Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Colonial Administrators and Bangalore

The city of Bangalore as it is seen today has colonial roots similar to many cities within the country and also few other cities in the world that has a colonial history which means that the foundations of the city are very much at par with key cities of the World but oriented with time in different ways and mannerisms. Bangalore will have striking similarities with Edinburg . Glagow , London and even cities in the American continent the foundations of which were largely English.

Any motorist who visits the town or travels through it rarely imbibes the heritage around which the city is built and structured. The city has undergone transformations at various levels more so with the rampant growth of technology and investments from many sectors.

There are many people and possibly administrators who fashioned this city and whose names appear off and on in some forums and formats. Should we forget these administrators or individuals...need not be the bosom of the City is the subtle contribution in forms both tangible and otherwise of
these persona which provides an aroma to this vast changing landscape which is increasingly merging with the Global village the World is turning out to be today.

Let me list some of these persons and try to see in what context their names are etched in this town so that we become entirely absorbed about the vastness of the history around which this city and continent is built.

Some of the names would be   ...Sankey....Mark Cubbon....Bowring....Brunton....Wheeler....Lavelle....Cunningham.....Hudson....Dickenson...Albert Victor....Cameron.

Richard Hieram Sankey

Richard Hieram Sankey   1829 - 1908  was a civil engineer of the Madras royal Engineers and an Irish man by birth and served as Chief engineer of Mysore. Before he made the Sankey tank near Bangalore he designed and built the High Court Building in the city and also some adjoining Buildings. He has also something to do with the existence of Marina beach in Madras and also served in Nagpur. During this time in Bangalore Bowring must have been the commissioner of Mysore at Bangalore a honourable post which directly reported to the Viceroy and had the role of monitoring affairs in this part of the world. The administrative affairs of the city around this time was conducted from the old   Tippu palace seen near city market and the need for full fledged offices leading to the construction of the modern high court building now seen opposite Vidhana Soudha. The Sankey tank was created later to solve water problems of the town.The tank primarily supplied water to the adjacent feilds for crops to prevent famine. This Sankey is not to be confused with the Sankey who is credited with the Sankey diagram and a mechanical engineer.High court building was earlier called attara kacheri meaning eighteen offices.

Portrait of Sir Mark Cubbon  Commissioner of Bangalore 1834 to 1860

Cubbon Park  , Cubbon Road  and Cubbon Pet are named after this man who came to Bangalore as its first Commissioner in 1834 and made far reaching changes especially the railway line to Jolarpettai and various bridges that were made along the railway line and the Stations. It was his idea to convert the vast stretch of land from Bangalore Pete the modern K R Market to the modern Raj Bhavan into a wooded park the Cubbon Park that came into existence in a full fledged way in 1870. The commissioner of Bangalore had a primary responsibility of regulating the Mysore government  and the relations between the local administrators and the royal family at Mysore faced challenges from time to time.In 1859 it was decided to handover the English administration of Mysore to the Governor General of Madras presidency challenging an established administrative procedure which Cubbon resented and the order was withdrawn but Cubbon was bent on reaching his home country but died in 1861 in Egypt on his  way to England.

A very important road in Bangalore is the Wheeler Road and not many know that the road is named after General Wheeler who died in June 1857 in the Sepoy mutiny in Kanpur. Wheeler had an Indian wife. The Ulsoor lake is an epicenter of English activity in Bangalore as the Madras Sappers later called the Madras Engineering group is head-quartered there. Madras sappers originally formed in 1782 in madras moved into Bangaloe in the early 1800's and had the role of assisting the infantry in warfare and General W H Wheeler  possibly William Hugh Measly Wheeler belonged to the Madras Sappers and the Wheeler road almost connects the Ulsoor lake to Fraser town ...this key road along the lake being named in memory of one of its general's.

                                            General Wheeler on whose name Wheeler road is named originally of Madras Sappers served in Kanpur 1857 sepoy mutiny.

Lewin Lentham Bowring in a rare portrait.

Lewin Lentham Bowring was commissioner of Mysore from 1861 to 1870 though a short period saw the construction of the high court. Two institutions bear the name of Bowring....the Bowring and Lady Curzon hospital which was originally Bowring hospital inaugurated by Bowring himself and built in French hospital design and later another wing possibly for fe-males being created and the hospital gets he name Bowring and Lady Curzon hospital. There another place called Bowring Institute which bears his name. Though I have seen Bowring institute but have not visited it and, will write something more on doing so. Bowring is credited for purchasing th modern Raj Bhavan for 32,000 rupees in an auction or else it would have fallen into private hands. Meade is acting Commissioner of Mysore after Bowring.

The Dickenson road of Bangalore starts at the end of the M G Road and extends upto the Dispensary road.This road appears to me as a link between the city of Bangalore and Wayanad  and has a bearing to the Pazhassi revolt called as Pychy revolt by the British. To avenge the hanging of Kannavath Sankaran Nambiar and his son by the  British East India company an attack is launched in the night of 11 October 1802 on the Garrison in Panamaram Wayanad which had some fifty soldiers headed by Dickenson who must have had the rank of Major and also some affiliation with the Madras Sappers. All the fifty solders are dead at the end of the ambush and some five of the invaders but Dickenson lost his life too. This road in Bangalore must be one of the earliest roads to be named after an Englishman soldier deceased in action. In all probability Dickenson must have distinguished himself as a soldier and must have also taken part in the operations against Tippu Sultan in 1799 in the fourth Mysore war.

Paul Brunton with Ramana Maharshi of Thiruvannamalai

 Raphael Hurst was the actual name of Paul Brunton on whose name Brunton road is named some kind of an alley connecting the M G Road and the Richmond Road..born in 1898 and lived up to 1981..served in the military in the first world war but became a mystic thereafter. It is likely that he influenced the creation of Ramana Maharshi park near Mekhri circle. You see some mammoth Victorian style villas on Brunton Road.

The Cunningham road in Bangalore is named after Francis Cunningham and had two of his brothers also in the service of the English government. He helped shape lalbagh as it is today probably in expanding its area. He was a powerful man serving as a deputy to Mark Cubbon and appears to be of Scottish descent. He also helped in refurbishing the guest house seen above the Nandi Hills. All the Cunningham brothers seem to be positively disposed to justice and had a pro-Indian orientation. Francis Cunningham was for returning power to the Mysore royal family who were depraved of power for nearly fifty years and power being restored to them in 1881. On the exit of Cubbon Francis Cunningham also releived himself of official duties and stayed on in Bangalore possibly in one of the houses on modern day Cunningham road itself. I think if there is any road in Bangalore which should retain its English name for ever it would be Cunnungham road a tribute for a man who strived for the cause of Mysore.

Prince Albert Victor Grandson of Queen Victoria who visited India in 1889 on whose name Albert Victor Road is named.

Not many know about Kalasipalyam near the city Market and to observe that one of its roads is named after english royalty is even more enthusing. Palyam means a fort and many cities in India have this word palayam attached to its places and Kalasipalyam is one such place in Bangalore and probably the only place. The entire part of Kalasipalyam was possibly within the Mysore kingdom and had more of regional orientations. Vani Vilas Hospital  and Minto eye hospital are institutions of yore and Kalasipalyam developed into a major city hub for patients looking for treatment more so as a de facto bus stop and station what it was and what it has become on a larger scale today. In 1882 the english hand over control of the Mysore kingdom to the Mysore kings and Prince Albert Victor visited Mysore kingdom and Bangalore in 1889 and the Mysore royal family must have gone overboard to please him. The prince visited Lalbagh and it was decided to name a road fairly long one from one end of Lalbagh to the modern Bangalore medical college as Albert Victor Road. This is my gut feel and Albert Victor road of today is technically a small stretch on this long stretch.

Lavelle Road of today is called Subbaraju Road and originally referred to Michael lavelle an Irish soldier in the English Army. Michael Lavelle could be truly called a man of Gold as KGF would not have come into existence had it not been for his pursuit. Lavelle used to stay on the Lavelle road himself and was a wealthy man from trading his rights of mining in KGF. On visiting New Zealand on official duties he understood the mining activity and on being told on return about some mining activity that existed earlier performed studies around modern day Kolar Gold Fields and found that coal and Gold existed in the depths in adequate quantity.He did receive licences to mine gold and thereafter as he could not handle the activity alone sold the rights to a more statutory set up. Lavelle became rich as a result and had owned a large patch of land on the present Lavelle road which was named after him.

John Cameron was an enthusiastic and a key character who was the head of the Lalbagh gardens for a sizeable time upto saw the creation of the Glass house..also called the crystal palace possibly erected to honour Prince Albet Victor and also expanding the overall size of the park to accommodate additional plants and was an enthusiastic horticulturist who also mainted good relations with the villagers around that time. He was a very intelligent man and vivacious in disposition and his self less enthusiasm deserves praise. He also was responsible in creating the Govt museum seen on Kasturbha road..but plants were his life.He gives control of the park to Gustav H K whose photo is seen below and another eminent horticulturist who even went into designing the vaious avenues of the town.

Gustav Hermann Krumbiegel a horticulturist responsible for the greenery of Bangalore basically a german who helped the English administration.He died in 1956 and is buried in the city...

Thomas Austin  Dewan of Travancore 1932 to 34 and of the Madras Presidency Administration

I can go on and on.......Thomas Austin a bureacrat who was also the Dewan of Travancore on whose name Austin town is named....Fraser on whose name Fraser town is named was a royal tutor and possibly was the inspiration for the many schools in the Cantonment area ..Kensinton..Cook..Cox...Coles are all names seen in Bangalore and must be associated with some people whose history must be in some archives..but these are the  many who helped design this city and please note that BBMP also designs modern day townships around the city around the etches provided by these administrators who had a hidden love for this city and had a largesse to hand over in tact to the future and it is but responsible that as we understand and use this city we don't forget the passion around which these people possibly developed this town a basis around which its present and future glory rests.

Monday, October 6, 2014


Basically the city of Bangalore has many halls many of them built post independence. In Bangalore prior to Independence there was possibly only the "Puttanna Chetty Town Hall" built in 1935 and close to the city market. Note that there are two formidable halls near the town hall namely the Ravindra Kalakshetra where Kannada plays are very often staged - a large and well ordained hall, and opposite to the Ravindra Kalakshetra is another municipality hall which can also house some one thousand odd people at a time.  This means on J-C road to my knowledge there are three halls.

If I were to list few other halls there is the Good Shepherd hall on Residency road and also a Guru Nanak hall.

The most striking and impressive and often talked about hall is the Chowdiah Memorial Hall near Sankey tank close to Malleswaram. Incidentally Sankey was an English civil engineer and the architect of the High Court building opposite to the Vidhana Soudha. It is built in memoriam of a renowned violonist of this part of the World by name Chowdiah who possibly gave many concerts and the entire hall is designed in the shape of a violin. This is the unique proposition of this hall and I have visited this hall many times and always enjoyed doing so.
Richard Hieram Sankey 

The interiors of the hall is striking with a seating capacity of more than one thousand...please check the exact has a small balcony seating facility too, with gardens around  and dining areas.The sound system and facilities inside are world-class.

Mekhri circle and Malleswaram 18th cross would be the vantage points around this edifice and anyone must visit this hall atleast once. This hall and its  existence is credited to Gundu Rao the then Chief Minister and deserves praise for having sanctioned such an outfit which would be defanitely termed as a Jewel in tne Crown of Bangalore.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


There was an air crash in Bangalore flight 605 of Indian Airlines from Bombay to Bangalore on the 14th of February 1990. What a tragic day and for many weeks thereafter the city reverberated under its shock.

Bangalore for all practical purposes before the said date had a clear air record at least on the passenger aircraft front.There was no incident where-in a plane taking off from Bangalore or any plane coming in missed the destination. Cities like Chennai madras and Bombay Mumbai have had air accidents- but not Bangalore. There were stray incidents of may be small planes like the HF 24 crashing in the out skirts on some trial mission.

What happened was this.  Bombay -Bangalore flight 605 took off from Bombay at around 12;00 noon and scheduled to land at Bangalore at around 1:20 PM. It was an A320 jet with fly by wire technology commanded by S S Gopujkar and his accomplice. It possibly had its co-ordinates of Bangalore Airport wrongly fed...and the plane instead of landing on the runway foreclosed and landed some 150 meters from the wall of the Airport adjacent to the military lawns after mowing down a the time the pilot switched off the fly by wire and took manual control it was too late and there is zero possibility of the plane taking off again...the plane rammed though the ground on the hot afternoon ripping the wheels apart and screeching the belly for many meters and the fuel going up in flames and 92 of the 154 passengers charred ..and for the timely intervention of the Air-hostess who flung the back door open the rest jumped to safety and the tragedy of the situation being that the plane burnt and at the hostile and uninhabited terrain the fire engines could never approach and what followed was bizarre and horrific least said.

I deliberately refrain from putting any picture of this incident owing to the malady it can create and note that one of the Birla scions were on board and possibly sitting in the Business class was early to be consumed. What a tragedy  ? I was at the BPL plant in Koramangala that afternoon and was one of the early recipients of this news.

Sadly a nearly similar incident gripped   Mangalore Airport few years ago.

Some serious thoughts must go into Aircraft design. The fuselage assuming it is the fuel container..I am no aviation expert........must be covered with a sizeable layer of some fire extinguisher material which will be unleashed on impact to nuetralize any fire that is created by friction..this would create a weight penalty on take-off and alter dynamics but it will save lives. How and in what matter it could be executed must be thought of by manufacturing experts. Fire must be mitigated and intrinsically quenched. Airports could have a helicopter handy with fire extinguishing apparatus which could be pressed into use in instances like this when there are terrestrial hindrances

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


  Bangalore as a city has a supposedly world class Airport. for many long years the Old Bangalore Airport was called a third-class Airport by the world media and the problem has been largely redeemed by the new Airport which is World class or in a class of its own. This Airport must have commenced full fledged service some five years ago say in 2009 or so. The date may not be perfect..but the reality of the new Airport commenced from around this time.

Bangalore as a city has Aviation history in the HAL which was an Aircraft servicing unit of  Hirachand Walchand and note that the old Bangalore Airport was an airstrip used by the British in World War II especially to bring in POW   prisoners of war from various pockets of the World. These prisoners were housed in the many barracks around the city largely in the K R Puram area of the city and one such places was the Gheecenter where the Khadi Udyog Board operates near the FCI go-downs close to Tin Factory bus stop on Old Madras Road.Most of the prisoners were Italians and possibly another barrack was in the lawns in front of the Main gate of Indian Telephone Industries but many of these structures have been demolished as the new world order took over. The remnants of many such structures could be seen in the 1970's. The prisoners could be fed well in these cities like Bangalore and the cost of doing so would be very less as supplies of various kinds were abundant here within and immediately around the British Cantonment.

The reason why I gave the above description was that..a small time runway becomes a full fledged airport of the city and for nearly five decades handled the Air travel into the city...The old Bangalore Airport. With time the number of planes increased and so did the traffic..there was more demand for International travel..and the roads leading to the Old airport was a perennial stretch of anxiety and uncertainty  leading to an outcry of a global kind leading to the facilitation of the new airport at Devanahalli.

It is an International consortim that built the BIA which I just visited once to date..during its construction I had met Albert Brunner its MD at a party one evening a gentleman from Switzerland overseeing the construction of the new Airport.He told me that both German and the Swiss language is spoken in Switzerland which I did not know hither-to.

Albert Brunner

On visiting the new BIA  I found it acceptable in design and an largely replicated version of the old Airport operating from a much larger area or land mass. Bangalore as a city may not be categorized as a major transit point in World air routes like London or Singapore and would have limited air needs largely for local travel and as a origin of planes for International destinations.

On an average it could be stated that the Airport is some 30 kms from various strategic points of the city which must be addressed through dedicated trains to the Airport which would become a reality any time considering the expansion of metro network in the town. Somekind of a bangalore Aero district would take shape from Devanahalli to Majestic to Hoskote and back. as of now there are two routes to the Airport the one through Yelahanka and one through Budigere cross near Hoskote. The shortest route to the Airport could be through the roads behind Ramamurthy nagar..but a full fledged road does not exist  needing to circumvent.

May the connectivity to the Airport improve even further through what ever means possible and this Airport should change the face of the city and its many other neighbouring towns.