MSU’s 144-Year-Old Arts Faculty Dome Begins Stylistic Restoration: Asia’s 2nd Largest Dome with Jaggery, Fenugreek, Urad, and Wheat

The restoration work of the iconic Arts Faculty building and the distinguished dome of Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU) in Vadodara is currently in progress. Erected in 1880 at the cost of 8,30,000 rupees, this historic edifice witnessed the inception of Baroda College in 1881. Despite 144 years having elapsed, the building retains its grandeur, albeit the dome has turned dark due to pollution, necessitating maintenance. 

Pro. Hitesh Raviya, the PRO of MSU, conveyed that since its establishment, the allure of this dome has remained intact, symbolizing cultural and historical significance. Under the guidance of Vice-Chancellor Prof. Dr. Vijaykumar Shrivastav, the renovation and restoration of both the Arts Faculty and the dome have commenced, ensuring their preservation for generations to come.

Artisans doing restoration work

Renovation of Arts Faculty Building Completed at a Cost of 5.50 Crores

It has been announced that under the guidance of the Gujarat government, the renovation work of the Arts Faculty building has been completed at an estimated cost of 5.50 crores. All the walls of this building have been made waterproof, a special method that ensures protection from water and pollution-induced damage. 

The restoration work is tailored to preserve the distinctiveness of the building, ensuring its resilience against environmental factors. The building is of the E-shape, where ‘E’ stands for education, and its dome is the second-largest in Asia. Such domes are rare worldwide.

Maharshi Arvind: A Stalwart Principal of Baroda College

It is known that when education was not accessible to every individual, Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad established Baroda College in 1881. It was during this time that arts and science education became available at Baroda College. Maharshi Arvind served as the principal of Baroda College. Following him, many eminent personalities, including Vinoba Bhave, graced Baroda College. Hence, the historical significance of this building is profound.


Natural Restoration Techniques Employed for the Next 12 Years

It has been disclosed that for the ongoing restoration, no chemicals of any kind are being utilized. The restoration of the building is being carried out entirely through natural methods. Just as it was adorned with grandeur years ago, the attention is being paid to restore its color and intricate details using natural techniques. 

The walls of the building are being made waterproof, and the dome will also be restored to its natural form. The entire restoration, including painting, woodwork polishing, and overall refurbishment, will be completed in the next 18 months.

Materials used to restore walls

Usage of Jaggery, Googal, Adad, and Wheat Mixture

In the restoration of the Arts Faculty building, a mixture of Jaggery, Googal (possibly referring to a type of mineral or stone), methi (fenugreek), adad (possibly referring to a type of legume), and wheat is being used in place of chemicals. Additionally, natural colors from Rajasthan will be sourced for application. Furthermore, a special polish from Belgium will also be employed in the restoration process.

Artisan polishing the walls

Lotus-Inspired Design for the Dome

The design of the dome of the Faculty of Arts at MS University draws inspiration from the lotus flower. It mimics the petals of a blooming lotus, with eight segments meticulously crafted to emulate its natural elegance. The inner part of the design features a radial pattern with eight spokes radiating from the center. 

The Indo-Saracenic style employed in this construction also incorporates wall paintings using the tempera technique on the inner walls. The grand vision of the majestic dome was conceived by the renowned architect Robert Fellowes Chisholme, adding it to the list of heritage structures.

Niyati Rao

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