Restoring the Architectural Ruins of Sooralu Palace

Udupi: An artistic excellence, Sooralu palace highlights the culture and heritage of undivided Dakshina Kannada. A vernacular artistic structure unique in its features, with a structure of 7 courtyards, built in mud and wooden carvings by artists is the essence of the Sooralu palace.

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Sooralu palace has a history of 600 years. It is located 25 km from Udupi. One can reach the palace via Udupi-Brahmavar-Santhekatte-Mandarthi route or Udupi-Brahmavar-Kokkarne route. The giant structure with 7 courtyards pictures the lifestyle and culture of the royal family of Sooralu. Over the years, 4 courtyards have collapsed.

The government of Karnataka had released Rs 1.67 crore for the restoration of Magni Chawadi, one among the 7 courtyards including 3 corridors. The tender was awarded to Nirmithi Kendra by the Department of Kannada and Culture.

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The Nirmithi Kendra under the leadership of Project Director Arun Kumar initiated the restoration work of Magni Chawadi and 3 corridors. The work will be completed by the end of May, says Arun Kumar.

The carvings on pillars of the Magni Chawadi and other courtyards pictures artistic excellence. Carpenters and artists have tried to match the artistic excellence of the pillars which have been either damaged or are on the verge of being damaged. The roof and the flooring of Magni Chawadi are partially restored and partially being newly constructed.

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Harish Pai, who is associated with the restoration work of the Sooralu palace, says that the vernacular architecture will collapse if the damage remains unchecked. Even with RS 1.67 crore released for the restoration of Magni Chawadi by the government, more funds are required to restore the other 4 courtyards. A temple is also located in one of the courtyard and prayers are offered to Goddess Padmadvathi Amma there.

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Sudarshan Shetty is the eldest member of the Sooralu family who looks after the worship of the deity every year. He visits the palace and offers prayers at the Mahalingeshwara Temple nearby, says Arun.

Arun further said that the renovation of the entire Sooralu palace is estimated to cost around Rs 10 to 15 crores.

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