Thursday, March 24, 2005

Manickavelu Mansion getting ready

Manickavelu Mansion getting ready
The Hindu

BANGALORE, MARCH 23. Remember Manickavelu Mansion on Palace Road? The Central Public Works Department (CPWD), now in its 150th year, is fast restoring this mansion, which is over 90 years old.

By August, the mansion will house the Indira Gandhi National Gallery of Modern Art. "We took up this work for the Union Ministry of Culture," Chief Engineer of CPWD, Karnataka and Kerala, S. Chinnaswamy, told The Hindu .

The Union Ministry is spending Rs. 7 crores on the restoration and the interior design provides for focused lighting on exhibits. The mansion, with its gabled roof, balustrade balconies and large portico, has a fascinating history behind it.

Before Raja Manickavelu, a limestone mine owner bought it, the mansion was owned by turns by Sir Ismail Sait, a merchant prince of old Bangalore, and later by the Yuvaraja of Mysore, Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wadiyar. The mine owning family fell into bad times and the building was acquired by the State Government in the late Sixties. For some years, it was leased one of the United Nations' agencies looking after technology transfer in the Asia-Pacific and the occupants restored and maintained it in its original splendour for several years. The work to covert it into a modern arts gallery has been one for some years now. The CPWD is working on several other projects in the city now. One will be the Rs. 6-crore new Regional Passport Office, which will be ready by March 2006. This centrally air-conditioned building will have spacious reception area so that passport seekers do not have to line up on the road, as they do now.

The Central Reserve Police Force and the Border Security Force will soon have brand new premises in Yelahanka with barracks, quarters and officers' mess. With the Kendriya Sadan in Koramangala getting overcrowded (it houses no less than 42 offices now), another is being built on 18 acres of land acquired from HMT at Jalahalli. "We have 20,000 sq metres space here and the new building will have 60,000 sq metres," Mr. Chinnaswamy said.

Just for the record, the oldest construction of the CPWD, still standing and being used in the city, is the Meteorological Centre on Palace Road. And the newest is the permanent exhibition and convention centre of Karnataka Trade Promotion Organisation in Whitefield, spread over 50 acres and Asia's second largest of its kind.

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