Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The story of Marathalli

Marathalli or Marathahalli is one of the many localities in Bangalore. A majority of the people and even residents of Marathalli say the name of their locality is from Maruti or Hanuman.
They say that there was a temple of Maruti in the locality and, hence, the name. Marathahalli is derived from the Sanskrit word “Maruti” meaning Lord Hanuman and  Halli meaning village in Kannada. Other people believe that a fighter aircraft called “Marut” crash landed at the place. Therefore, the area came to be called Marathalli.
Very few people know that Marathalli is one of the handful of places in and around the City that predate Bangalore or Bendakalooru. There is no doubt that several centuries ago, this  was a small village and the residents depended on forestry, agriculture and they also reared cattle and were into poultry farming.
However, agriculture was thee main source of profession of the residents of Marathalli.
Another legend about this place is that it was here that the Marathas settled down and this was during the reign of Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore. With scores of Maratha families living here, it came to be called Maratha Halli which later came to be known as Marathalli.
A few other residents say Marathalli is named after St. Martha’s Hospital.
Whatever its origin, we now know that Marathalli is one of the oldest places in and around Bangalore. Historians and archaeologists say that the first mention of Marathalli as a settlement is in a written record belonging to the Vijayanagar Dynasty in 1508. However, there is proof to say that this locality existed even in the middle ages.
The Someshwara Temple of Marathalli and an inscription on an Ashwatha Katte date the inhabitation of Marathalli to the eleventh century. This makes Marathalli much older than Bangalore or other towns in and around the Garden City.
A few decades ago, the Someshwara temple was the centre of the Marathalli village. But today, it stands away from the centre point of the locality. Historians date the Someshwara Temple to the Cholas and this was built sometime during the eleventh century.
The temple of Someshwara is a typical Chola structure. It is really interesting to note that it was from the time of the Cholas that the penchant for constructing Someshwara temples began and almost all such temples are in and around Bangalore.
(Another Someshwara Temple of the Cholas is in Ulsoor or Halasuru but this was substantially repaired and renovated by Kempe Gowda).   
The Someshwara Temple at Marathalli is as old as the Someshwara Temple at Agara in Sarjapur. Thus, we find many Someshwara Temples of the Chola era in Bangalore.
Coming back to Marathalli, historians discovered an old inscription on the Aswathakatte  or platform of a banyan tree.
The inscription belonged to the Vijayanagara kingdom and it is dated 1508. It mentions the reign of Viranarasimha Raya or Viranarasimha the third of Vijayanagara kingdom in 1508.
The inscription also mentions that Brahma, Saptarishis, Harihara and the god of Varanasi were among the witnesses of Viranarasimha's rule in the Vijayanagara kingdom.
Historians have mot been able to assign a reason for the inscription. The inscription only records the reign of a Tuluva King of Vijayanagar.
Viranarasimha was the brother of Krishnadeva Raya (1509-1529) and he followed the Vijayanagar Emperor, Narasa Nayaka, to the throne. Viranarasimha reigned for four years, between 1505 and 1509. Soon after he ascended the throne, he faced rebellion from several quarters, including the Ummattur chiefs.
According to folklore, Viranarasimha wanted his minister, Saluva Thimmarasu, to pluck the eyes of Krishna Deva Raya so that his con could ascend the Vijayanagar throne.  
We may surmise that Viranarasimha had the inscription put up as he wanted to exert his authority. Whatever the reason, we now know that Marathalli was part of the Vijayanagar kingdom.
The Vijayanagar inscription is in Telugu and this shows us that Kannada perhaps was not the mother tongue or language here, at least till six centuries ago.
The inscription testifies to the fact that Telugu was the language of the Vijayanagar court along with Kannada.
Today, the Someshwara Temple and the Telugu inscription are the only relics of yore. Today, the temple has been renovated and it bears little resemblance t the ancient structure that it was. As far as Marathalli goes, it is an important locality of Bangalore and even its residents have forgotten the local history of the area, caught up as they are in the throes of  modernization and the real estate boom.

Marathalli is home to several IT and BT companies and it is also the place where several companies known for branded apparels and furniture shops have their establishments. 

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