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”Manikyavelu Mansion”, Bangalore that houses the finest art gallery (NGMA) is a fine heritage structure

National Gallery of Modern Art bldg., Bangalore google.com
National Gallery of Modern Art bldg., Bangalore deccanherald.com

Above image; The building was known as Manikyavelu  mansion.

National Gallery of Modern Art, a popular place in Bangalore has been here since its inception in 2009. It was opened with a view to  showcasing modern Indian art –  modern and contemporary arts.  It houses  paintings by  a large number of modern and contemporary artists, besides a good  collection of paintings about 500  including  Raja Ravi Varma,  Jamini Roy, Amrita Sher-Gil, Rabindranath Tagore and others. Apart, it serves as  a venue for lectures on  art and culture and organizes workshops related to arts. With art reference library, auditorium, cafeteria, sculpture garden and museum shop,   (NGMA) is a cultural hub of this city.  are other highlights of the structure.

window topped by pediment.shutterstock.com

Dentil cornice in a UK home. ukhomeinteriors.co.uk

Above images: Architectural elements common in the 19th century…………….. 

dentilled cornices Manikyavelu  mansion, Bangalore
National Gallery of Modern Art bldg., Bangalore oursquare.com

National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), functioning in a fine    heritage building  on Palace Road was built by a merchant named Haji Sir Ismail Sait.  Named  Ismailia’  it was a two-story  brick and mud-plastered building  in the midst of greenery.  The imposing colonnaded porch and verandah, dentilled cornices for better look, parapet near roofing and pedimented windows are meant to enhance the look of the building. Such features were common in the colonial building prior to 1900.  In the early 1900 the royal Wadiyar family bought many  bungalows near the Bangalore palace including this one and the other one -,Melville  House on the same road.  In 1917 the building underwent some minor changes and a decade later Raja Manikyavelu Mudaliar became the owner of this sprawling  big mansion; hence the mansion is known as   Manikyavelu Mansion. He was a successful businessman and mines owner and later owned silk and wollen mills in 1820s. After his death in 1939, his heirs had to pay hefty tax (estate duty) and in 1964 the state government acquired the building. In 1970 Housing board was in charge of the house. After 1980, the building was not used and  maintained. Because of over growth of vegetation, wild grass. plants, etc  there were cracks in the building that weakened the structure.  Wall plastering started pealing off  and wooden rafters in some places fell down.  The 19th century  building  owned by different owners in the past and had begun to lose primarily due to  and negligence. 

The 90 plus year  old building once  home to very  rich people and royals  was specifically chosen by the government to house the art gallery.  It was repaired and restored  in the early 2000s  for reuse  under the guidance of architect  Naresh Narasmihan. The architect was particular about saving its aesthetics so he never touched the garden and made alterations. Nor did he remove the well-grown trees  around the site.  

What is special about the building is it is surrounded by lots of trees -sandalwood,  banyan, etc and  the campus covers roughly three-and-a-half acre of greenery where visitors can relax and take a brief respite in the cool shadows of the trees. There exist a harmony between the majestic old building and the rich art gallery inside.  It is a fascinating art gallery according to many media reports and is worth a visit.   



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