Vidhana Soudha which houses the Karnataka state Legislature and Secretariat is the most magnificent and majestic stone building in Bangalore and perhaps in Karnataka itself. It is said that when a Russian delegation felt that Bangalore was full of European buildings and asked the then chief minister Kengal Hanumanthaiah, “Have you no architecture of your own?”
This inspired Hanumanthaiah to plan a building and the result is the Vidhana Soudha, an epitome of Hindu architecture and a synthesis of Dravidian, Hoysala, Chalukya, and Vijayanagara architectural features. Its construction began in 1952 and was completed in 1956 at an estimated cost of 1.75 crores under a team of experts headed by the chief architect B.R. Manikam. More than 5000 laborers and 1500 skilled sculptors worked on this prestigious project.
The entire structure covers an area of 720 x 360 ft. In the center is an open quadrangle measuring 260 x 250 ft. It is an imposing three storied building with a cellar. Though the building can be approached from all the four sides, the eastern entrance is majestic with 40 ft.-tall columns and flight of steps. The western side has a facade of Rajasthan palaces. The four corners have four towers supporting domes topped by glittering metallic kalashas (inverted pitcher pots.) The main dome is very elegant and has the Indian National Emblem of four Asiatic lions standing back to back mounted on a circular base on the kalasha. Though grey granite is used for exterior, green, bluish, pink and black stones have been used for decoration. The interior of the Vidhana Soudha consists of a banquet hall, Legislative Assembly Hall, Legislative Council Hall, and Cabinet meeting hall in addition to many rooms for the ministers and high officers.
The wood work is another great attraction of this building. Particularly noteworthy are the carved doors of the office of the chief minister, cabinet hall and legislature hall. They show the Karnataka School of wood work at its best which is still a living tradition. Thus Vidhana Soudha is a proud heritage building built in the 20th century testifying to the architectural and sculptural tradition of ancient Karnataka. This building is an eloquent testimony to the continuation of ancient architectural and sculptural tradition of Karnataka as practiced by the Chalukyas, Hoysalas and Vijayanagara rulers. Thus this is a modern building in ancient style of Karnataka. That is the uniqueness of this elegant building.
Any visitor to Bangalore cannot afford to miss this magnificent building, a proud heritage structure of Karnataka, particularly when it is illuminated.
Bhoganandishwara temple in Kolar district is one of the finest Dravidian temples in Karnataka.
Actually it is not a single temple but a complex built over a period of more than six centuries beginning from eighth century A.D. According to inscriptions this temple was built by Ratnavali, the queen of Bana king Vidyadhara. As Bana Vidyadhara ruled during the last quarter of the eighth century A.D., the earliest part of this temple should have been built by that time. There are many Chola inscriptions of eleventh century A.D. in this temple.
The temple consists of a huge prakara of 320 feet long and 250 feet broad. The original temple consisted of two garbhagrihas, two sukhanasis, navaranga and two nandimandapas. The northern garbhagriha had an image of Bhoganandishwara while the southern garbhagriha was dedicated to god Arunachaleshwara. Sukhanasi and navaranga have finely carved jalandhras with sculptural embellishments. The nandi mandapa has Chola inscriptions and perhaps this was built during the Chola period.
The four pillars in the navaranga are carved with minute sculptures on all the sides. The ceiling over these pillars is huge and has Siva and Parvati along with eight dikpalas. In front of the navaranga entrance is the nandi mandapa with doorways on east, north and south. In front is a kalyanamandapa built of black stone. There are ceilings of ashtadikpalas. The beams have fine sculptures of Siva, Vishnu, Lakshmi, etc. The pillars are also carved with gods and goddesses like Hanuman, Vishnu, Lingodbhava, Krishna, Surya, Tandavesvara, Brahma, Gopalakrishna etc. The patalankana in front of the mukhamandapa is surrounded by an open verandah which stands on an ornamental plinth.
The outer walls of the early shrines have decorative plinths with pilasters, turrets and jalandhras with some sculptures here and there. In the prakara are found two shrines of a later period which have Prasanna Parvati and Apitakuchamba aspects of Devi as consorts of Bhoganandishwara and Arunachalesvara. To the north outside the encloser is a hall known as Vasantha mandapa which has sixteen fine pillars. Opposite to it is another mandapa with four pillars known as Tulabhara mandapa. To the north of this is a tank called Sringitirtha. Thus the entire temple complex is vast and attracts a large number of pilgrims from all over Karnataka.
The Bangalore fort was an ancient one with contributions from Chikkadevaraja Wadeyar, Haidar Ali, and others. Tipu Sultan dismantled some parts of it after 1792 but Dewan Poornaiah rebuilt the fort in 1800 A.D. Tipu’s palace is here within the fort area by the side of fort Venkataramana temple and actually it is very close to the Bangalore Medical College now.
It is said that this palace was begun by Haidar Ali in 1781 and Tipu made use of it later. Though the original facade and the frontal portions are not available now, the palace still makes a lasting impression as an elegant and magnificent structure worthy of the palace. The palace is basically built of wood, except for the peripheral outer walls built of mud and bricks.
The superstructure is of wooden frame with two stories with minute wooden carving decorations. What now remains is a frontal corridor with an upper balcony. Wide cusped arches are very conspicuous by their presence and they add a great majestic appearance. The wooden pillars with tapering design are very tall and this adds majesty to the entire structure. The walls and ceilings are of great attraction as they contain paintings of the contemporary period, consisting mostly of geometric designs and floral decorations.
Originally the upper story had four halls each comprising of two balconies and some rooms. The balconies faced parts of the office and was also used by the prince. At times it served as an audience hall also. At the end of the balconies were some rooms which were used for private purposes of the family of the Sultan. Though they look small from the present standards, with high roof they were cool and convenient for the people to live. There is a Persian inscription to the left of the verandah which calls it abode of happiness and envy of heaven. Its construction was started in 1781 and was completed in 1791 A.D.
After the death of Tipu Sultan it was used by Krishnaraja Wadeyar III to give audience to the citizens of Bangalore in 1808. Subsequently it was temporarily used by the British army. The Karnataka State Secretariat also worked from here. Finally it was taken over by the Archaeological Survey of India which has made it a protected monument. Thus it is a rare and elegant wooden palace at Bangalore.
The cave temple dedicated to Gangadhareshwara in Gavipuram of Basavanagudi in the heart of the city of Bangalore is a unique structure of great antiquity. The original shrine carved within a cave of rock has a door thirty feet wide and about seven feet in height. In front of this were built a mandapa and a sikhara during the period of Kempegowda of Bangalore. More important are the monolithic sculptures of trisula (trident), damaru (drum) and chatri (umbrella). They are of huge dimensions and hence prominently visible.
The cave has two garbhagrihas, one dedicated to Siva and the other one is for Durga, at the right side. Both are apsidal in nature. Gangadhareshwara shrine has a sukhanasi and before it is a nandi. Both the linga and the nandi are carved out of the rock. The shrine of Durga has no sukhanasi and before the shrine are two pillars on both sides. Both shrines have separate pradakshinapatha. At the right side of the Durga temple is a square shrine which has no image now. On the right are two more small caves. The walls are built of bricks of the later period. However, in the interior are carved pillars to support the roof.
From the outside, the Gangadhareshwara shrine has a fine circular sikhara which has carvings as well as niches with pilaster like decorations over which is a circular pot-like kalasha. The Surya shrine has a vimana of eight sides. Both these are stucco creations of the period of Kempegowda, the founder of Bangalore.
This temple has some fine sculptures too. Durga shrine has a four feet high Lakshmi sculpture with four hands. The sculptures of Bhairava, Dakshinamurti, Saptamatrikas have been kept inside the temple. Some of them may date back to eleventh century A.D., of the Chola period.
There is no evidence like inscription to date the Gangadhareshwara temple. However, on the basis of stylistic evidence, the earliest part of the temple may be dated to the Chola or Ganga period during the eleventh century A.D. The subsequent additions of the mandapa, sikharas and monolithic sculptures were made during the period of Kempegowda in the seventeenth century A.D.
Because of the cave architecture, this temple is unique in the history of art at Bangalore.
The Bangalore Palace is one of the most magnificent heritage buildings in the city of Bangalore. Though there are hundreds of heritage buildings in Bangalore, this one differs from all of them both in style and exuberance.
Originally it was a private building belonging to an Englishman by name N. Garrett, who was the first Principal of the Central High School in Bangalore, now known as Central College. It was purchased for the Maharaja in 1884 and the palace was built in 1880 at a cost of 10 lakhs of rupees. The total area of the palace is 45,000 square feet. The construction of the palace was started in 1862 and completed in 1944.
The importance of this palace lies in the fact that it is built on the model of the Windsor Castle, the royal residence at Windsor in the English county of Berkshire. It is a two storied granite building with fortified towers and turreted parapets which are the characters of the Tudor architecture of England. The resemblance is so marked that many scholars feel that this is an imitated version of the Tudor’s building as if it was transported to Bangalore. It has Roman pointed arches and bastion-like towers. Its layout is rich in pointed recesses which add majesty to the contour of the building. Another attraction of this structure is a large number of projections which result in pleasing geometric patterns of varied designs. The facade of the palace is exotic with a combination of tall watch-towers, spacious walls with square and arch-type windows and roundish structures, showing different levels of the roof.
Living quarters for the Maharani were added in 1890. But they were built in the Hindu architectural style and were connected to the main building by a covered pathway. The interior of the palace is full of decorations, molded and fluted pillars and large arches, walls decorated with floral patterns, intricately carved capitals, patterned cornices … all of a high order befitting a palace. Gorgeous chandeliers of great beauty have added a grace and charm to the interior.
Another attraction of this palace was the vast garden under the guidance of Sri N Venkatasamiraju, whose life-size statue adorns a niche in the palace. The vast open area round the palace in a heavily populated city, has added a great luxury to the edifice which itself is an epitome of luxury and royalty of the Maharajas of Mysore whose name and fame has spread far and wide including foreign lands. Thus this is one of the finest palaces in India.