Friday 5 September 2014

The story of the toy tiger

Among the many legendary treasures of Tipu Sultan is the toy tiger mauling a British soldier.
Tipu Sultan (1782-1799), the rules of Mysore, had a visceral hatred of he British. He did everything he could from building an army, seeking French assistance to trying to stitch an anti-British alliance.
Tipu was continuously at war with the British and nothing gave him more happiness than having them at his mercy. His dungeons in his capital of Srirangapatna were filled up with British prisoners of war.
After Tipu was killed in the fourth and final Anglo-Mysore war in Srirangapatna on May 4, 1799, many of his treasures and fabulous wealth fell into the hands of the British who lost no time in plundering them. Contemporary accounts of the day after Tipu was killed tell us how mercilessly the British behaved with the residents of Srirangapatna and how they pillaged the city, stripping it of every conceivable article.
Of course, the first structure to bear the brunt of the greedy British army and its hired mercenaries was Lal Mahal, the magnificent palace of Tipu which today is in ruins, his store room, armoury, library and private quarters.
One of the innumerable articles that the British shipped back home from Srirangapatna was Tipu’s Tiger.
The Tipu Tiger is a toy that Tipu specifically had it built. It is a wooden tiger mauling a British soldier. The toy has a miniature mechanical organ and when pressed, it begins to emit the roar of the tiger, punctuated with the  groans of a Britisher being killed.
The road comes from the body of the tiger and a row of keys of natural notes are embedded within the British soldier.  The sounds produced by the organ  resemble the cries of a person in distress which is juxtaposed with the roar of a tiger.  The machinery is so contrived, that while the organ is playing, the head of the European is often lifted up, to express his helpless and deplorable condition. 
There is a story that Tipu Sultan had this toy made after the death of Lieutenant Munro — the son of General Sir Hector Munro, who had defeated Tipu in many battles. The idea of making such a tiger took shape when one of Tipu’s courtiers told how Munro’s son had been killed by a tiger in the Sundarbans (Bengal).
Tipu discussed the idea of a mechanical toy of a Tiger mauling a British soldier with his French engineers working in his munition factory in  Srirangapatna.
The organs which can reproduce the roars of a tiger and shrieks of human beings were made in France. Tipu kept the toy in his Rag Mahal or room for music.
After Tipu dies, the British came across the toy and informed the Board of Directors of East Indian Company who then asked for it to be sent to their head office in London.
The tiger elicited lot of interest and curiosity among the British and the famous romantic British poet John Keats has made a reference to Tippoo’s Tiger in one of his poems.

Initially, the Directors of the East India Company kept the toy  in the company museum in the East India House, but, when the company was wound up and political power transferred to the Government in 1858, it was shifted to the new India office where it remained until 1874. Later, the tiger was stationed at what later came to be known as the Indian section of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The toy is at present a prized exhibit of the museum and lakhs who visit the museum cannot help but admire the spirit and determination of the Tiger of Mysore, as Tipu was known .

Thursday 28 August 2014

Filing up a City's hopes

It was more two decades ago that this vast reservoir filled up. Built by the Wodeyars, it last filled up in 1992. It almost reached full capacity in 1999. But since then, this water body, once the lifeline of Bangalore, has only been able to hold varying levels of water but it has never been able to supply water regularly.
This is the Tippegondanahalli reservoir across river Arkavathy, which was built in 1933 after the Hesarghata reservoir dried up. For the last few years, the TG Halli, as it also called, has never had enough water.
TG Halli has been in the news in the last few days as  the water level in it has been steadily going up, thanks to copious rains in the catchment areas.
The TG Halli once supplied drinking water to areas in the west of the city, but encroachment of lakes, growing urbanisation and rapid expansion of the city have seen storage levels plummet.
The last time the reservoir was filled was in 1992 and after that the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), which operates the TG Halli, gave up pumping water and shifted focus entirely on Cauvery water supply to Bangalore.
BWSSB officials are hoping that the water level in TG Halli rises further. Last Monday, saw TG Halli hold 26 feet of water and this is encouraging as last year at the same time, the water level stood at 17 feet.
Since Karnataka received good rains in September and October, the BWSSB hopes that the water level would go up further.
Constructed at the confluence of the Arkavathi and the Kumudvati rivers, TG Halli has a depth of 74 ft and its total storage capacity is 3 tmc ft. Officials say heavy rain in catchment areas like Doddaballapur (which recently recorded 11 cm of rainfall) has seen the water levels in the reservoir rise.
The BWSSB is not pumping any water from TG Halli though if need be it can pump about  350 mld. However, the water board wants to keep TG Halli supply as stand by.
If it was the then Dewan of Mysore, K Seshadri Iyer, who conceived of Hesarghatta reservoir, it was another Dewan-Sir M. Visvesvaraiah- who recommend TG Halli as a means to ease Bangalore’s growing thirst for water.
When Hesarghatta proved insufficient to meet the water needs and it went dry 1925, TG Halli was commissioned in 1933.
The first stage of TG Halli was designed to provide a daily supply of 27mld of water for a city's population of 3 lakh, but this too soon proved inadequate. The reservoir was once again deepened and the water works modified to cater to the population of one million in 1956..

However, with the city's population growing by leaps and bounds and the water proving inadequate, the State Government decided to supply water from the Cauvery. In 1964, the Government approved the first stage of the Cauvery Water Supply Scheme (CWSS). Five stages of CWSS have proved insufficient and the government is now looking at alternatives to boost daily water supply as the City currently faces a shortage of 225 million litres of water per day (mld).
This shortage is expected to go up by 1030 mld in 2036. BWSSB is thinking of supplying water from the Krishna and it has drawn up several other schemes but the best bet would be to revive the Hesarghatta and TG Halli reservoirs.
If the TG Halli lake has to be revived, the catchment areas of Devanahalli, Doddaballapur, Magadi and Nelamangala in Bangalore Rural and Ramanagra districts have to be cleared of encroachments and the lakes and tanks restored as they form a vital part of the regeneration programme. Fortunately, all thee areas have so far received good rainfall and the inflow to TG halli has been steadily rising. Usually, the reservoir starts filling up in September, October and November.
 In the last seven years, the water level had not gone up beyond 43 ft. If it fills up, Bangalore can get at least 135 million litres of drinking water every day.
Not many remember that till 1980, TG Halli  was one of the main sources of drinking water to the city and it supplied water to Bangalore West including the localities of Rajajinagar, Sunkadakatte and Vijayanagar. It was in 2012 that the BWSSB finally gave up on TG Halli and discontinued supply of water from it.
One of the many options that the BWSSB is now planning for TG Halli is to recharge the reservoir and the Arkavathy surface water source, by using treated sewage from the  Koramangala and Challaghatta valley (K&C) waste water treatment plant.
The project proposes to divert the treated water to Nandi Hills which would flow into various lakes located downstream and ultimately to the TG Halli reservoir.
It involves construction of  four centrifugal pumps from K&C Valley till Nandi Hills and construction of a ground-level reservoir (GLR) at the foot of the hills. The proposed plan is to pump 200 mld of treated sewage using the centrifugal pumps, each having 50 mld capacity to an elevation of 980 metres into the proposed ground level reservoir.
The treated water would then be pumped using booster pumps to the identified hill surface facing the TG Halli catchment area. The water would be sent to tanks and lakes along TG Halli which would ultimately get filled.

The cost was estimated in 2005 at Rs 415 crore. Today, it needs at least a hundred crores more to take up this project, which also requires an annual  operation and maintenance cost of Rs 80 crore.
Apart from this step, the State and the BWSSB have to tackle the issue of   unplanned development, encroachment of catchment areas, altered drainage system, quarrying, denudation of forests and other related urban issues.

Tuesday 26 August 2014

Older than the temple

Srirangapatna, the erstwhile capital of Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan, has a history dating back to the New Stone Age. But very few of the thousands of visitors and pilgrims who come to this island town are aware of this fact.
The New Stone Age is also called the Neolithic Age and it was a period of human development and technology.
It began sometime in 10,200 BC and ended between 4500 BC and 2000 BC. In south India, the Neolithic period began in 3000 BC and continued till about 1400 BC. The age in Karnataka is characterised by ashmounds.
Robert Bruce Foot (1834 -1912), a British geologist and archaeologist, discovered the first conclusive Paleolitic stone tool (a hand axe) in Pallavaram near Madras. He then along with William King went on to discover more such tools and settlements in South and West India, including Srirangapatna. He is, therefore, often considered as the Father of Indian prehistory.
In 1884 he discovered the 3.5 kilometres (2.2 miles) long Belum caves, the second largest cave in the Indian subcontinent. Foote spent 33 years, starting as a youth at the age of 24, working for the geological survey.
Foote's father-in-law was the Rev. Peter Percival, missionary, linguist and a pioneering educator of Sri Lanka and South India. Foot’s grandson, Major General Henry Robert Bowreman Foote, was awarded the Victoria Cross during the second Word war.
Coming back to Srirangapatna, other archaeologists have discovered some stone tools such as an axe, hammer and other antiquities of the new stone age culture.
In 1984, Dr C. Mahadeva discovered stone tools such as bone, Ardha chandra and a chopping splinter belonging to the microlithic age. It is significant that these tools are made out of jasper, chert and other stone materials.
The discovery of many microlithic weapons in the area has led archaeologists and historians to believe that this must have been a factory site. Historians have discovered stone age settlements in Pandavapura, Kuntibetta and Srirangapatna. Some remnants of the stone age culture have been found at Hangarahalli
and Ranganathittu on the banks of Cauvery, (Srirangapatna taluk); Maralahalli, Belakawadi, Muttatti, Halagur (Malavalli taluk) Kuntibetta, near Pandavapura and Sanabakoppalu in Pandavapura taluk.
The findings suggest that the population density in this part was very thin. The stone age man who lived around thick forests, river valleys.
Srirangapatna was originally built by Udayaditya, the brother of Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana, in 1120 AD. It soon became an important agrahara during the Hoysala period. In 1454, Timmana Dannayaka, a local chief of Nagamangala, obtained permission from the Vijayanagara king Praudadeva Raya, and built a fort at Srirangapatna. Soon, the Vijaayanagar rulers mde Srirangapatna their provincial capital. 
This fort was captured by Raja Wodeyars from the Vijayanagar Viceroy, Tirumala, in 1610 and it later fell into the hands of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan.
The fort was destroyed in May 1799 in the fourth and final Anglo-Mysore war. After the death of Tipu in 1799 A.D., Srirangapatna lost its glory as the Wodeyars shifted the capital to Mysore.
Since the island is home to the first of the three Ranganatha shrines on the banks of the river Cauvery, it is also known as Adi Ranga. As it is located to the west of Srirangam (in Tamil Nadu), it is also called as Paschima Ranganatha Kshetra.
Several inscriptions belonging to the Gangas (2), Hoysalas (2), Vijayanagars (12), Wodeyars of Mysore (15) Hyder-Tipu (14) and others (22) have been found here. Among them, four are in Tamil, 36 in Kannada, eight in Sanskrit, 14 in Persian and two each in Telugu and English.

Thus we see that Srirangapatna has much more to offer than the Ranganatha Swamy Temple and the monuments belonging to the Hyder Ali-Tipu era. A student of  history and archaeology would be interested in the ancient history of the island which is older than the ancient and hoary temple of Ranganatha.

Sunday 24 August 2014

A forgotten philanthropist

What does a maternity hospital, a road, temple structure and a lake have in common. Of course, all but one of them are in Bangalore but that is not the point of similarity.
All these structures were built by one person more than a hundred years ago. But today, neither the man nor his contribution to the then small village of Bangalore is even remembered. If the road after which bears his name is a busy thoroughfare in a small town  seventy kilometers away from Bangalore, the lake which is part of the City is a cesspool of sewage and untreated water. People living around the lake tend to curse it more than seeing it as a lifeline.
Once home to hundreds of migratory birds and also small wildlife, it is now one of the most encroached water bodies in Bangalore. And to think it once supplied water to the parched residents of Bangalore.
The temple structure that he built still stands. Though the temple is one of the landmarks of Bangalore, he is rarely, if ever, remembered for it. The maternity hospital he built so that poor and needy residents to get modern care is better known by its initials and even doctors and patients rarely pause to spare a thought for the man who so generously donated money for the construction of the building.
The man who built all these is none other than Yele Mallappa Shetty, a rich merchant of Bangalore who lived in the 19th century. A philanthropist, he is entirely responsible for constructing the Elemarappakere which is also known as Yele Mallappa Shetty Kere or lake.
This water body is near KR Puram or Krishnarajapuram on Hoskote Road. It was entirely built by Shetty in 1890 and the  entire money for the project came from his own funds.
Bangalore in 1890 was in the grip of a severe water scarcity. The existing lakes and ponds had dried up and the British Government and the Mysore Kingdom were making all out efforts to meet the challenge of providing water to the parched residents.
While Sankey conceived what  is now called the Sankey lake in Bangalore, Shetty too hit upon the idea of providing a water body in K.R. Puram. He saw people suffering due to lack of water and choose the spot after a great deal of research and planning. Thus was born the huge Yele Mallappa Shetty Kere or lake
The lake served as a lifeline for people living in its vicinity. Soon, it also began supplying water to Bangalore. This even as Sankey tank was being built and other water works were being commissioned by the Mysore Government and also the British.
 Today, realms is written about Sankey and others but there is not a mention of Shetty who was a rich areca merchant involved in taking up developmental works. A philanthrophist, Shetty was also involved in constructing the temple structure around the historic Kadu Malleswara Temple in Malleswaram.
Sadly, while historians and others wax eloquent about the association of Shahaji, the father of Shivaji, with the Kadu Malleswara temple, they fail to even mention Shetty and his contribution. Incidentally, the structure funded by Shetty came to be completed sometime in  1900.
Shetty also built a maternity hospital, which today is called Yele Mallappa Shetty's Maternity Hospital. Not many know that this is one of the oldest hospitals of its kind in Bangalore and that it was built in 1879.
Supposedly belonging to the Lingayat community, there is a road named after him in Bangarpet town of Kolar district. The mining town of Bangarpet was earlier known as Bowringpet. It is about 71 kms from Bangalore.
Coming back to the lake, it once occupied more than 300 acres in area. Today it is about 260 acres and it is home to a variety of migratory birds. Wildlife photographers have sighted more than 38 species of migratory birds and recorded 28 of them. The Golden oriole, northern shoveler, green bee eater, bulbul, pied kingfisher, egrets, Eurasian coot are spotted in the water body frequently.
This is also one of the largest fresh water lake in north east Bangalore  and  its watershed is spread over in an area of 287 km2. It forms part of the  Hebbal and Rachenahalli valley.
Unfortunately, the lake and its surroundings are host to a variety of industries and establishments such as  stone crushers, asphalt manufacturing units, factories, brick manufacturing, dumpsite, fodder industry, garages, solar cell factory, steel warehouse and even agricultural lands.
Layouts and educational and commercial centres around the lake and increased urban activity have almost killed the lake.  

There are studies to this effect by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board and by Bangalore University.

Thursday 10 April 2014

The forgotten palegar

Mention Srirangapatna and the first name that comes to our mind is that of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan.  Similarly, mention  Srirangapatna fort and the first thing that comes to the mind is the heroic death of Tipu on May 4, 1799 just a few yards away from the massive fortifications.
The Fort, perhaps, is the second most important monument of Srirangapatna which lends a unique character to the bustling town (The first important monument should be the sprawling Ranganatha Temple). There are a lot of legends and myths associating the Wodeyars, Hyder Ali and Tipu with the fort. 
But what many have forgotten is that the fort was initially built by a local chieftain whose name is now almost forgotten, so much so that the fort is more associated with Hyder-Tipu and the Wodeyars than this palegar.
There is no plaque, name board or even a sign board detailing the contribution of this Palegar. What is more astonishing is that it was this palegar who laid the foundations of the massive Srirangapatna fort more than seven centuries ago.
Moreover, it was also this palegar who contributed lavishly to the temples in Srirangapatna, Tonnur or Kere Tonnur and of course Melukote.
This palegar was the first chieftain to fortify Srirangapatna and also rule from the area but as a vassal of the might Vijayanagars. A devout Srivaishnava, he ruled justly and he was one of the top army commanders of the Vijayanagar forces.
This palegar is none other than Thimanna Hebbar, the chief of Nagamangala, who was also known as Thimmanna Dannayaka.
He rose to prominence because of his military and administrative prowess and in 1454 A.D., he took the permission of the Vijayanagar Emperor to build a mud fort in Srirangapatna.
However, even before Thimanna Hebbar fortified Srirangapatna, it was a thriving and important town. During the Hoysala rule(943-1340), Srirangapatna was one of the most important agrahara centres.
Once Veera Ballala (1291-1343) died, the Hoysala empire disappeared and Srirangapatna became a provincial capital of the Vijayanagars. Sometime in 1450 or a little earlier, Thimanna Hebbar took up the post of a palegar of Srirangapatna and he was a vassal of the Vijayanagars.
In 1454, Thimanna Hebbar laid the foundations of the mud fort and also dug a trench around it. He also repaired, renovated and donated liberally to the Ranganatha temple in Srirangapatna, the Nambi Narayana temple in Tonnur and the two main temple of Melkote-Cheluva Narayanaswamy and Yoga Narasimha.
These temples had been ravaged by Mailk Kafur during his south India invasion of 1311.
Thimanna Hebbar was a commander of the Vijayanagar forces under Emperor Mallikarjuna Raya (1446-1465) who continued him in the post of a palegar of Srirangapatna.
The descendents of Thimanna Hebbar were confirmed in the post of  palegar of Srirangapatna till 1495 when the Vijayanagar Emperor  Narasimha Raya (1491-1505) decided to appoint relatives of the royal family as Viceroys of Srirangapatna.
The royal family of  Vijayanagar continued to hold Srirangapatna as Viceroys till 1610 when Raja Wodeyar defeated Tirumalaraya in the battle of Kesare and made Srirangapatna his capital.
Raja Wodeyar realised the strategic importance of the Jaladurga or island fortress formed naturally by the north and south branches of the Cauvery and renovated the fort.
Later, Kanteerava Narasaraja Wodeyar in 1654 and Chikkadevaraya Wodeyar strengthened the fortress and Hyder and Tipu too contributed immensely.
When the British stormed the fort on May 4, 1799, they admired the massive structure and refrained from pulling it down.
The fort is on the western end of the island and it is in the form of an irregular pentagon with a perimeter of about 4 kilometres.

The fort is a major tourist attraction as are the many additions to it made by Tipu. Of the brave and just palegar, there is no mention and it seems time has swallowed his name. 

Sunday 23 February 2014

The little known temples on the hill

An earlier post had dealt with the Chamundi Hills and the many names that the hills were called by. This post is about a few other temples on the Chamundi Hills which unfortunately are not so well-known as the Chamundi Temple.
One of the earliest temples not only on Chamundi Hills but in the Mysore region is the Mahabaleshwara Temple.
The Mahabaleshwar temple was initially built by the Gangas during the eighth century and renovated by Hoysalas. Interestingly, the bronze idols in this temple belong to the Chola period.
The temple is an artistic blend of  Hoysala and Ganga architecture. The main deity is the linga which has Shiva’s face on it. There is also an idol of Parvathi to the left of the Linga.
The idols of Sapta Mata (seven mothers), two idols of Ganesha,  Nataraja along with Sivakami are also found in the temple.
Generally, we do not find an idol of Nataraja in a Shiva temple but this is an exception here. It is also rare to find a stone idol of Nataraja and this can be seen here.
The priest of the temple says since the Linga self manifested, it is also known as Aarsheya Murthy.
Outside the temple are the five avatars of Shiva - Sadyojata, Vamadeva, Aghora, Tatpurusha and Eeshana. These idols were consecrated by Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar.
Another little known temple on the hills is that of Lakshmi Narayana which is situated behind the Mahabaleshwar temple.
The temple faces West and it is dedicated to Narayana along with his consorts Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi.
This deities have been carved from a single stone. There is a beautiful and unique idol of Hanuman here and it has been growing for the last 100 years. Strangely, the idol cannot be seen clearly in the day but it is visible after dark when lamps are lit. This idol faces north.
There is an interesting tale about the idol. According to locals, Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodayer came to the place and directed a sculptor to break a stone lying on the hill. The sculptor hit the stone a few times but was only able to make a small dent. Later that night, Hanuman appeared in the dreams of the sculptor and asked him not to break the stone. He said he was growing on the stone and, therefore, there was no need to break it.
The stone then was consecrated as it is and this has been growing. Maharani Tripura Sundari, second wife of Maharaja Jayachamarajendra Wodayer, commissioned a silver Kavacha for the idol.
There is no Dhwaja Stamba for this temple. However, both the  Mahabaleshwara and Chamundi Temples have Dhwaja Stambas.
Another interesting temple on the Hill is the Nandi and the small cave temple of Shiva behind it.   
The 16 feet high and 24 feet long monolith Nandi was installed by Dodda Devaraja Wodeyar in 1659. The significance of this Nandi is that, while Nandi everywhere faces Shiva, it faces south while Shiva looks towards  the east.
Locals say the Wodeyars installed ten different Nandi idols around the hill to protect their empire. Even today, some of the Nandi statues can be seen as Neerkal Hatti Basava, Ulluri Basava, Kodi Basava and Kere Bali Basava.
Coming back to the Nandi on Chamundi Hills, there is a small Cave temple adjacent to the monolith which houses a Shiva Linga.
Another temple is that of  Jwala Tripura Sundari, sister of Chamundi at Uttanahalli.
The idol of the goddess, said to be an avtar of Lakshmi, is located little below the ground. The hillock on which this temple is located is called Ramanathagiri. This is so as the temple also houses the self-manifested idol of Ramanateshwara or Shiva.
Nearby is the ashrama of Markandeya ashram which is marked by a small temple. Legend is Markandeya worshipped Shiva at this very spot.
Devikere, which lies en route to the Chamundi Hill, is a small but beautiful pond meant to draw water for the temple. The Devi kere is also known as Deva Gange as Ganga created the water here to worship Shiva.

Friday 21 February 2014

The many names of Chamundi Hills

Lakhs of tourists and pilgrims make a beeline to the Chamundi temple atop the Betta or Chamundi Hills in Mysore. The Hills, which are among the eight most religious hills in south India and have an average elevation of a thousand meters above sea level,  are a natural and religious attraction and give Mysore a pride of place on the tourist map of India.
The Chamundi temple, which is situated atop the Chamundi Hills, is one of the largest in Karnataka and rivals the Ranganatha temple in Srirangapatna and the Nanjundeshwara Temple in Nanjangud in size and footfalls.
Tourists and first tome visitors and even many Mysoreans assume that the hills came to called as Chamundi after the temple by the same name. What they do not know is that the hills were known by different names and it came to be called after Chamundi only after the Wodeyars began ruling from Mysore in the 14th century.
Interestingly, there are many myths and legends associated with Chamundi Hills and of course Mysore too. Mysore perhaps is the only city in  Karnataka after Badami to be named after a demon. If  Badami is named after Vatapi, Mysore city is named after Mahishasura.
Chamundi Hills, with along and winding 12 kilometre road to the top amid forests, is the very place where the demon, Mahishasura, was slain by Goddess Chamundi. The silhouette of the hills from the main palace of Mysore gives an impression of Mahishasura sleeping.
Located 13 kilometres from the heart of Mysore city, the first mention of Chamundi was after Mahabala, a form of Shiva. Centuries ago, the Chamundi Hills were better known as Mahabaladrigiri.  This was so as the main deity on the hill was Mahabaleshwara (Shiva) and not Chamundi.
The name of Maabbala or Mahabala Betta or Maabala Theertha is repeatedly mentioned during the Hoysala period. Mahabala was another name for Chamundi Hills. 
Hoysala Emperor Vishnuvardhana had given funds for the maintenance of the temple and also for the worship of  Shiva. Till the reign of Bola Chamaraja Wodeyar, the Chamundi temple was one of the many on the hills and the Mahabala Temple was the most important structure atop the hills.
It was when Bola Chamaraja Wodeyar survived an attack of lightning but lost all his hair that he believed Chamundi had saved him. Since then, Chamundi began gaining importance and the temple of Chamundeshwari began gaining prominence. 
Subsequently, Dodda Devaraja Wodeyar (1659-1673), built 1108 steps in 1659 or 1664 for the benefit of pilgrims. The steps can still be seen and they are used by devotees and health and fitness freaks. He also commissioned the 16 feet high monolithic statue of the Nandi on the hills in 1659.
By the way, the temple of Shiva or Mahabala exists even today and historians and archaeologists agree that this structure is much older than the Chamundi temple. The first structure of this ancient temple dates back to the period of the Gangas.
When the Wodeyars came to power and began ruling the province of Purugere from the 14th century onwards, first as vassals of Vijayanagar and then as independent rulers of Mysore, Chamundeshwari or Chamundi became their family deity.
The Wodeyars commenced regular poojas at the Chamundi Temple and the hills slowly came to be known as Chamundi Hills. Another name for the hills is Trimukuta Kshetra or three-peaked hill.
The Chamundi Hill is compared to a middle bud of a lotus surrounded by eight petals and all these petals represent different hills. The eight hills are Chikkadevammana Betta in HD Kote, Gopalswamy Betta, Biligiri Rangana Betta (BR Hills), Male Madeshwara (MM Hills) Betta, Kunti Betta near Pandavapura, Yadugiri in Melkote, Mallayana Betta in Pandavpura and Karigatta in Srirangapatna. The Chamundi, therefore, is called as a bud surrounded by eight petals and, hence, the name Ashtadala Parvata (hill surrounded by eight petals).

The Chamundi hill is sandwiched between two rivers. If  Cauvery flows north, Kapila flows south. The Chamundi Hills also has one of the oldest inscription ever found in Mysore and this is dated to 950A D when the Gangas were lording over the area. There is also a Hoysala inscription here dating back to the 12th century. The hills not only provide you with a trekking, walking and motoring experience but also give you a glimpse of wildlife in the Chamundi Reserve Forest abutting the hill. (This is the first of a three part post on Chamundi Hills, its temples and other little known spots).

Monday 27 January 2014

When a truncated State helped Bangalore

The year 1799 was a watershed in the annals of the Mysore Kingdom. It was the year when the geographical contours of the Kingdom was redefined. It was also the year when the Tiger of Mysore, Tipu Sultan, was slain by the British and  his brave attempt to throw out the British from India ended.
The year of 1799 also saw a major change in the political scene of south India. Till then, Tipu and his father, Hyder Ali, had redefined the polices in the Deccan and their strong opposition to the British had kept the East India Company on its toes and dealt a severe setback to their ambition of  taking over south India.
The death of Tipu led to the extinction of the short-lived Muslim rule over Mysore. Wary of a backlash, the British cleverly handed back the Mysore Kingdom to the Wodeyars but made them sing the Subsidiary Alliance.
The British divided the erstwhile Mysore State into four parts. While they retained Coimbatore and West Coast and also control over Bangalore Cantonment later, the Nizam of Hyderabad was gifted Gutti, Gurumakonda and northern part of Chitradurga. The Marathas were appeased by giving them Harapanahalli, Anegondi and surrounding areas of Bellary.
The remaining portion, which was a truncated leftover, was created as Mysore State and handed over to the Wodeyars. On their part, the five-year-old Mummadi Krishna Raja Wodeyar was coronated the Emperor in a tent in present day Nazarbad in Mysore. The capital of Mysore State too was shifted from Srirangapatna to Mysore.
The British initially maintained a fairly large military presence in Srirangapatna and the expense was borne by the Wodeyars. They then shifted the military presence to Bangalore and forced the Wodeyars to cede administrative and military control over the large tract of land to them.
While Srirangapatna continued to languish and slowly lost out its importance, Mysore and Bangalore developed rapidly and this is no small measure to the Wodeyars and the Dewans of the State.
Dewan Purnaiah took over charge of Mysore State in 1799 and was in the post till 1811. Purnaiah took special interest in developing Bangalore.
He visited Bangalore often and renovated the temple inside the old fort now located in City Market. He also built a choultry for travellers in Tulasi Thota near Majestic. He also financially helped farmers to convert the rocky areas in Sarakki, Jaraganahalli, and Maruthihalli into cultivable lands.
When the British started construction of the Cantonment in Bangalore in 1807, their first base was in 1808 and it was located near where the Command Air Hospital is located today on Old Airport Road.
The emergence of Cantonment as a rival to the pete brought in Western thought, culture and lifestyle to Bangalore. When the British took direct control over the Mysore Kingdom in 1831 and till its return to the Wodeyars in 1881, Mysore was lorded by English Commissioners who had their headquarters in Bangalore. These Commissioners directly reported to the Governor General of India and not to the Governor at Madras.
It was during this period that two Commissioners-Mark Cubbon (1834-1861) and Bowring (1861-1870) gave Bangalore its present character. They ensured that Bangalore received the necessary infrastructure to develop into the foremost City of the times.