Lord Mayo's Memorial Hall, Bangalore that gave inspiration to his other memorials in India

More often than not the impressive colonial buildings in India built in honor of colonial officers  either under the EIC's rule or under the Raj are invariably iconic structures built in European architecture. Funny thing is after decades of India's independence, these structures have become forgotten places of colonial legacy;  so are the colonial officers in whose honor they were built. We have neither seen the images of such officers nor have we read about their  contribution to India. One good example  is the Mayo memorial Hall in Bangalore. 

Mayo Memorial Hall, Bangalore. so.city

Above image:  Mayo Memorial Hall, Bangalore:  One of the most impressive colonial buildings in the prime area of the city its  interior is equally dazzling with  fancy furniture, Italian chandeliers, and wooden floors, A lasting memorial to Lord Mayo, 4th Viceroy of India,  who was a good administrator and a kind-hearted person.  in terms of history of formation and survival. the cost of construction was met with public subscription- from the rich elite Indians and Europeans living in Bangalore city.  Initially,  the ground floor had the Municipal Office for the Cantonment, several public offices and law courts. Civil cases from minor traffic offences such as 'double-riding' on bicycles to the more serious ones were tried here. It was also the place for 'registered marriages' The upper floor was designed for important 'Public meetings and Exhibitions...................................

1878-79Bangalore. Mayo memorial Hall  bangaloretourism.org 

.Mayo Memorial Hall, Bangalore.google.com

Bangalore Mayo Memorial Hall. placeforvacations.com

Soon after the assassination Viceroy and Governor General of India  Lord Mayo (conservative party politician hailing from Dublin, Ireland) at Port Blair,  in the Andaman Islands in February 1872, over a period of time Memorials came up in some places in India. There is a famous colonial building in  Bangalore called Mayo Memorial Hall which  is  richly ornamental and strikingly beautiful colonial structure located in a prominent place next to the Public utility building  in Bangalore.  It is made of bricks and lime-sand mortar.  Located on a hill, it over looks the Ulsoor lake, Parade Grounds and Bangalore race Course.

Mayo memorial Hall, Bangalore, Karnataka. 

Renovated Mayo Hall, Bangalore. gettyimages.co.uk

The princely state of Mysore that had a good rapport and harmonious relationship with the British India Government  reacted to the unfortunate killing of the highest official on duty while on a trip to the penal settlement  The princely state officials formed a committee to have a fitting memorial worthy of  Lord Mayo (the fourth Governor General of India; educated at trinity College, Dublin)  built in Bangalore city.  To meet the cost of construction of an impressive Public Hall, it received donations from  Indians and also from Europeans living in the Mysore kingdom. 

Gov.Gen.of India Lord Mayo gettyimages.in

Built in  Renaissance Revival-style architecture  the Mayo Memorial  Hall, a two-story structure at the junction of Residency Road and M.G. Road,  has strikingly beautiful  fa├žade and ornate windows. The attractions are: Tuscan pillars, quality  wooden flooring.  Italian chandeliers, beautiful pieces of furniture, artistic furnishings, Greek cornices, key stoned arches, balustrade ledges, beautiful consoles etc. The exterior wall is painted in red color. The building has  two main entrances. Each porch has three  well shaped wooden arches.

Lord mayo memorial Hall, Bangalore. bangaloretourism.org

First-floor windows are just eye-catching and  has either a triangular or arched pediment, with moldings supported on curved consoles or well-fixed  brackets  decorated with acanthus leaves. Each window is framed by decorative pilasters, a small floral scroll on top, and a balustraded ledge below. On the other hand the ground  floor windows have a different look.  They have flat roof simple pilasters and unpretentious consoles. Yet another unique feature is the division between floors is accentuated by a belt course decorated with a Greek meander. Apparently it was  a popular geometric motif in Western art. 

A peculiarity about this building is the unusual combination  of flat and slanting roofs. For the slanting roof, “timber trusses support the false ceiling of embossed metal sheets that you can see on the first floor. As for flat Madras terrace  roof, thick timber beams and rafters  form the framework,” according to  , INTACH architects.  

Architect R.H. Sankey.en.wikipedia.org

The architect of the building was  Sir Richard Hieram Sankey KCB (22 March 1829 – 11 November 1908; was an officer in the Royal (Madras) Engineers in the East India Company's army in British India.  Sankey  also designed the Museum, Attara Kacheri (now High Court) and St. Andrew’s Church, etc. The reason why he chose the neo-Renaissance or Renaissance Revival style  is it was quite popular then.

When the construction  work was on the memorial committee, then there, faced financial  crunches  and at one stage the work came to a stop. The amount Rs.25000 collected through donation was  not good enough. Considering the style of the design plus  ever-increasing cost of construction work ''funds'' became a bottle neck and it would cost almost double that to complete the building. Despite the odds  and hurdles on the way, the building work was completed in 1883. Thanks to the efforts made by the Municipal Commission of the Civil and Military Station (as the Cantonment area was known then)  who took over the project and met all the costs. At a grand function in 1883  Mayo Hall was commissioned by the then British resident  stationed in that kingdom. .

Presently   the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP), BMP record room and a traffic court  are functioning there. Earlier the offices of the C and M municipality occupied the lower floor. This memorial hall, considering its prime location, for a pretty long time served as the Public hall.  A little known fact is the upper floor of the hall was  was made ‘available to the public for all meetings of a public nature free of any charge. ’This hall saw several important public meeting including the one addressed by the Irish iron lady Annie Besant and others.

In 2011, the upper floor was converted into a Museum Kempe Gowda. For unknown reasons it stopped functioning later.  In the place where  Mayo Memorial was built, in the 1870s, there stood a structure that housed  library and a decrepit theatre. Then MG Road was called   South Parade. It is said    memorials  such as  the Mayo Hospital, and the Mayo School of Arts at Lahore (in Pakistan) got inspiration from the Memorial Hall at Bangalore.