Well, it has been a long time since I wrote about one of the older areas of
. Almost all Bangaloreans must have heard of the Petes or old localities of the city. Bangalore
These petes belong to the time
came to be founded by Kempe Gowda. The petes were generally concentrated in areas around the fort and they stand there even today, a mute testimony to the days gone by. Bangalore
One of the many petes is Ranasinghpet. This is in the central market area of
and even today it has vestiges of its royal past. No, there is no fort or palace, park or any similar structure. Bangalore
Ranasinghpet is still home to a handful of wrestling houses called Garadi Mane.
The Garadi Mane is an exclusive preserve of wrestlers in this part of Karnataka-Bangalore Mysore, Hassan, Tumur and all parts of south Karnataka. This Garadi Mane is centuries old and it traces it links with the royalty that ruled over
for centuries. Bangalore
The Garadi Manes in
Bangalore, , Srirangapatna and a few other places in south Karnataka are closely associated with Hyder and Tipu Sultan, Wodeyars and earlier to then Kempe Gowda. Mysore
There are many Garadi manes in Ranasinghpet and unfortunately several of them are not named or it could also be that I failed to get their names.
These Akhadas, yes they are also called as Akhadas, are the last or rather the first place that a wrestler in the city comes to. These Garadi manes also act as gymnasiums for wrestlers to exercise and tone up their bodies and to practice kusthi-the traditional Indian form of wrestling.
Many of these wrestling pits are on the verge of shutting down as only a handful open people are taking to this manly sport.
, the tradition of Kusthi is as old as the establishment of the City. Kusthi began to take formal shape under the Nadaprabhus or Kempegowdas. It then continued under Shahaki, the father of Shivaji, who was given Bangalore as a Jagir by the Adil Shah Sultan of Bijapur. Bangalore
Many soldiers in the armies of the Marathas of Shahaji, Kempe Gowda and Wodeyars were excellent wrestlers. There were regular bouts in the military and the sport was patronised by the royals asa well as rich noblemen.
The word Garadi comes from Garuda, who is the vehicle of Vishnu. Garuda had enormous physical strength and wrestling as a sport traces its roots to the Vedic age and Bheema in particular. Apart from Bheema, another proficient wrestler was Jarasandha.
You can still see one of
’s earliest Garadi Manes in Aralepet. This is the Dodda Garadi which was established in 1680 by Guru Gopal Mahandat, who hailed from Bangalore . He settled down in Kanpur and started this Garadi Mane. Bangalore
This is a Garadi Mane with its own history. Hyder Ali fine tuned his wrestling skilsl here and also toned up his muscles. Hyder, in his younger days, served under Katti Gopala Raja Urs, an officer of the Wodeyars. When Gopal Raje Urs was posted in
, Hyder joined his service and frequented this garadi to learn wrestling and club wielding. Bangalore
The Garadi was renovated twice. The first time in 1827 and again in 1877. Many other garadis came up during this period and among them are - Annayyappa garadi in Tigalarapete (1890), Kunjanna garadi (1895-1900), Venkatadasappa garadi in Doddapete, Chikka Annamma garadi in Cubbonpete, Ane Kallappa garadi, Nana Rao garadi in Balepete, Balegaradi, Bori Muniappa garadi near Super Talkies, Thimmarayappa garadi, and Dasappa garadi.
The Garadis started declining in popularity from 1940 onwards. The call of the freedom movement, the change in the social and economic outlook, stress on modern education all left the garadis far behind in priority.
The new rules of physical fitness in police, para military and armed forces also saw the focus shifting away from wrestling and Indian concepts of fitness. However, the first challenge to this sport was presented with the establishment of the Cantonment by the British in 1809.
The British encouraged Golf, Polo, Cricket, Equestrian sports at the cost of Indian games. The Bangalore Golf Club was started in 1876 and Polo Club in 1855. As early as 1803, the British laid out a horse track for horse racing in
. This track was at Agaram on Bangalore Hosur Road.
Today, the Garadi Manes are struggling for survival and it seems to be a cruel irony that wrestling is now sought to be dropped from Olympics as a sport.