Conserving Belagavi’s Heritage

Conservation literally means ‘do less’ was the mantra of one of the panelists, Mr. Ravindra Gundurao, at yesterday’s panel discussion on ‘Conserving Heritage Homes’ at Kawale Math (Somwar Peth). The panel discussion was part of a three-day Exhibit Showcasing the documentation of Heritage Homes by Cicada ( Tanvi Dhond, Mohit Yalgi, Neeta Vernekar and Suyash Khanolkar). They’ve exhibited some stunning artwork documenting the facades and facets of some heritage homes in Belagavi.

Bella Vista Belagavi

houses-belgaoAvoid doing anything that comes in the way of conservation of a structure, was what Mr. Gundurao meant. He was joined on stage by Ms. Saili Palande-Datar whose non-architecture background (she’s an engineer) belied her knowledge and passion for conservation and Mr. Gerard Da’Cunha, noted architect and design expert from Goa. Vinayak Holennavar, as a coordinator, did his job well, eliciting interesting responses from the panelists. Responding to the question as to why must one conserve heritage homes, Mr. Gundurao said something that sums up the whole spirit of conservation- a person without his heritage is a lost man.
Saili reflected by saying that heritage ought to be conserved so that our past has a future! A heritage home is best suited for use by its original owner, said Mr. Gundurao, adding that when we try and change the usage, converting homes into hotels and temples into halls, usually the structure refuses. Talk to the house, he suggested, instead of the owner, and see if it answers positively. Saili gave an interesting perspective when she said that heritage conservation takes a backseat owing to familiarity. She narrated her experience with Pune where people wondered how a structured they’d seen every day was being shown around anew as heritage. Saili definitely has done her precious bit in Pune, what with Virasat Pune, heritage walks, documentation, etc.

Mr. Da’Cunha narrated his experience with the Houses of Goa museum and its origins ( in an exhibition, which just kept on running), of his effort with publishing a book on Houses of Goa (and refusal by publishers but success with subsequent sales) and his work on Forts, in Goa and Portugal. Mr. Gundurao, who was instrumental in the conservation activities of Bhate Wada which is also known for housing the Ramkrishna Ashram in Risaldar Galli, commented that Belagavi houses are quite ‘healthy’, for conservation is built in their architectural narrative, owing to its owners still residing in many of them.

A motley group of enthusiasts of all ages attended the panel discussion. Spotted there were Mr. Rajeev Doddanavar of Bharatesh Education Trust, Dr. Nitin Khot, noted economists and environmentalist, Dr. Smita Surebankar, Historian and Principal, RPD College, Mr. Dilip and Mr. Bapu Ginde of Shahapur, etc. The Q & A session was equally interesting with insights coming in from the audience.

The exhibit culminates today with a discussion on restoration and maintenance of heritage homes by Mr. Ravindra Gundurao at 4.00 pm.

  • Belagavi has its fair share of heritage homes, heritage buildings from the colonial and pre-colonial era, magnificent temples, churches, mosques, etc. A forum of owners/caretakers of heritage structures can be formed where matters can be discussed, documentation can be initiated and advice on conservation can be offered wherever possible.
  • Shri Vinod Doddanavar, Trustee of Bharatesh Education Trust, and Dr. Smita Surebankar, noted Historain and Principal of RPD college, have together initiated the forming of the Belagavi Chapter of INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage). Persons interested and passionate in the topic (Historians, Architects, Chartered Accountants, Retd. Army personnel, Engineers, Photographers, Academicians, etc can join in as members of INTACH. They can write to [email protected] for details.
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2 COMMENTS

  1. Editor ji. Please have all the pictures captured by them on your site. It shall be greater service then mere talk. Also need to have article on Eco friendly homes listed around Belgaum. Time to kiss cement good bye.

  2. i said that the original use is the best re-use as it necessitates min interventions apart from point of originality itslef and did not say that the original ‘user’ as they tend to die of age etc unfortunately.
    another sentence attributed to me (Avoid doing anything that comes in the way of conservation of a structure, was what Mr. Gundurao meant) did not make sense to me and If I actually said that I owe an apology to all for confusing them!
    Any way it was perhaps a useful exercise n the drawings r a very pleasant record of the past

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