Saturday 1 December 2012

A timeline of Bangalore

Bangalore is not an ancient metropolis when compared to cities like Delhi, Varanasi or even Kolkata. Unfortunately, we do not know the early origins of Bangalore.
However, the  name of Bangalooru is associated with  the Hoysalas. The Hoysalas were a Hindu kingdom who ruled over large parts of south Karnataka. Their capital was Dwarasamudra in Hassan district and Bangalore was part of their kingdom.
Once, the Hoysala Emperor Vira Ballala, was out hunting in 1120 AD. He got lost in the forests near Bangalore and when he reached a small hamlet, hungry and tired, he was fed boiled beans. A grateful emperor called it the land of Benda Kallu Uru (The land of boiled beans).
Whether this story is true or not, one thing is for sure and that it the name Bangalooru existed even then. The name was found etched on a 9th century inscription in a temple in Begur, Bangalore.
The inscription can be seen even today at the Naganatheswara Temple which is near the Central Silk Board Junction in Madivala.
The temple is believed to 1000 years old. There is a reference in one of the inscriptions to the battle of Bangalooru. Is it not ironical that hundreds of years after the original name was changed to Bangalore, the name is now changed back to the original.
By the way, the Naganatheswara Temple has many carvings and it is situated near the remnants of an old fort.
Well, coming back to Bangalore: The city as it is today owes its existence to Kempe Gowda. A ruler from Magadi, Kempe Gowda, realised the importance of Bangalore  and at Doddapet Circle he harnessed four carts with bullocks and asked them to travel. He marked the points where these bullocks stopped and thus began the journey of Bangalore.
The Doddapet Circle exists today and its importance in the founding of Bangalore seems forgotten in the hustle and bustle of daily life. Kempe Gowda built a mud fort in 1537 in K R Market and set up petes or small towns around it. He was helped in this endeavour by the Vijayanagar Emperor Achuta Deve Raya.
The Vijayanagar permission to set up petes was mandatory as Kempe Gowda was a nayaka in service of the Vijayanagars. Before he shifted his capital to Bangalore, it was Yelehanka that was the capital.
Kempe Gowda decided to limit Bangalore's expansion by erecting four  watch towers. These Watch towers still exist and are known as the Kempe Gowda Towers. One of them is at Lalbagh, the second at Ramana park in Mekhri Circle, the third near  Ulsoor lake and the fourth at Kempambudhi tank.
In 1638, the Adil Shah army led by Ranadulla Khan and  Shahaji Bhonsle captured Bengalooru fort from  Kempe Gowda 2. Kempe Gowda 2 was compelled to give up Bangalooru and retreat to Magadi, from where he and his descendents ruled as palegars from Magadi. In 1728, Magadi was conquered by Wodeyars, thus ending the rule of Bangalore by Kempe Gowdas.
In 1638 AD, Ibrahim Adil Shah gifted Bangalore to Shahaji Bhonsle. In 1689, the Mughals captured Bangalore from the Marathas and sold it to Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar of Mysore for 3 lakh pagodas (gold coins). In 1759, Hyder Ali, commander of Mysore's army, received Bangalore as a Jagir from Krishnaraja Wodeyar II. Later Hyder Ali declared himself ruler of Mysore Kingdom after Krishnaraja Wodeyar 2 died. Hyder and Tipu lorded over Bangalore till 1799. The Wodeyars got back Bangalore around 1800.
It was with the advent of Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan that Bangalore began rapidly developing. It was in the wars with the British in Bangalore in 1791 and again in 1799 that rockets were used for the first time by Tipu.
Both Hyder and Tipu laid the foundations of  Lalbagh. Both strengthened the mud fort of Kempe Gowda, Tipu set up a factory to manufacture rockets at Taramandelpet. The rockets were tested here and, hence, the name tara (stars). He also built several armouries to store them and only one-behind the Bangalore Medical College-survives.
During its heydays, the Bangalore fort was an important military landmark. It had eight main gates and all these gates were initially built by Kempe Gowda.
The gates were   

Yelahanka Gate which was located at Mysore Bank Circle at the junction of Kempe Gowda Road, Post Office Road and Avenue Road.
Yeshwantpur Gate near Upparapet police station which is in front of the Subashnagar busstand
Kengiri Gate whish is now a police station in Cottonpet
Halasoor or Ulsoor Gate where a police station is named after it and is in front of the BBMP head office
Kanakanahalli Gate which was located near the Vokkaligara Sangha building housing KIMS hospital on KR Road
There were two other smaller gates called Sonde Koppa gate Anekal gate.
The Delhi Gate which is in the rort in K.R Market was rebuilt in stone by Hyder Ali. The fort was a large one and some o the localities housed within it were Balepet where bangles were sold, Aralepet or Cottonpet which even in those days were a major centre for trading in cotton, Chickpet or smaller town, Doddapet or big town, Avenue Road, Upparapet, Mandipet where commodities were traded wholesale, Sultanpet, Taramandelpet and other petes.
The petes have retained their names and almost all of them have become busy commercial and business centres. These petes have some of the oldest temples and mosques and take time off to check them out.
The Wodeyars came under the protection of the British after 1799 and the British built a cantonment in Bangalore and appointed a Resident to protect British interest in the Mysore Kingdom. The first British Resident was Col.Sir Barry Close.
The house and office of the Resident was shifted from Mysore to Bangalore in 1804 and even today the building exists as the headquarters of the State Bank of India on St Marks Road. The British coat of arms can still be seen in the building.
The road on which the Resident travelled came to be known as Residency Road. Though this road was renamed as Field Marshal Cariapa Road, nobody known it by that name. It is still Residency Road.
The Resident’s office was later shifted in 1881 to a building now called Raj Bhavan. This building was constructed  in 1840s and once belonged to Sir Mark Cubbon, who was Commissioner of Bangalore.
Cubbon was fond of Arabian horses and he kept at least fifty horses in his stables. The stables were in the premises of the office of the Commissioner of Police. Lewin Benthem Bowring who succeeded Cubbon as Commissioner purchased the bungalow in 1862  to be used as the official Commissioner's bungalow.
Cantonment, which is one of the best areas of Bangalore, came up in 1806. This was ruled directly by the British while Bangalore and its petes belonged to  the Wodeyars.
The then cantonment area consisted of Shoolay, Blackpally (now Shivajinagar), The Parade areas (M.G Road, Cubbon Road), St. John's Hill, Fraser Town, Benson Town, Cleveland Town, Cox Town, Richard's Town, Ulsoor, Knoxpet (Murphy Town), Agram, Richmond Town, Langford Town, Austin Town (named after British Resident, Sir James Austin Bourdillon) and  Whitefield (Anglo-Indian Colony created in 1882).
In 1892, new areas came to be added to Bangalore. Thus, Chamarajpet  (named after Chamarajendra Wodeyar) and Seshadripuram (named after the then  Diwan of Mysore Sir K. Sheshadri Iyer) came up. Kumara Park came up in 1947 and Jayanagar in 1948.

In 1898, a plague broke out in Bangalore and two new areas came up- Basavanagudi and Malleswaram. The Victoria Hospital was built in 1901 and Vani Vilas Hospital in 1902.
In 1905, Bangalore became the first city in India to get electrical power.

The LIC building on Residency Road, adjacent to Devatha Plaza, once housed the Reserve Bank of India. The present canteen of LIC was once the strong room of the bank before it was shifted to Nruputunga Road.
Today, Bangalore is one of the biggest cities in India and it is the IT capital. There are hundreds of IT companies. Once known for manufacturing industries, Bangalore today has a range of industries. Many of the giant public sector industries such as HMT, ITI, BHEL, BEL, BEML, HAL had made Bangalore their base. Many of these companies have downsized their staff and diversified.     
Bangalore today has many places of interest. Here is a list of some of them.
Aerospace Museum:
This is the only museum of its kind in India. It is located on the Old Airport road. So I suggest that you take this museum with a visit to MG Road, Brigade Road, Ulsoor Lake and Someshwara Temple.
The museum traces the history of aviation of India and also the growth of HAL-Hindustan Aeronautics Limtted.
Freedom Park:
This was once the famous Bangalore Central Jail before it was shifted to Parappana Agrahara on Hosur Road near Electronics City.
The jail has been converted into a park and it is also a place designated for holding protests. The landscaping of the area leaves you awestruck. Some of the buildings within the jail have been retained.
It is on Seshadri Road and near Majestic. The Race Course is opposite this jail. So is the Bangalore Weather Office.   
Cubbon Park: It was named after Sir Mark Cubbon, who was the British Commissioner of Mysore Kingdom from 1834 to 1861. Ironically, he had never set his eyes on the park but yes he had seen and liked Lalbagh.
He left India in April 1861 and died on his way back home at Suez on April 23, 1861. Cubbon Park was planned in 1864 by Sir Richard Sankey, the then Chief Engineer of Mysore. When planned, it was known as Meades Park after John Meade, the then acting Commissioner of Mysore. Subsequently it was named as Cubbpn Park. In 1972, it was again renamed as Chamarajendra Park. Noboy calls it by that name and it continues to be  came to be known as Cubbon Park.
Lalbagh: The biggest botanical garden in the south. It is home to many rare species of plants, shrubs and trees. A botanist’s delight, it has several varieties of bamboo trees, roses, orchids, bonsai and ferns. It has the oldest rock formation in the world and also a fossil of a tree trunk.
There is a mango tree planted by Tipu Sultan. The flower clock and Glass House is a pleasure to the eyes as is the lake.     
Indira Gandhi Fountain:
Located near the Jawaharlal Nahru Planetarium, it is one of the biggest fountains of its kind. Visit it in the evening and watch the play of waters. Vidhana Soudha, High Court, Vikasa Soudha and roads such as MG Road, Church Street, St Marks Road are nearby. The war memorial is adjacent. 
Planetarium: The Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium is a student’s delight. The centre organizes astronomy and science classes. Watch the sky and the stars.
Bangalore Fort:
Originally built in mud by Kempe Gowda and later renovated with stones. The British occupied the fort during the last Anglo-Mysore war But by then, Tipu had already dismantled large portions of the fort and what is left today is only a small part of the once massive structure. There is a small temple and a dungeon in the fort. It is located in City Market, one of the busiest places of Bangalore and a centre of wholesale trade in many commodities.
Tipu palace:
It is just across the fort. It was once the palace of Tipu Sultan. It is a wooden structure and after Tipu was defeated it was used by the British as their offices.
Near the  palace is the armoury of Tipu, the Kote Anjeneya Temple and Minto Kannaaspatre Anjeneya Temple consecrated by Vyasa Raja. One of  Bangalore’s oldest Raghavendra Swamy Temple is situated down the palace in an area called Seethapathi Agrahara. (This is diagonally opposite Prakash café on Chamarajpet 1st Main Road).
Take a tour of the Bangalore Museum. Visveshveshvaraiah Science and Technological Museum, acquarium and the Venkatappa Art Gallery while visiting Cubbon Park.
If you find time and you are interested in history, go around the many churches in Bangalore such as St. Marks Cathedral where the cricketer Colin Cowdrey of England was baptized, St. Andrews Church, St. Patricks Church, Trinity Church, St Luke’s Church and St. John’s Church.
Bangalore offers you temples dedicated to all deities. The biggest temple complex is ISCKON in Rajajinagar. The Hanuman Temple in Mahalakshmi Layout opposite ISCKON is worth a visit. The huge Hanuman statue is awesome.
The oldest temple is in Domlur. It is dedicated to Vishnu and is called the Chokkanatha Temple. It is believed to have been built by Raja Raja Chola. I have a;lready written about the Naganatheswara Temple.
Other temples worth a visit are the Gavi Gangadheswara temple, Bull Temple in Basavanagudi, Someshwara Temple in Ulsoor, Kumaraswamy Temple in Hanumanthnagar, Dharmaraja Temple, Kadu Malleswara temple, the temples at Ragigudda in Jayanagar, Cave Temple in Hulimavu and Meenakshi Temple on Bannerghatta Road, Raja Rajeshwari Temple in Rajarajeshwari Nagar and Gali Anjeneye Temple on Mysore road.
If you are a devotee of  Raghavendra Swamy, you can visit scores of Raghavendra Samy temples and almost all localities have one or two temples to this saint from Mantralaya.
Bangalore has also many mosques.
The Sangeen Jamia Masjid in Taramandalpet is the oldest mosque in Bangalore and the only monument left behind by the Mughals. It was built by the then Mughal Commander Khiledar Khan
The Jumma Masjid mosque in City Market is the biggest and the masjid on Jumma Masjid road in Shivajinagar perpendicular to Commercial Street has granite pillars which once adorned the palace of Tipu in Srirangapatna.
The pillars are cool even during the summer. Go shopping at Commercial Street and taste the sweets of Baghat Ram. Ulsoor lake is nearby and enjoy a boat ride.
Apart from the Ulsoor lake, there are other water bodies in Bangalore. Madivala lake, Agara lake, Sankey lake, Hulimavy lake, Hebbal and Yediyur lake. These lakes and Cubbon Park and Lalbagh are home to many birds.
The Bangalore Palace in Vasanthnagar belongs to the Royal family of Wodeyars. You can see it for a fee. You can either take a guide, see it on your own or go for a digital guide. The ballroom of the palace is a beautiful reminder of the days gone by.
Bannerghatta National Park is near Bangalore and you can enjoy a safari along with a visit to the Butterfly park.
If you are a foodie, taste the MTR savories in  their hotel near Lalbagh or go for the crips dosa and chutney in Vidyarthi Bhavan in Gandhi Bazar. Eat cakes and pastries at Butter Sponge located in front of the National College. It is on the other side of the flyover opposite Uttaradhi Matha Road.
MTR has set up another outlet opposite Mini forest in JP Nagar. Try out the lunch and dinner, Maiyas in Jayanagar 4th Block is another famous eatery. While in Malleswaram, go for Halli Mane for authentic home food and for old world charm check out Janata Hotel and Bun world.
In the pete area, the Old Krishna Bhavan and Venkateshwara Sweet Meat stall is famous. Try out idlis at Janadhana Hotel in Seshadripuram and at Chalukya Hotel near Basaveshwar Circle, opposite Race Course.
If you are the homely type, eate at Brahmins café in Shankarapuram. This is near the Bangalore Hugh School. In Basavanagudi, order Brahmin foods like Kodubale, Chalki and condiments at Subbamma stores near DVG Road. Kannadigas call it Subbammana Angadi.
If you like Dosas fesh from the Tava or pan, eat at the many small outlet in VV Puram and try bread and confectionaries at VB Bakery. If in Rajajinagar eat at Warriar bakery. Treu Taste is an outlet belonging to ISKCON. Eat at their headquarters in Rajajinagar or in Jayanagar 4th Block.
The Nandini milk booths stock ice creams and a large variety of sweets under the brand Nandini. There are chocolates under the Nandini brand too. Try them out.
If you are a shopping addict, there are many malls here. The best among them are Orion, UB City, Mantri, Shoppers Stop, Forum, Big Bazar. Shop on Brigade Road, MG Road, Kempe Gowda Road, Church Street Commercial Street and roads in Malleswaram.
The Cauvery Handicrafts showroom on MG Road and several smaller outlets in Jayanagar, Kempe Gowda Road and other places will tempt you to buy artifacts from Karnataka. Since this is a Government owned undertaking, prices are fixed and quality is maintained. If you have money buy a teakwood dining set or a rosewood joola or a rosewood mantapa. I can assure you they are worth every rupee.
Go around the streets of Basavanagudi, Chamarajpet, Shankarapuram  and Malleswaram to get a taste of old Bangalore. There are scores of pubs in Bangalore and cinema houses. Clubs such as Bangalore Club, KSCA Club, Billiards Club (housed in the State Billiards Building on Millers Tank Road), Sadashivanagar Club, Jayanagar Club, Cosmopolitan Club, Century Club, YMCA offer a variety of activities. Bowring Club had members like Winston Churchill.
If you are interested in dance, the best option would be to go to Hesarghata and see the dance village constructed by Protima Bedi. Hesarghata has a farm, reservoir and several temples. The TG Halli reservoir is another spot where you can spend time.
Make Bangalore your base to see several places in and around the city. Hotels are available from reasonable to high rates. Transport is not a problem but leave early to avoid the office crowd. The metro is operational on only one route. Take a ride to enjoy the first metro in south India.        


  1. Wonderful post that chronicles almost all aspects of Namma Bengalooru. Now that I'm away from my dear hometown, I miss it all the more...

    1. soory for the delay in replying. Yes, Bangalore is a wonderful city and I miss it everytime I am away.