Tuesday, 30 July 2013

A repository of History

What Malleswaram is to north Bangalore, this locality is to south Bangalore. Both these localities were conceived and even formed simultaneously. They came up as a result of the great plague epidemic of 1898 that ravaged Bangalore.
Both Malleswaram and this locality is named after the most prominent temples in their respective localities. Sine their inception, both these localities have continued to be bastions of  local culture, Kannada language, literature, art and music. 
If it was the great plague that led to the formation of both Malleswaram and this locality, today it is the intellectual consciousness and remarkable adherence to tradition and culture of yore of the people of these two localities that distinguish then from the rest of Namma Bangalore.
Both these localities were well-laid our at the foothills of elevated hillocks. If Malleswaram was at the foothills of the Kempe Gowda tower and the small hillock of Palace Guttahalli, this locality was  at the foothills of Bugle rock and Lalbagh.
Talk about Bangalore and one is sure to mention Malleswaram in as much the same breath as Basavanagudi. Yes, this post is about Basavanagudi, one of the few localities in Bangalore that is named after a local temple or deity.
Each street and each institution in Basavanagudi has its own tale to narrate. The Bugle rock is not only historically important but it is also a geological wonder. The park nearby is host to fruit bats. There are scores of temples but Basavanagudi gets its name from the temple of Basava or Nandi on Bull Temple road.    
The village of Basavanapura that once was situated adjacent to the Karanji Anjeneya Temple just off Gandhi Bazar too lent its name to the new locality. .
There was another village nearby and this was called Sunkenahalli. Both Basavanapura and Sunkenahalli gave way to Basavanagudi and today both the villages along with Kanakanapalya, which was at the edge of the Basavanagudi locality (now RV Teacher College and surrounding areas) are history.
The only remnant of the villages are the Kadalakai Parashe that is held every year on Bull Temple Road. Even today, groundnut growers come in hundreds to sell their wares during the fair.
By the way, both Malleswaram and Basavanagudi had their own sources of water. The Kadu Malleswara temple in Malleswaram and the Bull temple were the places where the rivers originated.  
Interestingly both the localities were planned near the watch towers of Kempe Gowda. The locality of Malleswaram skirted around the Kempe Gowda tower near Mekhri Circle, while Basavanagudi extended to the entrance of Lalbagh which housed another of the towers and the Kempambudhi lake where the third tower was located.
Kempegowda-I (1513-1569) planned the southern boundary of Bangalore to include the Karanji lake and this was set aesthetically among the rocks. Kempe Gowda called this Karenji.
Kempe Gowda is also credited with having built the garbagudi of the Karenji Anjeneya Temple. He also arranged for the  Pranaprathista of the deity and ensured daily pujas were conducted.
Locals believe that Janamejaya, the grandson of Abimanyu, had performed penance at the hillock on which Anjaneya idol is located.
The Basava temple and several other temples were adjacent to the calm and peaceful Karanji lake. The water body covered parts of Basavanagudi, Chamrajapet and Gandhi Bazar. The tank dried up soon after the Dharmambudhi and Siddikatte tanks dried up. The National High School today stands on the bed of the once beautiful tank.
Just across the tank and where Ramakrishna Ashrama stands and the localities of Hanumanthanagar and Srinagar were the groundnut fields. The fields soon gave way once the Karanji tank ran dry. Only the Bugle rock remained.
During the third Mysore War which commenced in 1791, a contingent from the Mysore army under the leadership of Mir Quamar-ud-din launched a rocket attack on the British forces from Bugle rock. The small contingent was overcome and the British marched towards the fort (now at City Market) and subsequently conquered it.
Once Tipu was finally defeated, Basavanapura and Sunkadakatte continue to remain small villages on the periphery of  the Petah town and they supplied fruits, vegetables and ground nuts to the people.
However, things changed when the Mysore Government planned new extensions in the aftermath of the plague. This is how both Basavanagudi and Malleswaram came up and both swallowed the villages on which they were planned. 
Soon, both Basavanagudi and Malleswaram became the centre of Kannada and along with Chamarajpet led to the renaissance of Kannada language and culture.
Luminaries like Prof Bellave Venkatanaranappa were the earlier settlers of Basavanagudi. Prof. Bellave was an institution by himself and a founder member of several organizations such as the Kannada Sahitya Parishad and Basvanagudi Union and Service. He also renovated the Mallikarjuna templeand edited Vignana Kannada, a journal in Kannada on science.
He had a battery of disciples and each one made a name for himself and they included the redoubtable D.V.G, Masti Venkatesh Iyengar, V.C, BMSri, M.V.Setharamaiah and others.

Even today, Basavanagudi retains its old world charm. It is one of the few localities in Bangalore that have managed to integrate harmoniously the old with the new. Of course, the rush of urbanization and modernism continues but the people seem more aware of their rich culture and heritage. No wonder, it is a repository of history and culture.     

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