam of Hyderabad  had  a grip on this region for some time. The latter ceded a large part of the Deccan including Bellary to the East India Company after the fall of Tipu in 1799. The British ruled this part of India for more than 147 long years. During their reign many colonial buildings came up.  Bruce Pete police station, on Old Bengaluru Road, built in memory of a collector,  Millerpete, named after another collector, DC bungalow on Annathapura road,  Judge's bungalow on Taluru road, old court building, Jails, etc  are some of the vestiges of early colonial rule. 

Soon after Bellary became part of the Madras Presidency, Sir Thomas Monroe, (27 May 1761 – 6 July 1827),  a popular  Scottish soldier and colonial administrator was the  first  collector of Bellary district in 1800.  From here he made  the  historic visit to the Ragavendra Mutt at Mantralaya   regarding Mutt properties and spoke to  the great seer (in the Samadhi) through  intense prayer. Upon  clarification from him, he convinced EIC about the legality of the Mutt lands, etc.  

Alipore Jail, Bellary:

Bellary: Alipur jail, Karnataka.

Above Image: Alipore Jail, Bellary:  In 1884  during the tenure of Collector Sir  Thomas Monroe,  the maximum security Ballari Jail or the Central Prison (called Alipur jails)  came up.  Once part of Madras Presidency, it  has a large military cantonment (built in 1866) with  big ammunition storage facilities (next only to Madras), etc; the reason is this place was the center of peninsular india.  A part of the cantonment's  infantry barracks was converted into a military jail, called the Alipore jail  which had 14 blocks.  It was initially  built to lock up POWS  of WWI (prisoners of war) from Turkey Denmark and France. It  is the only jail in the sub-continent that was closed by the authorities after independence. Now the   Vijayanagara Institute of Medical Sciences (VIMS) is functioning there and the  barracks of the soldiers have been converted into doctor’s residences. The ‘Swatantra Soudha’ has come up in place of the cells that once housed the freedom fighters.

The Alipore  jail became well  known where  thousands of prisoners of the Mappila riots in Kerala  and  prisoners of the Anglo-Turkish War in 1807–09, were locked up.  Lots of freedom fighters  including well-known patriots were jailed here; some  died here and their tombs are noticeable even today.   The govt. has built  the ‘Swatantra Soudha’  in  the cells that once housed the freedom fighters. The 157 year old Alipore jail is a protected monument under the state. The monument has to be repaired and conserved soon as it has close links with India's struggle for freedom from the prolonged colonial rule.