Mangaluru, Apr 01, 2019: Lobo Prabhu mansion, the former residence of Late J. M. Lobo Prabhu and his wife Dr Louella Lobo Prabhu was completely gutted in a major fire that erupted on Saturday night. The house which is situated on Light House Hill (behind City Centre Mall) is a famous heritage home, said to be over eighty years old.
J. M. Lobo Prabhu and Dr Louella Lobo Prabhu
Fire was observed by locals at about 11:00 p.m. and the fire service was alerted. Four fire tenders were pressed into service to suppress the fire. It has been reported that there has been extensive damage to the house. The cause of the fire is not known and there have been no human casualties.
The house had been uninhabited for many years. It contained many artifacts, memorabilia and personal items belonging to the family of the owners. Once a stately mansion flaunting a unique circular balcony, it was the cynosure of all eyes on Light House Hill. Today it has drifted into oblivion and stands boxed-in between concrete high rises, with hardly any breathing space. It is no longer visible from the main road and lies hidden in a back alley.
Late J. M. Lobo Prabhu was a distinguished ICS officer and later a Lok Sabha MP representing Udupi constituency. He was a member of the fourth Lok Sabha which was elected in 1967. He represented Swatantra Party. It is said that the mansion was a busy hub of political activity during the 1962 and 1967 Lok Sabha Elections. Lobo Prabhu was also instrumental in sending many Swatantra Party MLAs to the state assembly, notably Ratan Kumar Kattemar and Ramachandra Attavar.
J. M. Lobo Prabhu and his wife Dr Louella Lobo Prabhu had one daughter Giselle D. Mehta, who chose not to reside in the old house. According to a family friend, J. M. Lobo Prabhu had named the bungalow ‘Chateau De Lou’ in honour of his wife. It means Lou’s cottage in French. J. M. Lobo Prabhu died in 1996 and Dr Louella Lobo Prabhu passed away in 2005.
Many of Mangalore’s famous heritage homes are fast disappearing to make way for the emerging concrete jungle. Yet ‘Chateau De Lou’ had managed to survive the onslaught of urbanization. Following the present devastation, it is hoped that the mansion will be restored to its old glory.
Note: The above narration has been enlarged, edited and reposted to include some late inputs.