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The popular tale of Bengalooru (now Bangalore) getting its name from ‘Bende Kaalu Ooru’ meaning ‘Town of boiled beans’ after King Veera Ballala II of the Hoysala dynasty in 1120 AD was fed boiled beans by an old woman in the forest is historically incorrect. The name ‘Bengalooru’ was recorded much before King Ballala’s time in a 9th century inscription found in a temple in Begur village near Bangalore.
Bangalore was founded by Kempe Gowda I, who in 1537 AD built a mud fort in an area which is now K.R Market, Avenue Road and its nearby areas. Kempe Gowda built 8 gates for this fort:
* Yelahanka Gate (present Mysore Bank Square).
* Yeshwantpur Gate (near Upparapet police station).
* Kengiri Gate (now a police station is named after it).
* Halasoor (Ulsoor) Gate. (Now a police station is named after it).
* Kanakanahalli Gate (near Vokkaligara Sangha Bldg).
* Sonde Koppa Gate.
* Anekal Gate.
* Delhi Gate (at the Fort in K.R Market, which was rebuilt in stone by Hyder Ali). Inside the fort, he built the localities (pets) of Balepet, Aralepet (Cottonpet), Chickpet, Doddapet (Avenue Road), Upparapet, etc.
· To this day these areas bear their old names, and serve as major wholesale & commercial markets.
Kempe Gowda II came to power in 1585 and it was he who set the limit for Bangalore’s expansion by erecting 4 watch towers. These Watch towers still exist and are known as the Kempe Gowda Towers.
· In 1638, the army of Adil Shah, the Sultan of Bijapur, led by Ranadulla Khan & Shahaji Bhonsle (Shivaji’s father) captured Bengalooru fort. Kempe Gowda II was then forced to retreat to Magadi, from where he and his successors ruled as Magadi Rulers. Magadi was later annexed to Mysore Kingdom in 1728.
· Bangalore was gifted twice as a Jagir and sold once. In 1638 AD, Adil Shah gifted it to Shahaji Bhonsle, thus starting the Maratha rule of Bangalore. In 1689, the Mughals captured Bangalore from the Marathas and sold it to Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar of Mysore for 3 lakh pagodas (gold coins). In 1759, Hyder Ali, commander of Mysore’s army, received Bangalore as a Jagir from Krishnaraja Wodeyar II. Later Hyder Ali declared himself ruler of Mysore Kingdom after Krishnaraja Wodeyar II’s death. Bangalore returned to the Wodeyars after Hyder’s son, Tippu Sultan, died in 1799 fighting the British.
· The British established the post of ‘Mysore Resident’ of Mysore Kingdom in 1799 and appointed Col.Sir Barry Close as the first Resident. In 1804 The Mysore Resident was shifted from Mysore to Bangalore. The Resident’s office & house known as ‘The Residency’ was first situated in the SACRED HEARTS SCHOOL (GOOD SHEPHERD CONVENT) building opp St.Joseph’s college in Bangalore. It also housed a jail, while the site across the road where convicts were hanged now houses the ST. JOSEPH’S COLLEGE. Many a ghost was seen wandering about before the College came up! The Road along the ‘Residency’ came to be called ‘RESIDENCY ROAD’ and even today it’s known as Residency Road though officially it has been changed to ‘ Gen. Cariappa Road ‘. In fact ‘The Residency’ later in 1881 shifted to what is today the RAJ BHAVAN, but Residency Road has retained its name ever since 1804 (now 200 years).
· The Raj Bhavan in Bangalore was built in 1840s & owned by Sir Mark Cubbon, who was Commissioner then. Cubbon was passionately fond of Arabian horses and used to keep at least fifty horses in his stable here. Lewin Benthem Bowring who succeeded Cubbon as Commissioner purchased the bungalow with its vast estate in 1862 for the British Govt to be used as the official Commissioner’s Bungalow. Later when the post of Commissioner was abolished, the Resident came to stay here and it came to be known as ‘The Residency’. But the road still was known as Commissioner’s Road, which is the reason why the road on the old Residency building continued to be known as ‘Residency Road’.
· In 1806, the British established a new CANTONMENT AREA in Bangalore (at Ulsoor) for its army and called it the ‘Civil & Military Station’. Till India’s independence this Cantonment area was ruled directly by the British. Thus Bangalore comprised two separate areas, to the West, Bangalore (Pettah) administered by the Mysore Maharaja, and to the East, Bangalore Cantonment, administered as a separate unit by the British Govt through the Resident. Soon the Cantonment area became not only a military base for the British army & its family, but also a settlement for a large number of Europeans, Anglo-Indians, missionaries, and Tamil speaking workers & traders from the neighbouring British controlled Madras Presidency.
· The Cantonment area under the British consisted of Shoolay, Blackpully (now SHIVAJINAGAR) , The Parade (M.G ROAD AREA), St. John’s Hill, Fraser Town, Benson Town, Cleveland Town, Cox Town, Richard’s Town, Ulsoor, Knoxpet (Murphy Town), Agram, Richmond Town, Langford Town, Austin Town (named after British Resident, Sir James Austin Bourdillon), Whitefield (Anglo-Indian Colony created in 1882), etc. Even today these Suburbs exist. The names given to the roads in the Cantonment were according to the military arrangement and campus. Thus, there was Artillery Rd, Brigade Rd, Infantry Rd, Cavalry Rd, South Parade (now M.G. ROAD), East Parade (near Mittal Towers), etc. The heart of the city in those days was the so called MacIver Town, the area around South Parade, St. Mark’s Road, Brigade Road and Cubbon Road.
· The Shoolay area (now Ashoknagar) still has streets named Wood Street, Castle Street, etc. The name ‘ SHOOLAY CIRCLE ‘, however, still exists near Brigade Towers. The famous Shoolay Police Station of the Cantonment was renamed Ashoknagar Police Station and now it has been demolished.
· COLES PARK is named after British Resident of Mysore Kingdom, Arthur H. Cole, who was Resident from 1809 – 1812 and again from 1818 – 1827.
· The British Cantonment area was also a host to SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL, the future British Prime Minister who stayed in Bangalore from 1897 to 1900.
· In 1892, new extensions were added to the old town of Bangalore (Pettah) by creating CHAMARAJPET (named after Chamarajendra Wodeyar) and SHESHADRIPURAM (named after the Mysore Diwan Sir K. Sheshadri Iyer).
· In 1898, a plague broke out in Bangalore. The Bangalore Administration at once laid out 2 new bigger extensions to the City to meet the demand that had risen due to people being forced to leave their original areas that were affected. This resulted in laying out a suburb, named BASAVANGUDI after the Basaveswara (Bull God) Temple (also called Bull Temple) erected by Kempe Gowda I and another suburb, named MALLESWARAM, after the Kadu Malleshwara (Siva) Temple in the old Mallapura village.
· In 1901, VICTORIA HOSPITAL was established in commemoration of Queen Victoria of England’s Diamond Jubilee.
· In 1902, VANIVILAS HOSPITAL & SCHOOL was opened and the Road was also named VANIVILAS ROAD in memory of Maharani Vani Vilas Sannidhana, the Queen Regent of Mysore.
· In 1905, Bangalore became the first city in India to get electrical power.
During the post-Independence period KUMARA PARK area came into existence in 1947, JAYANAGAR was inaugurated in 1948, and at Binnamangala was created the INDIRANAGAR extension during the late 1960s.
· The large stone building on Residency Road, now housing L.I.C. adjacent to Devatha Plaza once housed The Reserve Bank of India. The present canteen of L.I.C. was once the strong room of the bank!
· One wonders why in the old records there is a reference to ‘ CENOTAPH ROAD ‘ in Bangalore when there is none to be seen. Cenotaph Road is today the NRUPATHUNGA ROAD named after Kannada poet Nrupathunga. The Cenotaph (Tomblike monument), was there at what is now the Corporation Circle . This Cenotaph was built in memory of Lt. Col. Moorhouse, Capt. Delany and about 50 soldiers who died in the siege in 1791, besides soldiers who died in different wars with Tipu Sultan till 1799. This monument was destroyed on Oct 28th 1964, by the Bangalore City Corporation and even the engraved stones are not to be traced! Only one broken small section piece has been located in the Corporation compound, used as a bench.
· CUBBON PARK is named after Sir Mark Cubbon, who was the British Commissioner of Mysore Kingdom from 1834 to 1861. Sir Mark, incidentally, had never set his eyes on the park. He left India in April 1861, and died on his way back home at Suez on 23rd April 1861. Cubbon Park was planned in 1864 by Sir Richard Sankey, the then Chief Engineer of Mysore (SANKEY TANK & SANKEY ROAD is named after Richard Sankey). The park was initially known as ‘ Meades Park ‘ after John Meade, the then acting Commissioner of Mysore. Subsequently it was rechristened as Chamarajendra Park in 1927 and later came to be known as Cubbon Park.
· CHURCH STREET at M.G’s is called so, because the road used to lead directly to St. Marks Church. At one time the compound of the Church was much bigger and the Church could be seen as you walked along Church Street.
· MUSEUM ROAD next to Church Street was named so since the Museum was located there before it was shifted to the present Kasturba Road in 1866.
· MAYO HALL at M.G. Road was erected in memory of Lord Mayo, the Governor-General of India who was assassinated in the Andamans in 1872. Built with public subscription it was handed over to the Municipal Commission in 1883.
· LALBAGH (meaning Red Garden) is not the original name of the famous garden in Bangalore, which was established by Hyder Ali in 1760 as a mango garden. In earlier records it was referred to as the Mango Tope & the Cypress Garden. The reason why people started calling it Lalbagh was due to the fact that Hyder & Tipu had a beautiful garden called Lalbagh at their capital, Srirangapatna.
· THE HOLY TRINITY CHURCH at Trinity Circle, at the end of M.G. Road, was earlier the British Army’s Garrison church, opened in 1851. The beauty of Trinity Church is not only in its tall tower & unparalleled pillars, but also the British military memorials inside.
· In 1868 the construction of Attara Kacheri (present High Court) was completed. The Secretariat (with 18 revenue departments) was shifted to Attara Kacheri from Tippu’s Palace at K.R Market. Attara Kacheri literally means ’18 Courts/Offices’.
· The TAJ WEST END HOTEL is the oldest Hotel in Bangalore and still maintains some of its earlier memories!! The original Proprietors were Spencer & Co Ltd, Madras. Today it’s owned by the Taj Group of Hotels.
· Opposite the Telegraph Office near Bangalore GPO, is the compound of the most famous Hotel of the late 1800’s, The Cubbon Hotel. Today it is in ruins.
· Spencer & Co (where FOOD WORLD is now located) started by an Englishman, Mr. Oakshot, was the most sophisticated and only Departmental Store in B’lore in earlier days.
· On the West of Spencer’s (present FOOD WORLD) one used to find Liberty Theatre (today try Handloom House!). Before it was called Liberty, it was The Globe, and before that the Crystal Picture Palace.
· The very popular Funnel’s Restaurant of the 1800’s & early 1900’s stood where the present DECCAN HERALD Office stands at M.G Road.
· S.J. POLYTECHNIC & SILVER JUBILEE PARK (at K.R MARKET – KRISHNA RAJENDRA MARKET) was set up in 1927 to commemorate the Silver Jubilee Celebration of Mysore Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV. The SJP ROAD thus got its name.
· J.C ROAD (Jaya.Chamarajendra Road) is named after Jayachamaraja Wodeyar the last Maharaja of Mysore.
· The TATA SILK FARM was established south of Basavanagudi in 1906. The farm no longer exists but the area however is still known as ‘Tata Silk Farm’.
· In 1910, a General Hospital was opened at Malleshwaram and named after Mysore Princess Kempu Cheluvarajamnanni. Today this Hospital at Malleshwaram Circle is popularly known as K.C. GENERAL HOSPITAL.
· Bangalore once had 141 lakes (tanks) of which 7 are untraceable, 7 are now small pools of water, 18 are illegally occupied by slums & private parties, 14 were dried up & leased out by the Government, 28 have been converted as parks, BDA housing extensions, & commercial areas and the remaining 67 lakes are in fairly advanced state of deterioration, save for two or three like Ulsoor lake, Sankey Tank, Hebbal, etc.
· Some famous water bodies (tanks) which no longer exist are :
Dharamambudi Tank (present SUBASH NAGAR, BANGALORE CITY TRANSPORT SERVICE & KSRTC BUS stands are built on the bed of this lake). That’s why we still have a road named TANKBUND ROAD in that area.
· Sampangi Tank (present KANTEERAVA STADIUM was built on the bed of this lake).
Miller’s Tank (now houses Guru Nanak Bhavan, schools, and several buildings).
· The Halasoor Tank (now called ULSOOR LAKE), is the only surviving tank built by the Gowda (Kempe Gowda) rulers in Bangalore.
· Gandhinagar area is popularly nicknamed MAJESTIC, because of the Majestic Talkies (Theatre), which still exists in that area.
· ANANDA RAO CIRCLE at Majestic is named after Shri T. Ananda Rao, who was Dewan of Mysore from 1909 – 1912.
· VIDHANA SOUDHA, which houses the state Goverment’s Secretariat & Legislative Assembly. It was planned & constructed in 1954 by Kengal Hanumanthaih, Chief Minister of the then Mysore State (Between 1951-1956).
· The Double Road near Lalbagh is now named KENGAL HANUMANTHAIH ROAD (K.H. ROAD).
· CHOWDIAH MEMORIAL HALL, opposite Sankey Tank, has been built in memory of T. Chowdiah, a noted musician & violinist. This building is shaped like a violin, the stringed instrument of Chowdiah. Also the road along the Nehru Planetarium near Raj Bhavan is named T.CHOWDAIH ROAD.
· RAVINDRA KALAKSHETRA, near K.R. Market was built to commemorate Rabindranath Tagore’s centenary. It promotes cultural activity. R.T. NAGAR is also named after Rabindranath Tagore.
· My tailpiece. Most of you would have read R K Narayan’s MALGUDI DAYS. Does anyone know where Malgudi is? It is actually the combination of the names of two areas in bangalore – one where R K Narayan lived and the other where his in-laws lived. It is the combination of MALleswaram and BasavanGUDI.