Situated at Ambedkar Bheedhi, Sampangi Rama Nagar in the heart of Bengaluru, Karnataka, the majestic and imposing Vidhana Soudha is the seat of the Karnataka state legislature. It was built in 1956 for a whopping USD 2,10,000 or roughly Rs 15 crores, back then. Owned by the government of Karnataka, this venerable institution-cum-monument goes up to 46 metres in height, while covering a sprawling 60 acres. The architectural style is often labeled as Neo-Dravidian with strong Mysore design influences.
The approximate value of this landmark in Bengaluru is Rs 3,920 crores and 40 lakhs. This calculation takes into account the 60 acres area or roughly 26,13,600 sq ft and the prevailing land rates in the area, which is between Rs 6,000 and Rs 18,000 per sq ft. Taking Rs 15,000 per sq ft as the average price, one reaches this staggering figure although the actual value could be a lot higher, considering the historical, cultural and architectural aspects of the structure. It is, however, difficult to pin down the exact value of the Bangalore Vidhana Soudha. It is a strong symbolic structure, with its heady corridors and imposing arches.
(Corridors and arches of the Vidhana Soudha. Image: Shutterstock)
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Vidhana Soudha construction
The construction and conception of the Karnataka Vidhana Soudha is held as the achievement of Kengal Hanumanthaiah. Then prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, laid its foundation stone along with the then-chief minister KC Reddy, on July 13, 1951 and its construction was finished in 1956. Hanumanthaiah reportedly wanted this structure to outshine the Athara Kacheri or High Court Building which was constructed by the British. At the time, he was greatly criticised for spending a whopping sum for constructing the building. However, the Vidhana Soudha is today one of Bengaluru’s biggest landmarks for tourists, in addition to being home to the Karnataka state legislature.
(Overview of the Vidhana Soudha. Image: Shutterstock)
The majestic granite structure is much more than a modern-day monument in its own right. Its idea was majorly driven by the nationalist sentiments sweeping over a newly independent country. Administrative offices were initially based out of Attara Kacheri and a plan for housing the legislature was then proposed, during KC Reddy’s tenure. Hanumanthaiah intentionally built the structure opposite to the High Court building at a higher elevation, although slightly. The chief architect was noted civil engineer BR Manickam and he was assisted by Hanumanthia Rao Naidu, who was a graduate from the London Architectural Association. Neo-Dravidian templates were complemented by Indo-Saracenic and European design styles and the central dome went up 55 metres above ground level, with the secretariat and legislature covering 5,50,505 sq ft.
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Jon Lang has talked of the Vidhana Soudha in ‘Concise History of Modern Architecture in India’, calling it an example of revivalist designs for buildings in that particular era, also highlighting the temple architectural nuances present in the columns, brackets, capitals and chajjas.
For the Vidhana Soudha construction, capable masons were hired from Tiruchirappalli and Karaikal (Puducherry) and they completed a structure which is impossible to replicate as per Lang. Most laborers came from the Central Jail between the period 1953 and 1956 and were supervised by a chief warden and his team of 10 jail wardens. 1,500 sculptors and 5,000 laborers worked on building the structure, as per reports.
Vidhana Soudha key facts
- The Vidhana Soudha has two floors above with a floor below the ground level, covering a total area of 700 by 350 metres in all.
(The entrance to the Vidhana Soudha. Image: Shutterstock)
- It is the biggest Indian legislative building.
- It has 12 granite columns, which are 12 metres tall, along with a porch.
- There are 45 steps leading to the main foyer which are 61 metres wide.
- The central dome has an 18-metre diameter and is crowned with a special likeness of the national emblem of India.
(The central dome of the Vidhana Soudha. Image: Shutterstock)
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- The front of the Vidhana Soudha has the inscription ‘Government’s Work is God’s Work’ and its equivalent in Kannada – ‘sarkarada kelasa devara kelasa’.
- US state governor George Voinovich from Ohio, who visited in 1996, was inspired by the above to coin a slogan ‘With God, all things are possible’, for the Ohio statehouse, although this was never implemented and drew a major lawsuit.
- The annual maintenance costs for the building and campus are currently estimated at upwards of Rs 2 crores, inclusive of painting, repairs and other miscellaneous costs.
- The building remains closed on public holidays and Sundays.
- Several vignettes surround the Vidhana Soudha. Pandit Nehru called it a ‘temple dedicated to the nation’ while Hanumanthaiah himself called it a people’s palace. Poet laureate Kuvempu referred to it as ‘poetry in stone’.
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The architect and ex-convener of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH Bengaluru), Satyaprakash Varanasi, succinctly put it when he previously stated that the heritage building Vidhana Soudha had to be absorbed from not just an architectural perspective but also from a highly democratic vision. He talked of how the building was built to inspire and elevate a sense and sentiment of nationalism.
Although the Vidhana Soudha has very few similar structures or parallels in the country till date, it is not a replica of any style from the past. It stands out as a beacon of inspiration in Bengaluru, drawing people not just for its design and architectural magnificence but also its latent symbolism, cultural history and unmatched elegance.
When was the Vidhana Soudha foundation stone laid?
The foundation stone of the Vidhana Soudha was laid in 1951.
When was construction finished for the Vidhana Soudha?
Construction was completed in 1956 for the Vidhana Soudha.
Where is the location of Vidhana Soudha?
Vidhana Soudha is situated at Ambedkar Bheedhi, Sampangi Rama Nagara in Bengaluru, Karnataka.
Who is credited with the conception and development of Vidhana Soudha?
Kengal Hanumanthaiah is credited with the conception of the Vidhana Soudha along with its eventual construction.