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.

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