A simple narration of Bangalore’s history over the last 2000 years

How many of us know the History of Bangalore? I got the first glimpse and interesting insights from Sushma of Yours Truly India when I was helping her conduct walking tours. That triggered me to research and come up with something that is easy to read in a Q&A format and studded with interesting highlights. I encourage you to go through this 10 Minute read and share it with your children, family & friends.

To get you started here are some fun facts from the Blog

  • Do you know where Shivaji was married? 
  • Bangalore was sold by Aurangzeb to the Wodeyars – Guess for how much?
  • There is a reason that Malleshwaram and Basavangudi are on hilly terrain 
  • Do you know why Cubbon Park was built?
  • The iconic Taj West End started as a boarding house with 10 beds
  • Learn about Swami Vivekananda’s connection with IISC
  • Bellandur lake was a seaplane landing strip during WW 2 in 1942……. 
  • The grand Vidhan Soudha was built at a cost that is cheaper than a 3 Bedroom apartment today

 

Who ruled Bangalore for the longest period in the last 2000 years? Hint its not the Wodeyars    

The longest tenure was with the Western Ganga Dynasty from 350 – 1000 AD. They asserted their rule after the weakening of the Pallava empire. For the 1st 200 years they ruled a large area called Gangawadi, but after 550 AD when the Chalukyas and later the Rastrakutas and Hoysala’s dominated the south they became their vassals. Their capital was initially Kolar and later shifted to Talakad and then Manne (Near Neelmangala)

The mighty Cholas ruled Bangalore for only a century

The Cholas defeated the Gangas in 1024, but their rule was a short one for barely a century. But during this brief period many Chola temples were built in and around Bangalore. In 1117 AD The Hoysala King Vishnuvardhan defeated the Cholas in the battle of Talakad and Bangalore became a part of the Hoysala empire.

The Bhoga Nandeeshwara temple near Nandi Hills built in early 9th century,is a good example of how different dynasties expanded on the existing temples. The shrine of Arunachaleshwara representing Shiva in his childhood it was built by the Gangas, Uma Maheshwar was built by the Hoysalas and Bhoga Nadeeshwara was built by the Cholas. The Vijayanagara kings also added to the splendour of the temple.

 

Is the name “Bengaluru” attributed to a tired and lost Hoysala king being fed boiled beans by an old lady?

The Popular Tale Of Bengalooru 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 in a 9th Century inscription found in a temple in Begur village near Bangalore. 

The ancestors of Kempe Gowda came from Kanchipuram?

Legend traces the lineage of Kempegowda to a Rana Byre Gowda, a resident of Alur village in Kanchipuram, TN. He decided to migrate from there at the end of the 13th century with his 7 brothers and family and settled in Avati village near Devanahalli Bangalore.

Kempe Gowda – 1 was a feudatory of the Vijaynagar empire.  He and his sons administered this area for almost a 100 years and they saw the development of Bangalore as a planned and structured city. They were collectively called Yelahanka Nada Prabhus, and were chiefs of Bangalore, Magadi and Sivaganga.

Why is Kempe Gowda called the founder of Bangalore? 

In the 16th century, Vijayanagar Empire was at its peak under the rule of Krishna Deva Raya, with Hampi as its capital city. The empire was ruled by many Chieftains who owed allegiance to the emperor. Yelahankanadu (It is today called Yelahanka) was one such prosperous town ruled by a Chieftain (Nada Prabhu) named Kempe Gowda. Upon his visit to Hampi sometime during the mid 1530s, he was mesmerised by the glory of the rich city and its sophisticated layout & planning. Being a Nada Prabhu himself, he dreamt of building such a city with fort, temples, water tanks and people from all trades & professions.

How did Kempe Gowda initiate the development of Bangalore?

During one of his hunting expeditions in the forest area adjoining Yelahankanadu, he saw a rabbit chasing a dog, which was perceived as an auspicious sign.After seeking permission & blessings from Achyutharaya (King of Vijayanagar Empire), Kempe Gowda spent the next few years establishing Bangalore as a thriving city with commerce, culture, military & education. The capital was then shifted from Yelahanka to Bangalore by Kempe Gowda 1. The king was very pleased with the new city and in return gifted him the villages of Halasur, Begur, Vartur, Jigani, Talaghattapur, Kumbalagode, Kengeri and Banavar all yielding an annual revenue of 30,000 pagodas (a pagoda – gold or silver coin was worth 3 1⁄2 rupees in 1818.)

How was the original Bangalore layout created? 

On a bright sunny morning in 1537 AD, 4 pairs of white bullocks with decorated ploughs, assembled in the middle of the forest at the junction between dodapette and chikapete were waiting for further orders. At an auspicious time, as Kempe Gowda flagged off the event, these 4 pairs driven by young men started furrowing the ground in 4 cardinal directions. The routes ploughed by these bullocks were marked as the main streets of this new city. Even 500 years later today, these streets are still buzzing with activity.

The street running east-west was named Chikkapete street & the north- south street was named Doddapete street (later renamed as “Avenue Road”)

To guard this new city, Kempe Gowda built a strong mud fort with 4 main gates for entry/exit. The entire fort was surrounded by moat (ditch filled with water). The city itself was only on 1.5 square kilometres of land

To streamline activities of traders, he hit upon an interesting plan of forming several layouts, each catering to a certain trade or profession. Doddapete was for large businesses (Dodda means large in Kannada) and Chikkapete was for smaller businesses (Chikka means small). For rice traders, there was Akkipete. Ragipete for ragi traders. Balepete for bangle traders, Ganigarapete for oil traders, Nagarthapete for Gold traders, Gollarpete for cowherds & cattle traders, Kurubarapete for sheep traders, Thigalarapete for farmers of Tigala community Upparapete for salt traders, Aralepete (now Cottonpete) for cotton traders, Kumbarapete for pot traders and many more such petes. (These petes still exist )

Kempe Gowda and his sons did a lot between 1537 and 1638 and deserve to be called the founders of Bangalore

Temples : Kempe Gowda built many Temples including Bull Temple (in Basavanagudi), Anjenaya Temple (at Avenue road entrance) Gavi Gangadhareshwar Temple and Ulsoor Someshwara temple (made additions to the existing structure built by the Cholas)

Watch Towers: Kempe Gowda II erected four watch towers to mark the boundaries of Bangalore during his reign. All four towers are now in the heart of the city, standing as an indication of its expansion. In the north on Bellary road, in the South inside the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, the eastern one on a rock near Ulsoor lake and Western one overlooks the Kempambudhi tank.

Tanks: In order to supply water for domestic & irrigational purposes, Kempe Gowda built several water tanks & reservoirs around the fortified city. Dharmambudi (present majestic bus stand) & Kempambudhi tanks were built for domestic purposes while Sampangi tank was for irrigation. Apart from these, there were also several lakes in and around Bangalore.

The Kempe Gowdas built 9 Forts to fortify Bangalore – many of them are favourite trekking zones today?

Some of the forts are very popular amongst the public, like Savandurga, Nandidurga alias Nandi Hills, Makalidurga and Devarayanadurga. The lesser known ones amongst them are Hutridurga, Huliyurdurga, Channarayana durga, Kabbaladurga and Bairavadurga which are visited by the villagers surrounding the place or by avid trekkers, who are on the lookout to experience the thrill of the off beat path. These forests are in a dilapidated state today.

What is Bangalore’s connect with the Marathas?

Shivaji’s father Shahji Bhonsle working for Adil Shah of the Bijapur sultanate attacked Kempe Gowda and captured Bangalore. Shahji negotiated a treaty by which Kempegowda surrendered Bangalore fort and its surroundings. Kempegowda withdrew to Magadi and would be referred to as Magadi Kempe Gowda. Bangalore was given to Shahji as his personal jagir, a reward for his role in the victory. The acquisition of Bangalore by Bijapur in 1638 is significant for it was after the city came into the hands of Shahji that it became a centre for Maratha activities

Shivaji was married in Bangalore 

While Shahji was in Bangalore he sent for Shivaji and Jijabai (1st wife). Shivaji stayed in Bangalore from 1640 to 1642 and married Saibai Nimbalkar around the age of 12 after which he was given the Poona Jagir to which he returned.

How did Aurangzeb annex Bangalore?

A lot of battles took place both internal conflict (between Shahji and the Bijapur ruler) and outside with Kantirava Wodeyar and other rulers. Shahji died in Bangalore after a fall from a horse in 1664. Over political issues and conflict Venkoji shifted his capital to Tanjore. The Mughals under the leadership of Aurangzeb proceeded towards south and captured Bangalore in 1689

Lets have a quick recap on the Wodeyar dynasty

The Wodeyar dynasty was founded as a feudatory principality in 1399, which grew into the Kingdom of Mysore. The Wodeyars ruled that kingdom almost uninterruptedly between 1399 and 1947; they ruled initially as vassals of the Vijayanagara Empire (1399–1565), then as independent rulers (1565–1761), then as puppet rulers under Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan (1761–1796) and finally as allies of the British crown (1799–1947)

Was Bangalore actually sold for the equivalent of Rs 3 Lacs to the Wodeyars in 1689?

Venkoji faced with defeat against the Mughals started negotiating with the Wodeyar king Chikka Devraja Wodeyar the sale of Bangalore for Rs 3 Lacs. However the Wodeyar king aligned and supported the Mughals, as a reward Aurangazeb sold Bangalore to the Wodeyar’s for the same amount. So 1689 was the first time that the Wodeyars became rulers of Bangalore.

Who was Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar and why is he important to the development of Bangalore?

Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar was the 14th ruler of the Mysore dynasty. He was known for his friendship with Aurangzeb, which helped Mysore become a tributary state (one with no administrative curbs or interference by the ruling hegemon) under the Mughal rule. At the same time, he earned Maratha admiration by defeating Shivaji  in a cavalry battle. He earned the title of Apratima Vira for his valour and shrewdness in dealing with both the Marathas and the Mughals. He was also responsible for establishing the postal system and the Attara Kacheri in the city and built the Kote Venkataramana Temple in Chamarajpet.

How did Haider Ali establish a brief 30 year period of sultanate type rule in the south?

Hyder Ali was a petty office in the Nizam’s army. As a warrior he proved his mettle in the 1750’s against the Peshwa Balaji Baji Rao (Marathas). When the Nizam was assassinated, a lot of confusion followed and in the midst of the chaos, Hyder Ali’s services attracted the attention of the minister of the Raja of Mysore. But in a series of fascinating events where the Machiavellian Haidar ran with the hare and hunted with the hounds, he ended up overthrowing his own benefactor and usurping the throne of Mysore from the Wodeyars in 1761. Haidar was shrewd enough not to dispense with the Wodeyars who had been ruling Hindu-majority Mysore since 1399. The maharaja was a titular puppet.

Haider Ali and his son Tipu Sultan ruled a large part of South India from Srirangapatna for a brief period of 30 years from 1761 – 1799. They also had palaces and forts in Bangalore. After Haider’s death in 1782 Tipu continued the war against the Marathas and English. In 1791 under Lord Cornwallis Tipu was defeated and driven out of Bangalore. The city was now taken over by the British. Later in 1799 Tipu was killed at Srirangapatna.

Did you know that Lalbagh was established by Haider Ali?

Hyder Ali commissioned the building of this garden in 1760 but Tipu completed it and later adorned it with unique plant species. In his book Heritage Trees, naturalist Vijay Thiruvady writes that before the 1800s, the Bengaluru plateau was largely barren except for Lalbagh, with a few groves around temples and village commons. It was called ‘the naked country’.

So how did Bangalore comes back to the Wodeyars?

Upon the passing of Tipu Sultan in 1799, the Wodeyars returned to the throne of Mysore, and therefore Bangalore, although only as figureheads. Bengaluru remained part of British East India until Indian independence in August, 1947.

The ‘Residency’ of Mysore State was first established at Mysore in 1799 and later shifted to Bengaluru in the year 1804. It was abolished in the year 1843 only to be revived in 1881 at Bengaluru and finally to be closed down in 1947 with the departure of the British

The Wodeyars and British in close alignment developed Bangalore and Mysore state as an ideal state

Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodiyar IV ( 1884 –  1940) was the twenty-fourth maharaja of the Kingdom of Mysore. At the time of his death, he was one of the world’s wealthiest men, with a personal fortune estimated in 1940 to be worth US$400 million, equivalent to $7 billion at 2018 prices. He was a philosopher-king, who was seen by Paul Brunton as living the ideal expressed in Plato’s Republic. He has been compared to Emperor Ashoka by the English statesman Lord Samuel. Acknowledging Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV’s noble and efficient kingship, Lord John Sankey declared in 1930 at the Round Table Conference in London, “Mysore is the best administered state in the world“. His contribution to Bangalore is immense and long – a few notable ones being the K.R.Market, School of engineering Bangalore, Raman research Institute, IISC.

Why did the British soldiers move from Srirangapatna to Bangalore? 

The British troops which were first stationed at Srirangapatna after the fall of Tipu Sultan in 1799 were later shifted to the Civil and Military Station of Bangalore in 1809.

Mysore was hot and malaria infested. The salubrious climate of Bangalore attracted the ruling class and led to the establishment of the famous Military Cantonment, a city-state close to the old town of Bangalore. The area became not only a military base for the British but also a settlement for a large number of Europeans, Anglo-Indians and missionaries.

Why are the names of many streets in Bangalore derived from military nomenclature?

In Cantonment, the names of many of its streets are derived from military nomenclature — Artillery Road, Brigade Road, Infantry Road and Cavalry Road. The South Parade (now known as Mahatma Gandhi Road) was to the south of the Parade Ground. The Plaza theatre was constructed in the year 1936 on the South Parade and was used by the soldiers for viewing Hollywood movies. The British representative maintained a residence within the cantonment area and his quarters was called the Residency and hence the name Residency Road. Around 1883, three developments were added to the cantonment – Richmond Town, Benson Town and Cleveland Town. The Cantonment has retained it distinct atmosphere through the years with large populations of Anglo-Indians and Tamils from the British era.

How was British rule beneficial to Bangalore?

Bangalore saw rapid development under the British Commissioners. Infrastructure, Law & Order, Education under Missionaries, and Health Services were improved under the direct administration of the British. The Wodeyars were in full alignment with the British and there was finally peace in the region. The 1857 mutiny which was strong in N & Central India had no impact in Bangalore

Did you know that Bangalore was the first city in Asia to get Electric Street Lights?

Thanks to the Maharajas of Mysore for being visionaries and putting Mysore state in the forefront of the industrialisation, Bangalore was the first city in undivided India and even Asia to get electricity. Asia’s first hydel power station was set up at the foot of the Shivanasamudra falls. This was done primarily to supply power to Kolar Gold Fields. The power lines went through Bangalore and since there was excess power being generated it was used to light up the streets of Bangalore. On the evening of August 5, 1905, it had blazed to life at the flick of a switch by Sir John Hewett of the Viceroys’ Council – inspiring awe among the townsfolk, when the rest of India was lit up by oil lamps. Below is the photo of the street lamp that was lit that day. It still exists near the KR Market flyover.

Whats the history behind Cubbon park?

The old city built by Kempegowda and the new Cantonment built by the British for its officers and soldiers was quite a distance by walk / carriage. There was a lot of movement between these two places and hence it was decided to create a rest area for the people. Thus was born Cubbon park. The Cubbon Park has a history of over 100 years. It was established in the year 1870 by Sri John Meade, the then acting Commissioner of Mysore. The vast landscape of the park was conceived by Major General Richard Sankey, the then Chief Engineer of the State. As a mark of honor to Sri John Meade, the park was initially named as “Meade’s Park” and subsequently it was called the Cubbon Park.

Right next to the Cubbon Park is the St Marks Cathedral. It began as a garrison church in 1808 of the Madras Army of the East India Company. The foundation stone was laid in 1808, and construction was completed in 1812.The church was consecrated by the Bishop of Calcutta in 1816. The church was expanded in 1901, and went through reconstruction in 1927 after the fire of 1923.

The great famine of 1876 – 1878

A severe famine hit the Bombay, Mysore and Madras presidencies. The death toll was alarming.The mortality in Mysore Presidency was appalling, reaching the terrible total of 1,250,000, one-fourth of the population of the province. More than 5 lakh bullocks, buffaloes, sheep and goats died alongside. Bangalore became a heaven for the huge influx of people who migrated for food and work from other parts of the state. These people were engaged in civil works and in turn were paid in grains. Around 20,000 migrants were employed for constructing the Bangalore Mysore railway line. New tanks were constructed and renovation and repair of old tanks were also taken up in a war footing manner.

How Bangalore weathered the great Plague of 1898

The most documented and dreaded outbreak in India was of bubonic plague (1896-1899) that spread terror across Bombay and Calcutta Presidencies, Mysore State, Dharwad and Hyderabad. There were 36,381 seizures in Bombay, 7,176 in Bangalore and around 36,459 in Dharwad. That wiped out almost 10 percent of Bengaluru’s population. Strict control was established, houses were marked, stations and trains were sanitised and Inoculation drives were started city wide. But people were scared to visit hospitals – on account of religious bias a Brahmin did not want to share a ward with a lower caste. People were scared of inoculation. The disease spread widely and caused havoc. Post the plague people were requested to move from the densely populated areas of the Petes to the newly created colonies of Malleswaram and Basavangudi. There was resistance. But the few who moved – their ancestors will thank them for their wise decision.

Why are Malleshwaram and Basavangudi on hilly terrain?

Most of the city was under the authorities of the British Cantonment in the 19th century, and had various well-planned layouts such as Richmond Town, Cox Town and Benson Town. The Wadiyar government planned and executed similar planned layouts in 1880s, leading to the formation of Basavanagudi and Malleswaram

Just as Basavanagudi layout was named after the Basavanna temple, Malleswaram was named after the Kadu Mallikarjuna (Malleswara) temple. These layouts were founded in 1889 as an alternative to the crowded Pete area which was low lying and prone to flooding and disease. The Wodeyar’s of the Mysore kingdom wanted to provide a modern lifestyle to all communities, in which they could live in hygienic conditions.

Interestingly, both these new layouts were created on foothills: Basavanagudi lies on the foothills of the Bull Temple, Bugle Rock and Lal Bagh, while Malleswaram is on the foothills of the Kempegowda watchtower and Palace Guttahalli. This was a strategic design to avoid flooding and disease.

Why was the Victoria hospital named after Queen Victoria?

The plague resulted in a health officer being appointed for the first time in the City. The Victoria Hospital was inaugurated by Lord Curzon, the then Governor General in 1900 to help the plague victims. The foundation stone for the hospital was laid in 1897. This year was important because it marked the completion of 60 years of Queen Victoria’s rule. The Victoria Hospital was christened in the honour of the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria. Initially it had 100 beds – but is now one of the largest hospitals in S India.

How was Swami Vivekananda involved in setting  up IISC?

The Indian Institute of Science was set up in 1909, laying the foundation for Bangalore becoming the “Science Capital” of the country.

The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) was conceived as a ́Research Institute ́ by Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, in the final years of the 19th century. A long period of almost thirteen years was to elapse from the initial conception in 1896 to the birth of the institute on May 27, 1909. The people who made it happen include – its charismatic and generous founder J.N. Tata, Swami Vivekananda (whom J.N. Tata befriended on his famous voyage to the United States) the Maharaja of Mysore, Shri Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV and his mother then acting on his behalf, and Lord Curzon the Viceroy of India,

Swami Vivekananda and Tata met during a voyage to the US aboard the steamship SS Empress of India. Tata was on his way to test his bags of Indian soil for iron content in Germany. Swami Vivekananda discouraged this stating the European nations will not support this and discourage anything indigenous. He asked Tata to come up with a research institute in India itself, and train Indians for this. Originally the institute was to be setup in Bombay. The Noble prize winning scientist Ramsey was asked to tour India to find the best place conducive to research. He suggested Bangalore, but Tata favoured Bombay. Johns Hopkins University in the U.S. was taken as the model.  The Mysore government would, in the end, provide more than 371 acres of land for the institute, as well as grants to help set it up. This help from the Mysore government also ensured that the institute was situated in Bangalore.

Did you know that Mahatma Gandhi visited Bangalore many times. 

He visited the city five times between 1915 and 1940. An ailing Mahatma Gandhi stayed at Nandi Hills for 45 days in 1936 to recuperate from a spell of high blood pressure. The guest house atop Nadi Hills is still called Gandhi Bhawan.

Winston Churchill lived in Bangalore and got bored

In October 1896 Winston Churchill reached Bangalore, then not a bustling megapolis but a small, sleepy, cantonment town. He liked the climate: ‘the sun even at midday is temperate and the mornings and evenings are fresh and cool’. He liked the house alloted to him: ‘a magnificent pink and white stucco palace in the middle of a large and beautiful garden’. And he was well served by his staff, who included a gardener, a water-carrier, a dhobi, and a watchman.

After eight months in Bangalore the young subaltern wrote to his mother summing up his life there. ‘Poked away in a garrison town which resembles a 3rd rate watering place, out of season and without the sea, with lots of routine work and … without society or good sport—half my friends on leave and the other half ill—my life here would be intolerable were it not for the consolations of literature….’. Churchill still owes the Bangalore Club a princely sum of Rs 13.

Bangalore club was established in 1868, named the Bangalore United Services Club for officers of the British Empire. In 1915, membership was opened to Indian officers. Membership for civilians was opened in 1946, and the club was renamed the Bangalore Club.

Bangalore Palace was built in 1878 by the British using the Maharaja’s money – The property was purchased from Rev. Garrett in 1873 at a cost of Rs. 40,000 by the British Guardians of the minor Maharaja using his personal funds. They were in charge of his education and administrative training to ready him to take over his reign in 1881 AD. As the young Maharaja did not have a suitable place to stay during his training in Bengaluru, this property was purchased and transformed. Construction of a palace building was started in April 1874 and completed by 1878. The palace was built in Tudor Revival style architecture with fortified towers, battlements and turrets. The interiors were decorated with elegant wood carvings, floral motifs, cornices and relief paintings on the ceiling. The furniture was neo-classical, Victorian and Edwardian in style.The palace has a floor area of 45,000 sft, and grounds of 454 acres

 

What happened to the lakes and gardens of Bangalore?

Bangalore once had 141 lakes of which seven cannot be traced, seven are recognisable as small pools of water, 18 have been unauthorisedly occupied by slums and private parties, 14 have dried up and are leased out by the Government. In the area where there were once 28 lakes (in different locations, of course), the Bangalore Development Authority has distributed sites and built extensions. The remaining 67 lakes are in fairly advanced state of deterioration.

  • The Siddikatte Lake has now become the bustling City Market
  • Sampangi tank now houses the Kanteerava Sports Stadium
  • Dharmambudhi is now the busy Kempe Gowda Bus Stand
  • The Karanji tank is the Gandhi Bazar area
  • Kempambudhi is now a sewerage collection tank
  • Chennamma tank a burial ground
  • Akkithimmanahalli tank is the Corporation Hockey Stadium
  • Jakkarayanakere is also converted into a sports ground
  • Miller Tank area houses the Guru Nanak Bhavan, schools, and several buildings.

It was only in 1894 that Bangalore city got clean protected water supply. Prior to this, unfiltered water was being supplied to Bangalore in the Karanjee system from a number of tanks viz., Dharmambudi, Sampangi, Ulsoor etc, supplemented by local wells and Kalyanis or Stepped Ponds. In the year 1894, the first protected water supply scheme “Chamarajendra Water Works” was started by Sir.K.Seshadri Iyer, the then Dewan of erstwhile Mysore province. The source of water was Hesarghatta lake on Arkavathi River.

In his travel account of 1800, Francis Buchanan refers to the greenery of Bangalore owing to its vegetable farms, coconut gardens, beetle leaf farms, and flower gardens. Today most of these gardens have given way to residential localities which have retained the old names such as Chikkanna Gardens, Tulasi Thota, Wilson Gardens, Yellappa Gardens, Sankamma Thota, Rudrappa Garden, Mavina Thota (Banashankari), Pillanna Gardens, Thengina Thotada Raste (Coconut Garden Road), Margosa Road, and Sampige Road.

Some more developments since 1840 

  • The first printing-press in Bangalore was established in the year 1840. In 1859, Bangalore Herald became the first English bi-weekly newspaper to be published in Bangalore and in 1860, Mysore Vrittanta Bodhini became the first Kannada newspaper to be circulated in Bangalore
  • Girls’ Education – Mysore state was one of the most progressive regions in pre-independent India. It was a pioneer in establishing modern systems of education; the London Mission was the first girls’ school in the state, established in Bangalore city in 1840.
  • The Raj Bhavan (known as Residency earlier) was built by Sir Mark Cubbon (the Commissioner of Mysore territories of the British) in 1840-1842.
  • At the east end of M G Road, what used to be known as Parade Grounds, lies the Holy Trinity Church, a Protestant church built in 1852 to accommodate the increasing English speaking congregation in the Cantonment area of Bangalore.
  • 1864 Bangalore gets a train line – Bangalore mail starts running to Cantonment station, probably the first regular named train service in India.
  • Attara Kacheri (literally means 18 government offices), located at the entrance to the Cubbon Park was built in 1864 A.D. It is a two storied stone structure in an intense red hue, with Corinthian (most ornate of the Roman architecture) columns in Gothic Style of architecture. The Public offices (Secretariat of the Government of Karnataka) were located here from 1868 AD to 1956 AD, which were later moved to the Vidhana Soudha. The building now accommodates the Karnataka High Court.

  • Bangalore City Municipality established in 1862 when the city’s population was just over 1 Lac. The BCM’s revenue for the year 1862-63, according to the Karnataka Gazette, was Rs 21,981.
  • St. Mary’s Basilica located in Shivajinagar, is the oldest church in the city, which dates back to 1685. It used to be a small chapel, which was rebuilt by Abbe Dubois, who came to Bangalore after Tipu Sultan was defeated at Srirangapatna. As it stands today, it was built between 1875 and 1882 at a total cost of Rs 30,000.
  • St. Joseph’s College was founded in 1882 by the Fathers of the French Foreign Mission. The Foreign Missions Society of Paris bought a plot of land on St. John’s Hill and gradually made the transition to the location it occupies today.
  • Whitefield established in 1882 – On the 27th April, 1882, His Highness, Chamaraja Wodeyar, the Maharaja of Mysore, granted 3,900 acres (16 km2) of land to the Eurasian and Anglo-Indian Association, Mysore and Coorg (E&AI) for the establishment of agricultural Settlements at Whitefield (then Mysore state)
  • The Central College, Bengaluru was started in 1886 by the British government to award University Degrees. It was renamed as the Bangalore University by the University Grants Commission on 10 July 1964
  • In 1887, a British woman named Mrs. Bronson started a boarding house with 10 beds. As the popularity of the first hotel in the city grew, it began to expand. In 1912, the place changed hands, with Spencer’s buying it for a princely Rs.4,000. Decades later, in 1984, it was sold again, to the management of what is now the Taj West End

  • Ramakrishna Math, Basavangudi –  Bangalore devotees requested to establish a permanent Centre of Ramakrishna Order in Bangalore. Upon their requests Ramakrishna Math, Bangalore came into existence in 1904 in a rented building. The foundation stone for the Ashram at Basavangudi was laid in 1906 by Swami Abhedananda. On 20 January 1909, the Ashram building was inaugurated. Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi visited Bangalore in March 1911. She stayed at Ramakrishna Ashrama for 4 days and blessed the devotees
  • Mysore Sandal soap has been manufactured since 1916 when Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar, the king of Mysore set up the Government Soap Factory in Bangalore. This was done to deal with the excess sandalwood reserves. It is the only soap in the world made from 100% pure sandalwood oil.
  • Mavalli Tiffin Room (MTR) founded in 1924 is an iconic landmark of Bangalore. The food served at MTR is a regular, wholesome Karnataka Brahmin food. During World War II, MTR found it difficult to make idlis since rice was in short supply. According to MTR, they experimented with semolina instead of rice and thus invented the very popular breakfast item of Rava idli. The other iconic restaurant Vidyarthi Bhavan was started in 1942. As the name suggested it was initially a mess for hostel students living in that area.

  • K R Market was established in 1928. The location of the market is said to have been a water tank and then a battlefield in the 18th century during the Anglo-Mysore Wars.
  • Nilgiri’s opened their first store on Brigade Road in Bangalore in 1939. The store continues to stand at that location till date. (Walmart opened its 1st store in 1962)

  • HAL was established as Hindustan Aircraft in Bangalore in 1940 by Walchand Hirachand to produce military aircraft for the Royal Indian Air Force.
  • 1942 Bangalore and World War II – Seaplane landing strip at Bellandur lake was created during World War II. The lake could accommodate six huge planes
  • The Raman Research Institute was founded in 1948 by the Indian physicist and Nobel Laureate, Sir C V Raman, to continue his studies and basic research after he retired from the Indian Institute of Science. Sir C V Raman served as its director carrying on his personal research until his demise in 1970.
  • The foundation of Jayanagar was laid in 1948. It was one of the first planned neighbourhoods in Bangalore and, at the time, the largest in Asia. Jayanagar was traditionally regarded as the southern end of Bangalore. The “South End Circle”, where six roads meet, and the historic Ashoka Pillar bear this fact.
  • The Vidhana Soudha, completed in 1956. Kengal Hanumanthaiah is credited with the conception and construction.  The cost of construction at that time was just 1.75 Crore. Without a doubt it is the most impressive state legislature building in the country.

  • Karnataka Milk Federation set up in 1965  – Biggest Dairy in Karnataka with 1.5 lakh liters per day (LLPD) liquid milk processing facility set up in Bangalore; in 2012 it reached a record level procurement of 50 LLPD. After Amul, it is the second largest milk cooperative in india.
  • 1969 Chinnaswami Stadium  – The foundation stone of this stadium was laid in 1969 and construction work commenced in 1970. The stadium was first used for First-class cricket matches during the 1972–73 season. It earned Test status during the 1974–75 season when the West Indies toured India.The first Test played at this stadium was on 22–29 November 1974. Incidentally, this was the debut Test match for the West Indian batting giants Viv Richards and Gordon Greenidge
  • 1975 Dharmambudhi lake becomes Majestic – Kempe Gowda bus terminal (popularly known as ‘Majestic’ because of the theatre by the same name) was constructed in 1975
  • 1974 City gets Cauvery water – To meet the growing needs of the city through new sources of water supply, State Government constituted an Expert Committee in 1958 that recommended tapping the perennial river Cauvery rather than any of the other three sources Arkavathi, Hemavathy or Shimsha. This recommendation was accepted by the Government in 1964 and administrative approval was accorded to the Cauvery Water Supply Scheme (CWSS) 1 st Stage Project. Work was started during 1969 and the supply of Cauvery water to Bangalore commenced from 24th January 1974.
  • Electronics City was the brainchild of R.K. Baliga, the first Chairman and MD of Keonics, Karnataka Electronics. In 1978, Keonics established Electronics City on 332 acres of land in Konappana Agrahara and Doddathogur villages. About 120 companies have their offices there
  • Wipro hires a few technocrats and engineers from IISC and starts Wipro Infotech, manufacturing IT products in 1980. Infosys was established by seven engineers in Pune, Maharashtra, India with an initial capital of $250 in 1981. In 1983, it relocated its office to Bangalore, Karnataka, India.
  • Sampangi lake gave way to the Kanteerva Indoor Stadium in 1995, while the Koramangala lake became an apartment complex called the National Games Village in 1996.
  • Bangalore International Airport opened in May 2008 as an alternative to increased congestion at HAL Airport. Named after Kempe Gowda I, the founder of Bangalore, Kempegowda International Airport became Karnataka’s first fully solar powered airport. Kempegowda Airport is the third-busiest airport by passenger traffic in the country. It handled around 33 million passengers in the calendar year 2018 with 658 aircraft movements a day. Its one of the most well designed airport in the world.

  • Conceptualised in 1977, Namma Metro becomes the 1st operational Metro of S india in 2011. At its peak it was carrying 4.5 Lacs commuters every day with 50 trains.
  • Bangalore becomes Bengaluru – On Oct 17th 2014, the union Ministry of Home Affairs approved, 8 years after the proposal was first presented, the changing of name of the city of Bangalore to Bengaluru. 11 other cities of the state of Karnataka also had their names changed. Following the approval the Karnataka State Government issued a notification making the name change officially effective from Nov 1st 2014

______________________________________

In 1901 Bangalore had a population of over 1.5 Lacs and was ranked 14th in the country. In 2020 with population of over 12M Bangalore is ranked 3rd in importance after Mumbai & Delhi. The explosive growth has stretched the city to its limits but the cosmopolitan culture and safe environments continue to make Bangalore the #1 destination for job seekers. The garden city and pensioners paradise had indeed evolved into the brand conscious upmarket Silicon Valley of India. A city which we all love and are proud off. 

References

  • The idea for this Blog was seeded after I met Sushma. She runs a Bangalore tour company called Yours Truly India. Sushma is very passionate about the history of Bangalore. https://yourstrulyindia.com
  • This link has a beautiful Timeline of Bangalore over the years, https://bengaluru.mapunity.com/heritage/timeline_events
  • A lot of information was gathered from the books – History of Wodeyars & History of South India.
  • And of course Wikipedia and Google was the source of many interesting nuggets and pictures
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60 comments on “A simple narration of Bangalore’s history over the last 2000 years

  • Anil Valluri , Direct link to comment

    Well done VAK. Read end to end. Full of interesting facts. Many of them were unknown to me. Thanks for this comprehensive post.

    • vak1969 , Direct link to comment

      Thank you Sir – yes writing this Blog was fun , lot of learning for me too

    • Dr Sarvamangala , Direct link to comment

      Awesome
      Narration is very good many facts were unknown
      Thanks a lot

      • Raghu S , Direct link to comment

        Superb explanation about my lovely city Bengaluru.

    • vak1969 , Direct link to comment

      Thanks Chander – its been in my mind for long, finally got it done, next is to explore Mysore, for so many years its just been a pit stop Enroute to Coorg / Ooty/ Waynad …

      • Vina , Direct link to comment

        Very nice and apt information. This is very helpful.

  • Lakshminarayana Lan , Direct link to comment

    Perhaps the most comprehensive & succinct compilation on Bangalore’s history! Thanks a ton for this!!

  • Sai , Direct link to comment

    1. Sampangi Lake becoming Kanteerva Stadium , the dates seem incongruent. If I remember right there was talk of clearing the tank for the stadium in the early ’70s and people in the vicinity having the snakes from the dredging of the lake entering their homes. And I’ve visited the stadium to watch a wrestling match at least before 1974.
    2. Metro conceptualized in 1977 too seems a bit off.
    Typos? Or are these verified facts?

      • Sai , Direct link to comment

        Ok. But for sure Kanteerva Stadium dates are wrong. I used to go for cricket coaching ( the place which is now used for archery now, I think) between 1978-1981.
        So 1995 is. definitely wrong.

    • Alladi Jagannath , Direct link to comment

      Kanteerava stadium has been in existence for a long time. I remember cycling around the stadium during my school days in the 1950. The stadium you are referring to may be the indoor stadium, constructed next to the old stadium, by L&T. This stadium is called Kanteerava Indoor stadium.

    • Bijou Kurien , Direct link to comment

      Kanteerva Stadium existed in the ’60’s & ’70’s. I have participated in the athletics races as part of the BSAA meets. The Indoor Stadium was constructed more recently and that could have been in the ’90’s.

      • Ravindren N , Direct link to comment

        Yes Sir You are right.
        I have attended Rajyosthsava celebrations during my school days during 1969 – 70s.
        Indoor stadium was built subsequently.
        Ravi

  • Balu Nadig , Direct link to comment

    Very nice coverage. Perhaps a mention of Ramakrishna Ashrama in Basavangudi and the visit by holy mother Sharada Devi could have been made.

    • vak1969 , Direct link to comment

      Yes – will add that, the Ramkrishna Mission at Basavangudi is a place close to my heart, thanks for sharing

      • Ravindren N , Direct link to comment

        Well done VAK. You took me through a nostalgic memory lane. I relived my younger day. Certainly commendable job.
        Kudos.
        Ravisan

  • Mahesh Reddy , Direct link to comment

    👍 great write up. Growing up I heard about boiled beans and even my father confirmed it. The urban myths are powerful! Thanks

  • Arjun Nair , Direct link to comment

    Wonderfully presented and is a pleasure to read ! Bookmarking it for future reference as well. Thank you for this,

  • Vishnupriya , Direct link to comment

    The best article. Simple language, crisp, clear, and concise. Thank you for the effort, VAK.

  • Asif, Mohammed Arfan , Direct link to comment

    Thanks VAK. Very well compiled and a pleasure to go through the details of my city. I will reread it many times for absorbing the interesting facts mentioned. You did wonderfully well. If you permit me to state that you could add Johnson Market and Sir Mirza Ismail in future updates. Johnson Market in the cantonment area of Richmond Town is iconic. From being a horse stable to a market apart from Sir Mirza Ismail a close associate of the Maharaja who became the Dewan and his efforts in beautifying the city with great architecture/buildings including Bangalore Town Hall, etc. and well known for their aesthetics. Also some information of the contribution of Sir Visveswaraya, Diwan, in particular the engineering projects. Commendations on your effort to bring to light many unknown facts.

    • vak1969 , Direct link to comment

      Thanks – I did look up MV and found most of his work was in Mysore & Hyderabad – he was indeed the Dewan of Mysore state but his contribution to Bnaglore was not distinctly visible – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M._Visvesvaraya. I will read up on Sir Mirza Ismail who was groomed by Sir MV

  • Meera. , Direct link to comment

    You’ve really made it very interesting. Since it’s a blog you can perhaps add the origins of West end building. What was it before that ?
    Suddenly I found the name Venkoji while writing about Marathas. So such gaps could b filled.
    I really enjoyed reading about my beloved hometown for the last 72 yrs.
    it would b interesting to continue the ravaging of bengaluru after Infosys and Electronic City !

  • Sudhir , Direct link to comment

    During the times of the Cholas, Kolar and Channapattana were major Urban areas and Bengaluru was ignored evidenced by the fact that the only Chola inscription in Urban Bengaluru is in Kengeri which was traditionally part of the Channapattana region. In rural Bengaluru district, there are a few inscriptions in Hoskote but no evidence of any temples built here by Cholas.

    • vak1969 , Direct link to comment

      At Domlur, Ulsoor & Madivala the temples seem to have been built by the Cholas

  • Sanjay Anandaram , Direct link to comment

    Hi VAK, enjoyed reading this. Wanted to add a few interesting points: (1) Lord Cornwallis who returned home in 1782 after his loss to George Washington in 1781 and was appointed GuvGen of India in 1786 based in Calcutta. In 1790 he got involved with Tipu in the Anglo Mysore wars. He returned home again in 1794 and was reappointed GuvGen of India in 1805. The 1st Duke of Wellington Arthur Wellesley based in Bengaluru had in 1799 defeated Tipu and was keen on expanding his power. The Duke was sent back to England after Cornwallis returned to India. This Duke later on in 1815 defeated Napolean in the famous battle of Waterloo. (2) The Madras Engg group aka Madras Sappers, the oldest engg group of the military was established by the British in 1780 (the name Madras coming from Madras Presidency which was the HQ of the British in S India) in Bangalore to deal with Tipu in Mysore. (3) The Bangalore Torpedo a sort of primitive IED was invented at the Madras Sappers in Bangalore in early 20thC and was used in battle in the 1st World War. It also features in Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” (4) The 4 watch towers constructed by KempeGowda are memorialised today in the logo of the BBMP!

    There are many other interesting titbits about Bengaluru!
    Sanjay

  • Sudhir , Direct link to comment

    Nice writeup. Couple of things I can add.

    Urban Bengaluru has only one Chola inscription found in Kengeri. Lots of Chola inscriptions in Channapatna and some in Kolar – the urban centres of that time.

    The ancient name of Bengaluru is Morasu Nadu and its people are the Morasu community as per Inscriptions during the Gangas, Cholas, Hoysalas and Vijayanagara, the earliest being in 450CE. One Ganga time inscription mentions Varthur as its capital.

    KempeGowda was a Morasu Chief whose ancestor Byre Deva had the title Yelahanka Nadu Prabhu in 1356CE.

  • Ankit Upadhyay , Direct link to comment

    This has to be the most comprehensive compilation on Bengaluru’s history I have ever read, really enjoyed reading it and also got to learn lots of interesting things.

  • Appu , Direct link to comment

    Crisp narration. Enlightening and awe inspiring! Namma Bengaluru 🙂

      • Girish Kumar d s , Direct link to comment

        “Below is the photo of street lamp that was lit that day” Here the photo is that of Russell Market and not K.R Market ..please check

  • Dr Manjunath S N , Direct link to comment

    Thank you so much….it was awesome read, once started, read until end …so many contributions !!!!! for dvp of Bendakaluru into Bangalore

  • Suresh , Direct link to comment

    Thanks VAK for this in-depth compilation on the history of Bangalore. Your blog gives me a ton of additional material to help with ‘story telling’ to my daughters about the city where I was born and spent the first (best) 23 years of my life.

  • Kaushik Ananda , Direct link to comment

    Simply beautiful and detailed. However, some mentions abt the Banashankari and Bannerghatta areas could be highlighted. Also, about National College, Basavanagudi and it’s association with Dr. H.Narsimhaiah could be listed. Also there is no mention of the Doddi family who owned vast tracts of lands in and around Bangalore could be listed. Please pm me in case of further clarifications as I have ancestry in Bangalore dating back to 1700s with documentation.

  • k s venkatesh , Direct link to comment

    its a goldmine of information, though being a bangalorean, most of it i knew, but found many nuggets of information, many thanks, worth sharing

  • L. Ram prakash , Direct link to comment

    Beautiful.
    My ancestors moved from Chickaballapur area, 300yrs back to Bangalore (Balepet). We have been residing there till 1970s, still have a lot of relatives there.
    There are lot of interesting stories passed from ages. Love to meet you & talk. Rgds.

  • Alladi Jagannath , Direct link to comment

    I thought that one of the four watch towers, established by Kempegowda was bugle rock. But there is no mention of this in your write-up.

  • Unni Krishnan , Direct link to comment

    Excellent write up – though I know of most of the history of Bangalore, reading this was very nostalgic for an old time Bangalorean like me.

    A few misses – Fraser Town is missing – Cox Town, Richmond Town etc were peripheries to Fraser Town. Some dates like Kanteerva Stadium are not entirely correct. Ulsoor Lake & War Memorial don’t find mention. St John’s High School the oldest Anglo-Indian school in Bangalore doesn’t find mention.

    Way back in the 60s, Bangalore had what we call video games, just outside Rex Theatre – for 10 paise we could play a 5 minute game for motorcycle or car race.

    • vak1969 , Direct link to comment

      Thanks – I also missed the PUB part , will try and incorporate – its already huge let me see how to fit it in

  • D.A.Sreeramulu , Direct link to comment

    Hi VAk went through all I nfo from a Whatsup forwarded by my friend. I am D.A.SREERAMULU from BENGALURU.An octogenarian of 81 + yes.I have lot of info stored in memory bank.Hence I am giving. The following info. The BENGALURU based UDAYA BHANU KALA SANGHA has documented in three Volumes
    1.First Part in commemoration of the 50 years of their Publication containing 815 pages in KANNADA.
    2nd Part contains 915 pages
    3rd Part contains 980 pages.All the THREE BOOKS have been Excellently Documented and like to tell you they contain a wealth of Info.
    They are available at UDAYABHANU KALA SANGHA (R) at KEMPEGOWDA Nagara,BENGALURU, 560019. When I bought the Three Volumes Costing ₹3750/-I was very happy and am happier when I read through the three Volumes. Its in KANNADA.
    Address: UDAYABHANU KALA SANGHA (R)
    OPPOSITE, GAVIPURAM CHOULTRIES,RAMAKRISHNA LAYOUT.KEMPEGOWDA NAGARA , LANDLINE PHONE # 080-266093443

  • Avinash , Direct link to comment

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this article. My late grandfather who passed away in 2015 at the age of 98 would’ve loved reading this and may have also possibly contributed in some way as he was born in 1918 in Gavipuram (off Bull Temple Road) and passed away in the same area. He used to often speak about paying toll while going from Bangalore City to the Cantonment areas. I look forward to more from you.

  • Indu , Direct link to comment

    ಕೆಂಪೇಗೌಡರು ಒಂದು ಸಾವಿರ ಕೆರೆಗಳನ್ನು ಬೆಂಗಳೂರಿನಲ್ಲಿ ನಿರ್ಮಿಸಿದ್ದರು ಎಂದು ಕೇಳಿದ್ದೆ

  • Veena , Direct link to comment

    Enjoyed reading your piece on Bangalore. Knew a lot but very informative. Thanks.

  • Madhu , Direct link to comment

    Excellent essay with a wealth of information. You have made the common mistake in translating Upparpet as the place for sellers of salt. In Kannada, Uppara (ಉಪ್ಪಾರ ) means a bricklayer or plasterer (see Rev. Kittel’s Kannada-Kannada-English Dictionary. So Upparapete is really what we may call the Builders Lane.

  • Doreswamy Srinidhi , Direct link to comment

    Excellent blog. I returned to Bengaluru to live, used to visit, after 45 years. Even in 2009 I was disappointed to see the degradation of Bangalore when compared to the 1960’s. I see it continues to be overbuilt. The congestion which we saw in the petes has extended and I could say overtaken most of Bangalore. Do you have anything to say about this. When did greed take over? Who are the decision makers who brought Bengaluru to this sorry state? Thanks

    • Madhu , Direct link to comment

      Central college celebrated its centenary in 1958. I was a first year university student in the Engineering College at that time. Even then I could hear in the talks given by some eminent people about how busy Bangalore had become and how they missed the old tranquil Bangalore! Progress is inevitable but I must admit the unseemly expansion of Bangalore, partly due to short sightedness and mostly due to the greediness of the people in charge, has been disastrous with negative aspects far outweighing the positive ones.

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