Located opposite to the KR Hospital, it was originally started by the Maharaja of Mysore Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV in 1906 as the Chamarajendra Technical Institute. The foundation stone of this building, dedicated to Maharaja Chamarajendra Wodeyar, was laid by George V of the United Kingdom. It was built at a cost of Rs. 2.5 lakhs, and completed in 1913. It is an eloborately composed structure which runs along the road. It has a rectangular facade, which is composed of pedimented dormers and gables.
The institute is located close to the city's railway station, on Sayyaji Rao Road, which is currently a busy road with several commercial establishments. Now known as the Chamarajendra Academy of Visual Arts (CAVA), this academy is affiliated to the University of Mysore, and offers courses in drawing, painting, sculpture, graphics, applied arts, photography and photo-journalism and art history. CAVA awards degrees in Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and Master of Fine Arts (MFA).
CAVA offers a five year course in several different disciplines leading to a BFA degree. The disciplines include painting, graphics, sculpture, applied art, photography and photo-journalism and history of art. Commencing from the academic year 2002-03, CAVA offers post-graduate MFA courses in painting, graphics and sculpture. Admission to the post-graduate courses is based on an eligibility test, and only those who have completed a BFA are eligible to take the test. CAVA organizes tours, seminars, and exhibitions of works executed by its students and leading artists. Student art works are also exhibitted during Dasara festivities.
The Chamarajendra Technical Institute building complex is vast. It is considered to be one of the heritage buildings of Mysore, possessing neoclassical features. It shows the period architecture that evolved in Mysore under the patronage of the erstwhile Wodeyar dynasty. Today it houses the Mysore Central Library, Chamarajendra Academy for Visual Arts (CAVA) and the Kitchen Stable in Mounted Horse Company. The Chamarajendra Technical Institute building is also colocated with the Cauvery Arts & Crafts Emporium, which is an all the year exhibition of local handicrafts available for purchase. By end of 2005, the walls of these buildings had deteriorated and had developed cracks. In April 2006, The City Development Plan for Mysore, under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), Annexure 5, estimated Rs 160 lakhs for its cost of repair.
A unique art tradition on wood inlay is preserved at CAVA. The craft was slowly starting to fade away by the start of the century. However, in 1913, the art form had a revival when Alderson, the then superintendent of the Chamarajendra Technical Institute experimented with introducing ivory in wood inlay works. Later a noted sculptor and wood-carver, Parameshwara, introduced mythological and Persian motifs.