Built by Convicts? 10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about Karnataka’s Vidhana Soudha

Any old-time residents of Bengaluru will point you towards Vidhana Soudha, also known as people’s palace when asked about that one structure in the city that stands out for its sheer majesty. This year, this iconic structure is celebrating its diamond jubilee.

As part of the diamond jubilee celebrations, a two-day special session of the state legislature will be held on October 25 and 26.

The occasion will see President Ram Nath Kovind deliver a 90-minute speech on the Vidhana Soudha and the contribution of Karnataka to the country.

Here’s what you need to know about this magnificent structure:

1. On 13th July 1951, the foundation for the Vidhana Soudha was laid by the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru.

2. Kengal Hanumanthaiah, the second Chief Minister of Karnataka (then Mysore State) is credited with the conception and construction of the Vidhana Soudha

3. Inspired by South Indian temple architecture, mainly by Tanjore’s Brihadeshwara and Karnataka’s Somnathpur temples, this monument is a true testament of excellent artistry.

4. The Vidhana Soudha took fours years (1952-1956) to complete.

5. The design was prepared and signed off by the then government architect and chief engineer, B R Manickam, in 1950.

6. 5000 labourers were employed for the construction of this structure. Almost all the unskilled labourers were convicts and were given freedom after the completion of the Vidhana Soudha.

7. Besides the labourers, this project also employed 1500 chisellers, masons and wood-carvers.

8. The Vidhana Soudha is a stone structure with three main floors, with total floor area spanning over 5,50,505 square feet.

9. The Vidhana Soudha, since its inception, has maintained the number of rooms at 172. While cosmetic changes have been made over the years, the number of rooms has remained unchanged.

10. Spread over 60 acres; it houses the legislature and the Secretariat of the state of Karnataka. It also proudly boasts the title of being the largest state legislative building in the country.

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