MANIPAL: Vijayanath Shenoy, the well-known heritage conservationist and preserver of antique articles, died on Thursday at his residence in Manipal. He was 83. He was the creator of Hasta Shilpa and is survived by his wife Manjula, son Srinivas, and daughter Anuroopa.
His family said that he was keeping frail health for the last few months and passed away at his residence.
Shenoy is best known for being the creator of ‘Hasta Shilpa’, a traditional style house rebuilt from the relics of demolished old houses which he had collected from various places in the 70s and 80s. This house which he had built in 1984 became an instant sensation and shot him to international fame.
Though he had intended it to be his personal residence, the steady stream of visitors persuaded him to dedicate it to society as a walk-through museum.
Later, he founded the Hasta Shilpa Heritage Trust Village, and created the famous Heritage Village in Manipal on a seven-acre plot with 26 immaculately restored centuries-old houses and museums devoted to crafts, Tanjore paintings, objects from the south Indian mercantile trade, and Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings. It was opened up to the public on May 9 last year.
Vijaynath Shenoy was earlier employed with Syndicate Bank as a manager and his initial foray into this field was self-funded by his savings and he had even exhausted all the loans he was eligible for as a bank employee.
His wife Manjula who also worked in the same bank pitched in her savings and available loans for funding his passion.
His bigger project Heritage Village was built with public funding, including aid from Finnish and Norwegian embassies. Among elegant old structures to be found there are a 400-year-old Bunt Guthu House, the 500-year-old Kamal Mahal (which once belonged to a vassal king of the Vijayanagar empire), monasteries that once housed followers of Advaita and Veerashaiva faiths and a century-old trading house-cum-residence.
All these structures were saved from imminent destruction and transplanted to their present site brick by brick, and the entire process too has been documented, say his friends and relatives.