Thursday 23 January 2014

What's in a name?

What is in a name, you may ask. “Everything”,  is the answer if it is Bangalore. Unlike many other cities in India, Bangalore was never known or founded by that name.
When Kempe Gowda founded Bangalore it was called Devarayanapura and this was the name that Kempe Gowda the first gave to the City he founded. This name was in honour of Achuta Deva Raya, the Emperor of Vijayanagar who permitted Kempe Gowda to not only found the City and build a fort but also construct petes where each of the locality was allowed in trade in a particular commodity.
Thus the founding of Bangalore and the origin of the petes and there were 84 in all when it all began goes back to the reign of Achuta Deva Raya (1529-1541). However, there is another historical view that Kempe Gowda named his new city as Devarayanapura in honour of Krishna Deva Raya (1509-1529).
There is enough evidence to suggest that Krishna Deva Raya did visit Bangalore and that he stayed at a temple or adjacent to a temple in Madiwala.
Though there was no Bangalore when Krishna Deva Raya stayed in Bangalore, Kempe Gowda might have seen him. That he had heard of  Krishna Deva Raya is undeniable. Kempe Gowda also saw Hampi or Vijayanagar and decided to construct a City on the same lines.
He then set about the process of City building. He first harnessed a pair of bullocks to four carts and sent them away in each of the four directions. He asked his soldiers to accompany the bullock carts and he directed them to mark the exact place where they stopped.
The place where the bullock carts stopped were to be the boundaries of the new city. The centre from where they went out in the four directions is what is today known as Doddapete Circle. Unfortunately, the circle is lost in the hustle and bustle of daily life and not even a  handful of the thousands who pass by the busy circle spare a thought to the history of the circle they are traversing across.
Bangalore was never the name Kempe Gowda gave to his nascent city. Bangaluru near Kodigehalli was the place where his wife came from and where his in-laws lived. His wife came to the new city with a fairly large retinue of servants and relatives. Soon, other inhabitants of Bangaluru followed when they realised that Kempe Gowda meant business and that he was a master of  construction. The many temples that Kempe Gowda built, the tanks and lakes he planned, the petes he set about to plan so assiduously and above all the mud fort at the present City Market gave these people a sense of security.
The people of Bangaluru voluntarily shifted from their village and settled down in the city. Soon, the new city overtook other small habitations around such as Magadi, Yelahanka, Anekal, Bangaluru, Begur and Hoskote.
The new city also worsted the old and established cities of Kolar, Chennapatna and Savandurga. It then came to be known as Bangaluru and the one hundred and one years of  the rule of Kempe Gowdas made the city famous by that name.
Gone were the earlier names of Bangalore such as Kalyanipura and Devarayanapura. Bangalore soon became famous and even the British took to the name.
Though the Adil Shahis first and Marathas and Hyder-Tipu wrested control of  Bangalore over different periods, they could never change the name of Bangalore. After the British took over the administration of Mysore from the Wodeyars, they shifted the capital from Mysore to Bangalore. They too preferred Bangalore as a name.
When the British handed back the kingdom to the Wodeyars, the capital was once again shifted to Mysore. But the Wodeyars never changed the name of Bangalore though the Dewans of the state and sometimes even the Maharajas preferred to stay on in Bangalore.  
When India became Independent, Bangalore was unanimously chosen as the capital of the Mysore State. After the integration of the States and the formation of Karnataka, the city of Bangalore continued to retain its name and also the character as capital of the State.
Today, Bangalore has become Bangalooru and there is no unanimity on how this name came about and whether at all it had anything to do with the Hoysala Emperor, Veera Ballala and the story of boiled beans (Benda Kalluru).
Did Benda Kalluru become Bangalore or did Bangaluru become Bangalore.
Whatever the origin of the name, one thing is clear. Human habitation existed in and around today’s Bangalore even during pre-historic times.    
Several Stone Age weapons dating to periods between 2000 BC  to 1000 BC have been found near Jalahalli, Siddapura and Gavipuram. Besides, relics belonging to the Iron Age dating to about 800 BC have been discovered in Kannur, Jadigenahalli and  Koramangla.
That Bangalore was known to foreigners can be evidenced from the fact that Roman coins belonging to Roman Emperors Augustus, Tibirius, Cadius, and Caligula have been unearthed from Yeshwantapur and HAL localities.
Another legend says sometime in the 5th century the Ganga rulers constructed a small settlement near Kengeri for their guards. The guards were known as Bengavalu in Kannada. Their dwelling place became Bengavaluru, which later became Bengaluru.
What is interesting is that the word Bengaluru first appeared in an inscription of  890 A.D. found in Begur. However, this Bengaluru is different from the Bengaluru near Kodigehalli near Hebbal.
Bangalore was also the place where many hero stones or veeragallu  have been found. The hero stones in Lalbagh and Kengeri (10th Century), lake in Krishnarajapura (11th Century), near Railway Housing Colony (13th Century), and near the band-stand in Lalbagh Glass House (13th Century) tell us that Bangalore was inhabited during those periods.
Apart from coins and implements, a host of inscriptions and historical evidences belonging to various periods - Talakadu Gangas (2nd to 10th Century), Cholas (1004-1116), Hoysalas (1116-1336) and Vijayanagar (1336 to 1537) and of course Kempe Gowda – reveal the antiquity of Bangalore.
Yet, the most romantic story of  how Bangalore got its name comes from the hunting  anecdote of  Veera Ballala. This story goes back to the 12th century.
A few historians say that Venkataru was the City built by Kempe Gowda. As Venkaturu had several temples dedicated to Venkataramana Swamy, it became Benkaturu and finally Bengaluru. Yet another story says Bangalore is the name that came after Benacha kalluru (Benachu is the quartz stone that is found in and around Bangalore). The many Benge trees found in Bengeuru also contributed to the name of Bengaluru.
Ironically, we hardly get to see any Benge trees in Bangalore.

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