Monday 23 September 2013

Decades later, water in Hesarghatta

This was once part of the famed Vijayanagar Empire and the Vijayanagar Emperor, Achutedeva Raya had commissioned a man made tank here.
The Emperor had constructed an anecut and a bund across a river flowing here. He also built an agrahara or a settlement to house Brahmins and priests. This was sometime in 1532.
Inscriptions dating back to the Vijayanagar period tells us that the anecut was built on the banks of the Arkavathi river and a temple for Chandramoulishwara constructed.
When the Agrahara became populated, it was called Siva Samudra Agrahara.
A few years later, Kempe Gowda, the founder of  Bangalore received this Agrahara and Bangalore along with twelve hoblis from the Vijayanagar Emperor.
Kempe Gowda then went on to form the province of Bangalore and Siva Samudra Agrahara was part of it. Over centuries, the small tank served the water needs of the people, catering to the  domestic and irrigation needs of the area.
During the time of  Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, the Agraha came to be more popularly known as Hesarghatta. During the Wodeyar rule, the small tank was upgraded into a major water supply project.
Recommissioned in 1894, the manmade reservoir was expected to meet the drinking water needs of Bangalore. The credit for this project, called Chamarajendra Water works, goes to the then Diwan of Mysore, Seshadri Iyer and the then Chief Engineer of Mysore State, M.C. Huthcins.
Once the TG Halli became operational, Hesarghatta was neglected and it was in 1994 that it last filled up. Since then, there has not been any water in the vast lake except in a few patches.
Thankfully, this year has seen copious rains in Karnataka and other parts of the country. The rains have led to the Hesraghatta Lake showing signs of revival and today it holds around eight feet of water. This may not mean much as the reservoir can hold upto thirty five feet of water but the fact that water has started flowing indicates that the water body, one given up for dead, can be revived.
If the State Government and the authorities are serious about ensuring that the water once again continues to flow into the reservoir, they have to clear the encroachments, repair the infrastructure in and round the reservoir, revive the water source and clear the water channels.   
The total catchment area draining into the reservoir is 73.84 km2 (2189 mi2), out of which the direct draining catchment is 2.68 km2 (6.86 sq mi2). There are 184 tanks built in the Arkavathy river basin upstream of the Hesaraghatta. These needs to be revived.
The Arkavaty originates in the Nandi Hills in Chikaballapur district and it joins the Cauvery in Kanakapura after flowing through Kolar and Bangalore rural districts. The Vrishabhavaty and the Suvarnamukhi are the tributaries which drain part of Bangalore and Anekal taluks into the Arkavati River.
All these needs to be taken into consideration for reviving the Hesarghatta.
By the way, there is a Government plan to pump water from Ethinahole to the Hesarghatta and TG Halli reservoirs. This is the plan of the Urban Development Department.
These two reservoirs were Bangalore’s major source of drinking water until the Cauvery project was implemented in 1971.
The Urban Development Department wants to go ahead with the project and the Water Resources Department has agreed to give 2.5 tmcft of water from Ethinahole. This water would be pumped to TG Halli and Hesaraghatta lakes, be treated and then it will be pumped to the city.
For this to be effective, Hesaraghatta  has to be restored before water is pumped into it. The water holding, pumping and supply infrastructure in Hesarghatta has not been used since 1986.
When Hesarghatta supplied water, it was initially taken by gravity through a 1.4 m dia (42" dia) Hume pipe to the Soladevanahalli pumping station. Water was then pumped, initially using steam pumps and later electric pumps, to the Combined Jewel Filters (CJF) plant at Malleswaram  for treatment and supply.
The pipes must have rusted and broken down at some places. There is need to repair the existing pipes and also lay new ones if the Urban Development Department wants to reuse the Hesarghatta for water supply.
The department scheme envisages pumping water from the west-bound Ethinahole river through canals to a collection centre near Sakaleshpura. From there, the water would be allowed to flow in an open canal till Tumkur and the BWSSB will pump the water to TG Halli and Hesaraghatta reservoir from there.
At present, 19 tmcft of water has been allocated from the Cauvery and the BWSSB has the capacity to supply 1,400 MLD of water from all the five Cauvery drinking water projects. The available water is expected to meet the city’s demand till 2015

Is the water in Hesarghatta a sign for urban planners that all is not lost and that there is still hope for reviving the lakes and water bodies in and around Bangalore. The answer is yes and it is high time that the Government and urban planners launched along term plan involving people, Government agencies and NGOs to bring back water naturally to habitations. 

Vyasa Prathistha Hanuman of Bangalore

Ask anyone about Vyasa Prathistha Hanuman in Bangalore and the most probable answer would be Gali Anjeneya Temple in Byatarayanapura on Mysore Road, the Minto Kannuaspatre on Alur Venkata Rao Road in Chamarajpet and the Kote Anjaneya Temple in City Market.
However, did you know that there are at least two dozen more Vyasa Prathistha Hanumans in Bangalore City limits alone and more than a dozen in Bangalore urban and rural district.
Vyasa Raja or Vyasa Theertha was born in Bannur near Mysore sometime in 1460. He initially studied in Abbur near Chennapatna under the tutelage of Bramanye Theertha and then under Sripadaraja in Mulabagal.
Vyasa Raja became the perceptor of six Vijayanagar Emperors, including Krishna Deva Raya. He also performed pooje at the Lord Venkateshwara shine in Tirumala from 1480 to 1492.
An avatar of Prahalada and Bahlika Raja, Vyasa Raja consecrated 732 temples to Hanuman and of them 365 are in Penukonda alone. The rest are a scattered all over India and the Bangalore-Mysore-Mandya-Chennapatna belt was the place where he consecrated the maximum number of Hanumans in Karnataka.
One of the first is the Gali Anjaneya Temple on the bans of the Vrushabhavati.
The other temples are the Ramanjaneya Temple opposite the Bus Stand at Shivaji Nagar; the Hanuman idol in Marenahalli, JP Nagar, 2nd stage; the Varadanjaneyaswamy Temple in RBI Layout in JP Nagar 7th Phase; the Veeranjaneya Swamy Temple in Uttarahalli; the Anjaneya temple in Beniganahalli on old Madras Road and opposite the police station at Upparpet.
The other temples where Vyasa Raja consecrated Hanuman idols are on Kilari Road in Balepet; Kodigenahalli on Bellary Road;
Ramohalli in Kengeri near the Dodda Alada Mara; Koluru in  Tavarkere; Binny Mills Road in Cotonpet; Juganahalli in  Rajajinagar; Kare Kallu Anjaneya opposite police lines or police quarters on Mysore Road; Roshan Baug Road in  V.V. Puram which is better known as Prasanna  Anjaneyaswamy Temple.
There are also Vyasa Prathista Hanuman near Chord Road junction in Magadi Road; Ranganatha Swamy Temple on RT Road;
Cubbonpet Main Road; Chennasandra in Hesarghatta; the Lakshmikunte Sri Veeranjaneya Temple in Attibele; Bazar Street, Ulsoor;  Sri Anjaneyaswamy temple in Katriguppe, Banashankari 3rd Stage; Sri Anjanayaswamy temple near the busstand in Srinagar
and the Gutte Anjaneya Swamy Temple near Lalbagh which is located behind the main HOPCPMS outlet.
Apart from these, the Karenji Anjaneya Temple in Gandhi Bazar, Basavanagudi, is one of the most famous temples of Bangalore. But this temple has nothing to do with Vyasa Raja. Another famous temple is the Maruti Mandira in Vijayanagar, the huge idol of Hanuman in front of ISCKON which is located in Mahalakshmi Layout. The Hanuman temple in Banaswadi is also famous and it is more than 150 years old.
The mammoth Hanuman Temple at Agara too is old. This is the Hanuman who crossed the Indian Ocean to rescue Sita.     

Tuesday 17 September 2013

A temple to Sugreeva

India is a land of Gods and temples and there was a period when the number of people equaled the number of Gods. But no longer. The number of Gods stands at 32 million or 33 million, while our people are much beyond a 1000 million or a billion.
Just as there are Gods, so are there temple and every village, town and city has one or two temples at the least. There are temples dedicated to Rama, Krishna, Srinivasa, Narasimha, Ganapathy, Lakshmi, Hanuman, Shiva, Parvathi and a host of other gods and goddesses.
But in the pantheon of  Gods and Goddesses, some do not have a temple, while others have only rarely.
Bangalore is fortunate that it not only has the largest number of temples in Karnataka, but it also has some of the oldest and rarest too. Where else but in Bangalore can you find the Grama devethes still dominating the urban landscape long after the city ceased to be the village that it was.
If Bangalore has one of the rare temples dedicated to Dharmaraya, it also has a temple dedicated to Sugreeva. Yes, this is perhaps one of the few temples dedicated to Sugreeva, the brother of Vali and the Vanara who led his armies to Lanka alongside Rama and Lakshmana to rescue Seeta.
The Sugreeva temple is a rarity in India and there are quite a few of them. But in Bangalore, this is the only temple dedicated to Sugreeva and as can be expected it is located in one of the petes or old areas of Bangalore.
The temple is just off the bustling Balepet Main Road. No wonder the temple is even today better known as Sugreeva Venkateshwara Temple.
A casual glance would make one assume that the idol is of Hanuman but a closer look will show you that there are two teeth protruding from the mouth and it is only this that distinguishes this idol from Hanuman.
Located on the Balepet main road, the inner shrine has a beautiful  idol of Lord Venkateshwara on a pedestal. The idol of Sugreeva, which is six feet in height, looks strikingly like Hanuman. The long teeth on either side of the mouth are the only thing which differentiates it from Hanuman.
Both Venkateshwara and Sugreeva face each other in two separate temples constructed for them. Incidentally, Venkateshwara is consecrated in the temple facing the smaller door. The locals believe that the Sugreeva idol was submerged in the Kempambudhi tank and one of the devotees got a dream asking him to lift it from the waters and place it in the temple.
Local residents say that the temple was built by Kempegowda-I for the Uppara community.
The temple is situated in such a busy area, that thousands of passers by each day continue to walk past it, ignorant of the Sugreeva Venkateshwara Temple.
Incidentally, Bangalore had another temple dedicated to Sugreeva. This was the present Sri Venugopalaswamy Temple in Shivajinagar.
This temple was constructed sometime in 1902 and it was originally dedicated to Sugreeva. Now it houses the idols of Rulmini, Krishna or Venugopala Swamy and Satyabhama, which were shifted here from Viveknagar locality.

Apart from these two temples, the Chokanatha temple in Domlur has pillars depicting Sugreeva and Vali. This is considered among the oldest temple of Bangalore and it was built by the Cholas when they ruled over Bangalore more than a thousand years ago.

Sunday 15 September 2013

It once housed the Resident

It once belonged to Sir Mark Cubbon, the British Commissioner for the Mysore State. It was the place from where the British Resident set out on his rounds.
The movement of the Resident on the road gave the road the name Residency Road. Today, the place from where the Resident began his jamboree and the Residency Road are caught in a “commercial” trap, a sign of Bangalore’s urbanisation.
The Residency Road is a hotchpotch of old buildings, convents, new structures a one-way system that is maddeningly slow. The erstwhile building housing the Resident has disappeared behind other buildings and today it exists only in books of Bangalore history and in photographs.
Very few persons today can access the old Residency as it is now the home of  the Chief General Manager of India’s largest bank,          
State Bank of India (SBI).
The building is Hopeville and it is situated or rather hidden behind the local office building of the SBI on St, Marks Road. Thankfully, the SBI has preserved the house in almost mint condition and the house boasts of furniture and artifacts dating back to the period of Cubbon.
This house has a crucial link with the local history of Bangalore. It was the home of several Residents from 1831 till the post was abolished in 1843.
It was also the place where  C.B. Sanders, Judicial Commissioner of Mysore who held charge of Mysore State for a while after Mark Cubbon, too stayed.
The British style bungalow was built by Cubbon and its original furniture is more than 160 years old. It came into the hands of the Bank of Madras in 1864 when it purchased it for Rs. 30,000. This was five years after Cubbon resigned from the post of Commissioner.
By then, the house had passed into the hands of  Charles James Green, a retired Major General of the Madras Army. The sale by him to the bank not only included the iconic Hopeville but also twelve acres of lush green park surrounding it.
Hopeville is one of they few buildings which still retains vestiges of the British Raj. The house still preserves the teak furniture and many wood artifacts that go back to the 1850s. There are also several paintings, including one which depict the Mysore Durbar. This painting is dedicated to Queen Victoria and Price Albert.
The paintings is dated 1850 and you can see Cubbon in the painting.
The bungalow is huge and it has five rooms, five bathrooms and two large living rooms. It is two-storied white structure. There is a secret passage that runs under the house and goes towards Cubbon Park. It has now been closed and nobody has dared to get it open.
Coming back to the how the house became the property of the SBI, the Bank of  Madras became Imperial Bank of India and in 1955 it transformed into the State Bank of India.

The building served as an inspiration for other structures such as  the Bangalore Club, Balabrooie and Raj Bhavan, all in Bangalore.

Friday 13 September 2013

How safe are women in Bangalore

Well, justice has been delivered at last and the rapists who savaged Nirbhaya in Delhi are to hang. Of course, the convicted are going to appeal first in the High Court and then possibly in the Supreme Court.
While we can be sure of an appeal in the High court as the law mandates that the court which sentenced a person or persons to death must send the reference (death sentence) to the High Court, there is no such rule of  taking the High court verdict to the Supreme Court.
Whatever the result of further appeals, one thing is sure and that is rapists from now on cannot get away with their crimes and a fast track court in Saket in Delhi has shown the way such cases could be decided.
The ruling has come as a warning to the predators who roam around and tease, molest, rape and in several cases kill or murder women. Delhi would now be rejoicing over the verdict but the question is how is Bangalore going to take the verdict.
Bangalore was always known as a city with a low crime rate and the occasional murder decades ago made national headlines such as the murder of Belur Srinivasa Iyengar at his house in Gandhinagar.  
However, despite incidents of crime, Bangalore was always considered a safe city when compared to Delhi, Kolkata, Madras-now Chennai and Mumbai. But no longer. The City, over the last decades has witnessed a horrific rise in the number of crimes against women and this is nothing short of shameful for Bangalore which led India, nay Asia, in the IT revolution and showed the world that it could match the best.
The IT hub of Bangalore has the dubious distinction of being the rape capital of Karnataka and it also figures among the top ten cities in India to have reported maximum number of rapes.
The sudden rise in rape cases in Bangalore has not only flummoxed the police but left the people bewildered. The rise in rape has also been recorded in the data which was recently by the  National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), which brings out reports on crimes in the country.
The NCRB statistics shows that Bangalore is next to Delhi in the crime against women..
The report for 2011 shows that Bangalore has recorded 1,890 instances of crime against women and this accounts for 5.6 per cent  of such crimes in the country. Delhi topped the list with 4,489 cases, which constituted 13.3 per cent of all cases registered in India. Next to Bangalore came Hyderabad with 1,860 cases, forming 5.5 per cent.
During 2010, Bangalore had recorded 1590 cases against women and this had constituted 6.5 per cent of such crimes in the country.
What is more shocking is that the State Crime Record Bureau (SCRB) statistics reveal that in 85 per cent of cases of rape registered in Karnataka during 2012, the perpetrator was known to the victim. It says 621 rape cases were registered and in 526 cases, the rapist was known to the victim.
The same trend is visible in Bangalore. The SCRB data shows that in  56 of 90 rape cases registered during the year, the rapist was known to the victim. And who form this known category- they are  parents, close family members, relatives and neighbours.
Of the 90 cases in Bangalore, two were raped by parents or family members, one by a close relative, 18 by neighbours and 35 victims were raped by friends, friends of their relatives and colleagues.
This alarming situation is not restricted to Bangalore alone. In Mangalore, of the six rape cases, neighbours were guilty in three. In Shimoga district, in all the 14 cases registered, neighbours were the perpetrators.
If we take the nation wide data, the NCRB says 24,923 rape cases were registered last year and 24,470 victims were raped by known persons. In 88 cities, including Bangalore, 3,025 rape cases were registered, and in 2,897 cases, it was known persons who were the culprits.
 It also says Karnataka on an average reports two rapes a day and between January and June this year 457 cases were reported. In the last three years, the total number of rape cases in the State which were reported stood at 2163.
What is absolutely unbelievable is that SCRB records show shows that 471 or 75 per cent of women raped in 2011 were 18-year-olds and 21 of them were below the age of 10.
The SCRB statistics also indicate a rise in other crimes against women such as molestation, sexual harassment , cruelty against women and dowry deaths. And Bangalore tops the list in all these categories
What boggles the mind is that the incidents of rape seem to be increasing every year in Karnataka. It was 509 in 2009 and it went up to 586 cases in 2010 and in 2011 it stood at 636.
What does the statistics indicate. Does it prove that Bangalore is as unsafe to women as Delhi and other places. Sadly, yes. Then what is the answer. Better policing, stricter law enforcement, harsher punishment and greater awareness is the need of the hour. 

Wednesday 11 September 2013

She came but she never sang here

One of the legendary Hindustani singers of our times has been Gangubhai Hangal (1913-2009). Born in Dharwad, she was an exceptionally talented singer of the Kirana Gharana and her range and mastery left one spellbound.
Though she gave hundreds of concerts and attended scores of seminars and workshops, she never sang at the Rama Seva Mandali of Chamarajpet. This was not because she was not invited. She was invited several times but she could not make it to the programme for a variety of reasons. And the one time she did, she came only to watch and not sing.
The Rama Seva Mandali of Chamarajpet has a fairly long history of organising concerts on the occasion of Rama Navami in March and April every year. It has today become one of the leading organizers of Rama Navami concerts in Bangalore and almost all legendary singers and musicians have graced its celebrations.
Such musicians and singers include M.S. Subbulakshmi, M.L. Vasanth Kumari, Balamurali Krishna, Maharajapuuram Santanam, D.K. Pattamal, Sudha Raghunathan,  Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, T. Chowdaiah, Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, T.R. Mahalingam, Chittoor Subramaniam Pillai, Veene Doreswamy Iyengar, Yesudas  and a host of other Carnatic artistes.
If you take the field of Hindustani music, artistes like Kumar Gandharva, Mallikarjuna Mansoor, Bismillah Khan, Alla Rakha, Ali Akbar Khan, Bade Gulam Ali Khan, Bhimsen Joshi, Basavaraja Rajguru have all graced the festival concerts.
However, the only shining star of Hindustani music that is missing in the annals of the Rama Seve Mandali rolls of honor is Gangubhai Hangal.
Once Gangubhai Hangal showed up at the concert. This was not to sing but listen to Bismillah Khan who was giving a concert. The moment passed and neither the organisers nor Hangal could plan her concert at the Mandali festival.
Her constant tours, subsequent ill health kept her away from the concerts. She passed away in Hubli of cardiac arrest in 2009 and even today the Mandali organizers regret not having been able to arrange for a concert at one of their annual events.
Of course, this does not mean that Gangubhai Hangal, the nightingale of Hindustani music, did not give concerts in Bangalore. She had a huge fan following in Bangalore and she did give many performances but none at the Rama Seva Mandali.


Tuesday 10 September 2013

Walking on a white path

Close to two and half million tourists visited  the main palace in Mysore and all of hem had to remove their footware if they wanted to enter the palace.
The main palace is the most visited building in the world after Madam Tussads in London. But unlike Madam Tussads, all visitors here have to compulsorily remove their footware if they want to have a glimpse of the interiors of  what tourists say is the world’s best palace.    
However, the walk from the ticket counter to the palace interiors and from there to the Maharaja’s private museum will be a rather “hot” one during summer. The sand and concrete pathway to the palace gets so hot during March, April, May and June that tourists, particularly foreigners, find it difficult to tread across the hot sands.
The summer experience of  bare foot walking was all the more painful this year when Mysore experienced a torrid climate and temperatures soared, making people fret and fume.
Many visitors and others, particularly foreigners and they number more than 10,000, complained to the Mysore Palace Board about the boiling sand they would have to walk on to reach the palace. Women, elderly and children found it difficult to walk barefoot. Seeing their discomfiture, the board decided to take a leaf from the Dharmastala temple management which had paved the footpaths leading to the Manjanutha temple with heat resistant slabs.
These newly designed walkways gave pilgrims at Dharmastala a little relief from the sweltering summer. The Mysore Palace Board decided to go in for such a walkway so as to make walking a  walking a pleasure for tourists, even as they enjoyed the sight of the palace.
It, therefore, built a 150-feet heat-resistant walkway on a trial basis, which it plans to extend to other areas in a phased manner. The walkway is about two feet wide and it has been painted white. The white paint will absorb the heat and thus ensure that the soles do not get scorched by the heat of the sand.   
The white paint does not allow the heat to settle and disperses it. The paint diffuses the ultra violet rays and, therefore, the temperature remains much less than the temperature on the concrete.
The Board has spent Rs. 42 per square feet to develop the 150-feet walkway. It now plans to extend the white pathway to other paths that tourists take within the palace compound.
In vase you visit the palace, walk on the white path and ten on the concrete so that you can literally fell the difference.
How we wish that the Government takes notice and ensures that similar heat resistant walkways are introduced at major tourist attractions and in places where the Sun seems to shine the brightest such as Badami, Aihole, Pattadakal, Banashankari, Mahakuta, Gulbarga, Bidar, Raichur, Hampi, Bijapur, Lakkundi, Lakshmeshwar and many other town and villages. As it is these places record high temperatures during summer and walking on the road or even footpath barefoot is a nightmare, more so if it is a place of  religion.  

The men who built the palace

It is one of the most visited monuments in India and it rivals the Taj Mahal of Agra in recording the number of footfalls. It was built during the last years of the nineteenth century and it took fourteen years to complete.
Though it overshot the budget, the entire cost of the construction of this magnificent structure was a little more than Rs. 41 lakhs. It overshot the budget by a few lakhs but today, the structure inspires awe and disbelief.
One of the world’s largest palaces, it was built in Indo-Saracenic style and combines the best of Hindu, Islamic, British, Rajasthan styles. If the cupolas remind you of the palaces of Rajasthan, the tall tower on which is crowned by a bulbous structure gives it a distinct Gothic or Church style.
Some of the towers give us a feel of the Chattaris of Rajasthan as does the protruding balconies in the south and north side of the palace. 
The tall and massive columns remind one of  Greek structures and the paintings are typical Mysorean in style and substance. The woodwork adds to the design and enhances the beauty of the palace.       
The Gajalakshmi atop the five-storied main arch is typical Hindu.  The square shaped towers on either side of the palace gives the palace a distinct English or Gothic feel, which is typical of many European castles. The seven arched fa├žade resembles a Hindu structure and the huge arches lend a distinct local touch and it is this that resembles the older wooden palace, that burnt down, closely.
The tinted glasses inside and the huge chandeliars brings to our memory some of the best Venetian and French structures. The carved wooden doors remind us of huge temple doors and the curving staircases blend seamlessly with the interiors.
Each part of the palace has its own story to tell and though the palace is of  rather recent origin, it has a tale of its own. This is the Main palace of Mysore, which is often erroneously known as Amba Vilas Palace.
This palace was built on the foundations of the old wooden palace which burnt down during a wedding ceremony of  Princess Jayalakshmamma in 1897. A new palace-the fourth to come up-was commissioned just a few months after the fire mishap and it was completed by 1912.
Coming back to Amba Vilas, it is one of the many sections of the palace that are open to the public. It was generally used by the Wodeyar Kings for private audience and it is often called as one of the most spectacular rooms.
Though the palace was designed by Sir Henry Irwin, who also designed the Viceregal lodge in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, it was  
B.P. Raghavalu Naidu, Executive Engineer, Palace Division, Mysore State, who was placed in charge of construction.
Irwin had just then retired as Consulting Architect of the Government of Madras and he received the contract as his plans were approved.
Mr. Naidu first studied the designs supplied to him and then he toured Calcutta, Delhi and Agra and incorporated the designs of many buildings located in those cities. .
Incidentally, he is also credited with designing and constructing the new bazaar building and Jaganmohan Palace. He ensured that the  work commenced in October 1897 and the palace was completed in 1912 at a cost of Rs. 41,47, 913.
Maharani Vani Vilas, the Regent, commissioned the new palace and she was undeterred when the old structure burnt down.  
He was asked by the Wodeyar family and Sir Irwin to use locally available construction material to the extent it was feasible. This was also the first palace in India that adopting fire safety norms. It also was the first building of such a size to get lifts. Check out the Durbar Lift.
The palace literally rose from the ashes not once but twice. Tipu is believed to have let the old palace decay after he forcibly shifted the Wodeyar family from Mysore to Srirangapatna. When he died on May 4, 1799 and the British handed back the Kingdom to the Wodeyars, there was no big building in Mysore. The new king- Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar- had to, therefore, be enthroned from a temporary structure constructed in Nazarbad.  
The British too noted the lack of a palace for the new king and the then Duke of Wellington noted that “there was no stately structure or house at all in the city suitable for the enthronement of the young raja”, and therefore the coronation took  place in a shamiana in Nazarbad.
The next reference by the British to the Mysore Palace is by Col. Wellesley who says that the “Raja's family has moved into old Mysore where their ancient palace has been rebuilt in the same form in which it was earlier.”
The only photograph of this wooden palace is by John Birdwood, s a lancer in the Mysore Army, who later went on to become the Commander in chief of the British India Army. He presented this  photograph to the royal family in 1929 when he visited Mysore.
Coming back to the palace, Sir Irwin  built it around an open courtyard with a majestic gate on the east. The actual construction was executed by Mysore engineers and the entire building was supervised by Mysore masons.
Very few know that credit must go to Narayanaswamy, who was working as the civil engineer at the Mysore Palace then, for designing the marvellous durbar hall and also the imposing Jayamarthanda Gate.
Though a large number of masons and other workmen were brought in from across India, native workmen too showed their expertise. They used mostly stone and iron materials and this was done to prevent another fire tragedy.
Most of the stones used during the construction were mainly from quarries in the then Mysore state. The quarries at Turuvekere furnished a unique kind of trap which allowed for the intricate and elaborate carvings.
Initially, masons from Trichy, Madras and other districts from South India were at first able to work only with pointed chisels. They found it difficult to work with masons from Kolhapur, Jaipur and other places in Northern India who preferred to work with sharp-edged tools.
When masons from Agra and other places went back after a quarrel, Mysore masons decided to go ahead with the work and today we can see that they really performed an admirable job that has stood the test of time.
One of the best descriptions of the work going on during the construction of the palace is by a Scottish traveler, William G Burn, in 1905.
Another notable feature of the palace is the 96,000 bulbs that light up the structure in the evenings. The lit up palace is nothing short of a dream. Check it out. 

Monday 9 September 2013

The last man on the gallows

In an earlier post, more than ay year ago, the post had carried an article on Freedom Park and the few remnants of the old jail.
Many readers and visitors wanted to know more about the gallows, which is still preserved as a relic n the park. They also wanted to know when was last hanging.
Well, though Bangalore had one of the biggest jails and though it was classified as a central prison, it never had a hangman and all convicts sentenced to death were sent to Belgaum to be hanged.. Therefore, Belgaum had a hangman, while Bangalore and other jails did not.
Yes, a few high profile convicts were kept in the prison on Seshadri Road but when a sessions court pronounced the order of death, the convicts were immediately shifted to Belgaum, irrespective of the result of their appeal or the reference to the High Court.
Coming back to the history of the gallows, they were preserved as they have a 142-year-old history. Official records or records with the Department  of  Prisons point out that eleven persons were sent to the gallows between 1943 and 1968. They included among others five satyagrahis of Esoor village in Shimoga district.
Unfortunately, we do not have detailed information on hanging prior to Independence as the records are not available. However, there must have been several hangings and almost all of them were Indians.  
Information in the public domain suggests that the satyagrahis, who killed police officers at Esoor, were hanged on March 8, 9 and 10, 1943 respectively. They had claimed to have fought for a “responsible government,” a term used to describe the freedom movement in the princely State of Mysore, while the police and the prosecution said they had rebelled and indulged in anti-national activities, besides committing murder.
The last convict to mount the gallows in Bangalore was Srikantha, son of Venkatappa. He was hanged on August 21, 1968 on a charge of murder.
Earlier, three persons were hanged in 1958, and one each on December 10, 1962 (Narayanappa, son of Nagappa) and September 17, 1965 (Bora, son of Badanemane). Another convict to be hanged on December 18, 1958 was Krishna Reddy, who had murdered all the members of the family of Belur Srinivas Iyengar, a lawyer, who had a house in Gandhinagar.
Other accomplices to face the hangman’s noose along with Krishna Reddy were Muniswamy and Govinda Reddy. They had murdered on June 6, 1956 in cold blood Belur Srinivasa Iyengar, his wife, two sons, mother-in-law and a servant.
The bungalow of Belur Srinivasa Iyengar was situated at the spot where the building of the Syndicate Bank is built today. Krishna Reddy and others were angry that Mr. Iyengar had won a case against them and they had sworn to take revenge.
The gallows were once situated behind a tiled building, which was demolished. The gallows was surrounded by a wall and this was to prevent other jail inmates from watching the act of hanging.
Incidentally, the Bangalore jail never had a hangman on its rolls. One of the officers of the Prison Department played the part of a hangman. Even today, the new jail at Parappana Agrahara does not have gallows or the post of a hangman.
The last hanging in the State was at the Belgaum jail in 1983. Today, if you want to see the real gallows where convicts are hanged, you have to travel to Hindalga hail in Belgaum. The Hindalga jail also has a separate cell for housing convicts on the death row.

However, if you would like to know what the gallows looked like and how it was operated, head for the Freedom Park where the old gallows are still there, a ghastly relic of a past.  

Saturday 7 September 2013

When Dasara at Srirangapatna was the cynosure of all eyes

The Mysore Dasara is just a little more than a month away and the State Government has made all arrangements to ensure that the event passes off without a hitch.
Mysore is all decked up for the magnificent spectacle. However, there is a hitch or two. The Ambari Ane or elephant that carries the Golden Howdah is in Mast and animal lovers are up in arms against the practice of making the elephant carry the 750 kilogram howdah.
In the brouhaha, very few care to remember that Dasara never originated in Mysore. The Dasara, as we see today, had its beginning in Hampi or Vijayanagar. Once the mighty Vijayanagar Empire fell in 1565, Dasara stopped at Hampi as the Muslim states of the Deccan plundered Hampi and left it in a state of ruin.
Dasara then came to Srirangapatna which was a principality of the Vijayanagar Empire. Initially, the Viceroys of Srirangapatna owed their allegiance to the Vijayanagar Empire and ruled the province on their behalf.
They continued the practice of the Dasara and historical texts and accounts of the period say that the area around the Ranganatha Swamy Temple in Srirangapatna were host to the Dasara procession.
Raja Wodeyar (1578-1617) managed to oust the Vijayanagar Viceroy, Sriranga Raya, and he shifted his capital in 1610 from Mysore to Srirangapatna. It is to him that the distinction of commencing the Dasara in a grand manner goes. He not only continued the Vijayanagar practice but substantially improved upon it.
However, the early accounts of the Dasara at Srirangapatna  do not mention that the howdah was mounted on an elephant. Yes, elephants along with other animals such as camels, horses, cattle formed part of the Vijayadashami procession and some of the Viceroys did sit on elephants but there never was a howdah of the present size mounted on the pachyderm.
The celebrations gained fame during the period of Ranadheera Kanteerava Narasaraja Wodeyar (1638 -1659 AD). Other Emperors who contributed in no insignificant manner towards popularising the Dasara were Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar (1673 -1704 AD), Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar III (1799 - 1868 AD), Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV (1902 -1940 AD) and Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar from 1940 till 1947.
Even after Hyder an Tipu took over the reigns of the Mysore Kingdom from the Wodeyars, they allowed the Mysore Kings to conduct the Dasara.
Contemporary accounts tell us how Tipu allowed the King to attend the Dasara but how he took great care to ensure that the people did not turn against him.
The Dasara at Srirangapatna stopped in 1799 when Tipu was defeated and killed by the British on May 4, 1799. From then on, the Dasara was conducted in Mysore and Krishnaraja Wodeyar III became the first Maharaja to conduct the Dasara at Mysore.
Though the Dasara continued at Mysore, it was only in 2007 that the district administration of Mandya woke up to the heritage value of the festival and began conducting Dasara at Srirangapatna.
According to Hindu archives, the Dasara was first celebrated as Nada Habba during the Vijayanagar period and then at Srirangapatna before coming to Mysore.
Historians believe that Raja Wodeyar initially commenced Dasara celebrations as a victory parade when he defeated the Vijayanagar Viceroy. Each year, the procession gained in fame and pomp and it ended in 1799.
However, when Mysore kingdom was handed over by the British to in 1799, after the fall of Tipu Sultan, the capital was shifted to Mysore. Dasara festivities were also shifted to Mysore. Thereafter, Srirangapatna lost its traditional richness though it was the town where Dasara was first introduced.
The Srirangapatna Dasara too was celebrated over a ten day period and almost all the temple there were bedecked for the special occasion.  
Today, Mysore is known for its Dasara, while the Srirangapatna Dasara is slowly making a mark. There is no reason why the Srirangapatna Dasara can complement the Mysore Dasara and also act as an independent magnet on the lines of the Madikeri Dasara.

Ganesha in Bangalore

One of the most important Hindu festivals is upon us and all Hindu households celebrate it with fervour. This is one of the first major festivals of the Hindu calender and after this comes a long list of other festivals.
This festival is unique in the sense that it is as much a private affair as it is public. Just like the Rama Navami and Raghavendra Swamy Aradhana and Ayudha Pooje, this festival too is celebrated by other communities too and the public celebrations go on much after the poojes at home.
This is the Ganesha Pooja.
Ganesha is the son of Shiva and Parvathi and he is one of the most loved gods in the world. He is perhaps one of the few gods with the head of an animal-an elephant-and he is, therefore, also known as Gajanana, Gajamukha and many more names of elephants.
One of the unique features of this festival is that people of an area collect donations and set up pandals where Ganesha is placed on a pedestal.
In cities like Bangalore, hundreds of Ganesha pandals spring up and the police have decided to regulate them. The police have made it mandatory for residents to obtain permission before installing Ganesha publicly.
In addition, Ganesha is also installed in offices and business establishments. Ganesha is also installed on the Karnataka High Court premises by the Advocates Association. Interestingly, there are several Ganeshas in the High Court itself. If the Advocates Association has one Ganesha, the law clerk association which is housed near the place where several freelance typists sit, also have their own Ganesha.
The staff of the Advocate General (AG) office in the High Court also have their own Ganesha.
There are hundreds of Ganesha pandals in Bangalore and a majority of them are installed with donations from the public. But the Ganesha Pandal in Rajajinagar III Block 14th Main - Vidya Ganapa Gelatiyara Sangha - is unique as it is a girls-only group.
It's been more than a decade since the Ganesha pandal has been coming up here and the women took over seven years ago, after the original group split up.
The BBMP has warned the pandals that they cannot keep the Ganesha idols beyond September 20. They say all the idols have to be immersed in water by the date. This deadline, however, does not stand for houses.
The BBMP has also designated places in lakes for immersing Ganesh idols. On their part, the police have said permission should be taken from them for setting up pandals in public. BESOM has urged the pandals to apply for permission to draw temporary power.
It is only in the recent decades that Bangalore saw pandals coming up for the Ganesha festival. However, Shahaji is believed to have popularized the Ganesha festival way back in the 16th century when he wrested Bangalore from Kempe Gowda. Bangalore for more than half a century remained under Maratha rule and Marathi was made the State language. Ganesha festival became popular during this period.
However. the festival became less of a public show after Hyder and Tipu conquered Bangalore from the Peshwas. The festival became a family affair during the times of the British and the Wodeyars and it was only four decades ago that the first public celebration began.
Having said that, what is really strange is that the public celebrations of Ganesha goes on months even after the ten day period. More shockingly, some install Ganesha idols during the Pitru Paksha or the 16-day lunar period which starts in a fortnight. Pitru Paksha is considered to be inauspicious, given the death rite performed during the ceremony, known as Shradha or tarpna. In southern and western India, it falls in  Bhadrapada, September–October, beginning with the full moon day (Purnima) that occurs immediately after the Ganesha festival and ends with the New Moon day known as Amavaysa  or Mahalaya Amavaysa.
The organisers of some of the Ganesha pandals have scant regard for such religious customs and of course none for the people. They play film music and organise dance and other events which is not even part of the Ganapathy rituals. Blaring loudspeakers, ostentatious sets, pompous speeches and a huge waste of money mark the celebrations by such pandals.   

Do Bangaloreans deserve such celebrations. Let the pandals organise religious functions, discourses, cultural events for families and children but playing Western music and Hindi music at full blast is a little too much.  

Friday 6 September 2013

Kempe Gowda's Yakshagana

Normally, Kempe Gowda I or simply known as Kempe Gowda, the ruler of Bangalore, is credited with having founded the metropolis of Bangalore.
He is also known as Hiriya Kempe Gowda or Bangalore Kempe Gowda. He was the son of  Kempananje Gowda.
Kempe Gowda is also credited with having made Bangalore the capital after shifting base from Yelahanka.
Many tanks and lakes, fort, temples are ascribed to him as are the many petes of the old town that exists even today. The petes-Chickpet, Doddapet, Nagarthpet, Ranasinghpet, Balepet exist even today.
However, Kempe Gowda is known for one more achievement of which little is known. He is credited with the composition of a Yakshagana composition “Ganga Gowri Vilasamu”.
This work is in Telugu and it is the earliest known Yakshagana in Bangalore and also among the first of such works in Telugu.
The fact that Kempe Gowda wrote in Telugu and not in Tamil gives credence to the fact that they were Morasu Vokkaligas from near Kolar and that even if their forefathers came to Karnataka from near Kanchi, they could not have been native Tamils.
They had first settled at Avati from where the family branched out to different places-Yelahanka, Magadi and Anekal.
The branch that first settled at Yelahanka and then moved to Bangalore was the Kempe Gowda family. Apart from founding Bangalore and investing it with so many facilities that it quickly became a centre of trade, commerce and business, it also was a place of art and literature.
Kempe Gowda himself encouraged art, sculpture, architecture and literature. His Ganga Gowri Vilasamu has 44 songs in different ragas. It closely follows the Bayalatta style of composition.
Though Yakshagana is native to coastal Karnataka, particularly, Utara Kannada, Dakshina Kannada, Shimoga and Udupi, the fact that Kempe Gowda wrote one such play is testimony enough that this form of art had spread to south Karnataka as well and that it was a popular form of entertainment then apart from Javali singing.
Kempe Gowda’s work came when Yakshanaga in Telugu and even in other languages were just beginning. It was only a few decades later that Yakshagana developed into what it is today.
Even today, the Vilasamu is staged in Bangalore city by several troupes. However, apart from the field of literature, Yakshagana and research, not many are aware of  Ganga Gowri Vilasamu.  
Kempe Gowda died in 1569, having ruled for about 56 years. A metallic statue of Kempe Gowda can be seen at the Gangadhareshwara temple in Shivaganga. This was installed in 1609. Another statue of  Kempe Gowda was installed in 1964 and this was in front of the Corporation offices in Bangalore.
His eldest son, Gidde Gowda, succeeded him

All for a howdah

A few days ago, the Karnataka High Court did not interfere with the issue of one of the elephants during Dasara carrying the Ambari or Golden Howdah.
The Ambari Anne or elephant carries the howdah with the idol of Godddess Chamundi on Vijayadashami, the last day of the Dasara. This is called the Jumbo Saavari.
The golden howdah weighs upwards of 750 kilograms and it is taken out only during the Dasara.
During the rest of the year, the howdah is placed in the Mysore Palace and unlike the Golden Throne, it can be viewed by visitors. The website of the Palace Board says that the core of the Howdah is a wooden structure in the form of a mantapa which is covered with 80 kilograms of  Gold Sheets.
These gold sheets have been intricately designed  and they comprise of scrolls, foliage and flowers. The thread is made from the thinnest gold or silver wire.
A few decades earlier, the last Maharaja of Mysore, Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar used to sit in this howdah and participate in the Dasara procession. After his death, the Government decided to place an idol of Chamundi or Chamundeshwari in the howdah.
When the Maharaja sat in the howdah, it had two lights-red and green. These lights were battery operated and the Maharaja used them to control the pace of the Vijayadashami procession.
Thus, this tradition continues to this day but Nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts had objected to the heavy howdah being used. They had suggested to the Government to use a lighter replica, which could be made of wood.
They felt that carrying the 750 kg howdah with the added weight of another 150 kgs would be a burden on the elephant. This, they said, amounted to cruelty. They had first represented to the Government to use a lighter howdah.
The State Cabinet, headed by the Chief Minister Siddaramaiah discussed the issue and rejected the suggestion. It also rejected the suggestion of the Elephant Task Force, which too had recommended reducing the weight of the howdah.
The Cabinet also did not accept the Task Force’s proposal to put in place a Karnataka Elephant Expert Group within the State Wildlife Board mandated with planning, advising and assisting in elephant conservation management in the State
The nature lovers then moved the High Court. Their point was that the elephant always did not carry the howdah. Several decades ago, the elephants pulled a cart on which the howdah was placed.
The Law Minister, T B Jayachandra, has gone on record saying that carrying the golden howdah during Mysore Dasara procession has sentimental value to the people. Besides the elephant carrying the howdah is well trained and its diet is strictly monitored.
There is no doubt that the  Jamboo Savari on Sunday will be the prime attraction of the Dasara. It marks the grand finale of the 10-day Dasara festivities.
The elephant carrying the golden howdah will be accompanied by eleven other caparisoned elephants.
Historians and art lovers are not sure about the exact origin of the howdah and its antiquity. However, we know that the last Maharaja to sit in the golden howdah was Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar in 1969.
When the Dasara festivities were revived by the State Government after the death of the Maharaja, it decided to place the idol of Chamundi in the golden howdah on the caparisoned elephant.

Incidentally, the earliest representation of the Dasara is depicted in a mural is at the Jaganmohan Palace where the Maharaja is seated in a wooden chariot drawn by pairs of elephants. This mural has a caption saying Vijayadashamiya Jamboo Savari and it shows the procession during the tenure of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III. Therefore, it is believed that it was this Maharaja who later in his reign used elephants for the Jamboo Savari.

Thursday 5 September 2013

Bangalore wastes twice the water Mysore consumes every day

Ever since its founding, Bangalore has always had to face water shortage. But the first recorded water shortage was sometime in the 1870s when several tanks were dug and the Hesarghatta reservoir was commissioned.
Yet, even almost one hundred and fifty years after the first water scarcity, Bangalore has never been able to quench the thirst of its citizens. Today, we have four stages of Cauvery, TG Halli and ground water.
All the water sources put together have not been able to meet the demands of the people. What makes the water situation worse is that 50.9 per cent of the City’s drinking water is allowed to go waste. This may sound incredulous but this is a fact and it has been validated by none other than the Union Ministry of Urban Development.
The Union Ministry, in a nation wide survey of twenty eight cities, ranked Delhi as the city wasting the maximum quantity of water. Delhi was followed by Bangalore and then Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.
If Delhi wasted a little over 52 per cent of the water supplied to it, Bangalore with no major source of drinking water nearby, was equally generous-wasting 50.9 per cent  of the water supplied.    
The rest of the cities wasted anything between 13 per cent to 50 per cent and even among the 28 cities, the mega cities of Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkota, Chennai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad took the honors, outdoing other cities and leading in the wastage race by a huge margin.
A bigger metropolis like Mumbai was estimated to waste a little over 13 per cent. Chennai was seventeen percent and both these cities have oceans adjacent to them, while Bangalore has no such luxury.  
The study also says that only 50.8 per cent of Bangalore’s population has access to piped water supply. The rest depend on unorganised water supply sources like open wells and bore wells.
The wasted water, which can be classified as non-revenue water, is fed into the system and it does not reach the consumer. The reasons are many: pilferage, leak in pipes, theft, illegal diversion and even non-metering.
The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), which manages Bangalore’s water supply, has managed to meter  97 per cent households it supplies water too. However, it has not bee as successful in reducing wastage.
Bangalore gets 900 million litres of water per day (MLD) against a demand of 1,125 MLD. In addition to this, the BWSSB is gearing itself up to provide 45,000 new water connections. This doubles the pressure on water supply and the BWSSB has been struggling to meet the demand for water.
Last year, the water scarcity reached such proportions that this May, the BWSSB had to switch off its pumps for the first time in 30 years.
Former Additional Chief Secretary V Balasubramanian has gone on record saying that Bangalore needs Rs 26,000 crores to purify its water. Of this, Rs 5,000 crores is required to re-acquire encroached lakes, while at least Rs 10,000 crores in urgently wanted for developing  850 km of stormwater drain (rajakaluve) and Rs 2,750 crores for sewage treatment plants.
The BWSSB, however, has its own figures. It says it supplies close to 1,100 MLD to Bangalore  everyday and loses 396 MLD in transmission and distribution — with a loss percentage of 36 per cent.
Very few people know that the water loss between Cauvery and bulk storage reservoirs in Bangalore account for less than 3 per cent. The water treatment plant at TK Halli from where Cauvery is pumped to Bangalore is situated 400 metres below Bangalore. The distance between TK Halli and Bangalore is about 94 km. Therefore, water is pumped to Bangalore through three stages of pumping-TK Halli pumping station, Harohalli  and Thataguni.
From Tataguni, water is pumped to 55 ground level reservoirs and from them to the consumers.   
The leak till the ground level reservoir is less than three per cent. The bulk of the loss of water has been traced to the distribution system of over 5000 kms of pipeline, which is old. Other reasons are theft, water supply to 500 odd slums and in other cases unmetered connections.
Consider another fact. Mysore consumes 180 MLD of water every day and Bangalore loses twice the quantity every day.
A project to curb these losses to 16 per cent is expected to finish only by 2015. This project is being taken up in six Assembly constituencies of Basavanagudi, Chamarajpet, Padmanabhanagar, Jayanagar, BTM Layout and Bangalore South to get data on unaccounted water. The project would be completed in 18 months.
Other measures by the water board which include compulsory registration of borewells and compulsory rainwater harvesting have met with limited success.

Wednesday 4 September 2013

The flower show

On the way to the glass house: A green welcome

Getting it right in pots 

Vegetables and flowers grown in pots 

Chilly and mint

A floral welcome to the Glass House

Dancing on the lawns  

The cascading flowers

A circle of flowers

National flag

Roses all the way

The floral mixture

I can be circular too

Flowers too can make boats

A thing of beauty is joy forever

The pyramid of flowers
Every year on Independence Day and Republic day, Lalbagh comes alive florally. This is not to say that during other times of the year the beautiful botanical garden is barren.
It is during these two events that flower shows are held and they attract lakhs of visitors both from India and all over the world.
The event is organised jointly by the Department of Horticulture which looks after Lalbagh, Cubbon Park and other parks and  the Mysore Horticulture Society.
Tthe main theme for the flower shows changes for every show and they form the centre of attraction. This year, the floral boat was the main attraction apart from the Ikebana, Indian floral art, Bonsai and vegetable carving competitions.
The floral boat was thirty five foot long  and it was at the centre of the Glass House where the event is held. The boat was made of two lakh roses of different colors.  It took 35 workers several hours to create it.
A vertical garden with more than 5,000 plants was on display at the beautifully landscaped lawns. This painstakingly created garden measured 40 feet in length and 17 feet in height.
The other major attractions include a 13-foot floral boat, floral pots, demonstration of roof garden concept and Bonsai plants. The flower show also showcased hundreds of orchids, zinnia, nastardium, crysantamums, daisies, marigold, cacti, fuchsia, jasmine, geranium single roses, dahlias and several other species.
The show opened on August 7 and concluded on August 15. This was the 198th flower show.
Apart from the stalls selling a variety of products such as  wooden toys, jute bags, toolkits for gardening, plant seeds and books, a large collection of bottled grape wine  prepared by the Karnataka Wine Board was also on display. As many as 14 wine brands were be on display till August 15 but they were not for sale.
This year drew huge crowds and there was no place for parking inside Lalbagh. Instead, the police had designated several areas and roads around the garden for parking.
As can be expected, the crowds littered Lalbagh, leaving behind plastic, cups, containers, filth and rubbish. The geological rock bore the brunt of Bangalorean’s insensitivity as the many eatable stalls there did roaring business. Yet, none of them had the sense to clean up the area and it was left to the Horticulture Department to clean it up.