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Stone walls that speak
Beautiful stone houses evocative of the old colonial style dot the City. Granite is a very popular option for several Bangaloreans
MARIANNE FURTADO de NAZARETH
Granite is something we all are used to seeing in enormous quantities in and around Bangalore. Our pavements and kerb stones till very recently were made of granite that lasted for decades. All of us at some time or the other have balanced precariously with one foot in front of the other and walked home from school on granite kerb stones!
Most school buildings, the GPO, even the Vidhana Soudha have been made of granite and give one the impression of being everlasting.
We have granite kitchen sinks and granite finished floors, even some of the more modern buildings have been embellished with highly polished granite facades. Granite is a presence which all of us enjoy and still use to build our homes.
In the Ferns Nest Part II enclosed layout in Hennur, is a large house built in granite. Badrinath Chillarige the owner wisely drew up a contract for the supply of stone for the entire building from a quarry in Yelahanka. Knowing stone, as he is a granite exporter, he chose his quarry carefully and negotiated with the quarry owner to get size-stone of a fairly uniform colour and size.
The rate finalised was decidedly lower than the cost of good quality hollow block.
He then hired 65-year-old Michael who could dress the stone uniformly by hand. As Badri says proudly, “the raison d'etre of my house being a piece of art today lies squarely on the talent of Michael.
“He transposed ordinary 'size stone' to give me the perfectly curved sweep of the drawing room and staircase walls that rise into the sky before you so majestically today. With just that humble hammer and chisel he would tap out a stone perfectly to fit the curve of the wall--- a true artisan."
A sheet of plastic stretched across a rough stick base would serve as a shield against the scorching sun while he worked for months on the stone, chipping every single one of 20,000 of them along with the help of his son and grandson. CC Zacharia built his house six years ago in Kasturi Nagar on a 60x40 plot. “In those days stone was cheaper to buy and build with; so that was one main reason for my building a stone house. We also wanted a different looking house from the others in the layout and that’s what prompted me to use stone. I had it built myself with the help of stone masons and the only real expense was getting stone cutters to dress the stone. All the external walls are made of stone but for the internal walls we had to use brick. Another reason for my preferring stone is the low cost of maintenance. Since building this house I have never had to clean it from outside and it looks as good as new " he adds.
In Indiranagar a lovely mellow stone house caught our eye. "Our house was built by Renu Mistry," reveals Nalini Ramchandra." Sixteen years ago we commissioned her to build in stone as my dad was a metallurgist and my childhood was spent in the Kolar Gold Fields. I was fascinated by the lovely old British bungalows built there, with stone blasted out of the mines. They were so pretty in typical British style with their picture book gardens and tall 20 ft high tin sheet roofs which handled the heat well. I also wanted a house with a rustic look so that is why we chose stone. “Our house has been constructed with partially dressed stone. As the walls are thick they are cool in the summer. At the moment four generations of our family live within these walls,” she adds with a chuckle. “We wanted a combination of stone for our house,” reveals Dr A L Rao, President of Telecom Solutions for Wipro Technologies. We contacted Sharukh Mistry and left him to plan everything for us. Completed in September 2003 we moved in after that, so it is a new house.
Sharukh contracted to get the stone from Narsapura which has granite with a larger quantity of mica in it causing it to shine. Looking at the pond, the atrium and the greenery, we realise Bharati and Dr Rao are avid plant lovers. “Plans were made so that we could look out at the park from any room. The stone adds to the earthy appeal of the house.”
The price of building a stone house is no longer economical if working to a budget. Dressing the stone is where the costs escalate. However in the long run the maintenance costs are virtually non-existent and for the granite lovers of Bangalore, as long as there is granite, the appeal of a stone house remains.