A 57-year-old landmark building on Brigade road is set to down its shutters in less than a week following the Karnataka High Court orders. After serving the legendary ‘Sulaimani chai’, Kohinoor Hotel will serve the last few cups to it’s loyal customers on the 24th of this month.
This hotel is just one of the latest to join the spate of landmark buildings which will cease to exist. The reasons are many ranging from spiraling property prices, rapid urbanisation and complete disregard for buildings which are part of the city’s heritage including prime restaurants, cafes, cinema halls and colleges among others. As in the 1970s or the 80s, you could actually tell a person, asking for directions, “Take a left after the Victoria Hotel or go further down the Plaza Theatre,” but none of these buildings exist anymore. Today, they are replaced with commercial complexes and high rise glass-and chrome buildings.
Arun Prasad, founder of Discover Bangalore, says, “Most of these landmarks have disappeared and whatever is remaining may also vanish completely from the city’s skyline. They are not just cultural or architectural heritage but the soul of the city. Though the landmark book shops like Gangarams or Premier Book Shop were an important part of the city’s landmark.”
Arun feels that there should be a clear policy on demolition and preservation and adds, “Even if a private company takes over a heritage building, the government should continue its care of the building, thereby, ruling out the possibility of demolition.”
Dr S K Aruni, Deputy Director of Indian Council of Historical Research says, “The preservation of monuments or heritage buildings is a problem not only in Bangalore but other parts of the country. Our city is losing public structures from the colonial period and there is no documentation either.”
He further claims that the government neither maintains any kind of list of the heritage buildings in the city nor any policy on their preservation unlike Hyderabad or Delhi. Aruni says, “The alternative to demolition is to retain the outer part of the building. We should have governing bodies for heritage buildings. The best examples for this are Pondicherry and Goa.”