Bangalore, the “Silicon Valley of India” is a melting pot of cultures. Once considered a Pensioner’s paradise, it has metamorphosed into a bustling metropolis, with a vibrant night life that blends in with a rich cultural heritage.
Majority of people in the city now are those that came from outside Bangalore to find themselves a career. The number of people who know the historical significance of many Bangalore attractions are dwindling.
Here are some of the facts about Bangalore, which are little known to many Bangaloreans!
1. How Malgudi got its name
R.K. Narayan’s fictional Malgudi town was named after Malleswaram and Basavanagudi.
As per one of the writings in R.K. Narayan’s book, he loved Malleswaram and Basavanagudi, two prominent and old areas of Bangalore and used the first few letters from Malleshwaram (Mal) and last few letters of Basavanagudi (gudi) to create Malgudi.
2. Non-Fan City
Bangalore was designated a “Non-Fan city” for defence personnel, till about the mid-1950s.
People working for the Indian army/navy/air force were not entitled to ceiling fans in their quarters because the climate was so cool. They also needed to use blankets during the rains, at night.
3. First city in India to get electricity
Bangalore was the first city to get electricity in India. In 1905, Bangalore became the first city in India to get electricity.
The City Market was the first building in Bangalore to have electric lighting. Street lighting for the cantonment was inaugurated in 1908.
4. Kempe Gowda Bus Station was once a majestic lake
The Kempe Gowda Bus Station (or Majestic) is constructed on what used to be the Dharmambudhi Tank, which was created during Kempe Gowda’s time.
It was once the most critical water source for people in the old city’s Pete region. The tank was connected to all open wells around it, to small tanks, and to small lakes a few kilometres away and was the cleanest source of drinking water.
When the lake got completely dried up, it became a hub of public meetings. In 1931, Jawaharlal Nehru addressed a meeting here and hoisted the tricolour. Exhibitions and shows were also held here at regular intervals.
5. Kanteerava Sports Complex was once a lake
There are many water bodies in Bangalore that were lost to urabanization. The Kanteerava Sports Complex is built on a lake called Sampangi Lake. The lake can be clearly seen in the 1924 map of Bangalore below.
6. Madras Sappers
Madras Engineer Group (located next to Ulsoor Lake), informally known as the Madras Sappers, was actually a British barracks to keep a tap on the Mysore state’s invasion over Madras Presidency.
Madras Sappers’ association with Bangalore dates back to 1865, when its headquarters was moved from Dauleshwaram to the city. Since then, the group has been actively involved in the growth and upkeep of the Garden City.
7. Longest city bus route in India
Bangalore has the country’s longest city bus route. BMTC route 600 covers a distance of 117 km per trip.
8. Positive side effects of Plague!
The plague epidemic that erupted in Bangalore in 1898 resulted in the large number of Mariamma temples, the telephone system for the city and the Victoria Hospital.
The epidemic took a huge toll and many temples were built during this time, dedicated to the goddess Mariamma. The crisis caused by this epidemic catalyzed the improvement and sanitation of Bengaluru and, in turn, improvements in sanitation and health facilities helped to modernize Bengaluru.
Telephone lines were laid to help coordinate anti-plague operations. Regulations for building new houses with proper sanitation facilities came into effect.
A health officer was appointed in 1898, the city was divided into four wards for better coordination and the Victoria Hospital was inaugurated in 1900 by Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy and Governor-General of British India.
9. Only temple dedicated to the Pandavas!
Shri Dharmaraya Swamy Temple located in Thigalarpet is one of the oldest and famous temples situated in Bangalore city. It is unique as it is dedicated to the Pandavas and not found anywhere else in India.
The Archeological survey department which has undertaken a study of the stone and masonry has concluded that this temple is about 800 years old.
It is also learnt that when Bangalore city was built by Kempe Gowda in the 16th century, the Kempegowda Gopuras (towers) were built in the four corners of the city keeping the Sri Dharmarayaswamy Temple vimanagopura kalasa as a centre point.
10. Freedom Park used to be a Jail!
Freedom Park, located in Sheshadri Road, once functioned as the ‘Central Jail’. When a state of emergency was proclaimed in India in 1975, several opposition leaders including Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani were arrested and jailed at this venue.