Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Koira stones

An earlier post had dealt with a massive rock from Koira which was transported from Doddaballapur to Udupi for the sculpting a huge statue of Madhwacharya, the pioneer of Dwaitha philosophy and one of India’s most important saint-philosophers.
Koira is a small village near Doddaballapur. It is an almost insignificant dot on the map of Karnataka and it is almost non-existent in the map of India.
However, what makes people, particularly builders, construction engineers and now politicians, come to this village is its granite. The granite mined or quarried from Koira village is called after the village name and it has been extensively used to sculpt statues all over India.
Infact, the first big construction after Independence using the Koira rock, came up more than five decades ago and this was the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore.
Kengal Hanumanthaiah, the then Chief Minister of Mysore State, had dreamt of  an imposing Indian style building to house the seat of  Government. Hanumanthaiah scoured many quarries and finally chose Koira for building the Vidhana Soudha.
More than seventy per cent of the stones used for the construction of the Vidhana Soudha are from Koira. The same kind of Koira stones were used extensively for the construction of the Vikasa Soudha, which now adjoins Vidhana Soudha.  
However, the very first big construction to use Koira rocks and boulders was the magnificent KRS or Krishnaraja Sagar dam near Mysore.
Sir M. Visvesvaraiah, who meticulously planned the construction of the dam, selected the Koira granite for its quality and its stand alone character.
Since then, Koira has been supplying its granite to different parts of India. The ISCKON Temple in Bangalore has used Koira stones extensively as has the Suvarna Soudha at Belgaum.
Situated near Devanahalli, Koira stones and boulders are so famous that they are exported to foreign countries too.
The hills towering above the village of Koira is the main supply point for these granite. The rocks and boulders are available in all sizes and shapes and this is what makes the Koira granite unique.
There is an interesting legend about how Koira got its name. Locals tell us the legend of King Surangadhara and his Kingdom. The King once committed a mistake which left the people annoyed and angry.
The mistake was so glaring that the people decided to take the law into their own hands. They forced the King to the top of the hill and cut off his limbs. Since then, the village and the hill are known as Koira. The word Koi is a corrupt form of the Kannada word Kui or Koiye which means to cut off  or to severe.  
The Koira rocks has been the only major source of livelihood of the villagers of Koira. Therefore, quarrying is common here and it is resorted to by the villagers of Koira, Hosur, Jotipur, Ramanathapura, Managondanahalli, Aruvanahalli and Chikkahobdenahalli.
Quarry owners and building contractors prefer Koira stones as they can be found in sizes and shapes ranging anywhere between 10 feet to 60 feet. If you visit the hill, you can see hundreds of villagers working in the stone quarries.
Koira stones are used for construction of buildings in Bangalore,  Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. Even the Rajiv Gandhi Memorial at Sriperambdur in Tamil Nadu is hewn from Koira stones.
Noted sculptor, Ashok Gudigar sculpted a 41-foot-high Bahubali idol from a single block of 400 tonne Joira granite Koira. The statue was transported to Gujarat where it was installed on a hill at Songadh in Sihor taluk of Bhavnagar district in Gujarat.

Similarly, the statue of eminent Kannada poet, Sarvajna which was installed at Jeeva park in Ayanavaram was sculpted from Koira rock. 

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