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.   


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