Saturday 30 March 2013

When Bangalore was known as Kalyani Nagara

Several centuries ago, a fairly vast body of water in present day Majestic area of Bangalore was part of the forests and it was called Doddakere or the Big Lake.
The lake and the forests around Majestic and present day Bangalore formed part of the Hoysala Empire. The Hoysalas had managed to wrestle control of Bangalore from the Cholas who in turn had taken it from the Gangas of Talakad.
The Gangas had considered Bangalore province to be important when they had their earlier capital at Kolar. They in turn had vanquished the Nolambas to win Kolar and Bangalore. Some of the temples constructed by the Nolambas still exists in Kolar and other places in south India. (Some of the Nolamba temples are Kalleshwara Temple at Aralaguppe in Tiptur taluk of Tumkur district, Narayaneshwara temple and Shankara Matha in Avani of Kolar district, Bhoga Nandishwara in Nandi Hills, Yoga Narasimha of Tondanur in Mandya district, Siddeswara (Henjerappa) and Doddeswara Temples in Hemavati, Anantapur district and Veeranjaneya Swamy Temple in  Aragonda, Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh).  
The forests of Bangalore did not last long. By the turn of the 14th century and early 15th century, the forests came to be cleared and a few small hamlets and villages sprang up. By then, Yelahanka was fairly a big settlement as was Domlur and Magadi. Of Bangalore, there is not much information but suffice it to say it was not a very important city.
However, things changed when the Vijayanagar Empire took form roots in south Karnataka. The local rulers or Nada Prabhus of Yelahanka also claimed Bangalore as their own and soon one of their earliest rulers, Kempe Gowda (1513-1569), managed to get Bangalore and several other villages as a gift from Achuta Deva Raya (1529-1542), the Vijayanagar Emperor.
Kempe Gowda then set about building and fortifying Bangalore. A far sighted man, he let the lakes and water bodies be and renovated and repaired them. He also built several lakes and Dharmambudi lake is assigned to him though there is evidence to suggest that this is the Dodda Kere that Hoysala inscriptions mention.
Kempe Gowda so planned the Dharmambudi lake that it supplied water to one end of the Bangalore fort. Another lake, Karanji in present day Gandhi Bazar, too supplied water to the moat. Kempe Gowda built several other lakes and all of them were interconnected with each other.
The lakes and the Kalyanis gave Bangalore its reputation as city of lakes and Kalyanis. The city soon came to be known as Kalyani pura or Kalyani nagara.
Kempe Gowda built several temples, including the Someshwara temple in Alasooru or Halasooru, now Ulsoor. The Kalyani of Someshwara Temple was discovered beneath a huge mound of debris and illegal constructions two years ago. Similarly, Kempe Gowda built the Gavi Gangadheswara Temple which had a Kalyani as did the Anjenaya temple near Bugle rock in Basavanagudi.
The 110-year-old Sampangiramnagar kalyani in the heart of the city, which was excavated and revived a few years ago, was nothing but an unused pit with overgrown weeds. And though it has no water, the kalyani makes for a beautiful lighting spot during Diwali and Dussera. Ancient carvings on its three sides add to the charm.
There is also a Kalyani near Urvashi cinema on Lalbagh road. Sadly, the history of Kalyanis and their numbers have not been documented. However, the names of Kalyana nagara or Kalyani pura disappeared as soon as the name of Bangalore became popular.
The lakes too died after piped water came to Bangalore and the utility of water bodies gradually lessened.
Thus, Bangalore not only lost its kalyanis but also water bodies. Today, there are massive efforts to revive both but at what cost.

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