Sunday 28 April 2013

The locality with a history of its own

There are three or rather four stories about the origin of this locality. If one speaks of an ancient village that existed here, another talks of an advocate who came on horseback here and set about founding this locality.
Two other stories about the founding of the locality are equally romantic. One says a temple lent its name to the locality, while another says a village by the same name existed here. The village was absorbed by the locality and it gave its name even as it lost its identity.
Today, this is among the oldest of Bangalore’s localities and it I also the most happening. It is also considered to be among the strongholds of Kannada and it boasts of several institutions of excellence and for decades it had been considered to be the hub of education.
This locality today is 124 years old and it was a gift to Bangaloreans by the Wodeyars to provide a good and habitable locality to Bangaloreans.
This is Malleswaram which came to be founded in 1889. One legend about the locality’s founding says that S. K. Venkatranga Iyengar, an advocate, was the one who was responsible for the coming up of Malleswaram.
Venkatranga Iyengar loved riding on horse back. One day when he  visited the Kadu Malleswara temple, he liked the surroundings and imagined a locality where the rich and noble could settle.
He invited the Patankars, who are descendents of the Dewans of Mysore as also Dewan Sheshadri Iyer and Dewan P.N. Krishnamurthy to plan their houses in the nee locality. They agreed s did the Patankars. These rich noblemen bought huge properties, each anything between 2 to 3 acres.
Venkatranga Iyengar then placed the proposal before the erstwhile municipality which approved the idea and thus was born Malleswaram.
However, the credit for being the earliest planned localities go to e Chamarajpet and Seshadripuram. This was in 1892. Though Malleshwaram and Basavanagudi too were planned as early as 1892, they could be executed only  in 1898 and then ‘with some urgency’ due to the intensity of the plague epidemics.
The then municipality acquired 291 acres for Malleshwaram and promoted it as a model hygienic suburb.
The then planning authorities paid attention to social hierarchies and so Malleshwaram had eight blocks, one for each particular section of the people.
Another story credits the founding of Malleswaram to H.V. Nanjundiah (1860-1920), the acting Dewan and  the first Vice-Chancellor of Mysore University. He was a contemporary of Sir M Visvesvaraiah.
He donated his palatial house in Malleswaram in 1948 to the Government for sting up a Girls High School. The building and the school exists to this day.  
Coming back to the story on Malleswaram, it was Nanjundiah, a Brahmin, who pushed or the formation of  the locality in 1898.
 extension around 1898 after the great plague in Bangalore, which prompted many people to move out of the city centre, while the other claims that the founder of the area was the first Vice Chancellor of the Mysore University and acting Dewan of Mysore, HV Nanjundaiah.
The third story says Malleswaram is named after the Kadu Malleswara temple. As the first name of the temple, Kadu, says the area was once a forest and it was constructed by the Marathas in the 17th century.
Venkoji, a half-brother of Chattrapathi Shivaji and the son of Shahji Bhonsle, was instrumental in building this temple. Venkoji received the jagir of Bangalore on the death of his father, while Shivaji continued to reign from Pune.
An old inscription found on the outcrop of the temple refers to the grant given to Medaralingana village by Maratha Sardar Venkoji or Ekoji in 1669 for the upkeep of the temple.
The inscription cautions that no one should alter or attempt to change the grant given by Venkoji, including Hindus and Muslims. It clearly refers to various communities of the medieval period, including Muslims and Hindus.
Another story says the place where Malleswaram stands today was once a village called Mallapuram. The village made way for the then Mysore State and the Bangalore Municipality to construct Malleswaram and Basavanagudi. This was when K. Seshadri Iyer was the Dewan.
However, there is no vernacular or historical records before the 1880s support the claim of Mallapura village, There are, however, records to indicate that the area originally came under the village of Ranganatha Palya. An 1878 Survey of India map indicates this. This will buttress the story that just as Basavanagudi was named after the Basavanna temple, Malleswaram was named after the Kadu Mallikarjuna (Malleswara) temple.
Interestingly, both Basavanagudi and Malleswaram were planned  on foothills: If Basavanagudi lies on the foothills of the Bull Temple, Bugle Rock and Lal Bagh,  Malleswaram is on the foothills of the Kempe Gowda watchtower and Palace Guttahalli. Malleswaram was so planned that it had a big water source. A big stream, now a Raja Kaluve, ran through it and it was meant to provide temporary shelter during large epidemics (such as the plague) and during famine.
Though Malleswaram had eight blocks, it was originally planned to accommodate all communities. While previous layouts such as Chamarajpet or Benson Town accommodated particular sections of society according to their original plans, Malleswaram was to provide accommodation to all.
The new Malleswaram had separate wards for Muslims, native Christians and various Hindu castes, including Brahmins, Lingayats, Vaishyas and others.
Then Malleswaram stretched from the old Raja Mills or Mysore Spinning and Weaving Mills (today Mantri Mall stands in its place) to 15th Cross including Sankey Tank in the north, and from the Bangalore-Arasikere railway track in the west to the Kadu Malleswara temple in the east.
Although the new layout was created and the Government invited people to purchase sites and settle there, it was met with little or no  response. The Government then formed a committee comprising among others V.P. Madhav Rao, Mir Shaukat Ali and Rao Bahadur Arcot Srinivasachar and K. Srinivasa Rao to develop the new area in 1892.
By 1895, the committee handed over the layout to the city municipal authorities with certain suggestions, and from then onwards, Malleswaram took off. However, it remained an ordinary neighbourhood until after Independence, when those who worked in the government and the upper classes chose to live there. From a site for rehabilitation to a posh neighbourhood, it has today emerged as the place of Malls.

When a Goddess alighted from an elephant

The Goddess was flying through the sky on her elephant and when she saw a serene and beautiful spot in a thick forest, she came down and took rest. She then took off again, but this time without the elephant as her Savari or  vehicle.
The elephant slowly merged with the surrounding landscape and today there is a huge boulder which bears the painting of an elephant. This painting was one among the many rocks of a small park which has come up at the spot.
The road too is known after the pachyderm and the temple of the Goddess too is almost diagonally opposite the painted elephant. If the elephant rock is on one side of the road, the temple to the Goddess is on the other side of the road.
This is the Ane Bande or Elephant Rock road of Jayanagar, which is an important junction for vehicle coming from South End and proceeding to Jayanagar 3rd Block, Jayanagar 4th Block and the Shopping Complex.
This road is perhaps the only one that can be described as an ode to an elephant.
According to legend, Goddess Patalamma, one of the four local deities of Bangalore, was astride her elephant and passing through the sky when she saw a spot in today’s south Bangalore. She alighted from the elephant and spent some time in the forest and this is the place where the Ane Bande road passes through.
She again took to the skies after some time but she was without her elephant which then dissolved into the rocks. Over time, locals of the area drew the picture of an elephant on the rock and also consecrated the Patalamma Temple across the road.
There is a small temple of Bhavani Shankar adjacent to the elephant rock and several smaller rocks which are believed to be part of an elephant herd. The temple was consecrated by Shantaveera Mahasawmi on November 6, 1994. It was built by a local corporator Bangaramma.  
Today, both Patalamma temple and Ane Bande or Elephant Rock road are inseparables. The Elephant Rock Road begins from the South End Circle and joins the 9th main road, Jayanagar 3rd Block.
When Jayanagar was formed in 1948, some builders wanted to take over the land around the elephant rock. One of the builders employed two engineers to get the rocks removed. The story goes that the engineers died and since then nobody has dared to touch the rocks.
The Patalamma temple a few decades ago was the village deity of five villages around Jayanagar — Nagasandra, Kanakanapalya (area around RV teachers College), Siddapura, Byrasandra and Yediyur. In the early years of the 19th century, it was the deity of  fourteen villages.
The temple is more than 500 to 600 years old. The fire-sacrifice ritual, that is held once in three years, is famous. Devotees throng to the temple on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Within the temple premises are two long pillars with another stone joining them at the top with iron hooks. This is the swing of Goddess Patalamma and she sat on the swing when she alighted from the elephant.  The swing today is used on ceremonial occasions. Close to Patalamma temple is another small temple dedicated to Maha Ganapathi.
At the junction of South End Circle and Elephant Rock Road is the  Southern range of City Central Library. This is one of the oldest libraries in this area and it was established way back in 1969.
Today, very few remember the history of the road and it is slowly being transformed from a totally residential area to a place with business and commerce.
Interestingly, the road that continues after South End circle is called Patalamma Temple Street. This comes under Basavanagudi.

Friday 26 April 2013

When Marathi displaced Kannada

Though much has been written about Bangalore and the many Kingdoms that it came under such as the Cholas, Gangas, Hoysalas, Vijayanagar, Kempe Gowda, the Mughals, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, Wodeyars and finally the British, there is not much information available about the Maratha hegemony of Bangalore.
What makes this all the more surprising is that when the Marathas ruled over Bangalore and surrounding areas, including Nelamangala, Hoskote, Doddaballapur, Begur, Yelahanka and Domlur, they made Marathi the language of the State and imposed Marathi on the people.
Kannada took a beating as the Marathas pushed for Marathi. Kannadigas were not preferred for high posts in the administration and Marathas were appointed in large numbers. The language of communication too was Marathi and it quickly replaced Kannada.
This is really surprising as no other dynasty tried to impose any other language on Bangalore and surrounding areas which largely remained Kannada-centric.
There are not many records about this facet of Bangalore’s history. However,  the history of Marathas in Bangalore can be gleaned from several inscriptions of Shahaji, the father of Shivaji, and Sambhaji, the son of Shivaji and accounts of the life and times of Shivaji. All these accounts testify to the importance that the Marathas gave Bangalore.     
However, the first few or earliest inscriptions of Bangalore date back to the time of Gangas and Cholas. The inscriptions are in Kannada and Tamil. Though the Cholas have left behind a few temples in and around Bangalore such as the Chokkanatha temple in Domlur, the only temple ascribed to the Western Gangas is that of Nageshwara in Begur, which is now a part of Bangalore.   
Kempe Gowda left behind among others the Someshwara Temple in Ulsoor and Gavi Gangadheshwara temple in Gavipuram Guttahalli. The Kempe Gowdas also left behind several other buildings, lakes, Kalyanis.
Hyder and his son Tipu then renovated the mud fort built by Kempe Gowda and built the present fort with stones. Tipu also built a palace.
But in the period between the end of the Kempe Gowda rule and the rise of Hyder, Bangalore was ruled by the Adil Shahis and then by the Mughals and Wodeyars.
Books on history, Maratha records and Adil Shahi documents tell us that when the Adil Shahis defeated Kempe Gowda, they handed over Bangalore and a few surrounding areas as Jagir to Shahaji, the father of Chatrapathi Shivaji, the great Maratha warrior and founder of a Hindu Rashtra.
Shahaji was part of the many generals of Adil Shahis led by the redoubtable Ranadulla Khan in 1638 who succeeded in driving out Kempe Gowda from Bangalore. What many Bangaloreans and even historians are not aware is that though Bangalore remained in the hands of Adil Shahis for a few years, it was actually the Marathas who effectively took over the administration of Bangalore and surrounding cities and areas.
The Marathas held on to Bangalore for 49 years before the Mughals took it. Shivaji himself spent close to two years in Bangalore and he had a special liking for the city. He also conquered Bangalore along with other forts.
The Adil Shahis of  Bijapur took over Bangalore in 1638 A.D., but very soon they realised that it was not easy to hold on to Bangalore. They entrusted Bangalore and its surroundings, including Yelahanka, Begur and Sira as Jagir to Shahaji and turned their attention to first thwart the Mughals and then the rising Maratha power under Shivaji.
However, Shahaji too had very little time to give personal attention to Bangalore and other jagirs. Though he held the position of a Governor, he was not able to leave any permanent mark on Bangalore.
Apart from Bangalore, Shahaji is known to have resided in Kolar and Doddaballapur. A good administrator, Shahaji tried to streamline the administration and he entered into alliances with several Hindu rajas of the region. An outstanding warrior and military strategist, Shahaji should be credited with making Bangalore an important military and political centre.    
Unfortunately, Shahaji Bhonsle was busy with the frequent military expeditions he undertook on behalf of the Adil Shahis. After 1646, Shahaji fell into the bad books of Adil Shah and he was recalled to Bijapur and imprisoned for a short time in 1648. But very soon, the Adil Shah realised that Shahaji could be counted upon to resist Mughal attacks. 
The Adil Shah reinstated Shahaji  as the Jahagirdar of Bangalore. Shahaji then decided to make Bangalore the southern military headquarters for the Adil Shahis.
He then set about opening training camps and military bases in the old petes of Bangalore apart from setting up ammunition dumps, gun factory, horse stables, and soldiers’ tents.
Shahaji also loved in a fortified palace in Chickpet. Today, there exists no evidence of any such building and we can safely assume that it was either pulled down by Tipu or fell prey to the bombardment by the British in the third Anglo-Mysore war of 1791.
The palace that Shahaji lived was called Gauri Mahal and there is evidence to prove that Shivaji also spent some time in this palace. The Marathi book, Shivabharath, gives a detailed description of the life and times of Bangalore during the Maratha period.
Shahaji and his immediate subordinates appointed Maharastrian officers and Pandits to important and  responsible posts in the Durbar. Preference was given to Marathas in the military and civil administration.
Shahaji employed a large band of Maratha cavalry which was then called Bargeer. The Bargeers differed from the Silhadars in the sense that they were provided with horses by the State itself.
Many records of Maratha domination during the period can be gleaned from inscriptions of Sambhaji (son of Shivaji) dated 1663 and 1680 (Kolar and Chikabalapur), Sambhaji’s wife (Kolar), and Sambhaji’s sons (Mulabagal and Chintamani).
One of the most evocative inscriptions of the Maratha domination is the one on the wall of a temple at the summit of Nandidoorg or Nandi Hills.
Shahaji took a series of measures to strengthen the administration of Bangalore. Many of the measures benefited Marathi and Marathas at the cost of locals. For the first time in centuries, Kannada was given a backseat and Marathi was encouraged. Shahaji made Marathi the official language and also the language of  imperial communication. Slowly, Marathi took over as the language of trade and commerce. Since Marathi was spoken in the Adil Shahi capital of Bijapur along with Urdu and Persian, the language of the Marathas too received a fillip.
Kannada for almost 50 years was relegated to the status of a second language and that too one spoken by localities. The elite spoke Marathi and Urdu. Kannada thus suffered a fall in its status. Kannada had to bear this fall from grace, the first of its kind, In 1638, a large Bijapur army led by Ranadulla Khan, accompanied by Shahji Bhonsle, defeated Kempe Gowda III and captured Bangalore. Shahji was granted Bangalore as jagir. He lived in a palace called Gauri Mahal in the present Chickpet area.
Chickpet was among the many petes that was surrounded by a fort. This fort was different from the present fort that we see in City Market. Thus, Bangalore had two forts-one in which Kempe Gowda constructed a few temples and had his palace and another which was populated by the masses.
The Maratha domination of Bangalore was cut short when the Mughals managed to wrest control over Bangalore and Kolar in 1687 and subsequently they were handed over to the Wodeyars-Chikadevaraja Wodeyar (1673-1704) for Rs. 3 lakh pagodas.  It is to the credit of the Wodeyars that they reintroduced Kannada language and literature and also gave a fillip to local culture and customs.

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Ducks to break sullage

If the authorities of the Lalbagh Botanical Garden in Bangalore wanted to use grass for keeping the Lalbagh lake clean, can Mysore be far behind in using another equally innovative idea for keeping water clean.
The Department of  Horticulture had decided to use Khus grass, that grows in Lalbagh itself,  for cleaning up the polluted Lalbagh Lake. Now, the Mysore City Corporation (MCC) has adopted an equally new technique for use at its sewage treatment plant at old Kasare.
The MCC has borrowed the innovation from Tamil Nadu and it has deployed not trained personnel or sophisticated equipment but ducks to treat sewage water generated in the city.
The flapping of the ducks will save money on electricity bills for the MCC which runs in thousands.
The MCC purchased hundreds of swimming birds from Vellore and let them loose in sewage at one of the three ponds at the sewage treatment plant (STP) on Old Kesare.
The waddling ducks are expected to break up solids in the sewage to make it easy for the plant to treat the sullage.
The idea behind introducing the ducks are rather simple. When the ducks swim and flap their wings, the water begins churning naturally. This movement will break up the sullage and solid waste at the treatment plant.
When the waste floating atop the water is churned, it breaks up naturally into smaller particles and it is deposited at the bottom as silt.
The duck-sewage experiment was totally successfully in Tamil Nadu, and the same is being replicated by the MCC and this is the first such experiment in Karnataka.
The MCC has purchased 752 ducks and they have been supplied   by a Tamil Nadu agency specialising in treating water using water fowl.
These ducks have been released into one of the three ponds at the sewage treatment plant here, and more ducks are expected to join the flock in the coming days. Fresh fish and other meat are the dietary requirements of the ducks, and the environmental engineers at the MCC are now arranging this supply.
The MCC generally spends close to Rs 12 lakh in the form of electricity bills for operating its sewage treatment plants at Vidyaranyapuram, Rayankere and Old Kesare. The MCC says for the Old Kesare plant alone, it spent Rs 1.75 lakh to Rs 2.30 lakh as bills towards electricity. The MCC hopes to save a substantial chunk by making the ducks do now what the machines did earlier.
The rotors of the fans fixed at the base of the tank need electricity to churn water. The fan has 24 motors and the tank can hold 30 MLD of water.  
The motors are switched on depending on the quantity of water received at the sewage treatment plant. A minimum of six to a maximum of 16 motors are run round-the-clock.
The Kesare plant was commissioned in 2002 and it is the only non-chemical facility to treat water. The ponds at the STP here are divided into primary and secondary storage. After secondary stage, the treated water is released into a valley nearby, that is used mostly for gardening and agriculture purposes.
Earlier, the MCC had adopted Fermentative Anaerobic Baffle Reactor (FABR) technology after the establishment of STPs a new technology at the sewage treatment plants (STPs) at Sewage Farm in Vidyaranyapuram and Kesare off Bangalore-Mysore highway on an experimental basis to recycle domestic wastewater to save electricity consumption by up to 90 per cent and also to reduce sludge production.
The technology was to redress common complaints of foul smell emanating from the plants. The technology involves use of  organic Solutions’ Effective Micro-organisms (OS1), a liquid concentrate of specially cultured micro-organisms.
Once released into water, they live and work synergistically together, reducing organic matter

Monday 22 April 2013

The Grand Canyon of Bangalore

A few days ago, one of my colleague’s children were watching television when they came across a narration of the Grand Canyon of the Unite States.
The children listened spellbound to the narration and sat glued to the idiot box till the programme on one of the seven natural wonders of the world concluded. A little later, the children sighed and said how they wished that India too had such a destination to visit.
They then turned to me and asked me if there is any other place which is comparable to the Grand Canyon, size and shape excluded. All we want is such a canyon for us to explore and enjoy, they said.
I then told them that Bangalore too had its own canyon but it has been forgotten in the mad rush of urbanization that has overtaken this part of Karnataka.
I pointed out that the road from Bangalore to Chikaballapur has some exquisite canyons, which though cannot be in any way compared to the Grand Canyon, are also marvels of Nature.
If the Grand Canyon of the United States is located thousands of miles away in the state of Arizona, “Namma Canyon” is barely a hour away from Bangalore.
While pages of print and multitude of reels have been shot to film the Grand Canyon of the United States, I can barely recall a few articles and none worth mentioning on the Internet about our own Canyon. So much for our pride in preserving India’s rich history and culture.
The canyon or rather the stretch of ravines that exists in Chikballapur district is barely 50 kilometres from Bangalore. Yet, it is practically unheard of and very few visitors come here.
These ravines are located on the outskirts of Jangamakote, a small  town just off Hoskote which is on the outskirts of Bangalore.
You could not be more wrong if you think that the name Jangamkote means a fort. There is no fort here and nearby. The name, Jangamakote, is of a town that was built centuries ago by a ruler of Sugatur family, Thimme Gowda.
The Gowda wanted to build an exclusive place for the Jangamas, a sect of Veerashaivas, and he choose this spot. Hence, the name.
Jangamakote has several deep ravines, gorges, narrow gullies, hollows and pits with the course of a dried-up stream running through it.
What gives the landscape the impression of a gorge is the  sometimes sharp and huge drops on either side of the  depression. No wonder, locals call it the mini Grand Canyon.
True, the size and extent of this ravine are no patch to the Grand Canyon. But, this is a natural rock and soil formation which is worth a visit and moreover, it is so close to Bangalore that it boggles imagination on why it has never been put on the tourist map.  
The ravines here can be compared to the Chambal valley of Madhya Pradesh-Rajasthan but the Chambal is a huge forest which once sheltered dacoits such as Man Singh and Phoolan Devi. There are no such dacoits here nor is there any thick forests. There is also no river but only a seasonal stream which runs at the bottom of the ravines during the rainy season.  
The ravines can be climbed down during summer but in rainy season it is dangerous as the soil is loose and clay like. The ravines here are geological formations called Badlands and they were caused due to a combination of natural factors like erosion by water, wind and weathering of rocks over several centuries.
A badlands, also badland is a type of dry  terrain where softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively eroded by wind and water. These geological formations resemble malpais, a terrain of volcanic rock. Canyons, ravines, gullies, hoodoos and other such forms are part of badlands. They are often difficult to navigate by foot. Badlands often have a spectacular color display that alternates from dark black/blue coal stria to bright clays to red scoria.
The soil of the ravines in Jangamkote too appear red and yellow and they give a surreal golden tinge to the surrounding landscape. As there is no Government agency involved in protecting this natural wonder, the ravines are overgrown with thorns, shrubs and weeds.
There is also no marked trail and visitors have to fend for themselves.  
Jangamkote is near Hoskote which is 28 kms from Bangalore. Take the road to  Hoskote on Old Madras road and continue on the Vijayapura-Sidlaghatta road for a further 21 kms to reach Jangamkote.

Saturday 20 April 2013

The society that held Lalbagh

Lalbagh has passed through many illustrious hands ever since it was conceived by Hyder Ali and developed by Tipu Sultan in the later part of the 18th century.
Soon after Tipu’s death in 1799, the British took over Lalbagh. During the reign of Tipu, he had entrusted the maintenance of  the botanical garden to two darogas- Mahomed Ali who was in charge for more than seven years and his son Abdul Khader. 
After Khader, it was for some time held by Sergeant Tomkins who worked as an overseer for some time. The came, the Maestry-the British word coined to mean overseer- Heera Lall-who was at the helm of Lalbagh for an year before it was headed by William New and then by A. A. Black and again by William New.
After New, came M. W. Walker, who was assisted by Maistry Ramannah. Subsequently, came Waugh, Cameron, Krumbeigal, Marigowda and a host of others who each contributed to the development of the park.
But many do not know is that for a few years the Agri Horticulture Society was in charge of Lalbagh for a few years. When Waugh handed back the garden to the office of the Chief Commissioner,  Sir Mark Cubbon in 1836 decided to form an exclusive society sp that it could look after the day to day running of the gardens and also ensure its upkeep.
He then formed the Agri-culture Society and handed over Lalbagh for is upkeep. This was the first such society in Bangalore and indeed in the erstwhile Mysore Kingdom.
The society began its work in right earnest and it constructed a building which it called seed house. This was not only the place where the seeds were kept but it also the place where some botanical experiments were carried out. The society also built a structure which subsequently would house the Superintendents of Lalbagh.
The Seed house and the house for the Superintendents finds mention in one of the letters that the society Secretary, William Munroe, wrote to the head office. He complained about the heavy expenses caused to the society when it took up construction of  the seed house.  
The records of that period indicate that in 1856 an amount of Rs. 200 was spent on the cottage for seeds and housing the Superintendents. Several decades later, Superintendent James Cameroon in 1890,  recorded his impressions of the cottage and said it had been extended and improved upon with floor tiles.
These records indicate that the cottage was constructed sometime in 1839 and the society was responsible for it.
While people are aware of the role of Cubbon in preserving Lalbagh and the many English and foreign Superintendents who tended to the botanical garden, not much is know about this society.
What we can surmise is that it was among the first such societies in India and that it took the assistance of convicts in cleaning up the park and maintaining it. But the society vanished into pages of history in 1842 and the gardens were restored to the Government.
B.L. Rice, in his work, has given some details about the society and how it made use of the convicts to keep Lalbagh clean.  
Another account of Lalbagh, and this was sometime in 1800, is by Dr. John Buchanan who says the gardens are extensive and divided into square plots. The plots are separated by walks, the sides of which are ornamented with fine cypress trees. The plots are filled with fruit trees and pot herbs. Each piece of land is designated for a different kind of fruit tree. The walks are not gravelled.
Coming back to the society, we should be forever grateful to it for starting the botanical library. The library today is renamed as Dr. M.H. Mari Gowda National Horticultural Library and it is one of the finest libraries on botany in this part of south India.
It is also among the oldest libraries in Bangalore and it offers a wealth of information to botanists and horticulturists. The library was started with a small collection of books. Since then, it houses among its shelves over 30,000 books, including 1,500 historical volumes, some dating back to the 18th century.
In more than 150 years of its existence, the library has grown manifold into a vast treasure trove of knowledge. This library holds some invaluable paintings of Lalbagh and its plants.
John Cameron, Director of Horticulture between 1874 and 1908, added books on botany and horticulture which he got from Bombay, Madras and Central province.
G.H. Krumbiegal also added a number of books, while Dr. Mari Gowda added contemporary books and subscribed to journals.
Among the oldest books that can be seen here are “Kingdom of Mysore” Forty Drawings by James Hunter, which was first published in 1805.
The society, during its short lived existence showed the way that Lalbagh could further take. Today, though people know the names of some of the Superintendents of Lalbagh, the society is almost forgotten and even its contribution in preserving and protecting Lalbagh seems to have been forgotten.

Friday 19 April 2013

The IT hub that had a glorious past

Talk about IT  and the first locality that comes to mind is Whitefield and Electronics City. If the talk veers down to Sai Baba and the ITPL then it is Whitefield  and this locality alone.
Today, Whitefield is the hub of the IT industry of Bangalore and the nice small village just a little away from Bangalore  has emerged as one of the most happening localities.
The Sai Baba Ashrama and the hospital in Whitefield have given the locality its own identity as is the IT units that have mushroomed in and around the once predominantly Anglo-Indian settlement.
The hustle and bustle of modern life and the rush to meet the deadlines of business and commerce have led people to either forget the history of the place or just ignore it. What is more appalling is that our City fathers seems mot to care about the romantic past of Whitefield.
One of the first relics of the past to have quietly disappeared is a rock near the erstwhile Waverley Inn in Whitefield. The rock had an inscription with the initials WSC engraved in a heart and the Cupid's arrow passing through it.
WSC stood for Winston Churchill and the British soldier was at Whitefield several decades ago to woo Ms. Rose Hamilton, the daughter of the Innkeeper John Hamilton.
The Waverley Inn has shut down but the building still exists. Built on 40,000 square feet of land, it has six bedrooms, four bathrooms, a kitchen and a balcony.
The Inn offered boarding and lodging facilities and if you were coming from Bangalore to Whitefield by rail, you had to intimate the Inn keeper so that he could send a horse drawn carriage to transport you.  
Several old timers of the area, including Anglo-Indians, claim to have seen the rock and the initials of WSG. Today, all we can surmise is that the rock was a victim of urbanisation and it paid the price for the high real estate prices that Whitefield even today commands.
Situated between Kadugodi, Marathahalli and K.R. Puram, the locality still boats of some other vestiges of the  past like the Century-old Neo Gothic Protestant Memorial Church and several cottages with wooden trellis that lend a old world charm. Many of the se cottages are adorned with rosewood furniture and imported crockery and they can tell us the history of this 135-year-old Anglo-Indian settlement.
Apart from the Inn, another building-the Whitefield Club was well-known for its ballroom dances to which initially only the British and the Anglo-Indians were allowed.
Each house in Whitefield had a garden se in a one acre compound. All houses were single and there were no two-storied houses. Whitefield had vineyards, paddy fields and chicken farms and thus it was almost totally self-dependent.
The history of Whitefield is as interesting as it is fascinating. It was the 1882 and the then Maharaja of Mysore granted 3,900 acres to the Eurasian and Anglo-Indian Association to start an agricultural settlement near Bangalore.
David Emmanuel Starkenburgh White, the founder and first President of the Anglo Indian Association of Madras envisioned Whitefield as an agricultural, self –sustained community. It was he who urged the Mysore Maharaja for grant of land and this was done so on April 27, 1882.
The settlement then grew around what is called Inner and Outer Circles. These were called “genteel” territory and lanes from here lead to beautifully designed cottages and bungalows in what was a typical English countryside.
Today, mush of the old has either been ravaged or destroyed. The little that remains are neglected. As far as development goes, there seems to be no end to it and old bungalows, buildings and structures continue to be pulled down to make away for more concrete structures.   

Thursday 18 April 2013

The Rayankere farm

This area once formed part of the private estate of the Royal family of Wodeyars. It was once part of the daily establishment of the royal family and it remained so till the 1960s after which it was closed.
Today, the land still stands and it is so near Mysore that people pass by it every day. Yet, many Mysoreans seem to have forgotten about its existence and as far as tourists go, I can safely claim that not a single one of them goes there.
This is the Palace dairy farm in Rayanakere which once was situated five miles away from Mysore in Rayanakere Kaval. The locality is on Manontody road, now called Manandavadi and it is on the road to HD Kote.
This is one of the pioneering institutions that the Wodeyars set up and it had a salutary effect in inspiring and encouraging dairying in  Karnataka.
It supplied for at least six decades the palaces and their inmates, including the Maharaja, with milk, cream and butter. The farm, when it was set up in 1919, was one of the most modern and sophisticated not only in India but also in Asia.  
The methods adopted in the farm and the equipments and appliances were all up to date. The farm was also the place where some experiments in dairying were carried out such as in cross-breeding, feeding, preparation of ensilage, anti-serum production and treatment.
The farm was also home to the famous Amrit Mahal cattle, which is described as one of the most hardy animals to have in war.
The Amrit Mahal is a special breed which even today commands a premium in the cattle market. This cattle has been famous for centuries and the Wodeyars had set up an exclusive department for their breeding and care.
Their value has been amply demonstrated again and again by Haidar Ali, Tipu Sultan and the Duke of Wellington, as draught cattle for artillery.
It was Hyder who improved the breed. He introduced a Trichy breed, which, crossed with the Mysore cattle, produced the famous and unrivalled Hallikar breed. It was this cattle which helped the Duke of Wellington to cross rapidly into Mysore territory and engage Tipu.  In fact, the Duke was so enamoured of the breed that when he took on Napolean in the Peninsular War in Europe, he often regretted that he did not have the assistance of the Amrit Mahal cattle.
He found the cattle to be highly active, fiery and quick. They could walk faster than the troops he had with him. The average height is 54 inches, the cows are white, the bulls generally have an admixture of blue over the fore and hind quarters.
The Wodeyars divided the Amrit Mahal into herds and permitted their upkeep in their wild state, without any shelter. It required several months to break the bullocks in and their employment was extremely difficult and dangerous.
Apart from the Amrit Mahal, other breeds at the farm here were  Sind-bred cows, Delhi cows, Ajmer cows, Baroda cows, Mande cows, English half-bred cows, Angola cows, Gokai cows, Hallikar cows, Ayrshire, Holsteins and Jersies.
As mentioned earlier, milk was supplied to the palace and hospitals in Mysore regularly from this farm which encompassed 750 acres. The farm was attached to the dairy where fodder for the cattle was raised and stored for use. The fodder normally consisted of sunflower, cowpea, jola, horsegram, guinea grass, seed grass, kiki-yu grass, lucerne, elephant grass and phalaris kommertat. If there was any surplus fodder, they were supplied to the palace stables and Gajashala (elephant stables).
The Wodeyars endowed the farm with modern machineries such as tractors and ploughs, electric motors, chaff cutters, a self-lift cultivator, “simplex” bullock levellers and others.
Animals infected with diseases were segregated at Konan Kottige near Hinkal. Sometimes, milching cows were even sent to Ooty and to other camps to supply milk to the royal party.
Until 1919, when steps were taken to establish the Rayanakere Palace Dairy Farm, these cattle were kept near the present fort. They were under the care and supervision of the Government livestock expert in the beginning and later the assistant secretary with a government veterinarian in immediate charge.
According to the Palace Administration Reports, employees in the farm were categorised into three divisions: menial staff comprising 13 permanent workers, 37 temporary workers and 45 extra temporary hands; ministerial staff comprising four clerks; and the executive staff comprising an overseer.
The farm once housed cattle stalls, dairy building, silo towers, residential quarters and structures that denoted a busy dairying centre. To its rear, the farm had rolling fields and pastures.
Near the roadside was a temple of Krishna with the paddocks for calves surrounding it. On entering the gate near the temple, a visitor would see dairy building in which the milk yield of each cow was recorded. The milk thus collected was dispatched by a motor van to Mysore in sealed cans for the use of palace and palace departments.
To the rear of the dairy building were four cattle stalls with attached calf-pens and two drinking troughs for the cattle in the farm house.
In order to ensure that clean and pure milk was produced, the stalls were open all around for good ventilation and had granite stone flooring and cemented mangers.
Since milking was done by hands, milkmen were provided with clean, white garments and care was taken to disinfect milkmen’s hands and the cows’ udder and teats with potassium permanganate solution.
The farm had electricity and electric machines chaffed fodder and ground feeding stuff for the cattle, while electric pumps supplied  water to an elevated reservoir.
The Dairy was closed in 1960 but the records do not give the exact  reason.

When the Wodeyars threw out the Adil Shahis

When the Wodeyars began ruling the Mysore area, their capital in the initial years was the city of Mysore itself. It was only during the reign of  Raja Wodeyar that the capital was shifted from Mysore to Srirangapatna.
One of the main reasons, and except for contemporary records in Bijapur and only one in Mysore, was that the Adil Shahis overran Mysore in 1593 after a long and hard siege that lasted a little more than three months.
All that the marauding Adil Shahis managed to take back to their capital City of  Bijapur was twenty five elephants and a fair amount of booty. What that booty comprised, is not exactly known.
It was the Adil Shahi General Manjun Khan who lead the Bijapur charge on Mysore. Though there is again not much information in Hindu accounts of the period, we can glean some information from the two books on history written by Father Henry Heras, a Spanish Jesuit priest, and accounts of the expedition in Bijapur.
However, to the credit of the Wodeyars, they did not allow Mysore to remain in the hands of the Adil Shahis for long. When the Adil Shahi Emperor, Ibrahim Adil Shah the second (1580-1627), recalled Manjun Khan, the Wodeyars retook Mysore and drove out the Adil Shahis.  
In the same year, the imperial army of Venkata II or Venkata Deva Raya (1585-1614), the Vijayanagar king, according to contemporary accounts, freed the petty rajas of Kanara. Srirangapatna, around this time, was the seat of the Vijayanagar Viceroy and Raja Wodeyar soon realised that the island fortress offered a better defence than Mysore.
He then took on the Vijayanagar Viceroy, Tirumularaya, a relative of the Vijayanagar Emperor, and defeated him in a battle near Mysore (then a small village which today is Kesare). He then shifted his capital to Srirangapatna even as Tirumalaraya is supposed to have shifted to the small village of Malangi which is just across Talakadu. Incidentally, it is Tirumalaraya’s wife, Alamelu, who cursed Raja Wodeyar.
As soon as Raja Wodeyar shifted to Srirangapatna, he commenced the Dasara celebrations and he decreed that this event has to be held even if there is death in the family.
In 1616, Raja Wodeyar extended and reconstructed the Mysore fort. He is credited with having drawn up the plans and built
the foundations of the outer walls where they now stand.
These and an inner or rather extra wall apparently on the
foundations of the previous south wall, were completed
by his grandson, Chamaraja Wodeyar VI.
During his reign, Raja Wodeyar managed to keep the Adil Shahis at bay but the Bijapur Kingdom was always wary of a Hindu revival. They had been soundly defeated by Emperor Venkata and they did not want another adversary on their borders. So when Kantirava Narasa Wodeyar (1638-1659) ascended the throne, the Adil Shahis made another attempt to take Mysore. This was in 1638.
The Bijapur Emperor was Muhammad Adi Shah (the builder of the Gol Gumbaz) and he had succeeded Ibrahim to the throne on 1627. He had with him one of the ablest generals of the times in Randulla Khan. He sent a huge army under Randulla Khan to Mysore but Kantirava proved equal to the occasion and repulsed the Adil Shahis.
This victory has unfortunately not been given its due by historians. The battle is buried in mounds of history and the feat of the champion Wodeyar King in thwarting Randulla Khan, who was eulogised as “ the bridegroom of the battlefield” has been underplayed.
According to legend, it was Goddess Chamundi herself who helped the Mysoreans during the siege. When Randulla Khan was told that there were women warriors too who were defending the Mysore fort, he asked his men not to fire at them.
When the Bijapur army neared the Mysore fort, they saw at least three fierce looking women raining arrows at them. The Bijapur Army dare not disobey their Commander-in-chief and they could not retaliate at the women who were standing on each of the three round topped towers of the Mysore fort.
The Bijapur army made a half hearted attempt to storm the walls before finally giving up. However, Kantirava found that the walls of the Mysore fort had been weakened by the attack.  He seriously doubted whether the fort could hold on in case of another attack and he set upon repairing and strengthening it. He also rebuilt a great part of the palace, which had been struck by lightning.
He also built a lake, which he called the Sringara Lake. He then built a memorial to Charamaraja Wodeyar, the fourth, on its bund.  This lake, the garden and memorial were to the south of the  Triyaneshwara Swami temple.
The fortress came under siege again in 1759 when Haidar Ali decided to ferret out Karachuri Nanja Raj Urs, who, had taken shelter in Mysore though he had promised to
retire to Konanur.
Hyder continued with the siege for three months. The last time that the fort was in the picture of contemporary history was when Tipu decided to raze it completely and construct a new fort at what is known as Nazarbad today.
Today, Mysore still retains its vestiges of the past. However, there is not a trace of the Adil Shahis. It is obvious that they could not hold on to Mysore for a long time and that the Wodeyars regrouped and regained Mysore so quickly as to ensure that the Adil Shahis did not leave any imprint of their rule. Today, except for a few passages, there is no mention of the Adil Shahi conquest of Mysore.     

The cannons that are fired only once

Much has been written about the Dasara and other events of Mysore City but few know the significance of many artifacts and historic items that go to form an integral part of the Nada Habba. We see many of them almost every day but take them for granted and end up forgetting that they too part of our rich heritage.    
One such is the cannons that are fired during the Dasara processions. There are eleven such cannons in the Mysore palace or the main palace and all of them are put to use during the Dasara. Each of the these cannons are polished and in top-notch condition.
It is only once an year and that too during Dasara, that gunpowder shots would reverberate for 90 seconds.
Seven cannons were procured for the palace armoury in 1856 and four in 1857 and 1858 by Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar. They have never been used in any war but they were used to herald special occasions.
The cannons are in such good condition that they can be fired twice in just 90 seconds. For the lakhs of tourists visiting the main palace, the cannons evoke admiration and almost all tourists end up giving the cannons a pat.
Since then, it has been a tradition pf the Wodeyars to use the cannons during auspicious occasions. Twenty-one shots are fired continuously from cannons during Dasara celebrations.
The cannons also gave a guard of honour to the many visiting Governor General and Viceroys who came to Mysore. Personnel attached to His Highness Maharaja Own Infantry (HHMOI)  performed this task earlier. They also fired shots to inform people about the events happening in  the Palace premises.
The Mysore Administration and Palace reports say that only thirteen kushal thopu (cannonades) were fired during auspicious occasions and royal family functions like weddings. However, 21 cannon shots were fired while welcoming Governor Generals to the Palace.
The cannons fired thirteen shots during the inaugural of Vijayadashami, as number 13 is considered to be a good sign. It  was only after Independence  that the number of cannon shots were increased to 21.
The tradition of firing cannon shots continued even after the abolition of Privy Purse. Today, it is being carried out by Gunshot Artillery troupe attached to City Armed Reserved (CAR) police.
A group of 25 personnel, led by an ASI, work in tandem to ensure proper firing of cannons within a stipulated time. The team executes firing of 21 cannon shots during National Anthem and simultaneously gives national salute to chief guest at Jumboo Savari.
Even today, there is high risk involved in the firing of the cannons. One of the team members, Parashuram, a constable, suffered burns after fire caught the gunpowder that he was carrying. He was treated for six months for severe burns. But for this, no other untoward incident has happened.
When the cannons fire, the sound increases to many decibels and if any person is too close, it may damage his eardrum.
There are seven cannons - four long barrels and three short barrels - being used to fire cannon shots at Mysore Palace, where Dasara procession commences, and at Banni Mantap Parade grounds, the venue of torchlight procession. Six men are required to fire one cannon shot.  
There are about ten cannons in the front inner courtyard of the main palace but only three of them are used and three-men teams are deputed to operate the cannons.
In the early 50s, all ten cannons would be hauled over to the vicinity of Doddakere maidan and all ten would boom simultaneously.
The teams operate to specific commands of the artillery officer. The officer, who stands at the head of the barrel, first cleans the barrel with the brush-end of the wooden shaft and then uses the hard-end to ram the cannonball in. The moment he does so, the second person who stands in readiness near the breech-end of the cannon pours in a pre-measured amount of gun powder. This has to be very precise and exact. Too much could cause a massive blow-back with the cannon being propelled backwards with force. Too little means that it is a dud. The third man who holds the lighted torch has to run swiftly, light the gunpowder and then sprint away.
After the first shot, the cannon has to be once again put back in position. On the D day, each cannon is fired seven times in succession. That is how the 21-gun salute is made of.
The cannons have the Royal Gandabherunda etched or inscribed insignia on them. Details about who cast these cannons is not known.
Today, these relics still continue to show us that old is gold and that all that is needed for such masterpieces of artillery engineering are regular maintenance and a little upkeep

Tuesday 16 April 2013

The locality in Bangalore for which loans were given to construct houses

It was around the turn of the twentieth century and he Civil and Military Station in Bangalore was thriving. The station had grown around the Cantonment which was set in 1806.
The Cantonment covered an area of 13 square miles, extending from the Residency on the west to Binnamangala on the east and from the Tanneries in the north to Agram in the south.
By area, it was the largest British military cantonment in South India and the British garrison included three artillery batteries and regiments of the cavalry, infantry, sappers, miners, mounted infantry, supply and transport corps and the Bangalore Rifle Volunteers (BRV).
However, just a century after it was established, the areas around the Cantonment had become crowded and the houses tiny and areas clogged with debris and filth.
The British then decided to demolish some of the most filthy and squalid living areas and the Mysore Government agrees to the suggestion. This was so as the Cantonment was directly under the administration of the British Raj, while the City was under the Wodeyars.
The year 1906 saw the British waking up to the need to construct a new area. This was done with a view to relieve some of the thickly populated and insanitary portions of the Civil and Military station.
The land was identified as today’s Frazer Town and surrounding areas. The Government passed a Loans Act so that money could be provided at reasonable rates of interest to those willing to relocate to the new locality.
Such persons were expected to not only construct dwelling units but also live in them. The loan scheme was a dampner and it failed to take off due to bureaucratic reasons. Very few persons availed of the scheme and even among them fewer built houses.
The Government then decided to take the issue to the rich and the mighty. A number of well-to-do persons were invited to construct dwelling houses for themselves and also for persons who would be willing to stay there on rent.
Soon, the idea began receiving fairly good response and in no time, people began buying sites and constructing houses. The streets were wider than those in the petes and older areas of the civil and military station. Electricity was provided for both houses and street lights. Among the public buildings, the Moore market named after the former Municipal Commissioner, Moore, was built as was a post office, dispensary, mosque and schools. All these facilities were for the Indians.  
Very soon, the City and Military station on January 1, 1908 entered into a agreement with the Government of Mysore for providing water and power to the new township upon payment of a fee.
The arrangement proved to be beneficial as the station was now considered as overcrowded. The township was named as Frazer Town in honour of  Sir Stuart Fraser (1864-1963), a distinguished officer of the Foreign and Political Department of the Government of India and a tutor of the Maharaja of Mysore. Krishnaraja Wodeyar the fourth.
Five years after joining the Indian Civil Service, he was appointed tutor to the Maharajas of  Kolhapur and Bhavnagar and later (1896–1902) tutor and guardian to the Maharaja of Mysore.
In 1903, Fraser went to the Foreign Department at Calcutta and Simla as deputy secretary and in 1904 was sent by Lord Curzon as H.M Commissioner to negotiate with the Chinese about the Anglo-Tibetan Convention (requiring Tibet to open its border with British India).
Fraser returned to India in 1905 as Resident in Mysore and Chief Commissioner of Coorg. In 1911, Fraser was appointed Resident in Kashmir and for several months in 1914 was acting Resident in Hyderabad.
At the commencement of the First World War, with Turkey taking the side of Germany, it was Fraser’s resolute and confident approach that persuaded Osman Ali Khan Asaf Jah VII, the Nizam of Hyderabad, to ensure continued support for the British Raj
Today, Frazer Town, which is located in the North-East of Bangalore, is one of the best localities. It is spread over an area of four square kilometers. You can still see the foundation stone laid during its establishment at the junction of Mosque Road and Coles Road.
Though our civic fathers arbitrarily changed the name of Frazer Town to Pulakeshinagar, the new name is not popular and people still prefer the old name.
The Promenade Road, Coles Road, Mosque Road, Madhavraya Mudaliar Road (M M Road), Robertson Road, Spencer Road, Tannery Road and part of Wheeler Road are household names.
The Coles Park here is named after AH Coles and even this has been renamed as Freedom Fighter’s Park.
This park has a hoary past and  during the British regime, on special events, military bands played to the march of the Bangalore Rifle Volunteers.
The park has a well maintained topiary and it has an exclusive area for disabled children. Thankfully, the people have not forgotten its old name and it is still called Coles Park.

Monday 15 April 2013

The story of the elastic sword

The Palace of Mysore, also known as the Amba Vilas, is the second most visited monument in India after the Taj Mahal of Agra.
The Wodeyar kings first built a palace in Mysore in the 14th century but it was demolished and reconstructed several times. The construction of the current palace was commissioned in 1897 and it was completed in 1912 and again expanded around 1940.
Mysore palace has seen more than 2.7 million visitors. The magnificence of the palace awes one and all but there are several rooms which are locked and they are out of bounds for tourists and visitors alike.
One such locked entity within the palace premises is the royal armoury or the Ayudha Sala which is sealed and kept out of bounds.
No tourist visiting the Palace has seen the Ayudha Sala and though an effort was made in 2004 to throw it open to the public, it never came through mainly for security reasons.
The armoury is a virtual treasure trove of weapons and they date back from the 14th century to the present days. There are close to 1,000 weapons, though the website of the palace says there are 725 offensive and defensive weapons.
Most of the weapons are a century or more old and the first inventory of this priceless collection was made during the reign of  Krishnaraja Wadiyar III.
It was this King who took personal interest in the armoury and he  provided each of the weapon with metallic labels containing a serial number.
One of the most priceless collection is the armoury is an elastic sword which is numbered as 198. This sword can be worn as a belt and it belonged to Kanthirava Narasaraja Wodeyar who lived between 1638-1659. This is one of the oldest weapons in the armoury.
British accounts state that this probably is the sacred sword which Ranadheera Kanteerava called Vijaya Narasimha. This sword is supposed to have saved the life of the King several times.
One story about the sword still stands out today. The annals of history say that the King of Trichinopoly (today it is called Trichy) was smarting from the defeat of his champion wrestlers by Ranadheera Kanteerava.
Ranadheera had entered Trichy incognito and defeated the champion wrestler. The King, who was also jealous of the growing power of Mysore decided to extract revenge.  
The time for the revenge came when Mysore was celebrating the ascension of Ranadheera to the throne. The Trichy King sent twenty five of his best warriors, who were also expert swordsmen,  to Mysore.
The Tamil warriors managed to enter the palace of the King, which then was in Srirangapatna. One night, they secreted themselves in the rooms leading to Ranadheera’s private quarters. The Mysore King, saw the movement of shadows on the walls and immediately sensed danger. Even as he pulled out his elastic sword, the Tamil warriors attacked.
Ranadheera swiveled about and used the sword to good effect. By the time his personal body guards came, he had already killed several of  the warriors. The rest were easily overcome and when they revealed the plot, they were sent back to Trichy. 
When news of the deed spread, the whole Kingdom celebrated and the Wodeyar family and Ranadheera ordained that the sword should be worshipped regularly.
Ranadheera then liberally endowed a daily allowance to perform pooja to the sword.
Another weapon is a knife bearing the inscription “chura de 2” and this belonged to Chikkadevaraja Wadiyar who ruled between 1672 and 1704.
A sword called nimcha and bearing the number 36 was the personal property of Hyder Ali and another heavy sword named Sanva was used by Tipu Sultan. There is a beautiful knife with an inscription labelled Pesh-Kabza and it was used by Krishnaraja Wadiyar III.
Another exhibit is the herige katti, which is a knife that was used by midwives for delivering infants. Some of the other weapons are tabbar, jambya, gaddara, khandava, abbasi, saipu, madu, and alemane.
The round flat discs in the armoury were deadly weapons, They were thrown in the hope of slicing off an enemy's head. Other objects in the armoury are  brass spears to be attached to the tusks of war elephants; and several fearsome daggershears, looking like enormous five-bladed scissors, some blades having saw-like edges. Some of these instruments were dipped in poison before they were used to cut at the enemy.
Very few survived the wounds from these five blades as they ripped open the flesh. The armoury also had six or seven small state guns, probably presented to Krishna Raja Wadiyar III at his enthronement and one of them apparently captured by Col. Wellesley, in 1803, at Bijapur.
The gun presented by Wellesley has an inscription saying Moolke Maidan of Beejapore (Bijapur). Many guns are inscribed with the names of princes and officials ho used or owned them.
The armoury also has two chauris with an inscription stating that they were presents to Krishnaraja Wadiyar III by Lord Dalhousie.
The armoury is believed to have been founded by Chamaraja Wodeyar IV, who is more popularly known as Bola Chamaraja or the Bald Wodeyar, sometime in 1575.
There are several vajra-musti, or tiger claws.
The use of these claws and the Vajra Musti is described in detail by Col. Wilks when he saw a mock fight during a Dassara celebration.
Some of the claws are made of buffalo horn, and, even so, are capable of splitting open an adversary's skull. However, in real fights, iron claws were widely used and one of the most celebrated stories of such claws is of Shivaji and the Bijapur General Afzal Khan.
There are several accounts of Britishers, including Col. Mark Wilks (1758-1831) who saw the tiger claws and other objects hung on a pillar in the armoury (Mark Wilks was the uncle of Mark Cubbon who was the Commissioner of Mysore and after whom the Cubbon Park in Bangalore is named).
Col. Mark Wilks wrote one of the first histories of medieval South India called “Historical Sketches of the South of India”, in which he has examined the rise of the Wodeyars. He has described Mysore, the King and the armoury. The book is the first account by an European about the rise of the Mysore Wodeyars following the fall of  Vijayanagar in 1565.
The royal throne is preserved here in a locked room and it is displayed only during Dassara.
Today, some of the weapons used by the royal family are exhibited in the private collection of Wodeyars.
One of the best books on the subject is “Arms and Armoury of the Mysore Palace” by HT Talwar and the Mysore Gazette apart from records with the ASI and the Wodeyar family.
Next to the armoury is the trophy room, which is a taxidermist's delight. There is the massive trophy of an African two-horned rhinoceros, which one of the Mysore kings reportedly shot on a hunting expedition to Africa.
There are also 14 tigers, all shot within the territory of the Maharajah – in his private hunting grounds and estates, which are now well known today as Bandipur and Nagarhole. There are more than 50 stuffed animals on display.