Tuesday, 10 July 2018

"Gun House", Mysore - a colonial sructure

Gun House, close to palace, Mysore. .inspirock.com



Mysore city, Karnataka,  South India,  once the seat of power of the Wadiyar Royal family's dynasty, is an interesting place for the tourists. It is an important tourist destinations in India.  This quiet city  boasts of pretty old buildings that bring out the ethos of both brief colonial rule as well as that of the Indian royal family who got the kingdom back from the British after rendition. Around 1881  Maharajah Chamarajah X  became the ruler and accordingly a British Resident and a Dewan to take care of the affairs of the administration were appointed. Till independence in August 1947, Mysore was a princely State within the British Indian Empire. The Wadiyar rulers were not content with a spectacular Mysore palace building and restrict themselves with their residence, but were instrumental in building many impressive structures outside the palace. Several of them going back to the last century take us back to an era when the Wadiyars were a force to reckon with.
Mysore city. Maps of India
Gun House, close to palace, Mysore  Times of India
However, during their rule, to some extent, they were dependent on the British in matters related to military.  Close to the Mysore palace (just outside) where the annual Dussera festival is celebrated with great fanfare, lies a bright red structure with white trimming. Negligence is writ on the building  and curious visitors to the palace take pain to visit this unassuming small building whose historical importance can not be ignored. Known as the Gun House, this building, more than a century old,  is simply a vestige of  city’s colonial past. What makes this structure unique is its design and style. Served as ‘gun-shed, guard and office rooms’ the  building has European elements - a mix of Tudor turrets (a small tower projects vertically from the wall of the building similar to a medieval castle) and European Baroque features. The central hall with a sloped roof  and dormer windows, the front arched openings with a stonework frame done in white are some of the exotic architectural features.  The advantage of Dormer windows is these structures that protrude from the plane of a sloping roof  line of the central hall are a source of ventilation  and light for the top floors, besides increasing  the height of the hall. The feature that gets us attention most is the rooms flanking  both ends  have gabled roofs with moulded pediments. The Tudor style adopted here is that of  the 19th century with a notched parapet built on top of the wall, with alternating merlons and crenels for decoration or defence, which is known as battlement. The baroque elements (of Italy) reflect 17th century features.

The Gun House, which is off Nanjanagud road, once  housed
armory and cannons of erstwhile Maharaja's for defense purpose. Built in 1910, it was  converted into a  museum  displaying guns, different types of armory, etc once used by the Maharajahs' military officials. Considering the proximity of the palace, the British soldiers who were assigned to defend the Maharajah of Mysore from attacks were in charge of the Gun House.

This small structure has become a neglected and  run-down place that needs serious  attention from the Government's heritage Department. Now, I understand, is closed to public. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/travel/mysore/gun-house/ps51222621.cms




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