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Heritage buildings vanish as Bangalore goes hi-tech

Janaki Murali


A view of the building that houses the Department of Information and Publicity.

BANGALORE, March 15

AS Bangalore turns hi-tech, the old and quaint buildings of the Raj era are being razed to the ground one by one to give way to swanky glass and chrome structures to keep with its image of being a city of the new millennium.

Victoria Hotel, one of the landmarks of the city is gone, so has the Bangalore Press. Among the latest structures to join the demolition list are the erstwhile offices of the State Information Department. A landmark on Infantry Road, the information department buildings will be replaced by a new six-storey building at tacost of Rs 6. 5 crore.

Mr D.V. Guruprasad, Information Director, told Business Line, that the new building would house the various departments of the information division, which are right now scattered all over the city. It will have a conference hall to accommodate 250 people.. "Till now we were holding all press conferences at the Vidhana Soudha, now we can hold them here,'' he added.

Demolition work on the 80-year-old building is expected to begin any day now and the Public Works Department will oversee the construction of the new six-storey structure.

One of the main attractions in the campus of the erstwhile Information Department offices is an 80-year-old peepul tree. Mr Guruprasad, however, was quick to add that the peepul tree would not be pulled down to accommodate the new building.

The Information Department complex has a main bungalow. The outlying buildings were originally owned by Mohammed Hussain Sait, a businessman in Bangalore Cantonment. In 1946, this property was sold to one J.B. Dominick, and was later taken over by the Mysore Government.

These buildings were at one time the offices of the Labour Commissioner and even an employment exchange.

There were even plans to build a Karmika Bhavan here, which however has been housed elsewhere in the city.

Infantry Road itself housed the barracks of Indian foot soldiers and during World War II, Infantry Road, along with the adjacent Cubbon Road, housed foreign troops, including American soldiers, according to a heritage watcher.

Meanwhile, the Bangalore Urban Arts Commission, which was set up to oversee the preservation of heritage and historical structures, has been allowed to die a natural death, with its term not being renewed after it ended last year.

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