Palace grounds: No bands only baraat

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Slayer – an American band, is one of the big heavy metal bands around the world. It will be holding its first ever concert in India on October 20, 2012. But there will be no Palace Grounds to welcome them. Government put a ban on the commercial activities at Palace Grounds in early August this year. Instead, the band is performing in Bharatiya city, a 125 acre township in Hebbal.

Naina Roy, a Fashion Designer from HSR layout, says, "The big daddies of thrash metal – Slayer is playing on October 20 in Bangalore. I am a big fan, but I cannot make it as the venue – Hebbal is way too far. It is almost double the distance for me from Palace Grounds to Hebbal."

Prarthito Maity, a Koramangala resident and a rock band member, says, "I wonder how all the Slayer fans will be accommodated. A band with three Grammy nominations, winning one in 2007 and again in 2008 for Eye of the Insane and Final Six, respectively, deserves a full house and Palace Grounds was the best option for that. I guess a lot of fans will be missing out on the opportunity just because the place can’t fit all of them."

Bangalore Palace. Pic: Wikimedia Commons

Dispute over Palace grounds

The Palace Grounds, which has been the hub of several activities like concerts and commercial events, has received a blanket ban on organising large scale events except for small scale event like marriages and conferences.

Several complaints from residents, against the traffic commotion caused around the venue is said to be the basis of this decision.

The 140 acres of Palace Grounds land has been in controversy since the late eighties. Media reports say that the State government brought the Bangalore Palace Acquisition and Transfer Act in 1996 to acquire this property belonging to the erstwhile Mysore Maharaja family. Ostensibly this was to safeguard the historical and architectural characters of the Palace Grounds and develop it as a major lung space of Bangalore.

However, the Maharaja’s only son Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar and other family members, went to Court and managed to get a status quo order from the Supreme Court. Though the status quo order has led to some parts of the Palace Grounds remaining with the Wadiyars, the legal tangle still continues.

In 2001, the Supreme Court ordered that no permanent structures be built on the grounds and even the temporary structures would stay for not more than three days. Most of the individuals who have taken the land on lease for commercial activities, claim they have not built any permanent structures. There are over 25 marriage halls spread across Palace Grounds.

But these structures though temporary have been standing there for years, flouting the SC’s guidelines that the temporary leases or rents that will be allowed for maximum three days only.

Alternative spaces for events

After a complete ban on the commercial activities and concerts on the Palace grounds, the event organisers are exploring new options that will accommodate a huge crowd and be close to the city at the same time.

Trigam Mukherjee, Senior Associate – A&R and Communications, says, "Palace Grounds has been the only place in the city to hold event of huge magnitude. We are kind of lost with where to do such large events. The events will have to be moved far from the city."

He also adds that events like Metallica performance , where the audience strength reaches to over 40,000 people, requires about 4-5 acres of land. The apt location right now is Clarks Exotica resort on the new Airport road. And people will definitely find new locations but the citizens will have to bear the brunt as they will have to travel the extra distance.

He stresses on the fact that the public transport may not be helpful. So the government should make sure of proper public transport arrangements to the new locations for the commuters’ convenience.

Sharadh Chandra, Event manager, who organises events for Dastkar, a popular handicraft nature bazaar, says, "Definitely Palace Grounds was a better and larger venue for Dastkar. I wouldn’t say there is any difference from the buyers’ side as they want to purchase goods from us and so they came despite the change in venue. But the number of regular visitors has decreased by 30% to 40% as the capacity of the current venue to intake people is much lesser."

Lung space of Bengaluru

If the Palace Grounds does not remain a hub for commercial activities, what could be done to maintain it as a public space? Experts have different views about it.

Naresh Narasimhan, Principal Architect, Venkataramanan Associates, says, "I think it is a very good move. Why should it be treated like a private property? The government should convert it into a big botanical park with the biodiversity of Karnataka."

He also adds that it should be a beautiful space with public access like the Cubbon Park or Lalbagh. "As far as the events are concerned, they can have a designated place for the events but the large part should be used for a botanical garden featuring our state," he explains.

Vinay Sreenivasa, member of Hasiru Usiru, an environment support group, says, "Government should seek public opinion on what should be done further with the area. Maybe they can build a cultural centre for public use."

Neighbours are happy

But the residents living around Palace Grounds, are extremely happy with the decision as their worries about the traffic menace is now over.

Manali Saket, a resident of Seshadripuram says, "The street gets too crowded during concerts. A lot of vehicles jam the traffic on the Palace grounds road from all directions and there is a lot of noise pollution in the area. The ban has been a good idea. Now there will be some peace to the residents."

Metallica Concert at Palace Grounds. Pic: Nagashree Shreyas

Palace grounds and nostalgia

For many a residents, Palace grounds is as integral to their memories as the concerts held there. Shreyas Nag, a resident of JP Nagar says, "Going to a concert at Palace Grounds was like a ritual, we had a set course of things like, (get to the) concert by 4 pm, finish by 11pm and then one hour at parking then straight to Empire (hotel) on church street which was on the way and then home. I am going to miss all that schedule now."

Shweta Rao, a resident of HSR Layout, says, "I have fond memories of Palace Grounds. From participating in Dandiya in large groups during Navratri season to attending Bryan Adams and Black Eyed Peas concerts."

The Government officials were not willing to talk on the matter.


About Anisha Nair 69 Articles
Anisha Nair is a Staff Journalist at Citizen Matters.

4 Comments

  1. Dear Raj Chandra, The total area is 450 acres, the article is only referring to the disputed land, which is about 140 acres.

  2. Contd.
    These mandarins of Govt. cannot even maintain Heritage property which are there in their control. Take the case of lansdowne building and Devaraja Market in Mysore. It is crumbling. Mysore Palace is in their cntrol since 1976 and its roof is laeking and stained glass roof is cracking . Mayo Hall is a beautiful monument but the open space around it was used to build Public utility Building. Now the State wants to build a Luxury Guest House near Kumara Park. These Jokers cannot even leave Beggars colony!

    A Concert happens once in a blue moon and that too on a week end or a Sunday. But starts only in the evening and ends by 10.30. Whereas an IPL match or an ODI occurs in the evening and ends very late in the night. Even then there would be traffic jams, Noise and pollution. Are you banning it ? There is everyday jam near Mantri mall , are you banning it Ms. Manali Saket ?

    Palace grounds is every one’s favorite punching bag. Politicians when they want to have their mega meets want Palace grounds, Rich & famous want Palace Grounds for their family weddings, state wants palace grounds for JIM, IT.com, Sadhaneya Samavesh, when there is a concert every one wants Free Tickets but once their use is over all of them up their ante!

    All News paper House conduct their in House promoted Trade Shows and Exhibitions at palace Grounds but when their own journalists write one sided story without verifying facts.

    Is there any ethics and Natural Justice in all this ?

  3. There are some factual errors. Palace Grounds area is not 140 acres. It is around 450 acres.

    State Govt enacted Bangalore Palace (Acquisition & Transfer) Act 1996 to confiscate the property for a pittance of 11 Crores, for which even Naresh Narasimhan would not have agreed to give if it was his grand father’s property! As for as lung space, Bangalore Palace has remained a lung space for over 100 years, it is its immediate surroundings which have gobbled up by the state and society. Palace orchards is a classic example. It was till 1960 part of Palace and a well maintained orchard and now a concrete jungle for the rich and famous! Now since 1996, State has already gobbled up 20 acres for Road widening and is about to cut over 1000 trees. Tall claims about lung space, Tree park, biodiversity park !! What balderdash to expropriate the property for a farthing !

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