Friday, October 18, 2013

Banglore's Seshadari Iyer Memorial Hall

This is the Seshadri Iyer Memorial Hall. Its foundation stone was laid in 1903 by the British Resident of Mysore, Donald Robertson. Notice the classic European style; supported by Tuscan columns, and porticoes.
Since 1915 it has been a library, and in 1966 it became the State Central Library. There are 265,000 books in the library.

Another view of the Hall; from the back
The hall is named after Sir K. Seshadari Iyer, who was the Diwan of the State of Mysore from 1883 to 1902. He is credited with numerous initiatives like the electrification of KGF and Bangalore from the Shivanasamudra Hydro-Electric power project (first in Asia), critical measures taken to save plague-afflicted Bangalore (in 1898) and starting off Victoria Hospital in 1900. 

Seshadri Iyer came from a family of lawyers (both his father and his brother were vakils in Calicut). Strangely, Seshadri Iyer did not attend school until the age of 11. Maybe to make up for lost time, he went to mutiple schools at Calicut, Cochin and Trivandrum, passing his exams with distinction. He enrolled in Presidency College Madras, and obtained a Bachelor of Law degree from Madras University.

He joined the Mysore kingdom's administrative service in 1868, and rose quickly through various appointments, to become the dewan in 1883. He administered Mysore for a span of eighteen years. He focused on building infrastructure for transport, irrigation and mining. It was Seshadri Iyer who developed the residential extensions of Malleswaram and Basavanagudi in Bangalore. He constructed the famous Glass House at Lalbagh and set up the Victoria Hospital in 1900. He drew up plans to establish what is now called the Indian Institute of Science (although he did not live to see this plan fructify).

When he died in 1901, Lord Curzon, the viceroy and governor-general, supported the move to build a memorial to him (The Seshadri Iyer Memoria Hall at Cubbon Park). There is also a statue of Seshadri Iyer in the garden.

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