Wednesday 1 May 2013

How Bangalore emerged as a capital

Bangalore, till the British came and set up their Cantonment, was never politically important like other cities like Mysore, Srirangapatna, Bijapur, Gulbarga and Bidar of Karnataka.
A glance at the history of Karnataka will reveal that for several centuries Bangalore remained a part of a bigger province and at best it was only a provincial capital. It was never, till the advent of the British and a little more than two centuries before them, the capital of a Kingdom.
Though the history of Bangalore’s antiquity goes back to the Roman period, it was only after the fall of Vijayanagar Empire in 1565 that Bangalore emerged from obscurity. The Palegars, Nayakas and Nada Prabhus of old Mysore region began asserting their Independence after 1565 and Kempe Gowda of Magadi was one such ruler.
He founded the modern city of Bangalore sometime in 1537 and shifted his capital from Yelahanka, constructed a fort and was totally responsible for the founding of petes which survive to this day as Cottonpet, Thargurpet, Ranasinghpet, Chickpet, Balepet. It was Kempe Gowda who gave a push to Bangalore and made it into a thriving centre of trade and commerce.
Even then, Bangalore was not a primary city of the old Mysore region. It was one of the many capitals of regional satraps and it was no patch on bigger cities like Bijapur which for almost a century after the sack of Hampi in 1565 was the biggest city of Karnataka and also of south India.
Bijapur exerted immense influence on the political history of south India from 1565 till its final fall to the Mughals under Aurangzeb in 1686. The Adil Shah of Bijapur took on the Mughals and he also had to contend with Chatrapathi Shivaji.
The Adil Shah emperors, particularly Ali Adil Shah, the first (1558-1580), Ibrahim Adil Shah the second (1580-1627) Muhammad Adil Shah (1627-1657) the builder of Gol Gumbaz and Ali Adil Shah the second  (1657-1672)- realized the danger of allowing another Hindu empire to take shape after the fall of Vijayanagar and they, therefore, tried their best to suppress all Hindu Kingdoms in South India.
They tried to check the growing power of the Marathas under Shivaji and also attacked Kempe Gowda and took over Bangalore in 1637. They also sacked Doddaballapur, Bednur and even for a brief while held Mysore from the Wodeyars before they were thrown out.
The Adil Shahis handed over Bijapur as a Jagir to Shahaji and he attempted to transform Bangalore into a major metropolis. However, though Shahaji gave a clean and good administration, he was unable to spend more time in Bangalore as he was constantly at war with the enemies of Bijapur.
Shahaji along with Ranadulla Khan, Afzal Khan and others were the frontline commanders of the Bijapur army and the Adil Shahis went by the military strategy drawn up by Shahaji.
The rise of Bangalore began only when the Mughals managed to wrest the city from the Marathas. The Mughals gave more importance to the province of Sira (now in Tumkur district) and it was their suba that was established in 1687 and lasted until 1757. The province comprised the Carnatic south of the Tungabhadra.
Sira and not Bangalore was the capital. The Mughals called the province Carnatic-Balaghat and it comprised seven districts of Basavapatna, Budihal, Sira, Penukonda,  Doddaballapur, Hoskote and Kolar.
The Mughals, in addition to these districts, considered Harapanahalli, Kondarpi, Anegundi, Bednur, Chitradurga and even Mysore as the tributary states. As far as Bangalore was concerned, the Mughals sold Bangalore to Chikkadevaraja Wodeyar of Mysore (1673-1704) for 3 lakh pagodas. .The Wodeyars, however, held on to Mysore as their capital and then shifted the capital to Srirangapatna. For them, Bangalore did not figure in their scheme of things.
Even the Wodeyars did not consider Bangalore to be a major province. It was only after Hyder Ali (in 1760) and Tipu took over Bangalore that they realized its military importance. Hyder renovated the mud fort of Kempe Gowda in Bangalore with stones and bricks and Tipu continued to lavish attention on Bangalore. However, both continued to consider Srirangapatna as more important than any other cities and declared the island city to be their capital.
Tipu lost interest in Bangalore after Lord Cornwallis overran the fort in the third Anglo-Mysore war in 1791. Tipu dismantled a great part of the existing fort and today’s fort at City Market is all that stands of the once massive fortifications.  
It was after Tipu died in Srirangapatna on May 4, 1799, that the British seriously began considering Bangalore as an alternative city. The British decided to station their troops in Mysore kingdom and they initially choose Srirangapatna as the place.
However, a rebellion by British officers in Srirangapatna and an uneasy about the local populace compelled the Duke of Wellington, who was also the military commander, to station the troops Srirangapatna itself.
Bangalore, by then, had once again lost its power and prestige. It was more a series of small villages and the only Bangalore worth of note was the Pete areas and the crumbling Tipu fort, now in Coty Market.      
An outbreak of malaria in Srirangapatna and mosquito menace forced the British to change the venue of the garrison from Srirangapatna to Bangalore. The Duke of Wellington was still not  favourably disposed in choosing Bangalore, but following his departure from India in 1804, the British Government changed its stance and declared its intention to station its troops in Bangalore.
The British and the then Mysore state under the Wodeyars surveyed almost the whole of Bangalore and decided to construct the Cantonment near the village of Halasooru (Ulsoor).
Thus came up the Cantonment in 1807 and with it a large body of Indians for doing clerical, administrative and menial work. The Mysore State under the Maharaja of Mysore assigned 9,000 acres in and around Halasooru for the accommodation of these new migrants. The Cantonment and the newly built areas around Halasooru remained under the control of the military officer commanding the division.
In 1811, the Madras Government asked the Maharaja to transfer the entire Civil and Criminal jurisdiction over the assigned areas to the Department of Commissariat. The Maharaja reluctantly agreed  and a Commissariat Officer was appointed. He was also designated as the Superintendent of Police, Bangalore. Mark Cubbon, then an Army Captain, became the first Superintendent of Police for Bangalore under this new arrangement.
In October 1811, the Maharaja of Mysore, Krishnaraja Wodeyar III, visited Bangalore along with the British Resident A. H. Cole. Twenty years later, In 1831 the British took control of the administration of Mysore State, citing the misadministration of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III.
The British decided to retain Bangalore under their jurisdiction and declared Bangalore as the capital of the then Mysore State. This marked the beginning of Bangalore's importance and soon the British even contemplated making it the southern capital of their Indian empire.
Soon, Bangalore overtook all other British cities as their favoured destination. Many, including Winston Churchill found Bangalore very much “like a spot of England”.
Bangalore soon developed industrially and commercially even as the capital of the Wodeyars, Mysore, became the cultural capital. When India became independent in 1947, the then Mysore Government decided to retain Bangalore as the capital of the new State of Mysore.  
Today, all the other cities which once lorded over Bangalore have lost their place. Bijapur, the charming capital of the Adil Shahs, is in ruins: Sira is an obscure town in Tumkur district: Chitradurga, Yelahanka, Magadi, Doddaballapour, Chennapatna, Anegundi, Ikkeri and several other places are mere dots on maps of India. Srirangapatna is a mass of ruins.
Bangalore today is the IT and BT capital of India and it has left all other cities n the State far behind. Wonder what the Mughals, Marathas and Adil Shahs would say if they saw the Bangalore of today. They all had a chance of leaving their imprint on the history of Garden City and they did not choose to do so. Even today, apart from one or two strictures such as the Kadu Malleswara Temple by the Marathas and the Sangeen mosque by the Mughals, there is no other structure left behind by them.          

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