Bangalore. Bengaluru. A city that is growing by leaps and bounds. The megapolis, IT capital, Biotech hub, even educational capital of the country. Booming and galloping on the sails of industry and development, a city that has given rise to the fearful term among Americans,“getting Bangalored”, which means “getting laid off” (thanks to the omnipresent Call Centres which are responsible for a large section of lay-offs in the US).
It wasn’t always this way. Bangalore as a city was founded by the Kannada ruler Kempe Gowda I, who built a mud fort at the site in 1537. Then on to the Sultanate of Bijapur, Mughals, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, Wodeyars and the British East India.
Bangalore was further developed by the Britishers as a military cantonment and retirement paradise (owing to the salubrious climate).As the capital of the state of Mysore (c .1956) and then Karnataka (c. 1973), quiet and laid-back Bangalore continued to retain its old-world charm, thanks to the greenery, lack of pollution and wonderful weather.
And this is why precisely many people chose to make Bangalore their retirement paradise. The traditional localities in the heart of the city such as Basavanagudi, Gandhi Bazaar, Jayanagar date back to those days when IT meant just Income Tax and not Information Technology a.k.a. India’s Silicon Valley a.k.a. Bangalore. And so, even today, in many areas, the relics of that era remain.
These lovely old houses at Basavanagudi, Jayanagar and Gandhi Bazaar, which would have inhabited many illustrious personalities, even royalty, in their heydays, show us the Bengaluru that is hardly showcased, yet are reminders of a city that is traditional, aesthetic and laid back, a city that, in parts, has not yet succumbed to the ills of overurbanisation, and, going by the signs of ongoing renovation rather than demolition, probably never will. For much the better.
Jai Ho, Namma Bengaluru! I love you and the old world charm still present in you. And I look forward to keeping meeting you ever so often.