Thursday, October 27, 2016

Of Italian pizza and MysorePak; the question of heritage manufacture?


B S Bhooshan

Dr. B S Bhooshan, Architect and Urban Planner


A controversy is raging regarding fitness of the Devaraja Market, Mysore; to be conserved as a heritage structure or to be demolished as unsafe.  All kinds of opinions have been expressed especially after part of the structure collapsed during a conservation effort recently. We know that there are many poorer structures that were conserved elsewhere, but then that requires careful consideration of rehabilitation of not only the buildings but also its spaces and removal of overloaded functions. Simple rehabilitation is of no heritage value and will have limitations of use. Here we consider three aspects of the issue and some related misconceptions.

·                     1.       The market as originally built and its spatial heritage quality as an Indian Bazaar.
·                     2     The outer building’s conservation fitness and
·                     3      The overloading of the structures and spaces over the period of more than 100 years.

All these are interconnected questions.

The Market

Devaraja Market was built during the reign of Sri Chamaraja Wodeyar  1868-94. It is one of those several Market spaces built around that time in India,  in the tradition of Indian Bazaars. It is similar to Crawford Market in Mumbai, Russell market in Bangaluru or Connemara Market, Thiruvananthapuram. It is laid out with a two storied facade around and a series of simple rows of sheds inside, having tiled roof over steel trusses. Part of the rows were destroyed sometime ago and had been rebuilt in concrete with flat roof. The market is considered one of the surviving traditional Indian urban market heritage buildings.. To that extent it has value to be preserved

The plan, the spaces and the structures built around the bazaar space have served about 150 years and did it well. Made for a city of about 60,000 people upgrading a weekly open market in 1870 to a daily bazaar, this semi open market has been over crowded for its function as a main retail market today. The vegetable as well as the meat and fish markets cannot function as the only market for the more than a million population of the city. It is also not even a wholesale market. To be noted is that these functions need not be in the centre of a large city.

Naturally, the original use of the space and the spatial organisation that served for as smaller retail place has changed and modified most likely beyond the original. The heritage value of a retail market is to be assessed as to the value of the spatial structure and ambience it can project to the future generation as well as visitors and scholars, showing how it functioned originally.  This actually means museumising the past with some functions retained to make it financially viable.  The common place shed structures themselves has no heritage value other than falsified sentiments and to a large extent vested interests of the stakeholders. Especially so the whole idea of retaining the market and continue with overloaded functions, as it is.

Only way it can be meaningfully utilised would be to make it of a low intensity market. The retail fruits / vegetable as well as meat and fish markets are  to be decentralised in many secondary centres around the city first. A part of the the spatial heritage of market can be retained for the museum value for touristic purpose. It would mean that the place cannot be allowed to be used as it is now and then keep on increasing the intensity of use continuously. The market literally can be moved to other places as in this location it does not serve the whole city any more. Lack of secondary vegetable retail markets have created miserable road side vending conditions in many parts of the city. A project has to be thought of as to create many markets in different places.  This would go a long way in improving the city’s liveability.

The outer structure

Beyond this, the main contender for the heritage tag is the peripheral structure. That is the second question. Here again, the original structure seem to have been severely altered, even mutilated, subdivided and appurtenances extended in to the street. The heritage value is in its architecture that largely is an eclectic mixture taking cues from Mogul and other architectural lineages and using a technology of bricks, lime and Madras terrace of the time. The structure does not seem to be maintained well either. However, it is possible to conserve any old structure as a heritage piece, provided it is trimmed of the current intense function and is carefully structurally rehabilitated.  Conservation should not be confused with rehabilitation of a building for a continued utility alone. It is to conserve a piece of built heritage for the cultural and historical value of it.  To that extent it has a historical and technology dimension. It also does not mean only to conserve the building or part of it alone, but to change its functions and substantially change the quality of the precinct as well.  The spaces around the building and the roads make up the precinct including the pavements and approaches and to put them back as it would have existed originally, but not as of now.  It would also mean that removal of guardy neon lights, contemporary hoardings, signage etc and recreating an ambiance of the past, as much as possible. It will also include not allowing certain functions other than that would fit inside a heritage structure. A more relaxed places like coffee houses,  restaurants, book shops, curio and handicraft shops, library etc. In short museumising the whole place and creating a cultural-recreational-market complex. That would be largely be pedestrian including certain parts of roads and streets around, resulting in restraining of vehicular traffic.
It would have to be part of an urban design plan for the centre. The heritage value of the city would improve, then.

The rebuilding lobby and compromise formula;

Any structure can be conserved.  But its use would depend on many factors. The heritage value can be retained only by appropriately reducing and changing the present functional load and intensity of use. This would also ease structural conservation. However the argument of a compromise formula, as suggested by some and reported in news papers, to retain the facade and change the inside to high value commercial mall does scant respect to the idea of conservation and would do more damage to heritage than good.  It would be ridiculing of Mysore city’s heritage itself. The heritage is not in the facade or outer shape of buildings. It is in the spirit of the place. It is about retaining the expressive part of building culture of the time; the techniques, the skills and the meanings derived over time. If we do not understand the value of it, please don’t attempt to make a mockery of the heritage. Even the so-called heritage of some of the city’s buildings is maintained on too flimsy ground. Some identified heritage buildings do not have any long history or of substantial architectural value of the time. Many are of less than a century old and has been built to look old even at that time for political reasons. This is noted in already published historical research and published books by scholars. However, the retaining of the past structure is one matter and making false fascia by poorly copying, often pathetically disproportionate too, of the old features on a new building is another. It is an anachronism of misunderstanding and of poor taste and imagination. Is this what the compromise formula suggests? It is as farcical as arguing that any pizza made and sold in Mysusu should look like MYSOREPAK. That is after all one of our original product, a real heritage. It is not the look, please note, that matters in architecture as well in food. It is the content.

The increasing argument for rebuilding is largely stemming from commercial interest of vested interest, stressing on the high value of the land in the centre. From the urban design point of view, however, it makes no sense to furthering the central density without changing the already flimsy historical character. What is needed is to slowly shift intense retail commercial activity  away from the centre to a secondary ring and remake the historical centre to a less intensely built,  more pedestrian, cultural cum commercial place with more of open to sky vending spaces which would  give an original character back to the city centre. If we cannot be sure of what we can do, it is better to leave the place with minimal intervention. Let the future generation decide.

Pathology of false heritage mutiplication

 In the recent past experiences of public buildings built in the city is of fairly poor precedence, take the case pf the ourts, new mini Vidhan Soudha, the  buildings being built in the Northern side of Kukkerehalli Kere, and many more.  They all show  poor understanding of value of architecture as a total integrated art and not just facial convolutions of false arches and paints over concrete frame structures. They neither pay homage to our real heritage, nor the soul of the technology of the time. They are just monumental pretences. Some grossly vulgar too. The arches and decorative plasters are totally false “paste-on-extras”, aped from the past, a pathetic anachronism at display.

More pathetic is the replication of canopy structures of KR Circle and Chamarajendra Circle  to many other junctions around the city. They are disproportionately overpowering on the new statues, especially so in Vivekananada circle where the statue seems buried and the Kuvempu statue at a corner park in Kuvempunagar. In one go, we are insulting the personalities of these statues to stand in inaccessible traffic islands and also exposing our ignorance of history and built  heritage in mathematically multiplying and aping the architectural forms of past follies. In fact, the original circles themselves were made only around the middle of the last century. The architecture of most heritage structures also were clearly, as researchers of history have noticed, were acts of conceit to show the people the city itself was very old and of heritage alue. They were designed to look the instructions of then authorities. We seem to revel in pomposity .

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Tethering ties of love and death.

Miles and miles of thoughts like clouds
floating outside the oval glass 
Below the flapless wings 
Of humongous metal bird
A  son goes back home leaving
Steaks of fun and drafts of wine.

Streaks of pink,
Orange, maroons and lilacs
Virtually painted at the horizon
Would fade soon when
The chase of time ends
And this weary farmer’s son
Would land to haggle through
To labyrinth of rules and laws
To get back to a lengthy rude ride
Along the narrow roads
Of human streams,

Eyes close and dream rides back 
Inside a cart of rainbow
To the
Hours, days and years,

A half clad kid walking
The gravelly soil to rice fields 
Watching the yoking of the beasts 
Of desire and ambition
Drops of rain seducing the dry
Parched soil mixing with sweat from
The farmer's bare body. 
The earthy fissures turning wet 
To receive the plough's tongue
Turning pods of soil 
Like churning of the young mind 
Watching from the banks of the field.

Dreaming to escape the dredge
That was the dad’s pleasure as well as pain.

Not to his own son, dad thought
And wished and yearned and even goaded  
The son to grow wings
Escape to towns of remote lands
Yet longed without words that he would
Return to the father and the dry banks
To oversee the hired hands
Toiling the slushy soil, one day.
The son knew but pretended otherwise.

Father’dreams never match
The son’s ambitions. The farmer knew that,
The son did not then.

Leaping from the lips of wet earth
The son vaulted himself to
Known treasures and unknown
Pleasures to strokes of luck
And Lust for life
Values of new shores and
Calls of anonymity
Escaping the leash of love
Limits of emotions.

Dreams of desires 
At distant bazaars
Uprooting links
Breaking limbs
Shedding covers
Baring the nasty selfishness
Chasing loveless goals
Drifting, floating in flood
Aimlessly  to anchor again
Then again escape from  
New  tethers of ties, naked bare love.
Ultimate freedom of enlightenment or
Roller coaster of bohemian existence.
Chips of life seeded
Growing new mute ties
Freedom  of self forgotten awhile.

 Why was the broken tether soldiered?
Why the Jolting call and jetting back?
The body of the farmer
Still awaits in the morgue
To receive his precious dream,
His son, flying back with caged desires
Forgotten unsaid promises
Missed shores and yet
Missing strokes of love.

Friday, September 16, 2016


Make me attractive
Stone told sculptor
It is not in you
Said the sculptor and walked away
Paint on me said the canvas
You don't have the colours
Said the artist
Put us together
Said the words
I have no idea said the poet.
Do something to me
I asked?
You sculpted a life out of me.
A full iife.
Who are you?
What are you?
Does any one know?

Monday, September 12, 2016


Kaveri or Cauvery,  
from Sahyadri to Bay of Bengal
Talakkaveri to Tanjavur.

Geat flow of eternal life
Ebbing through mountains,
making veins on the rocks,. roaring,
drifting,meandering,on the sandy plains
giggling,Laugh loudly at falls
for millions of years before we arrived.

She learned to speak
Kannada upto Biligondlu
And Tamil after that.
Fondly nurturing these languages
for centuries.

Her children have learned of 
Kannada thirst or Tamil thirst
and ask her to carry more of hatred?
upward and downward.
speaking of funny words of TMCFT,
carrying image of violence
from Hills to sea
and in riverse too.
Occassionally though.

She wonders are they her children or
of land's languages?
Wonder if they would save the power of speech?
or her energy and sap of life.
And her children..

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Empty sweet nothing.

My heart beats
Loudly that you hear
You say it is your name
I am happy.
I nod. You happy?
It is my name
that my heart beats
You know it too.
We exchange places.
And reverse the talk.
We both happy.
Innocent games.
Played with out a referee.
Or momentary illusions
Of intense sweet nothing?


Look my child,
The tree shed all the leaves
Revealing the twists and turns,
yanks and curls,
Knots and nodes
Of branches and twigs.
It was all warped beneath
The green roundish wrap cover.. you see.
No dad, she tells me
It is your warped mind that sees that.
I don't. I still see the green.
May be. I say.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


Nun sense : no sense.
What next?

Monday, September 5, 2016


Workers strike today . 2nd September.
Bangalore Mysore highway
Sun on strike too.
Sympathy with workers?
Dull . Overcast. Sky. All hues of grey.
Dark green trees.
Eyelids drop. Short nap.
Jerk. Open. Rub eyes
Colours appear. Imagine.
Edit pictures
New hues and shades
Shapes and layers
Emerging from the sky.
Interesting. Engaging. Fun.
Life. part real. Rest imagination.
What we make out of it. Perhaps.
Attitude. And Mood.
Hope and resistance
Worker's demands.
Sarkari response.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Waves fall on wet sandy shore
Playing curling twisting
Crushing one another
Tickling embracing giggling
Innocence of adolescence
Retreating again to  sea.

Some grow tall and smart adults
Rush over wet sands
Cross over a sandy ridge
Gushing down other side joyly
Soak into the dryness
of spongy grains and seep down.
Never to return. To the sea.
Giggle dries. Bliss perhaps.

Sea roars and waves continue

Friday, August 26, 2016


Kanyakumari is tipping
First the Gandhi memorial
Then the Vivekanananda memorial
on the rock in the sea to be
Dwarfed by
Statue of Thiruvalluvar that grew
Out of the sea recently.
A 17 ft Hanuman statue
and a Bharatmatha edifice soon.
Bill board announces.
Competition is on.
altius and perhaps fortius too.
Commerce flourishes, visitors, hotels,
Higher denser, town expands, sea line erodes
Sand dirties, rocks crack, chemical smears
Is Southern tip at the 'tipping point' already?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Beladingala sangeeta

. Exhilarating.

Dew drops, dristles, pouring rain
Coalescing into warming heart
Vibrating and churning subconscious
Colours, strange colours with closed eyes
Patterns and strange spaces.
Realising how notes create strange spaces
And shadows and experiential architecture.
Virtual reality.
Beyond cerebral and beyond emotion.
Bliss. Bliss . and madness.
Superb swing of great music
Vishwamohan Bhatt on mohan veena
Mysore Nagaraj on violin
Jugal bandi producing magical moments
With Ravindra Yavagal tabla
Pravin mridangam.

Thursday, August 4, 2016


Don't play in the rain, will get cold
Don't go out in hot sun, you will be sick
Don't play too long, come back quick
Don't have too many friends,
choose only Good ones
Don't do that, it is for your good.
Study medicine or engg.
Don't go after your passions. It does not pay.
Take this job. Buy this apartment.
Don't stay single, getting old.
Don't fall in love. We will arrage.
Do. Don't don't grow up.
What? You decided not to have children?
You are still a kid. My child. You are not listening.
HEY YOU WANT A DIVORCE. What? And marry some one else? Aww.
Talk to your grand parents?
Look at us. Above 60. And we are together. 40 years. Peacefully we exist. Though don't talk to each other. We are still kids. Didn't ever grow up. Our parents are still alive. You know.
Our culture, my child. Our culture.
.......... ..
Do you want me to kill them before I kill you ?
I want to live. Not exist.
My dear parent.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

empty rhythm

I threw a stone to water "gluum"
Joyed. Another one .. glum.. yet another....
Aww. No water.
Crow just flew away. No stone either....
Let us find the joy of Empty Rhythm. Can we?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Pt.Rajiv Taranath : Sarod Recital 25 July 2016

I enjoy sound. But know no music
But this evening was terrific.
Pandit Rajiv Tharanath rocked.
At the senet hall Mysore University.
I experienced the solidity and fluidity
Of Hindustani music in Sarod
Meandering throgh the sonic space of strings
Rolling of pebbles in water
over tabla of Pandit Yogesh Shamsi.
Mind was exhilarated as Rhythm dripped through my ears flowing down to hands and Fingers down to gently shaking feet.
An experience to remember.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

I was not unhappy despite
what you thought.
I am still not.
Your smile will not fit to my face.
To show that I am happy.

Saturday, July 23, 2016


Tease / tickle / punch / pierce
Gore / kill
Volley of words. even not  aimed.
Like pellet shots. Maim and bleed.
Words like swords; More potent.
It tickles. Below the belt .
And chops off head.
In one single stroke.
Words are like Nice trucks.
And suicide bombs / sugar coated poison too.

random posts

It has become dark with clouds
Looks like rain is about to come down
Why do we say it is going to rain?  :-)


You need l
To fight, to compete, to compare,
To try to be complete each of us
To be We.
Then We need They. Why?

child play

Nice pebbles you pick up to throw.
For others to pick up. You revel. My child.
I too enjoy.
Watching you enjoy.
But you are also throwing some of
your marbles and some gems too.  You know it.
But don't stop. Keep throwing all.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


We howl to stop your dream at night
And we drop shit at your gate.
We will do that every night.
It is our right. You don't like it.
Don't you think,
You are like us too.
Wagging  tails
For crumbs that fall.

Dropping  your shit all over
Spitting on wall, wailing to it as well.
Fighting for posts
Bending your knees
to Queen bees.

You post and complain
For freedom of expression
And that and this,
Also to eliminate  us.

You are polished
We are crude and rude.

Your write and shout,
Similar. But bullshit.
You think yours is trenchant,

Ours is more punchent. 
It is Dogshit. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

the terrorist

After a beautiful rainy night
Peaceful cloudy day. Nice
Walking along the usual trail
Good mornings and how are you? s.

The fierce sun is shooting
Sharp lobs of fire
Through holes in lively dark clouds
Like a terrorist behind a religious curtain.

Friday, July 8, 2016

popular means of power

Power is to control others.
Many desire that.
Popularity is others liking what one does.
To be popular is a democratic curse.
As a means to be in power.
When these two combine
One goes any extend.
Money, corruption, lies, false projections,
Threats, buying media. Dress, loose talks.


Zealous relationship
is Like a horse ride
Egos take turns
to be a horse or a rider.
It is here and now.
Nothing ever after. Except hope.
We make our lives a cart ride
Two yoked together
For some else to ride.
Life goes stale.
We all can trot together,
Galloping needs pairs.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Nostalgia : My home

I left my native home and village in 1963. I was 17.
It was my parents’ home. 
A middle-class-farmer’s house, in  Southern Kerala.
Never again I stayed there for more than a month at a stretch.

Yet the image of this home 
with leaky tile roof, wooden creaky attic,  
a cattle shed and hay stacks,
remained as that of my home.
The place that I grew up and had siblings,
grandparents and parents 
played with early friends around the yards,
With all the uncomfortably hot and dark interiors,
rice and grains in all nooks, the dust, high ceilings, 
the cattle ‘moos’ and goaty 'bahs'
the sweaty nights of summer,
the grandma-instilled fear 
to open windows at night 
and love of darkness.
All etched a foggy fond memory to call it  my home

until the last of my parents , my father, died in 2008.

Until then I used to return to my home regularly;
I do go there often now, but I do not ‘return’ home.

The image of my home.     It evaporated slowly.
My children grew up in the residence I built,
Where I stay now, in Mysore
They come once a while for a few days; new nomads.

Yet I know,  this is their home.  

And me, am I homeless?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

way and the will

I found a way
There shall be a 'will' then. Somewhere.
Let me find that . Help.

On the will to find way
This guy on the way
Who? The guy wire
Keeps the electric pole erect.
Wires, crumpled wires, poles, steel rods,
Human will writing New nature?
With Gun shots and trucks elsewhere.
The rhetorics of ' will'. Of daily existence.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Water man of India

Nice that I went to listen to Rajendrasinghji, waterman of India. Very informative, entertaining and inspiring. Organised by Builders Association of India, Mysore Chapter.

The main focus of the talk on based on 3 decades of his work in water conservation and rural transformation in several districts in Rajasthan .

1. Water conservation is a simple program of trapping water rain into multitudes of smaller tanks by local communities by themselves and not by corporates or Governments through intermediary contractors. SMALL AND LOCAL SELF HEL IS BEAUTIFUL, REALLY

2. The small scale conservation even changes the hydrologic cycle and helps growing trees and makes low level cloud formation and precipitation on previous barren lands. It changes the landscape over a period. A climate adaptation happens reversing the process of desertification. DON'T ATTEMPT THINGS TO CHANGE OVERNIGHT..
3. Development takes place naturally of agriculture and change of landscape over period. The process is democratically democratic and contagious. Over 1000 villages in the previous dry land has been brought back to life and reversal migration has happened. Six dry revers are made perennial again.  WATER CONSERVATION IS the BASIS FOR GRASS ROOT DEMOCRACY.
4. Most wars today are water wars. Depletion of water with modern development of agriculture and industry is the reason for  poverty and exploitation and leads to conflicts and wars.  EVEN SYRIAN WAR IS BASICALLY WATER WAR, NOT RELIGIOUS ONE AS MADE OUT BY MEDIA. Rajendra singhji said. OBVIOUSLY OVERSIMPLIFIED.

THE TALK  WAS QUITE ENTERTAINING. SINGH WAS A NATURAL COMMUNICATOR, an essential quality of a grass root level leader. He spoke humorously in a mixture of English and Hindi very effectively engaging the audience.

TWO MAJOR QUESTIONS REMAIN:  The geo-hydrologic nature of the regions differs, therefore what method is successful in Rajasthan MAY NOTt be replicable elsewhere;  in  Coastal Karnataka or Malnad for example.  The social dynamics that was possible in this region may not be possible in another part of India , requiring a different organisational approach. However, Democratic community  LEADERSHIP, not necessarily electoral DEMOCRACY, perhaps, is the answer to many an ills of water conservation and rural underdevelopment. How many would agree?

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Stymieing a giant on stage

Stymieing of a giant on stage.
Went to Kalamandira, Mysore last evening with friends to see Visakhdatta's Sanskrit play Mudra rakshasa adapted to Kannada. This was part of a theatre festival for 3 days. There were two more festivals happening in the same campus for several days. Felt good for the Mysoreans. Have our art sensivity and sensibilities widening? Nice to see many families and youngsters taking to this form of performance than just movies and TVs.. And many organisations too promoting it. Really pleased and pleasing.
Yet what we looked forward to last evening did not happen. Expecting an exhilarating evening, it turned out to be 'ex- hilarious' disappointment due to failure of infrastructure, management as well as intellectual applications.
First, the show was announced to start at 6:30 pm. It did not start even by 7.15. The problem as usual was excused as technical. The sound system of this show piece of Mysore gave way. rIt was enovated spending crores of public money recently. The huge auditorium with its humongous voluminous stage specifically undermines the human scale dramatic performances. It is good for pageants and rallies and drab, insensitive political gibberish. The organisers did not feel it their problem to look at these in advance. They could have at least announced to the sensible public about the delay and apologise for it, instead of keeping them waiting in the inanimate space.
The delay in starting leaves a bad mood to get tuned to even a good performance. But then if the performance itself reduces to gibberish, the play becomes a cruel joke. The stage was not set to a human scale to the legendary story of larger than life almost mythological Chanakya or Kaultilya of early last millennium. The audience came eager to see the dramatising of classic political machinations of all history which saw change of regimes and the use of graft and sex and poison that is of omnipresent significance. We were treated with a drab introduction of frozen statuesque yet puny presence (due to high ceiling stage) of Chanakya and a drab amateurish primary school level serpent dance sequence of a Visha kanya narrating the story up to then. That too for more than 5 long minutes. Then came the stellar performance of Chanakya animating himself to life, and sitting down on the floor of the voluminous stage and starting his monotonic monologue almost like political gibberish that hardly anyone could follow. The memorized recitation reminiscent of a primary school kid with hardly any movement or emotion was the last straw. One could expect what was in store. We left after 30 minutes.
Thinking and talking about the hilarious Stymieing of a mythical giant of Indian political history, gave a lot to feel humorous and laugh about. A hilarious evening indeed, it was.