The man of model house

 thehindu.com  01/16/2020 10:26:20 

At the corner of the junction of K.R. Road and Model House first street, in Basavanagudi area, during 1938-39, a house had been built in a different and unique style. It was considered as a model house. A.T andoni Rao, who built the house using innovative and progressive methods came to be known as the Man of Model House. He was the Executive Engineer of the state during the reign of Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV and had a prominent role in constructing many attractive buildings in Bengaluru and KRS Dam near Mysore.

After his retirement from the service A. Tandoni Rao bought a spacious site to build an abode for himself. Leaving enough space around, he raised a big house adopting innovative technology. Pre-cast concrete lattices were used both for compound and the main house. The roof of all the rooms were tall and that of the main hall was still at a larger height. The entrance was fitted with collapsible gate. On the top of the first floor was another smaller structure. From there, one could get a panoramic view of the city. In front of the house, on either sides of the main gate, were two trellises. In the inner space were a pair of stone benches with a sloping back to relax. The remaining open space around the building, had fruits and coconut trees in addition to flowering plants, the yield of which were used for daily worship in the house. A. Tandoni Rao was a god fearing person. So he aptly named his house as Bhakti Nilaya, the abode of devotion.

The innovative structure caught the attention of Indian Concrete Journal, a very old and prestigious journal of India, devoted to Concrete Technology. The magazine published the picture of the house with a caption, Model House. The Maharaja was pleased that an Engineer of his government brought laurel to the state. He invited him to Mysore and honoured him. We were very proud of our fathers achievements, says A.T. Lakshmi Devi, one of the three daughters of A. Tandoni Rao.

The street adjacent to the house came to be known as Model House Street and the surrounding area was called Model House block. Now, though in the place of the model house, an apartment is neatly built, the entrance from KR road still retains the plaque Bhakti Nilaya. one of the trellises with stone benches is also retained to symbolically represent the grandeur of the Model House.

Sir K.P. Puttanna Chetty Town Hall is one of the most prominent and elegant public buildings of the City. A. Tandoni Rao was the executive engineer who built this Poetry in Stone. The foundation stone was laid by the Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar, on March 6, 1933. The construction was completed within two and a half years. The Yuvaraja Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wadiyar inaugurated the building on September 11, 1935. During the colourful function held at the jam-packed auditorium, Dewan Sir Mirza Ismail and many other luminaries of the city were present. A. Tandoni Raos efforts and skill and aesthetic insight were praised and was honoured by the Yuvaraja. To add further grace to the Town Hall, to the left of the main entrance, an oval with little garden and decorative lamp posts was also built. Though they are not to be seen now, the Town Hall has been the prominent centre for public functions and other such activities.

Glass House in Lalbagh was built in 1888 by the then superintendent J. Cameron on the model of crystal palace in London. There were only three wings and the structure was built by using the materials from Mac-Farlane and Company, Glasgow, England, who had prepared the design,architecture and also supervised the construction. However, in 1935, when Rao Bahadur H.C. Javaraya was the superintendent, it was decided to build the fourth or the eastern wing. The construction work was executed by A. Tandoni Rao, using purely indigenous materials from Mysore Iron Works, Bhadravati.

Vani Vilas Hospital in Kote area is another well-known land mark of the City. The adjacent building, Victoria Hospital represents the majesty and grandeur of the British Empire where as Vanivilas hospital epitomised the rich culture and heritage, typical to old Mysore Province. The rectangular building with a big dome on the pediment of the portico and other such smaller domes on other symmetrical wings contrasted the gothic style of its neighbour. The construction of Victoria was administered by the British personnel. But, purely indigenous talent was involved in shaping this calm and composed edifice. The chief architect was S.H .Laksminarasappa, the Executive Engineer was A. Tandoni Rao and the contractor was Chinnaswamy Mudaliyar.

National High School in Basavangudi is a household name for imparting high quality education. Since it was a highly sought after institution, to accommodate more pupils, a new building was constructed in the late 1930s. The construction work was done by A. Tandoni Rao. Here again, the front elevation clearly symbolises that it is a temple of knowledge. He personally got the big clock from Poona to insert in the front tower. &He used to see the tower from the top of his house, Bhakti Nilaya and felt extremely satisfied, says his youngest son Mr. A. T Srinivas.

A.Tandoni Rao was also involved in the construction of Sanskrit College building on 1st cross Chamarajapet. He has played a prominent role in establishing Vrindavana in Sripadarayara mutt in Raghavendra Colony, and Raghavnedra swamy Mutt in NR Colony. He helped N. Ananthachar to start Acharya Pathashala which has now become a well-known group of institutions of the city.

A. Tandoni Rao breathed his last in March, 1941.

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