BANGALORE: The fight for protecting the 200-year-old Balabrooie Guest House on Sankey Road in the heart of the city intensified on Thursday as a group of citizens met at Ravindra Kalakshetra to show their support for the monument.
The group included members of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, Bygone Bangalore and others. Another such meeting is planned at 11 am on Sunday at the guest house and everyone is invited, the group said.
Discussions included observations on the condition of the building. “The government should be the guardian of ancient bildings and not the destroyer. We cannot become an ultra modern city at the cost of our old monuments. Balabrooie Guest House is one of the very few colonial buildings left in the city and it is in a very good condition,” a group member said.
The guest house, which is located in a 14-acre spread containing 100-year-old trees, has seen several high profile guests such as Jawaharlal Nehru and Rabindranath Tagore, besides being the home of Mark Cubbon, who was the Chief Commissioner of Bangalore in 1850.
The plan now is to demolish the guest house to make way for a legislators’ club.
The Bangalore Political Action Committee (BPAC), an action group, also joined the protest by posting a petition to the Chief Minister on its Facebook page asking him to intervene and cancel the demolition order. The petition had 350 supporters by Thursday evening, with 150 more to go for its target of 500 signatures.
Several other Facebook pages have also cropped up by Thursday, providing awareness about the proposed move and urging people to exert pressure on the government to cancel the decision.
The heritage building replete with a rich history of 150 years. Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore stayed here in 1922 and authored a book Shesher Kobita and completed another work Yogayog. The name Balabrooie is attributed to the birthplace of Sir Mark Cubbon, the then Chief Commissioner of Bangalore, which meant ‘Farm on the River Bank’.
Arun Prasad, a historian, explains that Balabrooie has a wonderful history and he has been studying this heritage structure. “A magnificent mansion built in 1860s, it is undoubtedly a heritage that has got a special place in Bangalore’s history,” he said.