Friday 31 May 2013

The battleground that was Bangalore

Bangalore is one of the few cities in India that has never seen a war in over 250 years. The last time cannons boomed, swordsmen hacked at each other and bayonets used was in the final Anglo-Mysore war of 1799.
The British troops had overcome Mysore and several other towns before proceeding to Srirangapatna where Tipu died on May 4, 1799, defending his island capital. Since then, Bangalore has never seen any major battle.
This really appears rather strange as Bangalore was coveted by almost all dynasties and kingdoms right from the time of the Cholas.
The Cholas, who were basically a Tamilian dynasty, wrested Bangalore from the Western Gangas (350AD-1000AD) first and other local rulers before they were forced to ceded it sometime in the 12th century to the Hoysalas.
However, the name Bangalore is believed to have much earlier history than the advent of the Hoysalas. The earliest reference to the name of Bangalore is in a ninth century Ganga inscription, on a hero-stone (viragal) in Begur village, about 14 kms south west of Bangalore.
The inscription clearly mentions the name Bengaluru, and it also refers to a battle that was fought at that place. Historian Rao Bahadur R Narasimhachar, in his Mysore Archaeological Report,  (1914-15) dates the inscription to the 9th century A. D.
The Ganga rulers, Vishnugopa (410-430) and Madhava III Tandangala (430-469) and their eastern territories comprised modern Bangalore, Kolar and Tumkur districts. Bangalore then was known as  Benga-val-oru, or the City of Guards as it is known in Hale Kannada or old Kannada.
After the fall of the Chalukyas, the Rashtrakutas managed to subjugate the Gangas who had they had their provincial capital at Manne. Later, the Ganga Emperor Shripurusha (728-788) made Manne or Manyapura, today a small village in Bangalore district which even today has a few temples belonging to the period, as his capital.
Subsequently, Bangalore fell to the Rashtrakutras. When Indra IV (973–982 CE), the last Rashtrakuta Emperor committed Sallekhana or death by starvartion, Bangalore automatically came to the Gangas.  
In 1024 C.E, the Cholas captured Bangalore. Today, little evidence can be seen of this period except for a few temples in and around Bangalore. One such temple is that of Chokkanatha or Chokka Perumal Temple in Domlur, Bangalore. Located just off the Old Airport Roar, it was commissioned by the Cholas.
A small village in south Bangalore and another village in Ananthapur district in Andhra Pradesh bear the Chola name but the residents today mainly comprise natives.
In 1117 C.E, the Hoysala king Veera Ballala II defeated the Cholas in the battle of Talakad which lead to the downfall of the Chola empire and the Hoysalas gained Bangalore.
With the death of  Veera Ballala III (1291–1343), the Hoysalas disappeared from history and left the scene for the Vijayanagars to rue over large parts of  Karnataka, including Bangalore, Tamil Nadu  and Andhra Pradesh.    
Kempe Gowda I (1510–1570), who is fondly regarded as founder of modern Bengaluru was a feudatory of the Vijayanagars. He took the permission of the Vijayanagar Emperor, Achuta Deva Raya, to build a mud fort in 1537.
Kempe Gowda and his descendents ruled over Bangalore and surrounding areas till they were defeated by the mighty Adilshahis in 1638.
The Adil Shahis were led among others by Shahaji, the father of Chatrapathi Shivaji and the redoubtable Ranadulla Khan. However, during the siege of Bangalore, Shivaji's elder brother Shambaji was killed by Shahaji’s rivals, led by the Ghorpade of Mudhol, for which Shivaji was to later exact revenge.
Bangalore remained under the Bijapur Kingdom till 1686. It soon became the southern military headquarters of the Adil Shahis who appointed Shahaji as Governor.
Though Shahaji had little time for administration, he made Marathi one of the languages of the area and very soon Bangalore became the centre for Marathi and Marathi also became the official language displacing Kannada.
The Adil Shahis established a garrison in Bangalore and also set up training camps, military bases and  ammunition dumps. Shahaji soon appointed natives of Maharastra as officers and Pandits in his palace and office.
Shahaji had a palace enclosed within high walls in the petes. Maharashtrian officials soon occupied all major posts in the Adil Shahi durbar in Bangalore.
After Shahaji's death in 1664, his second wife’s son, Venkoji or Ekoji, became the Governor of Bangalore.  
It then fell to the Mughals who extinguished the house of the Adil Shahis under Emperor Aurangzeb in September 1687.
After conquering Bijapur, the Mughals under Khasim Khan, marched to Sira and then arrived in Bangalore, which was then being ruled by Shivaji's brother Vyankoji Bhonsale or Ekoji as a Jagir of Bijapur.
However, Vyankoji or Ekoji had no stomach for a fight. He failed to resolve problems of Bangalore. In 1675, he left to Thanjavur and settled there never to return to Bangalore. When Shivaji heard of this, he forced his half-brother to arrive at a compromise and cede part of Bangalore and surrounding areas to him. He marched into south Karnataka in 1677 and occupied his father's Jahagir, keeping to himself Kolar, Chikkaballapur, and Doddaballapur. He, however, gifted Bangalore as Choli-Bangdi (pin money) to Ekoji's wife, Deepabai.  
Once an agreement was reached on sharing of the revenue of his father’s Jagir (Bangalore), Shivaji chivalrously went back. Shivaji died in 1680 and the Mughals began pressing hard in the Deccan to defeat the Marathas.
Ekoji then tried to sell off Bangalore to Chikkadevaraya Wodeyar, for Rs. 3 lakh. Unfortunately for him, before the sale  materialised,  Sambaji's army from Ginji and Aurangazeb’s army from Golconda, marched towards Bangalore. The Mughal Commander, Khasim Khan, marched faster and captured Bangalore in 1687.
Thus, the Mughals occupied Bangalore. They held Bangalore for three years before leasing it to the Wodeyar King Chikkadevaraja in 1689.
The Mughals gave up Bangalore but formed a new province in 1687 A.D., with Sira as its capital. The new province composed of
of Basvapatna, Budihal, Sira, Penugonda, Doddaballapur, Hoskote and Kolar. The Mughals made the states of Harpanahalli, Kondarpi, Anegundi, Bednur, Chitradurga and Mysore as tributary states.
Bangalore remained under the Wodeyars till 1759, when its Commander-in-Chief, Hyder Ali, assumed de facto powers of the Mysore Kingdom. Most of the Mysore Kingdom, including Bangalore, came under the sphere of influence of Hyder.   
During the reign of Hyder and his son, Tipu, Bangalore saw a few battles but none as ferocious as the one on the third Anglo-Mysore 1791.
Hyder realised the importance of Bangalore militarily and he kept a fairly big army. He repulsed several attacks by the British on Bangalore, particularly, in 1768. The then British Colonel Nicholson of the British Army was forced to lift his siege of Bangalore.
The commander of the British forces, Lord Cornwallis, had to face the valorous and fearless fort or Quila Commander of Bangalore, Bahadur Khan, who gave a stiff fight to the British on March 21,  1791.
The scene of the battle was the area surrounding the Ulsoor Gate police station and Siddi Katte (City Market). The Madras Sappers played s vital role in breaching the fort.
This was the last major battle in Bangalore as Tipu demolished most of the fort after 1791 and the present fort was all that was standing during the final Anglo-Mysore war. Since then, Bangalore has become the permanent home of this regiment.
After this war, there was no other in Bangalore and its vicinity. The only other war like events that Bangalore faced was during the two world wars but that is a matter for another post. So till then, Good bye.


  1. Glad to know that Dear.....hope you had a great holiday at bandipur resorts .... if you have any special experience of on kgudi resort or B R Hills to share with us , that would be nice and helpful to others :)

  2. amazing information about the city.
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