BENGALURU: Editorial and documentary photographer Vivek Muthuramalingam never looks the other way when history locks eyes with him. And so it happened that the man behind the popular Facebook page Bangalore: A visual anthology was weaving his way through Avenue Road when an imposing, three-storey building with a sprawling forecourt, colonial features and a Lord Krishna stucco near the terrace stopped him in his tracks.
"That happens often," he says and adds, "I often get intrigued by old buildings, find my way in, and sometimes walk out with many pictures and great story."
The gracious facade charmed him enough to go looking for a story and he discovered that this was Chintalapalli Venkatamunaiah Setty's Free Boarding (CVMS) Hostel. That it was built in 1911 by Lakshmidevamma in the memory of her husband Chintalapalli Venkatamunaiah Setty, a merchant from Andhra Pradesh, to provide free board and lodging for disadvantaged students of the Arya Vysya community. That someone could take philanthropy this far surprised him, as did the fact that the hostel, continues to do the same over 103 years later.
Vivek also learn that Lakshmidevamma had been the patron of the paediatric wing at the Victoria Hospital. The current owner is SVS Subramanya Gupta who also happens to be the director of an automobile retail conglomerate and cuts no corners in looking after the building.
When Vivek walked in, he was struck by the visible care that has been invested in the upkeep of the facilities. He shares, "The iron rafters in the main hall, where the students play table tennis, have the impression of an English company 'Dorman Long and Co' and were also used in the construction of many royal palaces in England."
Vivek painstakingly captured the nuances of the space. The balusters, red-oxide flooring, Kadappa stone stairs, cast iron columns and carved overhangs create in the visitors both a sense of home and of a past that has somehow been magically amalgamated in the present.
Chintalapalli Venkatamunaiah Setty’s Free Boarding (CVMS) Hostel originated from a childless couple’s need to provide food and shelter to disadvantaged young students from the Arya Vysya community. It was built in 1911 and still continues to provide a restful space for free to needy students.
Location: #549, above Karur Vysya Bank, Avenue Road.