About Bangalore - An Introduction
Bangalore, the fifth largest city in India and the capital of the southern state of Karnataka, is one of Asia's fastest growing cities. Situated at an altitude of about 920 metres above sea level, it is blessed with a pleasant climate that distinguishes it from the hot climes of India's other larger metros. Despite the booming (sometimes unplanned and haphazard) growth, Bangalore still retains a significant amount of its quiet charm and heady greenery that led the British colonial authorities to dub it as a "Pensioner's Paradise".
Although the greenery is fast depleting, a victim to rapacious builders and a lethargic government, Bangalore still compares very favorably in this respect to India's major cities. No wonder it has been the automatic choice for the "Garden City of India" tag.
International visitors looking for ways to unwind after a hard day's work coding and decoding, would find Bangalore's growing Club Culture, the number of weekend resorts (many of which have opened up in recent days ) and its famous pubs (over 200 of them) where one can get a good drink in a pleasant ambience, a most welcome surprise. And it is these pubs that have given it the epithet, "The Pub Capital of India". Watch out Dublin, you have competition coming!
The discovery of Bangalore's pleasant climate, low real estate prices and cheap availability of skilled, English-speaking manpower by International Technology majors starting off in the mid to late-1980s, set off a major IT Boom. Today with almost all of the biggest IT and Technology (250 and growing at last count) organizations setting up a base here, Bangalore has become a "real-time" rival to California's Silicon Valley. No wonder it prides itself today as "India's Silicon Valley" or even the more ambitious "Asia's Silicon Valley"!
The next few pages seek to give you a more comprehensive look into what has gone into the shaping of Bangalore today.
Bangalore - A Historical Perspective
The origin of the name Bangalore is obscured by a few very interesting legends. Here is one of the most popular ones: In the year 1120 AD, the Hoyasala King of Vijayanagar, Veera Ballala lost his way while hunting in a forest. Hungry and tired he came upon a lone hut in the thick of the forest where he met an old woman. On enquiring for food, she gave him the only food that she had – Benda Kalu or Baked Beans. To commemorate the incident he called the place, "Benda Kalooru" (place of Baked Beans) and this in time got transformed into Bangalore.
However, historical evidence shows that "Bengalooru" was recorded much before King Ballala's time in a 9th century temple inscription in the village of Begur during the rule of the Gangas.
There is also the fact that the name "Bengalooru" appears on a Mauryan Empire milestone circa 850 AD. The fact that the Mauryan Emperor, Chandragupta Maurya renounced his throne to become a Jain Monk at Shravanabelagola, an important Jain pilgrimage centre southwest of Bangalore, may have something to do with it.
The place mentioned as Bengaluru in the Ganga record was originally a hamlet, even now called as Halebengaluru near Kodigehalli (not far away from Hebbal). It is said that Kempegowda I, when he built the new capital town in about 1537 called it Bengaluru as his mother and wife belonged to the hamlet by the same name, now called Halebengaluru.
Here is another popular anecdote concerning the origin of Bangalore: Kempe Gowda I a feudal baron in charge of Yelahanka, under the Vijayanagara kings, during a hunting trip was surprised to see a hare chasing one of his hunting dogs. This incident reminiscent of the legend of Hakka and Bukka, seems to have convinced him to build a mud fort in this area (in 1537) which he subsequently always referred to as "Gandu Bhoomi" (heroic place). His son Kempe Gowda II built the famous towers at the four corners of the old city.
This mud fort, with eight gates which lent their names to different areas: Ulsoor Gate, Kengiri Gate etc, became the nucleus of the city of Bangalore. Inside the fortress walls, the city grew into a bustling commercial area, dividing into pets or localities where one trade dominated each area. To this day these areas bear their old names, such as Chickpet (little town), Doddapet (big town), Taragupet (grain market), Halipet (cotton market) etc.
His son Kempe Gowda II built the famous towers at the four corners of the old city. A hundred years later, Vijaynagar empire fell, and in 1638, it was conquered by Mohammed Adil Shah, the Sultan of Bijapur. Pleased with the services of his trusted lieutenent Shahaji Bhonsale, (father of the great Maratha king Shivaji), Adil Shah gifted Bangalore to him.
In 1687 (after 49 years of Maratha rule), the Mughal Emperor, Aurargzeb's army captured Bangalore from the Bijapur Sultanate. The city was leased to the Mysore ruler Chikkadevaraya by the Mughals around 1689 for three lakh pagodas. Chikkadevaraya expanded the Bangalore fort to the south and built the Venkataramana temple in this fort area. This new fort in granite was strengthened by Haider Ali who secured Bangalore as jahgir (fiefdom) in 1759.
Between 1761 and 1799, Hyder Ali along with his son Tippu Sultan ruled the State (including Bangalore). With the defeat of Tippu Sultan by the British (under Lord Cornwallis) at Srirangapatna in 1799, five year old Prince Krishnaraja Wodeyar (III) was installed the King of Mysore and Bangalore passed back to the Wodeyars with the British as the de facto rulers.
In the beginning of the 19th Century, the General Post Office was opened. Nine years later, in 1809, the Cantonment was established. The British made an entrance into Bangalore and took over administration in 1831. The first 'Train' chugs out of the city in 1859 and five years later, in 1864 the lovely Cubbon Park is built by Sankey. The end of the century saw the building of Attara Kacheri and the Bangalore Palace.
Bangalore was hit by a plague epidemic in 1898. The epidemic took a large toll and in characteristic Indian theistic fashion many temples were built during this time. Many of these temples are called 'Maramma' temples after the plague deity. It is believed that this epidemic helped in the development of Bangalore and improvements in sanitation and health facilities helped in modernizing Bangalore. A plague officer was appointed and the city was divided into four wards.
Telephone lines were laid to help coordinate anti-plague operations. Regulations for building new houses with proper facilities of sanitation came into effect. A health officer was appointed in 1898 and the Victoria Hospital was inaugurated in 1900 by Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy.
The plague of 1898 also led to the expansion of Bangalore. Basavanagudi (named after the Basaveshwara Temple or the Bull Temple in the Sunkenahalli village) and Malleshwaram (named after the Kadu Malleshwara Temple in the old Mallapura village) were created during this time. Kalasipalyam (near the old fort) and Gandhinagar were created between 1921-1931. Kumara Park came into existence in 1947 and Jayanagar in 1948.
The former Cantonment, named as Civil and Military Station after 1881 had roads named according to military conventions. Thus, there was Artillery Rd., Brigade Rd., Infantry Rd., Cavalry Rd., etc. The South Parade (presently Mahatma Gandhi Road) was to the south of the Parade Ground. The cantonment area was administered by a Resident and his quarters was called the Residency and hence the Residency Road. In around 1883, three extensions were added to the Municipal area of the Cantonment, namely, Richmond Town, followed by Benson Town and Cleveland Town.
The Mysore State acceded to the union in 1947 with Bangalore as its capital and the then Maharajah, Sri Jaya Chamaraja Wadiyar, nephew of his predecessor, became Rajpramukh (governor).
When the Indian states were reorganized on a linguistic basis by the States Reorganization Act of 1956, a new Mysore State (renamed Karnataka in 1973) was formed to unite the Kannada-speaking areas of the country and Bangalore remained the state capital.
Post independence, Bangalore evolved into a manufacturing hub for major heavyweight industries such as Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. and Indian Space Research Organization.
The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) headquarters was based in Bangalore, and was for the most part dedicated to R&D activities for indigenous fighter aircraft for the Indian Air Force. Today, HAL develops and maintains an impressive fleet of fighter aircraft and trainers for the Indian Airforce including Sukhoi 30 Flankers and Jaguars.
Airshows showcasing inventories from HAL and international corporations such as Sukhoi, Lockheed Martin, Mirage and BAE are held at the Yelahanka Airforce base near Bangalore once every two years.
The National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) is also headquartered in Bangalore and is dedicated to the development of aerospace technologies. NAL has a staff strength of over 1,300 employees and often works in conjunction with HAL.
In June 1972, the Government of India set up the Space Commission and Department of Space (DOS). India's premier space research organization, the ISRO was created under the DOS and headquartered in Bangalore. The main objective of ISRO includes development of satellites and launch vehicles. Aryabhatta, India's first satellite, was developed and successfully launched by ISRO. Since then, the organization has successfully launched numerous other satellites such as Bhaskara, Rohini, APPLE and the INSAT series, and successfully deployed PSLVs and GSLVs. ISRO also heads India's ambitious moon program.
Bangalore is also a major manufacturing base and houses such public sector manufacturing giants as BHEL, BEL and ITI. The IT Boom of the 90s set off a major spiral of growth which continues unabated to this day.
How to Reach Bangalore:
By Air : Bangalore International Airport is 40 km away from the heart of the city.
By Rail : Bangalore Majestic, Bangalore Cantonment (8 km to Majestic) and Yeshwanthpur (10 km away from Majestic) are the three main stations in Bangalore. Bangalore Majestic is connected to all major cities in India.
By Road : Bangalore is well connected by KSRTC & Private bus services. It is connected to all major cities nearby such as Chennai, Hyderabad, Mysore, Mumbai,poona.