Friday 5 April 2013

A pendant in a diamond

One of the most awe-inspiring buildings in the Lalbagh and also perhaps the most unique is the Glass House.  
The Glass House was built in 1890 and James Cameroon, who was the Superintendent of Lalbagh, modeled it on the Crystal Palace in London. The Crystal Palace was constructed in 1851 but is burnt down in 1936.
Cameroon, who had seen the Crystal Palace, wanted to replicate it in Bangalore.  He then decided to build it in Lalbagh. A trained botanist from Kew. Cameroon is credited with several innovations in the Lalbagh and in the filed of horticulture and cultivation.
The Glass House today is well known even outside Bangalore as it plays hosts to the biannual flower shows that are held in Bangalore.
The flower shows-held as part of Independence Day and Republic Day celebrations-draws lakhs of visitors and are a visual treat. The entire glass house becomes a riot of colors and thousands of plants, flowers, shrubs and even trees vie with each other in drawing attention.
The Glass House is a historic structure and several Congress sessions were held here. This beautiful glass and iron structure was the place where the historic Congress split occurred when Indira Gandhi became the Prime Minister and she took on Congress heavyweights like Kamaraj and others.
The Glass House was designed and constructed by MacFarlane and Company, Glasgow. Mr. Scaldwell, the executive engineer of the Public Works Department, supervised its construction. The cost of the construction: Just Rs. 70,000.
In 1935, the Maharaja of Mysore, Krishnaraja Wodeyar,  sanctioned the building of the rear wing, east of the main hall. This was built with indigenous materials from Mysore Iron Works, Bhadravathi.
The steel pillars of the Glass House were imported from Glasgow, Scotland, and sheet glass from Belgium.
The structure has completed 115 years ever since the then Prince of Wales, Albert Victor, laid its foundation on November 30, 1898.
The foundation ceremony was a historic one and it was part of the reception hosted by the then Maharaja of Mysore, Chamaraja Wodeyar.
When the Prince laid the foundation, the structure was called Albert Victor Conservatory.
The Glass House was the venue for civic receptions to Maharajas, Governor Generals and other dignatories. When Lord Curzon, the Viceroy, visited Bangalore in December 1900 a garden party was given by the Maharani of Mysore in his honour. Earlier in 1892. Lord Landsdowne, the Viceroy, was entertained here.
The Nizam of Hyderabad was felicitated at the Glass House when he visited Bangalore in 1928-29.
In August 1948, Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru and Deputy Prime Minister Sardar Patel visited Lalbagh.
In 2003, the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) renovated the Glass House. When the BDA decided to install new stained glass windows, they wrote to a firm in France which in turn directed the authority to a glass making firm in Hoskote, which they said manufactured such stained glass panes.
The new stained glass provide protection from ultra violet rays and they are more durable and hardy. In all, 3700 square meters of glass—2650 sq. metres of flat sections and 1050 sq. metres of curved sections—were used during the restoration. There are over 3,000 individual pieces of glass that have been carefully selected and joined together to give the Glass House a laminated antique finish.
Besides, 3,505 pieces of glass were procured from Chennai and laminated at New Delhi. In all, 2,175 square metres of glass weighing 60,000 kg were used during the renovation.
The renovated Glass House was once again thrown open to the public on January 15, 2004. The renovation costed Rs. 3 crores.
No wonder, the Glass House is called the Jewel of Lalbagh. The former president of India, R. Venkataraman, was struck by the beauty of the Glass House. During the centenary celebration of the Glass House in 1989, he remarked, “In the necklace of Bengalore Parks, Lalbagh is the pendant, and set at the heart of this pendant is a diamond in the form of Glass House


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