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A Heritage Building Disappears

A historic building has disappeared from the heart of Mysore city. The colourful two-storey historic Palace has been demolished by a private party. The two-storey building with colourful motifs on the Chamaraja Double Road (former 100 Feet Road or Chamaraja Road) was famous as Tipu Palace. It was also being described as Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace. People who had seen its old glory about 50 years ago remember a small garden in front of the Tipu’s Palace. The ground floor had a huge hall with colourful motifs on the walls and the big wooden columns. The first floor, similar to the ground floor in colour work, was being described as Tipu’s Durbar Hall. A small flight of wooden steps led to the spacious first floor.

Then, it housed an Urdu Primary School, run by the Karnataka Government Education Department. After some time, the school was shifted from there to another place and the heritage building was left to suffer. How it changed hands, from Government to the private party, very few people know. However, the first attempt to pull down the beautiful, but neglected structure, came about a decade ago. The private institution, which claimed ownership to it, took up its demolition. However, following public protest, the attempt was given up. But, the building had suffered in the demolition process. Half the structure was already down. The Palace remained neglected and began to deteriorate further in its condition, with no one to take care.

On November 30, the private institution, which claimed ownership, completed the demolition process. The Palace disappeared, not even to history books, as there are no records about its construction or date. The Department of Archaeology had not listed it as a heritage building. There is also no document to show that either it belonged to Tipu Sultan or was constructed or used by him. However, the Palace resembled the Bangalore Palace of Tipu Sultan, though not that big with a huge open space. It had all the features of the same typical construction. Tipu’s Palace in Bangalore, near the Fort, is maintained by the Department of Archaeology, Government of Karnataka.

However, a careful look into the past reveals that the open space had been sold about 100 years by one philanthropist Kashipathi Sastry, in whose name even today stands the Kashipathi Agrahara in the Chamaraja Double Road. This rich man, who was a priest in the Mysore Maharaja’s Palace, constructed a row of houses in the huge open land he owned outside the Palace Fort and rented them to poor Brahmins and priests. His descendents continue to live in this Agrahara. Sastry had sold the piece of land, lying vacant adjacent to the Agrahara to the kin of Tipu Sultan’s descendents to build the now disappeared Palace. It is also interesting to note that behind this Palace some Muslim families lived. Even today they continue to live there.

“The Palace did not belong to Tipu Sultan”, a senior leader of the community and former Minister Azeez Sait had asserted when the building faced the first attempt of demolition. “The records in the Public Offices (now District Office) reveal that it was constructed by the rivals of relatives of Mir Sadaq, who conspired against Tipu in the 1799 war. Hence, it is wrong to describe it as ‘Tipu’s Palace’, late Mr. Sait had stated.

Putting an end to the controversy -- whether it belonged to Tipu Sultan, who held the reigns of administration till 1799 A.D. when he fell battling against the British Army in the fourth Mysore War at Srirangapatna, or not -- the heritage building has now disappeared permanently.

This is the second major heritage building to disappear from the city of Mysore. The first historic building to be pull down was the once famous Dewan Purnaiah Choultry, in Old Agrahara. The choultry built for visiting pilgrims and to accommodate students coming from outside to Mysore for studying Sanskrit and Sanskrit subjects in the Maharaja’s Sanskrit College, was demolished by the Government authorities to extend the Vani Vilasa Road up to the Race Course, and to link it with the road leading to the Lalitha Mahal Palace. With this extension, this famous Road has now been renamed “Mahatma Gandhi Road”. The adjacent vacant land was given to a religious institution for extending its hospital. The choultry had been constructed by late Dewan Purnaiah, when he was the Dewan of Mysore, during the rule of Krishnaraja Wadiyar III in the 19th century. The choultry housed a small temple of Ganesha, which has been spared from demolition.

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