Rebuilding our heritage


Vijayanatha Shenoy

Vijayanatha Shenoy
Vijayanatha Shenoy was (he passed away in March 2017)  a collector. That conjures up visions of a snob – rich, urbane, possibly even pretentious. But Shenoy was down-to-earth, simple and genuine. Though a natural aesthete, he never set out to be a collector. He just became one, unconsciously but inexorably. He used to say that “Being a collector is a source of negative pleasure for me. I was only relieving my pain caused by the wanton destruction of our heritage.”

Vijayanatha Shenoy lived in Manipal. Music and conservation of architectural heritage were his passion. Distraught by the destruction of the latter throughout coastal Karnataka, Shenoy decided to be the change he wanted to see. His efforts caught the eye of NORAD or Norwegian Development Agency and with their support; he set up a Heritage Village in Manipal on a land measuring 6 acres leased by the Government of Karnataka. Starting from the late 90s, over two decades he managed to translocate and rebuild magnificent buildings that would have been destroyed otherwise.The village has several museums as well.

The frontage of the 200 years old Kunjoor Chowki Mane (Court Yard House). This house belonged to a Shivalli Brahmin family near Udupi. It was built in the architectural style of Kerala, based on the 15th century treatise Manushyalaya Chandrika and the plan of the structure follows a Mandala. This was the first house that Shenoy translocated and rebuilt at Hastashilpa Heritage Village.

Interior of a Nawab Mahal of the Barid Shahi dynasty of the Deccan. Belgian glass, Australian chandeliers, German floor tiles, Birmingham made cast iron grilles and staircases reflect the wealth and the social standing of the family that owned the mansion.

A view of the 200 years old durbar (court) hall of a palace built by the Ghorpades of Mudhol in northern Karnataka. When the Raja of Mudhol held court, all the ministers, noblemen and key officers used to assemble here.

The sanctum of a 16th century Jangama (wandering shaivaite mendicants) monastery.

A panoramic view of the Hasta Shilpa Heritage Village. Vijayanatha Shenoy has translocated and reconstructed 26 beautiful traditional buildings here. The Heritage Village is now open to tourists. Discerning visitors – students of architecture, scholars, researchers, designers and conservationists are welcome. With its array of elaborately hand crafted homes, its stunning galleries of historic Ravi Varma lithographs and magnificent Tanjore paintings, its museum of tribal sculpture, folk and contemporary art, it’s training centre for artisans to keep alive traditional skills in handloom weaving, pottery, metal casting, wood carving, mud processing and stone cutting, the Heritage Village is a tribute to the vision and will of one remarkable man. Posterity has to be eternally grateful to Shenoy for single-handedly conserving South Karnataka’s rich architectural legacy. His success demonstrates how passionate dedication driven by noble, unselfish motives can achieve spectacular results.

But Shenoy didn't see it that way. He used to say that “Only pain will drive you to succeed. If you experience intense pain, then every action of yours becomes part of your struggle to relieve pain. In that process, you succeed. But it is not worldly success that motivates you. It is the desire to vanquish pain.”

Pain drove Shenoy to save his heritage. And Deccan architectural heritage found its Champion.

Credits: Story

To read more please click here Unsung

Hastashilpa Heritage Village is now open for visitors. To know more please visit

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Translate with Google