Friday, 30 November 2012

Ordering your heroes

Bangalore is home to perhaps the highest number of  Darshinis and cafes in India. There are also a large number of hotels and bakeries. Eating out has, therefore, never been a problem in Bangalore.
There are eateries to suit your taste and budget. However,  there are only a handful of eateries that have cinema, literature and sports as their theme.
In this article, let me tell you about some unusual eateries in Bangalore. Try them out for variety.
Let me start with a fast food restaurant in Chamarajpet where you can order your much loved Kannada poet or novelist for lunch, dinner or even breakfast. Each dish here is named after a great Kannada writer. Instead of  asking for the dish such as idli, order for a plate of D.V. Gundappa (DVG). DVG will instantly get you Thatte idlis.
DVG was one of the most famous Kannada writer. Born in Mulabagal, he is famous for Manku Thimmana Kagga.
There are dishes named after other authors such as Da Ra Bendre (Dattatreya Ramachandra Bendre of Dharwad).
Well, if you order Bendre, you get Chitraanna, which in English is better known as lemon rice. Masti Venkatesh Iyengar will get you Puliyogre and Prof V.K. Gokak will fetch you Nippatlu.
Check out the unusual menu at SLV Fast Food restaurant. The menu card has the names of  Kannada writers along with their photographs.
Another unusual hotel is in Gandhinagar, the home of Sandalwood, the Kannada film industry.
A prominent film producer and MLC, Sandesh Nagaraj, has named his  new restaurant at his hotel Sandesh Kingston in Gandhinagar as ‘Sandalwood’.
The filmy restaurant is on the fourth floor of the hotel and when you enter it, you are immediately greeted with impressions of palms of  Kannada film artistes.
The dining hall is decorated with photographs of film artistes. There are black and white photographs too. The kitchen too has many photographs.    
The menu card too is filmy. It conta8ins photographs of film artistes and their favourite dishes.
Another place to try out is “The Bat and Ball Inn” behind Richmond Road.
This small place is beautifully decorated and cricket is its theme. There are photographs and some cricket gear in the restaurant which is located on Laurel Road, just behind the building of Haj Committee.
This is a homestay owned by cricketers Sreesanth and Robin Uthappa,  Charu Sharma and J K Mahendra. The homestay has a cricket-based theme. It has two restaurants- Cornucopia and “The Bat and  Ball Inn+-both of which have  cricket memorabilia.
Another eatery devoted to cricket is called Inswing. If you are a cricket fan, head to Inswing which showcases autographed bats and cricket posters.
Inswing has good north Indian dishes and check out the parathas. It is located on 21st Main, near BDA Complex, Banashankari 2nd Stage.

Roman beauty of Bangalore

An apple a day keeps the doctor away has been  a very popular saying. However, buying apples in Bangalore is expensive as they cost upwards of Rs. 120 per kilogram.
Bangaloreans are a fortunate lot as they can taste apples from Himachal Pradesh, China, Washington an even Australia and New Zealand. Unfortunately, these apples do not come cheap as they have to be imported into the city.
This is an ironical situation as Bangalore in the early years of the 20th century was known for its apples. Yes, apples grew here and they were plenty.
Apart from Whitefield and surrounding areas, many old time bungalows in Bangalore, particularly in Cantonment had apple trees.
Horticulturists and old-timers recall that a vary particular variety of apple was grown in Cox Town called Rome Beauty. These were sturdy varieties of apples but they fell prey to the growing urbanization of Bangalore and the changing climatic condition. These trees almost disappeared from the City’s landscape in the 1960s.
Now, you can see this apple only in Lalbagh. The officials of the Horticulture Department, which looks after Lalbagh and Cubbon Park, have planted ten apple trees of Rome Beauty near the Fern Garden in Lalbagh.
These trees require a cold climate to grow. They grow very well if the temperature is less than 13 degree Celsius. They need hundreds of hours of chill to mature.
Well, coming back to apples: Bangalore had several well-known orchards where apples were a prized tree. Most  of these apple gardens vanished around 1925.
The credit for making Bangalore an apple growing centre goes to the British. While the Cantonment catered to the military and civil needs of the British, many Anglo-Indians and British constructed houses in Whitefield where they planted several trees and plants native to England.
Since apples play a major part in an Englishman’s daily routine, the British wanted to introduce apples in Bangalore. James Cameroon, the Curator of Lalbagh, took the first tentative steps in 1887 to introduce apples.
Cameroon imported 17 varieties of apples to Bangalore from England and had them tested in Lalbagh. Out of the 17 varieties, only the Rome Beauty was found to be resilient and adaptive to Bangalore.
Cameroon then decided to introduce Rome Beauty to Bangalore. He ensured that a large number of seeds of this variety of apples were procured from England. These seed were then distributed to farmers and owners of estates in Bangalore and Whitefield.               
Cameroon was keen to ensure that Bangalore became a major apple growing centre and, therefore, distributed the apple seeds free of cost.
Local farmers and British plantation owners took to apple growing in a big way and by the turn of  the century (1900) and the early years of the 20th century, more than 1,000 acres of  land were exclusively growing apples.
The apple orchards came up around Palace Grounds called Upper and Lower Palace Orchards, Vasanthnagar, Whitefield and the soggy area between Konankunte and Kanakapura Road.
Initially, the apples were being grown for the Europeans who lives in and around Bangalore, Slowly, Indians too began to like the local variety of apple as against the apples imported from Jammu Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.
The popularity of Bangalore apples grew as they were locally available and much cheaper.        
In those days, the apples had many takers because the ones from Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh would take several days to reach the south.
The apple orchards met a slow death for several reasons. The chill of Bangalore that attracted the British to Bangalore slowly began to disappear. Other varieties of crops made their entry into Bangalore displacing apples. Growing urbanization of the city and its hunger for land meant disappearance of orchards. The water bodies too vanished, depriving apples of a vital component. By the time India became Independent, the apples had practically vanished.
Today, apples are not grown in Bangalore. The only ones growing are in Lalbagh and at Hesarghatta.  

Friday, 16 November 2012

The sewage that floods our Anjeneya

It is one of the most famous temples of Bangalore and hundreds of devotees flock to it every day. The number goes up substantially on Sundays and holidays.
A few decades ago, anyone entering Bangalore from Mysore Road would first go to the temple and then enter the City. Politicians, businessmen and industrialists made it a point to seek the blessings of the deity and then start out on their ventures.
The temple became so famous that its fame spread far and wide. Alas, for the last few years, the temple has seen an annual occurrence that it could do without. Every time it rained, the storm water drain next to the temple overflowed and entered the temple premises.
The last several years have seen sewage water and garbage from the storm water drain flow into the temple and even enter the sanctum sanctorum. Several Chief Ministers right from the time of  Dharam Singh, H.D. Kumara Swamy and  B.S. Yeddyuruppa have come and gone but there seems no end to the problem.
It is only this time or rather this year when Bangalore received less than average rains that the Gali Anjeneya Temple on Mysore Road did not have any major problem of flooding.
The Gali Anjeneya Temple is one of the oldest temples in Bangalore and the Madhwa saint Vyasa Theertha of Vyasaraja Matha consecrated the idol of Hanuman more than five hundred years ago.
This was one of the 732 Hanuman temples that Vyasa Theertha consecrated all over India. While several hundred Anjeneyas were consecrated in Penukonda, Bangalore has several Vyasa Prathistha Hanuman temples.
The Hanuman Temple opposite the Minto Eye hospital, the Kote Anjeneya Temple, the Pranadevaru Temple at JP Nagar 6th Block, and the beautiful and recently renovated temple of Hanuman near Yelahanka on the Yelahanka-Doddaballapur road are some of the other structures consecrated centuries ago by Vyasa Theertha.
The Gali Anjeneya Temple stands adjacent to the Vrishabhavathi river which today is nothing more than a storm water drain. With  almost all this drain network clogged by debris and sewage, the drainage water inundated the temple regularly and the Vrishabhavathi regularly breached the compound wall.
The filth and garbage had to be cleaned up from the temple regularly and even the priests had to lend a helping hand in this exercise.
Though several promise were made to rectify the issue, none of them seem to have gone to the root of the problem. It was only some time back that an elected representative from Bangalore took time off to look into the issue and suggest a simple solution.
One of the Members of the Legislative Council (MLC), Ashwathnarayanam decided to see why and how the waters from the storm water drain and the Vrishabhavathi enter the temple.
He went around the network of drains and canals that lead to the Vrishibhavati river and found that the flooding occurred due to a simple reason.
He found that one of the major canals from the Kempambhudhi lake, which is behind Kempegowda Nagar, was the reason for the frequent flooding.  The flood gates lake, which is upstream, were kept open to ensure that water did not stagnate in the lake.
So when rains came and water started collecting in the lake, it immediately moved out towards the Vrishabhavathi river. Thus, instead of holding excess rain water, the Kempembudhi Lake discharged more and more water, swelling the Vrishabhavathi river.
Already filled with garbage and debris, the river would overflow the embankment at Gali Anjeneya Temple and enter the structure.   
Another problem is that the Kempambudhi lake is connected by a network of drains from nearby Gavipuram Guttahalli, Chamarajpet, Shankarpuram, Basavanagudi and surrounding areas including Hanumanthanagar, Srinagar and other localities.
It is estimated that during the monsoon, these drains pump in at least 1850 cusecs of water  every day into the lake. And almost the entire quantity goes out as the crest gates of the tank is kept open.
The civic authorities have hot upon a solution to ensure that the temple is not flooded. They have decided to close the gate and let out water from the tank only after it fills up to a certain extent. This step would lessen the pressure on the Vrishabhvathi and also lead to steady discharge of water, avoiding flooding of  the temple. 

The waste river water of Bangalore

It was once a serene river flowing across many localities of Bangalore. Till the 1970s, the river was a source of livelihood for hundreds of Bangaloreans and also a  place for  river water swimming and lazing around.
The Vrishabhbavathi, as it was known, was a small stream that meandered around the city of Bangalore. It had its origin in the small hillock near the Dodda Ganapathi Temple on Bull Temple Road in Basavanagudi.
All this changed when several industries and business establishments came  up on the banks of the Vrishabhavati. In just a matter of months the river lost its pristine quality and turned into a “ mori” which in Kannada means a drain.
The pollutants from industries were  not the only reason for the river to die. The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) connected all the sewer lines to the river.
Today, while motoring down the Mysore road, you can see a frothing mass of water. This is not the drain as is commonly believed but the Vrishibhavathi river.
The river runs parallel to Mysore road for several kilometers. It flows near the Gali Anjeneya after touching areas like Guddadahalli, Bapujinagar and  RR Nagar. Near Kengeri, locals call it Kengeri Mori as the water here is totally filthy and unfit even for fishes and marine life.
Eve today, people living around Mysore Road and near Rajarajesharinagar recall how the river carried pure water and watered the coconut grooves. The river water also provided us with vegetables and fruits of the local variety.
This river was a small yet vital tributary of the Arkavathy. The irony is that both the tributary and the river are in dire straits. If the tributary has virtually died up, the Arkavathy is in the process of drying up. 
The priests of the Gali Anjeneya Temple on Mysore Road and Shiva Temple in Kengeri will tell you that till the mid 1970s they used the river water daily for religious purposes. But no longer. The Vrishabhavathi at the Gali Anjeneya Temple is filthy and at the Shiva Temple it is unpotable.
Apart from this river, even the Arkavathy now carried the bulk of the City’s garbage and waste. In the early years of Bangalore (in 1922) , it had a sewerage system covering 215 kms and this was separated from the riverine system. Thus, waste water never mingled with the river water. This changed with Independence.
First the civic authority and next the BWSSB effectively killed the tanks and then targeted the river system. They permitted effluents and sewage to flow into the rivers, tanks and water bodies, polluting them to such an extent that even marine life died.
The Vrishabhavathi became a sewage river, tanks dried up, other water bodies were breached and tank bunds and catchments areas were encroached upon and construction allowed. Naturally, the water bodies became septic and the Vrishabhavathi became nothing more than a huge cesspool.   
Experts are puzzled at the lack of planning by the City fathers in protecting the water bodies. They say Bangalore north is on a flat terrain except for  the Doddabettahalli ridge which is the highest point. This ridge runs north-north east-South-south west and Doddabettahalli is 1062 metres high.
Bangalore south has more of an undulating terrain with hills and valleys. It is in one of the small hills here that the Vrishabhavathi takes birth.
The Arkavathy and Vrishabhavathi rivers were interconnected to the many lakes and tanks of Bangalore from the time of Kempe Gowda. If one tank overflowed, the water would percolate to the other. Thus, there was no flooding till a few decades ago.
The river today is a potential carrier of epidemic and villagers downstream have complained of  diseases and health hazard arising out of acute pollution and filthy water.
Residents of Byramangala, Chowkalli and Gopalli have complained of  health related diseases and studies by several scientific and academic institutions have pinpointed the polluted Vrishabhavathi as the reason.
Even the waters of the wells and borewells around the course of the river are highly polluted. Studies conducted by many research institutions have identified water from the lake as well as open and bore wells in the area as non-potable, with high levels of fecal coliforms making them unfit for human consumption or even for use by animals or in agriculture
The civil engineering department, EPCET, Bangalore, has conducted a recent study called  ‘Hydrochemical assessment of the pollutants in groundwaters of Vrishabhavathi Valley Basin in Bangalore (India)”. The study was conducted by Shankar B S, Balasubramanya N and Reddy M T.
M Jiban Singh and others of Department of Environmental Science, Bangalore University, have conducted a study on the  “Bacteriological assessment of groundwater in Arkavathi and Vrishabhavathi basins”.
Researchers at the University of  Agriculture Sciences (UAS)
Have studied the effect of the river called “'Economic and Environmental Implications of Groundwater Degradation in Vrishabhavathi River Basin.”
The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB)
and the BWSSB have done research on the river and its problems. A copy of the report may be seen with the Lok Adalat which  is housed in the Karnataka High Court.   

The vanishing lakes of Bangalore

I do not think there has ever been a Bangalorean or even a tourist who has not been to Majestic which houses the bus stand and the Railway Station. The area sees an influx of lakhs of people every day and it can be counted as the busiest place in Karnataka.
But did you know that the Kempegowda Bus terminus, that is the name of the bus stand, was once a beautiful lake called Dharmambudhi Lake. Today, all that reminds us of the lake is a road named Dharmambudhi.
Dharmambudhi was among the many lakes and wetlands in Bangalore that have fallen prey to the growing urbanization of Bangalore and its greed for land. What shocks people today is that it was the then civic authority which decided to breach a large number of tanks on the pretext of controlling and eradicating malaria.
So, we had tens of tanks breached and the land given over for development. The result is there for all to see today. The old water bodies are gone and what remains are a few spots of water. One of the best examples I can give in this context is the Sampangiramanagar Lake.
The lake was breached and the land given for construction of the stadium. Today, the lake is confined to a small Kalyani or pond at a corner. This is the very place where the Hasi Karaga is placed before the commencement of the Bangalore Karaga.       
Apart from this lake, the Koramangala lake was breached by the civic authorities and part of it handed over to the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI). A hockey stadium has come up at Akkithimanahalli near the Baldwin School.
The Krishna Flour Mills stands on Jakkarayanakere and Mysore Lamps which is now closed once was part of the Tumkur lake.
The Vijayanagar lake was breached and today the busy Vijayanagar Chord Road passes through it. Once of the newer layouts of Bangalore, Rajarajeshwari Nagar, was once Vijinipura lake.
The prestigious HBR Layout was once part of the beautiful Hennur lake. There are two KSRTC workshops on the erstwhile Sunkal lake.
The Byresandra tank is almost dry and there is threat of encroachment. The Hulimavu lake, though fenced, is unclean and badly needs attention. The Yediyur lake and Ulsoro lake is badly in need of a clean up.
The Ganeshas submerged in the Ulsoor lake is still floating around on Ulsoor lake. The Sankey Lake too needs immediate attention. The hebbal lake is a pale shadow of what it was once.
This shows that almost all the water bodies in Bangalore arte under threat. Unfortunately, neither the civic body nor the Government has been able to save them.
The Government decision to privatise some lakes has not found favour with environmentalists and old timers of  Bangalore, Some of them, including the Environment Support Group (ESG) have approached the Karnataka High Court against moves by the Lake Development Authority and the Government to hand over some lakes such as Agara to private entrepreneurs for development.     
Lakes and water bodies have always played an important part in the city of Bangalore. The then rulers of Bangalore, including the Wodeyars and the British and much before them Kempe Gowda, realized that Bangaloe would need as much water as possible and they went about building lakes and tanks.
If Kempe Gowda built Kempambudhi lake, the British built Sankey and Millers Tanks and the Wodeyars the Hesarghatta and TG Halli reservoirs. What have our politicians built after Independence. Not a single lake or water body.
On the other hand, the civic bodies and the Government have systematically presided over the death of these water bodies. A recent survey by the Indian Institute of Science has pointed out that there were 262 wet lands in Bangalore in 1962. By 2007, they had come down by 58 per cent.
This survey was conducted by the Energy and Wetland Research Group, Centre for Ecological Sciences, IISc. The survey says while the wetlands percentage dropped, the City’s built up area increased by by 466 percent between 1973- 2007.
The survey said there were 51 active wetlands in 1973. They had come down to just 17 by 2007 and almost all of these are now under threat. The lakes in greater Bangalore area also decreased from 159 to 93.
Both the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) have found the water bodies unfit for consumption and even activities such as fishing and boating.  
The Bruhut Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has come up with a Rs. 900 crores programme to save and protect the existing lakes and tanks. The plan was recently submitted to the Lok Adalat which has taken up the issue of the City’s diminishing lakes.
Though the Government and BBMP have announced steps to clean up the lakes, it may not be feasible in the long run. What is needed is a new water policy aimed at conserving the underground water table and simultaneously reviving the Hesarghatta and TG Halli lakes.
The course of the Arvakathi needs to be revived. Encroachments should be removed and afforestation programmes taken up at the source of the Arkavathy. The Vrushabavathi river should be totally cleaned up and this can be done by first ensuing that there is no flow of sewage into the river.
Another aspect that the Government should gibe immediate attention is to complete expeditiously complete the underground  rain water network and link then to the rivers and water bodies.
Chennai has made rain water harvesting compulsory. Make it compulsory here too with no exceptions. Supply treated water for lakes, gardens, factories and for industrial purposes. This would reduce the pressure on the Cauvery network and lead to greater levels of water conservation.
The health of the groundwater is linked to that of the surface water. The surface water in Bangalore is unhealthy and a recent study by the Pollution Control Board has shown high levels of  salt, nitrates and other toxins and pollutants in groundwater.
Some of the lakes I remembered that were converted into urban jungles are as follows:
Shoolay lake in Ashok Nagar changed to Football stadium
Challghata Lake behind old HAL Airport changed to Karnataka Golf Association
Koramangala lake changed to National Games Complex in Ejipura
Siddikatte Lake is KR Market
Karanji tank in Gandhi Bazar is gone and there is only a road named after it.
Kempambudhi built by Kempe Gowda is a septic tank
Nagashettihalli lake houses the Department of Space
Kadugondanahalli lake has made way for Ambedkar Medical College
Domlur lake is now part of the BDA layout
Millers Lake is home to many organisations such as Guru Nanak Bhavan, Badminton Stadium, Billards Stadium and Khadi Bhavan.
Subhashnagar is now a residential area
Kurubarahalli lake is a layout
Kodihalli lake is now named Kodihalli
Sinivaigalu lake changed to Residential layout
Marenahalli lake is now part of JP Nagar.
Shivanahalli lake has transformed into a playground and bus stand
Chenamma tank is now a burial ground in BSK. It is still called Chennamana Kere.
Putanahalli lake has almost disappeared in J.P. Nagar 6th Phase
Kamakshipalya Lake is a sports ground
Dasarahalli tank is now called Ambedkar Stadium.
There are many studies by the Forest Department, BDA, BBMP, BWSSB, State Government, Lake Development Authority and scientific and academic institutions. Almost all the studies are unanimous in their report that the lakes are dying and they need to be saved.  
One of Bangalore's best known adminiatrators, Lakshman Rau, has given a beautiful report on how to conserve the lakes and tanks of Bangalore. The authorities need to act fully on it. The ISRO has also done a study and it could be used to revive the water bodies.         

The underground temple of Malleswaram

Can you believe it that a temple complex was excavated almost intact just a decade ago from one of the most happening places in Bangalore.
The place was Malleswaram and the 17th Cross in the area is one of the busiest hubs of the area. It was 1997 and a mound was being dug by to level the ground.
The workers first came across a small stone structure. When they began digging a little deeper, they came across a spire of a temple. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials were immediately informed and when  they dug up the area, they found a 7,000 year-old temple of Nandeeshwara almost intact.
Even today, when locals and temple officials tell you the story behind the excavation, you cannot help but marvel at how an ancient temple was buried under the sands of time. How could it have been buried for so many years without anyone knowing about it. Besides, how did it escape the attention of developers and civic and ASI officials for so long.
Temple officials says carbon dating of the structure has revealed it to be 7,000 years old.
The temple and the courtyard is in good condition even today. The courtyard is supported by pillars. The statue of  Nandi is carved out of black granite and its eyes are painted in golden colour. When the temple was first excavated, people saw water coming or rather flowing from the mouth of the Nandi to the idol of Shiva or  the Linga beneath.
The water continues to flow  even today and the water is crystal clear.
The Linga is also carved out of Black granite. There are steps leading from the Sanctum to a small Kalyani or pond. There is even a whirlpool in the centre of the Kalyani. The whirlpool is at least 15 foot deep. How the Kalyani gets water is a mystery.
The locals say part of the water to the Kalyani comes from the Sankey Tank which is nearby. There is also a belief that Shivaji contributed in some way to the construction of the temple. This is because Shivaji and his father Shahaji are closely associated with the Kadu Malleswara Temple which is almost opposite this temple.   
There are some inscriptions that are believed to be older than the temple structure.
The Lakshmi  Narasimha Temple near the Kadu Malleswara Temple is another ancient structure.
If you are visiting Bangalore for the first time, check out these temples along with other temples. There are several eateries in Malleswaram such as Janata Hotel, CRT, Bun World, Halli Mane to name a few where you can eat good food. The Mantri Mall on the land where Raja mill once stood is also worth a visit as is the Sankey Tank and the TTD complex where there is beautiful idol of Balaji or Srinivasa. You can book tickets and seves at the TTD counters here. The TTD complex is situated adjacent to the Chowdaiah Memorial Hall.
Malleswaram is easily accessible either by bus or taxi, auto.      

The cave temple of Hulimavu

The Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple in Gavipuram, Bangalore, is perhaps one of the best known cave temples in this part of  Karnataka.
One of the most important caves are the Badami caves which is now in Bagalkot district. Bangalore is fortunate in having two cave systems. While the Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple is well-known, another cave temple is of Ramalingeshwara on Bannerghatta Road. This is not as well –known as the former cave structure.
The Ramalingeshwara Cave temple is not as old as the Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple. Nor is it as impressive and grand as the former. While thousands of visitors turn up at the Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple, hardly a few come to the Ramalingeshwara Cave.
The Ramalingeshwara Cave temple is almost opposite the Meenakshi Temple on Banerghatta Road. It is in Hulimavu and adjacent to the BGS educational institutions.
In case you plan a trip to the cave, I suggest you go to the Meenakshi Temple first and then cross over to the other side of the busy Bannerghatta Road where the cave temple is located.
A small path leads you to a compound where you can see a huge boulder above the ground. This is the upper part of the cave and you can walk inside.
The cave is not as narrow as the Gavi Gangadhareshwara Temple. Here, a man with normal height can stand upright and walk about most places in the cave.
The cave is cool and there are it forms part of a geological monolithic granite rock. As soon as you come into the cave, you can see a Samadhi in the front and deities to the left. There is a meditation hall on the right.
There are deities of  Shiva in the form of a Linga, Rama,  Sita, Lakshmana and Haunman. There is also an idol of Ganesha, Garuda and Raja Rajeshwari. There is also a small statue of Nandi.
The meditation hall is the place where a swamiji, Ramananda, meditated for several years.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) says the cave is over 2,000 years old. Old-timers and locals of Hulimavu say many saints and swamijis have meditated here,
This is not the only temple in Hulimavu. There are more than 50 temples in the vicinity, including the Meenakshi Temple and the Raghavendra Swamy Temple.
If you have time on you hands, motor down further to visit the Bannerghatta National Park. Enjoy the safari and the Zoo there as well as the Butterfly Park.
In case you have shopping to do, there are several mall on the road. If you are hungry, MTR is just in front of the BDA Mini Forest in JP Nagar. The easiest location to MTR is the road behind Bannerghatta Road from the junction of Staples and Shoppers Stop.
Hulimavu means sour mangoes. A few years ago, I saw a lot of greenery in and around the area. Today, much of the green has disappeared and there has been developmental activities in and around the area.
The cave temple is easily accessible by bus or by auto. The nearest bus stop is the Meenakshi Temple stop on Bannerghatta Road.     

Monday, 12 November 2012

A day in Bannerghatta

Monday was a holiday and we decided to go down to Bannerghatta and enjoy the wildlife and the safari.
We left Jayanagar 4th Block at 10-30 a.m., in a Toyota Etios car. The car is small and  compact yet spacious for a small car. The drive was smooth and though the Bannerghatta Road was bad in patches, it took us a little more than 40 minute to reach the National Park.
There has been some changes introduced since the last time we visited the park. The parking space for cars and two-wheelers has been separated from the BMTC bus stand by an enclosure. The BMTC bus stand has a complex which we could not check out as there were two small kids with us.
On the road to the parking bay, to the left there is a small amusement park for children, with giant wheel, horse rides, disco rides and a few other rides. The horse ride cost Rs. 50 and the other amusement  rides cost you anything from Rs. 10 to Rs. 25. I think it would be better if the children first visited the amusement park and then went to the National Park.
The path to the park is still to be tarred. The mud path is not evened out and watch out for blobs of mud and earth which can trip you. On one side of the path is temporary shelters for shops selling everything from vegetables and fruits to toys and plastic items, cold drinks to confectionary items.
The path will take you to the entrance f the Bannerghatta Biological Park. Tickets for the safari, zoo, elephant ride are given here. Pay for your camera here. The fee for the zoological park is Rs. 60 and for the safari (this includes the zoo), it is Rs. 130 per ticket.
The safari is on the left side after you enter the Biological park. You may not have to wait for long time to board a safari vehicle as there are enough number of vehicles and the queue disperses fast.
The safari takes 45 minutes. You alight near the Butterfly Park. If you want to see the Butterfly Park, and I strongly recommend this, you have shell out an additional sum of Rs. 25 per person and Rs. 25 as camera charges.
When we went inside, we found the butterfly park practically deserted with just a handful of people. We had the place to ourselves and we enjoyed the beauty of the winged creatures for more than half an hour. It covers 10,000 square feet in all. I counted more than 20 species of butterflies.
If you are still game for seeing more animals, head down to the Zoological Park. Start from the enclosure housing white peacocks and just wander down the stone  path. You come across the snake park, the crocodiles, birds and then of course the bears, a pair of ostrich near the Animal Hospital, leopards, deer, zebra and elephants.
You can hitch an elephant ride. Walk back and check out the museum and other animals like the hippo with its baby, Indian peacocks, parrot. Beware, there are a lot of monkeys and dogs around.
A new addition to the Bannerghatta Park is boating. There is a clothe banner put up on the leopard enclosure guiding tourists to boating.
Though there was a large crowd, the park being big, you can find isolated spots to eat and relax. It is only recently that Jungle Lodge and Resorts have started a hill view vegetarian restaurant near the Zoological Park.
The safari is the USP of Bannerghatta. Generally there should not be a problem sighting lions and tigers. By the way, this is the first lion and tiger safari in India.
Jungle Lodges and Resorts (JLR) operate a nature camp inside the Bannerghatta Jungle. They offer a variety of packages, including nature treks and guided tours. You can contact them at 
JLR ltd,
Ground Floor, West Entrance,
Khanija Bhavan, Race Course Road,
Bangalore-560 001
Ph:  91-80-40554055
or the branch office at
2nd Floor, Shrungar Shopping Centre
M.G. Road.
Bangalore, Karnataka, 560011.
91 - 80- 25597944 / 25584111 / 25559261 and 91-80-25586163.
Their email ID is
The photos of  the park, sarafi and butterfly park will be updated on another file.  Here are some of the photos.



The entrance to the Park

A herd of deer

A bear at the safari

The butterfly park

Inside the butterfly Park

A monkey looking for food

A bear looking menacingly at a monkey



A hippo

A peacock ready to dance
The ticket counter

The Meenakshi Temple of Bangalore

Almost all major roads in Bangalore have some places of historical or tourist attraction. The object of curiosity for a tourist may be a temple, church, masjid or a commercial and business establishment, mall, coffee shop and a well-known eatery.
The Bannerghatta Road is one of the major roads of  Bangalore. It houses the offices of several IT companies. It also abuts the Jayadeva Institute of Cardiology. Besides, there are a number of educational institutions.
One of the most important and perhaps new landmark on the road is the beautiful Meenakshi Sundareshwar Temple. The temple is located in Hulimavu and is almost opposite the road leading to the cave temple of Hulimavu.
Hulimavu was once a small village. Today, it is a part of Bangalore and it has a number of temples. Located 15 km from Bangalore, the Meenakshi Temple is a fairly big structure built in the style of  Tamil Nadu.
It has a beautiful Gopura and it has two main deities. The idol of Shiva or

Sundareshwar is consecrated at the entrance to the temple and that of Goddess Meenakshi on the other side. Besides, the structure has deites of other gods, including Ganesha, Subramanya, Srinivasa and even Ayappa.
The temples has the Navagraha idols too.
The temple also houses shrines to Lord Ganesha, Lord Subramanya, Lord Venkateshwara and Lord Ayyappa. You can also see a large space for Navagrahas (Nine Planets).
Since the temple is on the main road, there is no difficulty in locating it. The bus stand and autorickshaw stands are bang opposite the temple. There are plenty of buses plying from Majestic, City Market and Shivajinagar.
The temple opens on all days at 6-30 a.m., and its doors are closed at 12-30 p.m.  It again reopens between 4 p.m., and 8-30 p.m. On Fridays, it closes at 1 p.m., instead of 12-30 p.m.
The original Meenakshi Sunderashwar temple is in Madurai. This is a smaller version. The temple is clean and well maintained. It is worth a visit.
 There are nearly 50 temples in the vicinity of Hulimavu and surrounding areas. There is a Raghavendra Swamy Temple in Hulimavu village.       
If you are in the mood, you cab visit the Royal Meenakshi Mall which is nearby. There are two other malls in the vicinity.
The Wockheart and Apollo hospitals are just a few minutes away.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

The Nobel scientist from Malleswaram

There was no major public function, processions, banners or buntings to herald the birth anniversary of one of  the greatest Indians. This man had settled in Bangalore and his contribution to the field of science is so immeasurable that even to this day he remains a beacon to budding scientists and researchers.
He also holds the distinction of being the handful of Indians to have won the Nobel Prize. Modest to the core and totally dedicated, he was a totally dedicated physicist. He is none other than our own C.V, Raman.
C.V. Raman was born on November 7, 1888 in Thiruvanaikaval, near Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu. His father was R Chandasekhara Iyer and mother  Parvati Ammal (Saptarshi Parvati).
Bangalore has a unique connection with this great scientist. His house Panchavati is in Malleswaram 8th Cross. It is on the same road as one of the most prestigious schools in Bangalore-the MES.
Panchavati was built more than a hundred years ago. Its first owner was Jagadeo Naik, a Deputy Commissioner of Bangalore. He built the house in 1903 and sold it to C.V, Raman.
The scientist appeared happy with the house and the only
additions he made during his long stay here was a pantry and kitchen in the rear of the house and a few small outhouses.
as in 1942 that Raman made Panchavati his permanent home when he joined the Indian Institute of Science (IISc).  
He retired from the IISc in 1944 and then set up the Raman Research Institute. He served as its director till his death in 1970.
Panchavati today is managed by the Raman Trust. Raman and his wife Lokasundari Ammal lived in this house. His wife passed away in 1980.
His Nobel Prize winning endeavour happened in 1921 when he was on a voyage to England.  When the ship was on the Mediterranean Sea, he closely observed that the waters was a darker shade of blue. This set him thinking and the result was Raman effect.
The Raman effect is a pioneering work on optics and dispersion of light. He found out why light changes colour when it passes through a transparent medium or platform. This medium could be solid, liquid or in gaseous form. This is called spectroscopy and Raman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930.
Raman was a thorough Indian. He always was immaculately  dressed and  he always wore the Indian turban or peta.
The Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum (VITM) on Kasturba Road in Bangalore had organised an exhibition titled ‘Laser’ to highlight the Raman Effect. Raman’s son V Radhakrishnan, an eminent astrophtcist, passed away in 2011.ct. Apart from other scientific and research institutions I do not know of any public function held in Bangalore to honour this great man.
Before ending this article, permit me a small digression.
Raman had an elder brother by name C.S Iyer.
Iyer was a renowned musicologist. He was also the father of  Dr. S. Chandrashekar, Nobel Laureate. He could play the violin in such a mesmerizing manner that Queen Elizebeth who heard him once was too struck for words to describe the performance.
Iyer was also the founder member of the Madras Music Academy. He has written several books on music.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Bangalore's first communal violence

Compared to any other city in India or even abroad, Bangalore is a peaceful city. Even when cities such as Chennai have been rocked by incidents related to the Sri Lankan conflict. Delhi by bomb blats and Mumbai has been under the shadow of the underworld, Bangalore has been pretty safe.
Except for the terrorist attack at the Indian Institute of Science (IISC)  and the bomb explosion at KSCA (Chinnaswamy stadium) and the Madivala bomb blast incident, Bangalore has been generally free of major incidents of terrorism, communal violence and anti-national activities.
This, however, does not mean that there have been no such incidents of terrorism, communal disharmony and other criminal activities in and around Bangalore. All that the blog wishes to state is that the incidents have been isolated and there has been no serial repeat of incidents that occurred in Mumbai or other cities.
The credit for making the City a good place to live in should certainly go to the police and the people aswell. The police in Bangalore and the State have been headed by good and honest officers. Bangaloreans too have been fair and have rarely resorted to violence. However, there have been some incidents which have soiled the reputation of Bangalore.
The first communal violence in Bangalore took place in June 1928 in Bangalore when the Wodeyars were ruling the then Mysore state which also encompassed our City (not Cantonment mind you, as it was ruled by the British).
This incident is generally accepted as the first incident of communal  violence in Bangalore. The place was Sultanpet and the reason for the clash between the Hindu and Muslim communities was an idol of Ganesha.
Repairs were being taken up at the Hindu Anglo_Vernacular School on Arcot Srinivasachar Street in Sultanpet. Some of the students of the school requested the contractor in charge of the repairs to build a small shelter over an idol of Ganesha that was in the school premises. While the repair work was on, the Ganesha idol had been kept in a passage.
The Director of  Public Instructions, during one of his inspections, asked the idol to be shifted to a room. The students resented this change over and demanded that the idol be placed back in the passage. Soon, the issue became a major topic of discussion and students of nearby schools also joined the protest.
The student protest reached the media. A Kannada newspaper, Veera Kesari, run by Sitarama Shastri, backed the students in an article on the issue. Other newspapers like Navajeevanan of  C. Ashwathanaraya Rao followed suit and some Congress leaders too backed the students.
On June 27, 1928 rumours began spreading in Sultanpet and surrounding areas that the Dewan of Mysore State, Sir Mirza Ismail, had been supporting Abbas Khan, a  Muslim leader of Sultanpet who had won a local civic election as Municipal president, and the Muslims on the issue. The issue then transformed into a Hindu-Muslim conflagration. Congress leaders Bheema Rao, Subramanyam and Tiwari were arrested on June 27 and taken to Central Jail. Students marched in a large group to Central Jail and demanded their release. The students were dispersed after a lathi charge.
On June 29, the idol was placed back in the passage. It was the turn of the Muslims to protest this move. They felt that if a temple came up for Ganesha, they would have to walk besides it to reach a mosque for their daily prayers. Moreover, Abbas Khan lived in a building opposite the school.
A clash broke out between Hindu and Muslims. One boy was struck by a bullet and 123 Hindus and 11 Muslims were injured in the clashes. A boy called Sathyanarayana had died of dysentry.  Rumours were spread that he was killed by firing which took place from the roof of Abbas Khan’s house.
The clash was quickly brought under control with patrolling by British armoured vehicles and mounted police. The Editor of Veera Kesari was reprimanded for allegedly inciting people. The instigators of the violence were caught and punished.         
The report of the incident reached the Diwan and the Maharaja too. The Diwan asked the Maharaja not to come to Bangalore till the leaders ere arrested and tried. The Maharaja heeded to the Diwan’s advice and did not stir out of Mysore.
However, the Maharaja constituted a committee headed by Sir M V Vivveshvariah to enquire into the incidents and compile a report. This was also the first ever committee which went into a communal disturbance in Bangalore. The other members of the committee were Justice D.K.Rama Rao, H.G.Basavappa, Gulam Ahmed Kalami, V.Manickavelu Mudaliyar, B.Nagappa Bar-at-Law and Ralph Nye.
The committee fond that the law and order had broken  down completely in the area and that the Government had taken sides. It ordered the two newspapers, Veera Kesari and Navajeevan to print the Government version of the incident, Both refused and cases were slapped against them.
One of Bangalore’s best known personalities, Nitoor Srinivasa Rau, a former Judge, used to reminiscence about the incident. He not only witnessed the Ganesha procession and the incidents but also appeared for Shastry and Ashwathnarayana Rao.
Over the decades, communal incidents have occurred in Bangalore, straining the secular fabric.  A violence of a different kind was the anti-Tamil riots in December 1991. This clash was not between two communities but between Kannadigas and Tamilians. The violence in Bangalore and elsewhere forced thousands of Tamilians to flee to Chennai, At least 18 people were killed and property worth crores burned down or destroyed.
Let us hope  that there are no anti-social incidents in Bangalore. Let us strengthen the hands of the police in ensuring that Bangalore become a crime free city.