Krumbiegel Hall in honor of landscape specialist in Lalbagh, Bengaluru - rebuilt structure requires proper upkeep

 In the last one and half decades across India no day has passed without one or two heritage buildings either crumbling down on their own due to carelessness  or being pulled down by the government agencies to build a new structure. Protests by the historians, heritage lovers and others against the governments - both states and central have not yet made  any big impact on them.  Little do they  realize that embedded in these  old structures are our history, legacy and culture. If they are turned into mounds of debris and trash, our posterity  will be  left out without any  cultural identity.  Regardless of their location and age such  monuments are  pride possessions  of  a  nation  and once lost for good on account of  lack of interest to save them, their restoration or redemption is an impossible task.

Krumbiegel Hall in

In Bengaluru city, hundreds of heritage buildings continuously remain uncared for and are left to rot  facing slow death in the absence of proper action from the city authorities. In the corridors of power in the government offices dereliction of duty and redtapism  spell disaster in many fields. In the matter of preservation of old buildings under the government control, no action  is forthcoming because no priority is attached to them unlike other issues related to social welfare, agriculture  or infrastructure  developments, etc.  

Krumbiegel Hall in

Until 2017,  poor maintenance and lack of expertise saw the end of  Lalbagh's  Krumbiegel Hall in Bengaluru.  Marred by graffiti , disfiguring on the walls in the front parts, total lack of care  had left the structure in a dilapidated state. The authorities never cared to clear the debris when parts of the walls fell down during the heavy rains in 2017; later  the roof also caved in. It was a miracle  the  weak pillars with granite core and masonry outer cover in the facade barely supported the leaky roof for a long time. Plaster and lathe could have been used to fix the cracks in the tiles and roof, but the officials of Lalbagh did not take the suggestions seriously and turned their eyes away from the  iconic hall. Paradoxically, the demolition coincided with the World Heritage Week (November 19-25). More than the front, inside the hall one could see much damage due to seepage. 

Notwithstanding the  poor condition of the  Krumbiegel Hall and its weak pillars in Lalbagh  work was in progress to install a sort of mini Niagara Waterfalls  at the cost of R. 2 crore. The officials now  say this artificial waterfall is a big hit and hs attract the attention of the visitors to the famous park.  

Built in 1860, the structure was special because the hall served as the venue for lectures  as part of a  Horticulture school in Lalbagh. Its pediment  in the front   housed  a beautiful stucco image of the Wadiyar insignia, the Gandaberunda above the small iconic columns - highlighting a blend of Mysururian design style with Indo European  architectural features.The once popular  Krumbiegel Hall that adored the beautiful garden in the prime area of the city was pulled down by the authorities in 2017, in the midst of protests and outrage from various organizations including the  UK based  Alyia Phelps Gardiner, the great-granddaughter of Gustav Hermann Krumbiegel. ''We campaigned long and hard for the Krumbiegel Hall to be restored. It was a very special place for me. I am sad that its gone,” said Alyia

Expressing profound dismay, INTACH's  Bengaluru branch urged the Karnataka government to build a worthy  memorial in honor of   Gustav Hermann Krumbiegel whose vast contribution to the city's green cover helped it earn the appellation  of 'Garden City'. INTACH way back in 2011 itself made  a proposal to save the hall from further damages and their estimate was around Rs.14 lakhs only. The Horticulture department wanted to undertake the repair work with their team, but no serious action was taken to get the structure repaired or carried out conservation work. Because of lapse of time, the structure became far beyond recovery. In 2016 the cost of repair went tp to Rs. 22 lakhs. Again no action was  taken by the state Horticulture department or the PWD.  Heritage enthusiasts were furious about the official negligence and red tape as the structure was becoming increasingly damaged.  

Work on the Krumbiegel Hall &artificial Niagara falls

According to a media report (Nov. 2020) as quoted by the officials at the garden  the iconic Krumbiegel Hall in Lalbagh was being rebuilt retaining the left out old structures  and 90% of the work was already over over. It would be open to public in the early part of 2021 and the proposed virtual museum would highlight the horticultural work of Krumbiegel, German landscape specialist in whose name the hall is named. During his time in Bengaluru, he was quite popular and had close rapport with the Royal Wadiyar family and also with the late dewan Sir Visvesvaraya.  Krumbiegel who was buried here imparted a vast green cover to the city and served in many capacities under the then Maharajah during his long services from 1908 to 1932.  He introduced what was called serial planting' in Bengaluru  lining the streets and avenues with seasonally-flowering trees so that the city would bloom all year through.

Gustav  Krumbiegel & his family.

Gustav Krumbiegel (born in 1865)  he came to India in 1893 and several years later he moved over to the Mysore kingdom after his long stint in the princely state of Baroda (Gujarat) . In the development of Lalbagh (first developed by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan in the 18th century CE)  he played a stellar role and made vast improvements  to get the attention of the public. He was the founder of the Horticulture school on the premises of Lalbagh and was instrumental in procuring countless exotic flora from places like Australia, USA and south America. In 1912 he started Mysore Horticultural Society His grave (died in Feb. 1956) is in the Methodist church graveyard on Hosur road, Bengaluru.  2015 happened to be his 150th birthday.