You’d be surprised to find out these interesting facts about Bangalore!
An equal mix of beauty and ugly, Bengaluru, a city of dreams and possibilities, a New York to some Indians, the city with pleasant weather all year round, of pubs, of diverse cultures & people, of gardens & lakes, and the infamous traffic & sewers, holds so many secrets buried underneath hundreds of years of civilizations.
Uncovering those secrets makes you love the city more than ever, admiring even more all of its treasured beauties.
The city has changed tremendously over the last few decades that it is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. Everything about it seems growing at a fast pace – the landscapes, urbanisation, buildings, culture, and the people, trying to keep up with time and modern technologies.
Looking back at the past, here are some interesting facts about Bangalore, way before civilisation and urbanisation we see today took place –
Bengaluru’s name has so many origins and stories
The most common name of the city is “Bangalore”, which has been used since the British rule to suit their tongue. Earlier, it was known as Bengaluru and the city was renamed on November 1st, 2014.
Have you ever wondered about its meaning? Or how Bengaluru got its name?
The earliest reference to the name Bengaluru is found on an inscription in Begur. The inscription is written in old Kannada on a stone known as Veera gallu which means hero rock in Kannada. The stone was dedicated to warriors and belongs to a ninth-century Western Ganga Dynasty, dating back to 890 CE.
The inscriptions state that the place today known as Bengaluru was then called Bengalval-uru, which means the town of guards and a battle took place here in 890 CE. It also states that the place was a part of the Ganga Kingdom until 1004.
There is a legend that goes, when Veera Ballala II, the 12th century Hoysala King, lost his way in the forest when hunting. He was tired and hungry. While looking for a way out, he chanced upon on an old woman. The woman cooked some beans and served it to the hungry King.
The grateful King named the place in this honour as Benda-kaal-uru, which means the town of cooked beans.
The name eventually evolved to Bengaluru.
Other theories as to how Bengaluru got its name revolve around a quartz known as Benachu found plenty in the place. The place was thus called Benachu Kalluru. Another theory goes that due to the abundance of Benge trees, the place was called Bengeuru, which became Bengaluru.
It is the only city built by a desi ruler
Kempe Gowda, the founder of Bengaluru, who became an independent ruler after the fall of Vijayanagar, laid the foundation for modern Bengaluru. Before he founded the place, Bengaluru was known as Bendakaaluru, a small village with plenty of lakes, vegetation and a habitable ecosystem.
He built a mud-fort for the people and the further development of the place paved the way for the development of modern Bengaluru. Achuta Deva Raya, a Vijayanagara ruler, restricted him from building a stone fort, knowing his potential.
The mud fort would later be rebuilt with stone in 1761 by Hyder Ali, which stands strong today as Benagaluru fort in the City market.
The legend goes that the boundaries of Bengaluru were marked when Kempe Gowda ran 4 bullock carts from the mud fort and they stopped at a point. His son built a tower at each point. Bengaluru was developed within these points and no further.
No other city in India was built by an Indian ruler if you think about it. Chennai was built by Francis Day of East India Company, Mumbai was built by the Portugese, Kolkata by Job Charnock, an agent of East India Company, and Kochi by the Dutch and Britishers.
The city was sold for 3 lakhs
Yes, not many know this historical fact about Bangalore.
In 1565, the Vijayanagara empire fell in the battle of Talikota. Kempe Gowda declared independence. His rule was continued by Kempe Gowda III, until 1638 when Shahaji Bhonsle, with an army from Bijapur, defeated him. The army was led by Ranadulla Khan and after the defeat, Bengaluru was handed over to Shahaji.
Then came the Mughal rule, where Kasim Khan, under the rule of Aurangzeb defeated Ekoji, the son of Shahaji and captured Bengaluru. Kasim Khan later sold the city to a Mysore King, Chikkadevaraja Wodeyar for 3 lakh Rupees in 1687.
After the death of the Wodeyar, under the rule of Hyder Ali and Tippu Sultan, Bengaluru was developed further and made beautiful with the construction of many gardens like Lal Bagh in 1760.
Hit by an epidemic in 1898
Another hidden fact of Bengaluru – it was hit by a plague epidemic in 1898 that took over 3000 lives. The population at the time was quite low and the city was not developed.
The bubonic plague that wiped off ⅓ of Europe’s population entered India in 1896. The first case recorded in the city was in Cantonment on August 15th, 1898. The cases multiplied after a week and soon spread across the city. By June 1899, there were more than 5000 deaths in the city, with 3,393 deaths in the Cantonment area, according to the report by Plague Commission.
To curb the spread of the disease, people arriving in the city were personally escorted by the Police to their houses and then observed for 10 days.
Sanitisation camps in Bengaluru during the late 1890s.
Passengers arriving from trains would be stripped and disinfected with a gallon of corrosive sublimate in a bathing-shed. The passenger’s clothes and luggage would be disinfected with steam and then left open in the sun for an hour. Trains would often be disinfected as well.
But despite these precautions and inoculations, the disease could not be eradicated until 1,356 homes were demolished and more than 8000 houses were disinfected individually. Roads were widened and proper drainage systems were built.
The epidemic consequently led to cleaner cities and towns, development of Victoria Hospital and better sanitisations in every household. People began to give more importance to cleanliness and health.
The victoria hospital was constructed in 1900 and inaugurated by the then Governor-General of British India, Lord Curzon. It was run under Shri Krishna Raja Wodeyar.
Malgudi days was inspired by Bengaluru
Malgudi Days is a series of short stories written by R.K Narayan and published in 1943. You may be familiar with one of them – The astrologer’s Day. What inspired Narayan to write these stories?
Well, it was mostly Bengaluru. A fascinating fact. The fictional town Malgudi is derived from 2 real cities in Bengaluru – Malleswaram and Basavanagudi. However, the fictional town is located on banks on the river Sarayu, near a fictional forest, Mempi and a few hours away from Madras.
Malleshwaram was a suburban town back in the olden days. The railway station, old homes, bylanes and old market are quite similar to the description of scenes in Malgudi. The railway scene was the first idea that came to Narayan’s mind, with a character called Swaminathan running down the platform.
The bazaars in Basavanagudi make up for the rest of the scenes set in Malgudi.
These two cities in Bengaluru at that time were every pensioner’s paradise and held a unique charm of Bengaluru with lush trees, parks, playgrounds, flower markets, buzzing bazaars and few vehicles.
That charm today is replaced by stress, dense population, traffic and pollution, although Basavanagudi still retains parts of old Bengaluru.
One such example is MR Narendra’s 109 years old home. He is an old man proudly residing in his old home that has become a favourite spot among tourists and people who love to experience old Bengaluru’s charm.
MR Narayan’s 109 years old home in Basavanagudi
Majestic bus stand was once a majestic lake!
In the heart of Bangalore is well-networked transportation facilities. There are hundreds of buses connecting all over the city and state as well. It also houses the main railway station in the city which is connected to other cities in India.
A heavily populated area today, some hundred years ago, it was a majestic lake called Dharmambudhi which served as a major source of water supply to the whole of Bengaluru.
Dharmambudhi lake, or tank as it was then known, was just opposite of the majestic railway station. The water was so clean that it was suitable for drinking. The tank was connected to all the surrounding wells and smaller lakes.
The amount of water was so abundant that it could recharge other lakes.
People would carry out daily activities by the tank, like bathing, worshipping, washing vessels and clothes. The system that connected the tank to other lakes was built excellently and maintained well. So what happened?
In the late 1890s monsoon failed Bengaluru’s water supply, leading to water shortage. Famine in Karnataka, then known as Mysore led to more consumption of water from the lake. The water started receding.
The municipality had to supply water from Hebbal lake to Sankey tank and then to Dharmumbudhi lake.
Due to the shrinking lake, they started supplying water for daily use from Hesaraghatta lake, which led to the lack of maintenance in Dharmambudhi lake.
The lake slowly dried up and became a place for circuses, public meetings and other such activities. It is said that Jawaharlal Nehru hoisted the tricolor and held a meeting in 1931. In 1963, the tank bed was handed over to KSRTC for the construction of a bus stand, which became the central point for transportation in Bengaluru.
Holds a special place in History
There have been many dynasties who ruled Bengaluru in the past. From the Ganga Kingdom to Hoysalas, Vijayanagar empire to the Cholas, to the Mughals and the Mysore Kings. Throughout these dynasty rules, many temples were built with the respective dynasty’s architecture style.
One such temple is the oldest in Bengaluru, built in 10th century CE by the Chola Kings. Dedicated to an avatar of Lord Vishnu, Chokkanathaswamy temple is located in Domlur, then known as Tombalur by the Tamils. The temple still exhibits a hint of Chola architecture which has survived despite the renovations over the years.
Inside the temple, there are many sculptures and ornate decorations. On the door frames, you can find Tamil inscriptions from 1270 CE that states some donations and contributions to the temple.
Other notable places in History can be traced back to the Roman Emperors, as coins from this era have been found in the regions of Yeshwanthpur and HAL. They indicate that the city back then was an active trans-oceanic trade route connected to the Romans and other civilizations in 27 BCE.
Artifacts from the stone age have also been found in Jalahalli and Siddapura which suggests human settlements around 4000 BCE. in Koramangala, burial grounds have been discovered which date back to 1000 BCE.
It is the pub-capital of India
Bengaluru is the one city that most Indians would love to live in compared to the other cities. Job opportunities, pleasant weather and the metropolitan atmosphere are some of the main reasons.
If you go to M.G road, Indiranagar, and Koramangala, the city comes alive at night, bright and busy with neon lights from pubs and bars. They also boast many multicuisine restaurants and fine-dining.
The energy, the vibes, and the culture is contagious and something that everyone must experience. Being one of the IT hubs in India, the need for a fun place to relax and chillax has led to many pubs opening in the city. One of the first pubs to open in Bengaluru is Ramda, in 1986 on Church Street.
It was inaugurated by Vijay Mallya who was very much happy with the opening of the city’s first pub and launched Kingfisher draught beer here!
Today, with over 800 pubs, Bengaluru is referred to as the pub capital of India. No wonder Bangalore is called chill!
Some of the best pubs to visit post coronavirus are –
- The permit room – Commissariat road
- Communiti – Residency road
- ShakesBierre – Eva Mall, Brigade road
- Bob’s bar – Indiranagar.
Most vegan-friendly city in India
The city’s diverse culture and modernisation have led to the rise in veganism. The city boasts many vegan-friendly restaurants. Many south Indian dishes are already vegan-friendly like idlis, dosa, rava idlis, vada, lemon rice, bisibelebath, ragi mudde (ragi balls), upma, and more.
You also get snacks and chats free of dairy which are absolute delish and you will relish every bite!
With many people converting to veganism, there is a growing number of vegan restaurants popping up. It’s a paradise for people who want to eat out without worrying about being served dairy and meat products.
You can find the best vegan restaurants in –
- Indiranagar, Sante Spa Cuisine,
- JustBe Resto cafe in Sadashiva Nagar
- Vegan Heat in Koramangala
Not just foods, the city also offers vegan-friendly products from shoes to soaps and beauty products. If you’re looking for vegan shoes, then Veg Shoes in Koramangala is for you! And if you’re looking for vegan handbags, laptop bags, travel accessories, then head over to Gowma in Azad Nagar.
Being a diverse city, it sure knows how to charm all kinds of people with all sorts of tastes and preferences!
An explosive in the name of Bengaluru
The famous Bangalore Torpedo was made in the city and has been used in both World Wars. It was sometimes referred to as “banger”.
The explosive was first devised by Royal engineer captain, R. L McClintock in 1912. It was made to destroy booby traps and barricades. The torpedo is 1.8 meters in length with a nose design which can penetrate its target.
You can see the Bangalore Torpedo being used in films such as Saving Private Ryan, where Tom Hanks’s character Captain Millar is seen using it.
Saving Private Ryan
In World War I, it was used to clear barbed wire before attacking the enemy. It was later used by the U.S army during World War II.
Then known as M1A1 Bangalore, they were used in the Vietnamese war, used by Israelies to clear paths in the minefields during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, and more.
Due to its efficiency in clear path, minefields, and thick wire borders, the torpedo is still used today.