Tuesday 18 December 2012

The renaming spree

A few days ago, when I inquired from an autorickshaw driver where the Chamarajendra park was in Bangalore, he looked totally perplexed.
He had always prided himself  on keeping abreast of the development of Bangalore City and his boast was that he knew almost every nook and corner of Bangalore.
My question put him in an embarrassing position and he murmured that he did not know. I told him I would show him the park and took him to Cubbn Park.
This is the park that has been renamed as Chamarajendra Park, I said. The autorickshaw driver stoutly denied it and said it is known only as Cubbon Park and so shall it remain.
His disbelief evaporated when I showed him a stone tablet renaming the park. He was angry at the manner in which the park had been renamed. Why do such places need to be renamed, he asked.
Having lost face once, he once again challenged me to show him one more area or road that had been renamed. I promptly asked him to take me to Field Marshal Cariappa Road. This time around he made no pretence of scratching his head or muttering aloud.
He gave up and asked me where this road is. I told him Residency Road on which we were travelling now had been renamed as Cariappa Road several decades ago.
The conversation with the autorickshaw driver then centered on the renaming of roads and localities in Bangalore.
The renaming spree started when India gained Independence in 1947. The then civic corporation decided to rename roads and intersections after freedom fighters.
The first road to be renamed after Independence was South Parade Road. It had been aptly named by the British as the British troops marched on this road to the nearby Parade Grounds. It was named Mahatma Gandhi (MG) Road.
When Bangalore passed into the hands of the Wadiyars after the death of Tipu Sultan on May 1799, they had renamed the Fort Main Road as Krishna Rajendra Wadiyar. Now, it is better known as K.R.Road.
Residency Road was used by the British Resident to commute to and from his house-the headquarters of the SBI. The road was renamed as Field Marshal Cariappa Road. However, the old name is still popular and it still stands the test of time. As afar as the name name goes, none seems to have heard of it.
Another British sounding name-Mission Road has been named after the well-known singer, Kalinga Rao. The new name continues to elude the memory of Bangaloreans who prefer the older name.  
The Grant Road has been renamed as Vittal Mallya Road and this new name seems to have struck. Similarly, the Sampangiramnagar Main Road has been renamed as Raja Ram Mohan Roy Road.
Another road which has lost its original name is Kasturba Road. During earlier days it was known as Sidney Road.
The Albert Victor Road, which starts near City Market,  was renamed as Alur Venkata Rao Road. Even today, the road bears the shortened form of the name AV Road- none knowing the real name.
Another landmark road-Cavalry Road has been renamed as Kamaraja Road and the Madras Bank Road, which stretched from Airlines Hotel to the State Bank of India (SBI) headquarters on St. Marks Road, has also been renamed.
The Ashoka Pillar Road was once Kanakanapalya Main Road. Kanakanapalya was a small village several decades ago. Both the village and its name have vanished without a trace.
The Cubbonpet Main Road is now T M Naganna Road but this is still popular by its old name. The East End Road from Minerva Circle in Mavalli to the beginning of Jayanagar has been renamed as R.V.Road, while a part of Sankey Road has been named after T.Chowdaiah.
Apart from roads, even localities have been renamed but in some cases the old names are still struck in memory of the people. Frazer Town has been renamed as Pulakeshi Nagar but people know it by its older name. MacIver Town has become Shantala Nagar, and Cox Town is Jeevanahalli.
Similarly, several other localities in and around Cantonment have been renamed. Benson Town is Kadamba Nagar but who knows the new name. Doddakunte is now Sarvagna Nagar, and part of Thomas Town is B.L. Rice Nagar, Murphy Town is  Hoysala Nagar and Williams Town is K.C. Reddy Nagar.
One of the oldest localities of Bangalore -Tasker Town –has been renamed as Swami Shivanandapuram, and Richmond Town as Sir Ismail Mirza Nagar. Neither of the two names are familiar to Bangaloreans.
Even the intersections and traffic circles have been renamed. The Oriental Circle has been renamed as Anil Kumble Circle, while Ringwood Circle is now known as Kantharaj Urs Circle. The Irwin Circle, at the junction of K.R. Road and Lalbagh Fort Road, is Professor Shivashankar Circle.
Among other roads and localities that have been renamed are Austin Town as F.Kittel Nagar, Suddaguntepalya Road (part of Bannerghatta Road) as Christ School Road, Anepalya as Gajendranagar and  Miller's Road is Basaveshwara Road.
However, some roads that have been renamed have become popular by their new names. The Cenotaph Road was renamed as Nruputunga Road and it is the new name that has struck. Parts of  Palace Orchards has been ranamed as Vyalikaval, Sadashivanagar and they have remained so. The old name also exists but it is only for a small locality.  
Nobody knows  how the renaming has helped Bangalore. The roads and localities were named for a particular reason. For example, Kurmbeigal Road adjoining Lalbagh was so named to honour a great German botanist who contributed immensely to the development of Lalbagh.
Similarly, Cubbon and Sankey were among the host of British officers who strove hard for the development of Bangalore. Why should their names be erased. Can history be erased ?
As it is developmental activities and unchecked urbanization have sufficiently destroyed the heritage of Bangalore. Do we need the needless renaming to erase what little is left of our history.       

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