Friday, December 30, 2011


Having seen Bangalore city from a very young age and also many other cities thereafter every other day as a keen observant find something special . Bangalore is a blessed city in many ways and has the potential to become a very very key city at a rapid pace in the world arena.

I see a particular part of Bangalore and find it quite different if not special from the many other parts,the large area of land around the Ulsoor lake. The view of this lake cannot but help me make various presumptions and according to me the heart of Bangalore city is this lake. Adjacent to the Ulsoor lake is a rock and a temple which I have not visited but appears to me very historically significant. Kempe Gowda must have been drawn to this rock and set up some kind of a tower there and when upon this rock a breath taking view of the surroundings were possible. The lake and the rock combined must have been some sort of an abode for various communities since time immemorial. There is a similar rock inside lalbagh and i have seen one more at hebbal. These rocks are sacrosanct and possibly provided refuge from enemies and acted as a watch tower to identify invaders.Bangalore city needs to reinvent its roots and in these structures ly embedded the past in various forms.

When the British take control of India I think the MEG or what is called the Madras Engineering Group find the ulsoor lake ideal for providing aquatic training of various kinds to its recruits as such military training begins to become more and more relevant for the british troops and there could be no other place than the Ulsoor lake. Ulsoor must have been the anglicised version of Halasuru and Halasu must be some vegetable or fruit in the colloquial. Note that troops of various kinds were probably routed to this point for training there by ceating military outfits and residenes and laying for ever the foundation for the "Bangalore Cantonement" logical , crucial and eternal. What must have looked worse than a hamlet becomes a key breeding ground for various activities of a world class nature and the modern day M G Road owes its existence to these events. One can see the Bangalore Cantonment railway station very close to the ulsoor lake as with time supplies to the MEG centre were becoming increasingly larger necessitating the use of railway and as more and more of the english making settlements around this area there began the need for another railway station the "Bangalore East" not far away. Thus this lake and its hillock proved a central attraction for english settlers and their activities from whence grew this city of Bangalore - how resplendant. As a child growing not more than ten kilometers from this point never knew to myself or appreciated the fact that I was reared and lived in the vicinity of history which was a judicious combination of the western and the local... I realise it very much now and how different and suave a place I spent childhood for largely good in many ways and may be bad in very miniscule ways.

An area of a radius of around 15 kilometers around the ulsoor lake is the Bangalore Cantonment which had military parade grounds; residences for trainee military men; residences of British serving officers;churches; railway and road systems; recreation centers ; cricket grounds; auditoriums; public offices not to mention schools and the British brought them all converting to the exclusion of its immediate environment a formidable patch of land which could be called little-england into which only a secluded few could make entry and to the best of my knowledge there is no other place in India which could have had a large scale and concentrated British influence as this stretch and every english- man of these times enjoyed his tryst with this belt as we did many decades later as children mutely appreciating the aura of some kind around us.

The Richmond Road, The Residency Road; South Parade;Cavalry road and the Infantry road formed key roads of the official part part of the Cantonement and note the military linguistics that formed part of the names of these roads. There were many inter connecting roads of a criss-cross kind like the Brigade road and the Lavelle road. The Infantry road probably housed the offices of the Infantry who were possibly trained and paraded near by and so was the cavalry which means mounted soldiers and note that all these key roads are almost parallel to each other. During the world wars there was need for an airport and hence the old airport some where close by sums up this part of the city in those times. All these roads were on the left side of the lake and to the right side of the lake and yonder came various residences and the Coles Park which we call Bangalore East today.

THis is Bangalore Cantonement of the past and any one who comes to Bangalore of today must identify and associate oneself with this distinct past and this patch or stretch or periphery or domain or whatsover one may wish to attribute to it is an un-erasable stamp of the British on the lives of a common Bangalorean or a common Indian of today ; everything commencing from a hillock and a lake nearby called the Ulsoor Lake.

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