Bangalore, now Bengaluru is known as the garden city, the silicon valley of India, the IT capital, the startup city, etc. The city has come a long way to its present stature. The city came into existence under the rule of Kempegowda, a feudal ruler under the Vijayanagar empire in the year 1537 AD.
Kempegowda built the Bangalore Fort and along with it four towers in four directions to mark the boundaries of the newly formed town which was named as Bendakaluru; in translation it means the city of boiled beans.
As time passed, the fort passed hands and finally came in the hands of the British who captured it from Tipu Sultan in the 18th century. Many of us know that the various monuments which stand tall till date are epitomes of the various dynasties that ruled the city, and the most prominent among them are the British buildings which still stand tall.
I was always keen to know about how the city functioned as a cantonment for the British and the buildings which still stand tall predominately on MG Road and its surroundings. Another thing which made me put on Sherlock's hat was how this south Indian city has many names of localities and roads which speak volumes about the British influence.
My research work found that the British had first set foot here in the year 1809 and by the year 1831 the city became their administrative base of the region. The main reason which attracted the British here was the pleasant climate.
My walk through colonial Bengaluru began with the first stop being the Mayo Hall which now serves as a court. The building was named after Lord Mayo, who was the 4th viceroy of India. The two-storeyed structure is an example of the architecture of that era. Until recently, the building was painted in white. Now it has been painted in red.
PC: Charles Haynes
The hall was built keeping in mind the panoramic views it offered of the Ulsoor Lake, the Parade Grounds and the Race Course and I stood there looking at the structure and imagining the views it had offered to the British in those days, which is not seen anymore.
I walked away from the Mayo Hall and began walking on MG Road which also had a large number of buildings from those times. Now it has a few which have stood the test of time like the building which at present houses the famous Cauvery Emporium. As I moved further down the Metro Station, I realized that the current Metro Station came as a replacement for the beautiful bougainvillea which was spread across the pavement.
PC: Ashwin Kumar
As I walked past many other old structures, I reached the St Mark's Cathedral which was constructed on the lines of the St Paul's Cathedral in London. The church was first built in the year 1812 for the Madras Army and later was expanded in the year 1902 and again was rebuilt in 1906. It was reconstructed yet again to the present structure in the year 1927.
Must say it is one of the beautiful churches in the city built by the British apart from the Trinity Church, East Parade, St Andrews and others. From the church a short walk took me to the famous Cubbon Park.
The Park came into existence in the year 1870. At present it is one of the few places which has a large number of trees I must say. As I entered the park gates, the first sight which grabbed my attention was the statue of Queen Victoria standing on a high pedestal holding the orb and a scepter. It came to my notice on viewing closely that one of her fingers were broken along with the scepter and the cross of the orb.
PC: Yair Aronshtam
I walked away from the statue as I knew that Cubbon Park also has many other structures that the British had left behind when they had left the country, one amongst them being the Attara Kacheri or the High Court of Karnataka which was built in the year 1864. The red two-storeyed structure also has a statue of Mark Cubbon behind it, which was undergoing restoration work. Hence I couldn't catch a glimpse of it.
I decided to move further to the museum on the other side of the park which is one of the oldest museums in India and was built in the year 1876 by Colonel Sankey which is similar to the structure of Attara Kacheri. For once I felt thankful to the British for coming to India and giving us such beautiful structures.
My next destination was the well known KR Market or City Market which was built in 1928 with two buildings. I stepped inside the market through a huge red building built by the British and the first sight I came across was the flower market; the flower market is one place where you will get lost in the fragrances of the different flowers and the varieties of colour.
PC: Rupert Jones
With the aroma of the jasmine and roses of the flower market, I brought an end to my search of the colonial buildings in the vast city of Bengaluru, leaving behind more places to explore which I intend to do really soon sometime.
So if you ever visit the city of Bengaluru, make sure to visit these colonial structures that will give you an idea about the history of this city.