From a placid, contented to wn basking in an in vigorating climate to a growing metropolis with sprouting new suburbs and constructions almost overnight, Bengaluru (former Bangalore) has come a long way. Selected excerpts from the book Bangalore – Roots and Beyond, written by Maya Jayapal.
Once known as the Garden City, Bengaluru has today acquired a number of other sobriquets like the Silicon Valley of India, Infotech City, Fashion Capital, Horticultural Capital, Aerospace City, etc. It is undoubtedly one of Asia’s fastest growing cities with a staggering population of 11.5 million that was about 3 million, twenty years ago.
Founded by Kempegowda I of the Yelankha Nadaprabhus, this capital city of Karnataka, was ruled by many other kingdoms after the Kempegowdas like the Bijapurs, Marathas, Mysore Dynasty, etc. The advent of the British cantonment as a twin town and the rule of British commissioners from 1883- 1881 triggered the westernisation of the city. Many of Bangalore’s older architectural landmarks and monuments can be traced back to the early 19th century, when the city was managed by the British. The hub of India’s IT industry, Bengaluru is also known for its grand palaces, beautiful parks and a happening nightlife. It is home to about 1,700 software companies employing almost 3,10,000 people! One has to visit the IT Park Bengaluru at Whitefield to gauge how the doyens of Bengaluru’s new business culture work and play.
Bengaluru hosts many educational and research institutions in India and is also home to the Kannada Film Industry. Performances of Carnatic and Hindustani classical music, and dance forms like Bharat Natyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Kathak, and Odissi are very popular here. Yakshagana, a theatre art indigenous to coastal Karnataka, is often played in town halls here.
Despite the wide variety of world cuisine that it offers, Bengaluru is most talked about for its local food specialities like masala dosa, set dosa, benne masalas, bisi bele bhat, rava idli, pongal, uppittu and not to forget, the frothy filter coffee!
Wall Of History
A visit to the historic landmarks of Bengaluru is a must
The Bangalore Palace
Start with a visit to the Bangalore Palace, built by Reverend J Garett, the first Principal of the Central High School, which is now known as the Central College. It is owned by Mysore’s royal family and has undergone a renovation. Spread over 454 acres, the palace bears a stark resemblance with the Windsor Castle of England. The interiors have exquisite wood carvings, cornices and floral motifs. Originally, the palace had 35 rooms. The ground floor has an open courtyard and a ballroom. On the first floor, a spacious Durbar Hall opens in front of you. Paintings dating back to the 19th century adorn the walls. Out of the 30,000 photographs, 1,000 have been restored and put up for viewing in an exhibition. A room has been converted into a boutique that exhibits garments used by the royal family.
Tipu Sultan Fort
Originally a mud fort built in 1537 by Kempegowda, it was converted into a stone structure by Tipu Sultan’s father Hyder Ali. The fort’s Delhi Gate, located on the Krishnarajendra Road, is one of its primary remains. It bears a marble plaque marking the place which gave way to the British takeover of the fort. Within the fort is Tipu’s Palace that contains his armoury.
A two-storied building, built in the European classical style dating back to 1867, Attara Kacheri’s major attraction is the Gothic style architecture. Tipu Sultan, the Emperor of Mysore named it Attara Kacheri, meaning eighteen offices or departments.
The Vidhana Soudha, at a height of 46 mtrs and with its Dravidian architecture, counts amongst the most impressive buildings of Bengaluru. It houses the Legislative Chambers of the state government. Constructed out of granite and porphyry, it is adorned with four domes on its four corners.
Vivid hues of nature & life
The city is also popular f or its statues, gardens and more
Bengaluru has numerous statues of leaders, who contributed to the development of the city, that grace parks, public squares and circles. The statue of Kempegowda stands in the Narsimharaja Circle in front of the corporation offices with a sword and shield. The Queen Victoria statue is located in front of the famous Cubbon Park. It owes its existence to munificence of the then Dewan of Mysore, P N Krishnamurthy, who donated `15,000 to defray the deficit in the 25,000 rs needed to construct it. A statue of Sir Mark Cubbon, sitting astride his horse, is to the rear of the Attara Kacheri. Other prominent statues of luminaries include M Visvesvaraya, Jamshedji Tata, K Sheshadri Iyer and Kengal Hanumanthaiah, the architect of the Vidhana Soudha. Lalbaugh has an equestrian statue of Maharaja Chamaraj Wodeyar. The statue of Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj finds space in Malleswaram, while Raja Ram Mohan Roy overlooks the road bearing his name.
Gardens Of Glory
The name Garden City was entitled to Bengaluru due to its enchanting gardens that are well-manicured and a riot of colours. An early morning walk in Lalbaugh is a unique experience. Lalbaugh is more than a garden. It also serves as a centre for horticultural research and experimentation. Plants, shrubs and trees from the world are found here. Exotic plants from places like Lahore, Multan and Arcot were planted here by Hyder Ali, who conceived this garden. It also has well-designed irrigation facilities. Lalbaugh also holds the Glass House, the magnificent iron and glass structure modelled on the Crystal Palace in England. Flanked by champaka trees and pencil cedars, it is in the shape of a cross. The Glass House was originally conceived as the venue for horticultural shows and it hosts two shows every year – one during Republic Day week, and the other during Independence Day week. The vast stretches of green at Cubbon Park help dissipate the pollution in Bengaluru. Named after Sir Mark Cubbon, the uniqueness of this park is that it forms a beautiful verdant backdrop for public buildings such as the Attara Kacheri, Sheshadri Iyer Memorial Library and the Vidhana Soudha. The park has a toy train which chugs its way around the circumference of the park. Outside the park, an amusing notice warns adults not to enter unless accompanied by children!
Flora And Fauna
Some of the famous trees of Bangalore are champaka (Michelia champaca), rain tree (Enterobium saman), jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia), African tulip (Spathodea campanulata), Cannonball (Couroupita guianensis), The copper pod (Peltophorum pterocarpum) and bottle brush (Callistemon lanceolatus). Also, ashoka, neem, gulmohor and frangipani are some regular varieties that grow here in abundance.
The fun of sightseeing in Bengaluru doesn ’t stop at its bor ders but extends beyond
- Located around 21 km from the city, Bannerghatta National Park was founded in 1970 and declared as a national park in 1974. It has a zoo, a pet corner, an animal rescue centre, a butterfly enclosure, an aquarium, a snake house and a safari park. There are ancient temples in the park for worship and it is also a destination for trekking and hiking. Within the national park area are six rural villages enclosed within three large enclosures for sheep and cattle farming.
- The historic city of Mysore is 139 km from Bengaluru and holds a number of monuments belonging to Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, the erstwhile rulers of the place. It also has a number of ancient Hindu temples and a few monuments built by the British. The historical Mysore Palace is one of the city’s main attractions. Hampi, once the medieval Vijayanagara empire’s capital, contains ruins of Hindu temples, elephant stables and a stone chariot.
- The Doda Alada Mara is a 400- year old banyan tree lying 28 km from the city. It is an idyllic place for picnics. This single tree covers 3 acres and is one of the largest of its kind. In the 2000s, the main root of the tree succumbed to natural disease, and thus the tree now looks like many different trees.
- Devarayandurga, a hill station located 70km from bengluru near Tumkur, is famous for its hilltop shrines. Here, the rocky hills are surrounded by forests and the hilltops are dotted with several temples including the Yoganarasimha and the Bhoganarasimha temples at an altitude of 3940 feet. It is also famous for Namada Chilume, a natural spring considered sacred and the origin of the Jayamangali and Shimsha rivers. Another famous temple in the area is the Mahalakshmi Temple at Goravanahalli.
- sivanasamudra Waterfalls are an ideal place to head to for a day from Bengaluru. The falls are a part of the Kaveri river that meanders through the terrain of Deccan Plateau and plummets in the form of waterfalls. Once here, simply absorb the capturing sights of this splendid beauty and get soothed with the sounds of the cascading water. Flanked by greenery, this is the place where Asia’s first hydro-electric power station was set up. The best time to visit is during the monsoon when water flows at full force creating an ethereal mist around it.
Know the City
At over 3,000 feet, Bengaluru, also known as the Silicon Valley of India, enjoys a pleasant climate. It has more than 200 lakes and tanks and is the 1st Indian city to have received electricity from hydro power.
The Ulsoor Lake
Lake Ulsoor is spread over 1.5 km and is dotted with islands. Even though the lake is dated to Kempegowdas’ time, the present lake was created by Sir Lewin Bentham Bowring, the then Commissioner of Bengaluru. One of the major attractions of the lake is boating. There is a boat club at the lake, where you can hire cruises with stopovers at some of the islands. The lake also serves as a venue for the Ganesha Festival celebrated in August/ September. There is also a gurdwara near the Ulsoor lake, considered to be the largest Sikh shrine in Bengaluru. The other famous monuments near the lake include a temple dedicated to Subbaraya and the Kensington Park.
Located at 60 km from Bengaluru, Nandi hills is the most popular place for paragliding. Numerous paragliding clubs here offer great packages. Enthusiasts can take up a short course that can stretch from 2 days to a week. At the end of the course, you can expect to be well-versed with basic techniques of paragliding.
Bugle Rock Park
The park is an abrupt rise of a gneiss rock formation, which is around 3000 million years old. The watchtower built on this rock offers panoramic views of the city. One of the four watchtowers built at the four corners of the city by Kempe Gowda II, the park is embellished with waterfalls, fountains and temples. The pathways laid within the park are lined with dense groves of trees.
The Government Museum
Built in 1876 by Colonel Sankey, this is India’s oldest museum located at the Kasturba Gandhi Road. Its two exhibition floors have been further divided into eighteen galleries comprising sections like geology, natural history, sculpture, art and numismatics. The rich collection of the museum comprises ancient coins and art, along with relics from the Indus valley civilisation, especially Mohenjodaro, Halebid and Vijayanagar. Many relics kept at the museum are as much as 5000 years old. It also houses prehistoric artifacts, belonging to the Neolithic period. These artifacts were unearthed while excavations were being carried out at Chandravalli.