Monday, November 23, 2015

ET - Divya Shekhar Series - Johnson Market

Here is the link to the 4th June 2015 article by Divya Shekhar:

I have also reproduced the entire text of the article for your ready reference.

Johnson Market in Bengaluru was set up in 1929 on a Persian trader's stable 

Tucked away in a narrow bylane between Richmond Town and Hosur Road is the old-worldly Johnson Market. With residential and commercial establishments all around it, its box-sized eaterie are pit-stops for the common man and celebrities alike. 

Extensions to the old Bangalore Pete and the growing population mandated the formation of newer markets towards the end of the 19th Century. 

Close on the heels of the Russell Market, built in 1927 and City Market in 1928, Johnson Market was established in 1929. It was commonly referred to as Russell Market's "poor cousin". 

Named after a former British civil servant, Johnson Market was initially called Richmond Town Market since it served that locality. 

Arun Prasad, independent researcher on Bengaluru's history and head of Discover Bengaluru, told ET that Johnson Market served the local population predominantly comprising traders, domestic servants of the British, gardeners and butchers.

"The land where Johnson Market was formed is said to have been a huge horse shelter belonging to Aga Ali Asker, a rich businessman (from Persia) who owned large tracts of land around Richmond Town," he said."Asker's home 'Arab Lines' was located right opposite Fatima Bakery." The large, two-storeyed, pistachio-coloured building was razed to the ground recently. 

Aga Ali Asker also willed that a mosque be built nearby for a sum of Rs 800. "This was the Masjid-eAskari located in the Masjid-eAskari located in the market," said Prasad. He added that the authorities also appointed a market sergeant who looked after the maintenance and services at the market. Local traders and restaurateurs also credit the existence and development of the market to Sir Mirza Ismail, erstwhile Dewan of Mysuru. "He owned a lot of land here, all of which he is said to have donated for the cause of the community ," said Shahid Hussain, a second-generation entrepreneur at Fanoos, the famous Iranian restaurant that was started in 1976. "As a tribute to his contribution, the area came to be called as the Sir Mirza Ismail Nagar," he added. 

The market is famous for second hand third-generation traders who retain the old-world flavour of the market, said Prem Koshy , whose ancestors turned to Richmond Town to set up the city's first fully-automated Koshy's Bakery on Wellington Street in 1953. 

"Johnson Market was a quiet neighbourhood back in the day , visited only by those living around it. But the growth of population and complementary establishments have made it more crowded and commercial," he said. "But the inherent nature of the market remains unchanged even today." 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

ET - Divya Shekhar Series - Krumbiegel Road

As I had mentioned earlier, in my meeting with Professor Chandan Gowda, he gifted me a book on a German-- G.H. Krumbiegel who had made contributions to Bangalore in several ways. Surprisingly, I found an article by Divya Shekhar on a road named after this very person. 

Here is the link to this article:

I reproduce below, the entire text of the article by Divya Shekhar on Gustav Hermann Krumbiegel for your ready reference.

Hermann Krumbiegel, the German behind a blooming Bengaluru

KRUMBIEGAL ROAD: Erstwhile emperors Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, who formed and developed the city's famous Lalbagh garden, are usually acknowledged as the forces behind Bengaluru's `Garden City' tag.Forgotten among the heavyweights is Gustav Hermann Krumbiegel, a horticulturalist and town planner responsible for imaginatively conceived flower sequences that add soul to the garden all year round.His mention remains restricted to a nondescript road sandwiched between Lalbagh and Mavalli. 

Writer and cultural documentarian Aliyeh Rizvi told ET about the road's nomenclature through personal history . "The Krumbiegel Road is named after a German landscape designer and urban planner Gustav Hermann Krumbiegel who came here at the behest of my great grand uncle, the Diwan of Mysore, Sir Mirza Ismail, and the Maharaja of Mysore, to be the director of Lalbagh and plan the Garden City ." 

Rizvi added that Krumbiegel also introduced a system called `serial planting' to ensure that all avenues in Bengaluru would be planted with seasonally-flowering trees so that the city would bloom all year through. 

Talking about how he walked past Krumbiegel Road as a child to get to National High School, art historian Suresh Jayaram said, "The Ashwath Katte (a platform-like shrine built around large Neem and Peepal trees that was also a community meeting point) is an important cultural landmark on the road." 

Jayaram, who also produced a book called `GH Krumbiegel: Whatever he touched, he adorned', tracing the horticulturist's legacy in Bengaluru, added that Krumbiegel faded away from public memory with even the naming of the road having no official an nouncement or publication."Incidentally , 2015 happens to be his 150th birth anniversary ," he said. 

In his book `The City Beautiful', TP Issar, former chief secretary of Karnataka and chairman of the Urban Arts Commission, said: "(Krumbiegel) was in the employment of the Maharaja from 1908 to 1932 and did much work of lasting value not only in developing Lalbagh but many other gardens in the city...Many of the lines and clusters of cassias, gulmohurs, tabebuias and bougainvillaeas, which we see today , are enduring manifestations of Krumbiegel's dreams of a blossoming Bangalore." 

Post 1932, Krumbiegel stayed on in the city as a consulting architect and advisor in horticulture and town planning till his death in 1956."He was the first to occupy the director's bungalow in Lalbagh," added Jayaram. "His cemetery can be found in the Methodist graveyard on Hosur Road." 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

ET - Divya Shekhar Series - Kamaraj Road

Here is the link to the November 5th 2015 article by Divya Shekhar:

I have also reproduced the entire text of the article for your ready reference:

The story behind Bangaluru's Kamaraj Road

The military legacy inherited from the Bangalore Cantonment camouflages the other identities which Kamaraj Road, aka Cavalry Road, once assumed. The diversity of communities occupying in its bylanes lingers on but seldom acknowledged.
As one traverses this arterial road that cuts through Commercial Street, one finds that its mercantile demeanour soon makes way for two-storeyed, Tamil Chettiar kind of homes with heavy wooden doors opening out to the streets. That this is where Sir Arcot Narayanswamy Mudaliar, businessman, philanthropist and contractor who supervised the construction of Attara Kacheri, set up a grocery shop be fore becoming one of the richest men in the city . Here is where freedom fighters scattered grain on the road to trip British horsemen marching past. Old Bengalureans continue to remember it as Cavalry Road though it was renamed -in the 1970s -after the former Tamil Nadu chief minister and president of the Indian National Congress K Kamaraj.
"British soldiers from the Cavalry regiment stayed there," said Poornima Dasharathi, founder of Unhurried Heritage Walks. A military regiment also meant demand for traders and moneylenders, which led to migrants -predominantly Tamil and Marwari communities -making the area their home. "The British officials relied on them to keep accounts, encash salary cheques, take loans etc," says Dasharathi. As people from old Bangalore did not work in the cantonment, migrants filled in. The very fact that the road was renamed after K Kamaraj points to its strong Tamil connection.
One of its numerous personal stories is how it was home to the first and most famous Jewish family of Bengaluru. Rubin Moses started a shoe shop called `Rubin Moses and Sons' on Commercial Street. Kannada writer Nemichandra's novel Yad Vashem, which traces the life of a Jewish girl in Bengaluru, talks about how the Moses came to Bengaluru after an earthquake in San Francisco and joined the gold rush in KGF in the beginning of the 20th century.
Moses built the family home on Cavalry Road in 1921 in the Iraqi Casbah style. "In 2003, when I went looking for 19, Cavalry Road, I realised that the house was converted into Eastern Lodge. The David's Star on the building helped me recognise the Jewish home," Nemichandra told ET. The lodge has been razed while the shoe shop is now the popular Woody's eatery on Commercial Street.

Friday, November 6, 2015

ET - Divya Shekhar Series - Albert Victor Road

Here is the link to the 4th June 2015 article by Divya Shekhar:

I have also reproduced the entire text of the article for your ready reference:

The mystery behind naming Bengaluru's AV Road revealed:

Albert Victor Road, named after the prince of Wales, is seeing many changes to its name. ET explains the story behind the names. 

When playwright William Shakespeare famously said "What's in a name?" and basked in the resultant adulation, little would the bard have anticipated that many centuries down the line, a metropolis in south India would go all out to dismiss it, multiple times. 

The case in point is Bengaluru's AV Road, whose nomenclature has repeatedly been in the eye of the storm over the years. Originally Albert Victor Road, it was cleverly changed to Alur Venkat Rao Road sometime in the 1960s. Now again, there are forces at work to rename the road. 

AV Road is the first main road of Chamarajpet, which was the first extension created outside the old Pete area in 1892. Historian Suresh Moona said the rationale behind naming it Albert Victor Road was simple. 

In 1888, the then prince of Wales Albert Victor visited Bengaluru. He laid the foundation stone for the Lalbagh Glass House. The plaque commemorating this is found at the Lalbagh entrance even today . 

"Even though the British transferred administrative powers to the Mysore maharaja in 1881, they still had a strong hold over important decisions," said Moona. "So when the first extension to the Pete was formed barely four years after the foundation stone for the Glass House was laid, they decided to name it after Albert Victor as a mark of respect." 

Moona added that when the city went on a renaming spree towards the end of 1960s, the only thing it retained of the old name were the initials. It was called Alur Venkat Rao Road. 

Popularly referred to as the Karnataka Kulapurohita, Alur Venkat Rao was an eminent literary personality and historian who led the Karnataka unification movement. He edited and pub lished a newspaper called 'Jaya Karnataka' whose sole aim, he announced, was Karnataka's statehood. In all probability, the renaming of the road was on the heels of Rao's demise in February 1964. 

Although locals and several establishments in the area have adopted the new name, official BBMP records still refer to the road as Albert Victor Road. 

"Irrespective of what the name means, people just call it AV Road," said Moona, adding that re-renaming the road at this juncture would only lead to unwarranted confusion for the administration and disappointment for the people. 

A proposal submitted by the city corporation council to rename AV Road as Tipu Sultan Palace Road was recently met with opposition by a BJP-led delegation. A greater controversy threatened to break out when the corporation claimed that AV Road was officially registered as Albert Victor Road, and nowhere in government or postal records is Alur Venkat Rao Road mentioned. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

ET - Divya Shekhar Series - M.N. Krishna Rao Park

In my post about Professor Chandan Gowda, I had mentioned a book that he gifted me, which was about a German G.H. Krumbiegel and his contributions to Bangalore.

As I read this piece I was struck that another German -- Otto H Koenigsberger has also made a significant contribution to Bangalore.

Now, enough about my musings about Germans and their contributions to Bangalore, let me reproduce the entire text of a recent article by Divya Shekhar in ET for your ready reference.

Here is the link to the 29th October 2015 article:

Bengaluru's MN Krishna Rao Park -- ­ Designed in 1940s exclusively for women and children

MN Narendra recalls that in the early 1940s, a security guard outside the MN Krishna Rao Park in Basavanagudi stopped a man from entering the premises. The park, possibly the first of its kind in the country, was meant only for women and children.

The man who wanted to use it as a shortcut to his daughter's home smiled understandingly and walked away. The dutiful guard never realised that he had refused entry to the very person the park was named after! "Such was the humility of my grandfather, who never flaunted his position and titles," says Rao's 73 ­year­ old grand son Narendra, who lives in the 108 year­ old home built by the former acting dewan of Mysore.

Spread across 25 acres, the square­shaped park is named after Sir MN Krishna Rao, who was the acting dewan of the Mysore princely state in 1941 when Sir Mirza Ismail travelled to England for the Round Table Conference. Rao was conferred knighthood for his contribution to the Mysore state administration.

In the early 1940s, Rao contributed Rs 20,000 from his personal funds to build the park and also laid its foundation stone.

An additional Rs 15,000, Narendra continues, was spent in building the two­storeyed Krishna Rao pavilion at the centre of the park.

The structure was designed by Berlin­ born Otto H Koenigsberger, chief architect and planner of Mysore state, whose repertoire also includes iconic structures like Bal Bhavan and buildings in the Indian Institute of Science. Now neglected and dilapidated, it was once a vibrant space with music and cultural events. The park, with its lush greens, was planned specifically for women because they had very few spaces for recreation.

Rao's own bungalow was just the third home built in the Basavanagudi extension, formed at the aftermath of the bubonic plague in 1898.

Ulhas Anand, a nature enthusiast and cofounder of EcoEdu that conducts tree walks in Bengaluru, said the park is surrounded by three large trees that date back to the 1940s.

"Though it has lost some of its green cover, the park retains many rare trees. The avenue trees, however, were destroyed when the underpass was built."

What a surprising find!!

Today I was looking for some other information in day-before-yesterday's paper. I accidentally stumbled on to this really interesting article on page 2 of The Economic Times Bangalore edition.

Who would have guessed, that a business newspaper might carry an article on Bangalore's history!! It appears that they have been doing so for some time now under the by-line "Date with History: ET Explains the story behind the names".

I just googled and found out that Divya Shekhar a journalist with The Economic Times has been running such a series for a while. I will e-mail her just now and see if I can meet with her. I hope she will encourage and guide me to take City Idols forward. Thank you, Divya Shekhar!

I will provide links to her stories on this subject in separate blog posts.

Resources - 1

As I have mentioned several times in the past, our main motive is to crowd-source information on places named after people. And to make a beginning we intend to reach out to interested people to participate.

One of the main concerns has been verification of content that people will submit. But chronologically thinking our primary concern should actually be creation of content. Some of you may now wonder what possible concern there may be, with regard to the creation of content.

The main concern regarding creation of content is that a lot of information on several people, is not available on the Internet. This makes it tougher to gather information on these people.

So now as we know, there is a constraint with the current level of information on the Internet. To meet this issue, we should look up to alternative sources of information.

During my meeting with Professor Chandan Gowda, I was introduced to several books containing very relevant information on prominent people in Bangalore.

I list below the titles of these books:

1. Jnapaka Chitrashale - by D.V. Gundappa

2. The City Beautiful - by T. P. Issar

3. Monkey Tops: Old Buildings in Bangalore Cantonment - by Elizabeth Staley

4. Notes and Monographs - by Kora Chandy

5. Bangalore Roots and Beyond - by Maya Jaypal

6. Bangalore: A Century Of Tales From City & Cantonment - by Peter Colaco

7. Bengalurina Itihasa - by B.N. Sundara Rao

8. Bangalore Through the Centuries - by Fazlul Hasan

This is the first set of resources that I have mentioned, and I intend to post more such resources in the future blog posts as I come across them.

I hope this is useful!