Home / Politics / Policy /  Vidhana Soudha, iconic seat of Karnataka legislature, celebrates 60 years

Bengaluru: Vidhana Soudha, the iconic seat of the Karnataka legislature, will celebrate its diamond jubilee on Wednesday.

President Ram Nath Kovind will participate in the event to mark 60 years of the building, the foundation stone for which was laid by India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru on 13 July 1951. Kovind will also address a joint session of the state legislature on Wednesday to commemorate the historical monument and its significant role in the state’s history.

“After the unification of Karnataka, Bangalore (now Bengaluru) became the centre of Karnataka and (Kengal) Hanumanthaiya felt that there needed to be a structure which could make the city the administrative capital of the state," Chandrashekar Patil (better known as Champa), noted Kannada writer and activist in Karnataka, said.

“It became a symbol of Karnataka," he added.

Around 5,000 labourers, 1,500 chiselers, masons and wood carvers worked for almost five years (1951-1956) to complete the structure that is spread over 60 acres in the heart of Bengaluru under then chief minister Kengal Hanumanthaiya. “Almost all the unskilled workers deployed in its construction were convicts, who were given their freedom on its completion," according to official information provided by the state government.

The construction of the entire structure cost around Rs1.84 crore.

Interestingly, the state government had earlier decided to spend around Rs27 crore to mark the event, but the budget was later brought down to Rs10 crore after many leaders decried attempts to splurge money, especially when the state is yet to recover from droughts for four successive years.

The structure was inspired by multiple styles of architecture, including Dravidian, Indo-Islamic and British styles, and was built largely with Bangalore Granite, Magadi Pink and Turvekere Black stones excavated from areas around Bengaluru.

“It was always meant to represent the people," Suresh Moona, a historian who has documented Bengaluru’s past, said. He added that it was this sentiment that inspired the words “Government’s work is God’s work" etched in bold at the entrance of the building.

Over the years, many other historians have said that Vidhana Soudha was also a symbol representing democracy as against the monarchy that existed earlier.

The state has since constructed Vikas Soudha (next to the Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru) and the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha building in Belagavi district, among some mini-Vidhana Soudhas in other districts to represent administrative seats of power.

“The grace and grandeur of the original Vidhana Soudha cannot be replicated," Moona said of the first legislature building in Bengaluru.

On Wednesday, a documentary on the building, the history of the legislature and various other cultural programmes on the day to celebrate the diamond jubilee of the heritage structure.

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