BANGALORE: The Attara Kacheri on Ambedkar Veedhi is one building that inspires instant respect. It is a non-religious temple where hope lives for victims of injustice in the form of the Karnataka High Court. Named Attara Kacheri for holding 18 offices or departments, the High Court was originally a public office run by the British. In fact in the earlier days it was known as Bowring’s Attara Kacheri or Old Public Offices.
Prior to this, the British ran their administration from Tipu’s Sultan’s Palace in the Fort area (now Chamrajpet). Space constraints and maintenance issues forced them to set up a new building that suited their style. Tipu’s Palace was a makeshift administrative building, a temporary stay till they built a place of their own.
Late T P Issar, in his book The City Beautiful says “When Bowring took over as commissioner after Cubbon (Sir Mark Cubbon), he found the building unsuitable, because of its state of maintenance and its limited accommodation which no longer sufficed for the much increased work of administering the state. It was he who conceived and prepared the plans for a full-fledged secretariat building in the city area.”
Thus the administrative building consisting of 18 offices was built away from the Pete area. It was constructed in 1864 at a cost of `4.5 lakh. The work was executed by Rao Bahadur Arcot Narayanaswamy Mudaliar. The administrative offices of the state continued to be located in the Attara Kacheri till 1956, after which they were shifted to the majestic Vidhana Soudha, built in much grandiose, shadowing the Attara Kacheri with its imposing structure and intimidating height. By doing so the post-Independence Indian administrators were making a statement to the British — that they were no longer in their control.
When the public administration moved to Vidhana Soudha, the Attara Kacheri was used to house the High Court. It is a two-storied building of stone and brick, painted red, in the Graeco-Roman style of architecture and covers 1.95 lakh square feet. Issar interestingly calls the building a part of the Attara Kacheri-Museum group which also includes the State Central library since the triad are all rustic red in colour with a similar design structure.
“The Cubbon Park was laid out later behind the edifice to provide a suitable setting to it. The equestrian statue of Sir Mark Cubbon, unveiled in 1868 was set at a carefully selected focal point against the main tower, adding a touch of grandeur and giving impressive scale to the building,” says Issar. The statue of Mark Cubbon was later shifted to the rear of the building.
The Attara Kacheri is axially in line with the Vidhana Soudha and the state Archeological Museum in the Park. All around the red Attara Kacheri is beautiful lush greenery. The building and the greenery make it a hot tourist spot in Bangalore.
The Attara Kacheri was expanded in the 1920s and again in the 40s. Up until a few decades ago, entry to Cubbon Park through the High Court was open to the public but due to security reasons a huge gate was installed. For all those who wish to feast their eyes on this beauty, the view through the tall gates won’t do justice. The only things you get to see are the narrow passageways through the arches, the regal columns and the closed windows. If this isn’t such a dampener wait to be mistaken for a potential security threat and shooed away by the security guards.