Bengaluru: The city that was and is

Bangalore or Bengaluru was known as Benda-Kal ooru, meaning the village of boiled beans. In fact, many incidents and people have contributed to the perfect boiling of the beans that later shaped the city of Bengaluru.

Bengaluru, one of the most vibrant cities of India, has 8.52 million metropolitan population and is situated at a height of over 900 m (3,000 ft) above sea level. And this city is ruled by south Indian dynasties namely the Western Gangas, the Cholas and the Hoysalas till early 1500 CE.

How did Bengaluru get its name?

There are two tales about how Bengaluru came to be called so.

The first tale goes back to the 11th century when Hoysalas ruled the state. It is said that Hoysala king Veera Ballala II was on a hunting expedition. He lost his way in the forest. He wandered a while in search of food. He spotted an old woman and asked her if he could have something to eat. She served him boiled ladies’ fingers (okra), also called 'bendekai' in Kannada. The king, thus, named the place benda kalooru meaning the town of boiled beans.

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Another tale states that the word is derived from the tree Banga, also called Ven-Kai, which is also known as the Indian Kino tree (Pterocarpus marsupium).

Benda Kalooru became a town and then a city under the federal ruler Kempe Gowda I of the Vijayanagara Empire of Mysuru in 1537. He paved the way for the formation of Bengaluru when he constructed a mud fort, which is considered the foundation stone of the city that stands tall today. The mud fort was replaced with a stone fort under the rule of Hyder Ali in the year 1761. Currently, the fort's Delhi gate, on Krishnarajendra Road (KR Market Road), and two bastions are the primary remains of the fort.

Kempe Gowda's successor, Kempe Gowda II, built temples, tanks including Kempapura and Karanji Kere tanks. He also built four watch towers that marked Bengaluru's boundary. These watch towers can be seen even to this day at Lal Bagh Botanical Garden, Kempambudhi lake, Ulsoor lake and Mekhri Circle.

Bengaluru was captured by the Maratha chief Shahaji Bhosale, father of Shivaji, who worked for the Adil Shahi sultans of Bijapur in 1638. But soon after, the Mughals, under the leadership of general Khasim Khan, defeated the Sultanate of Bijapur and arrived in Bengaluru in 1686 and Vyankoji Bhonsle who was the ruler of Bengaluru at the time, retreated further south.

Another major development took place when Hyder Ali died in 1782 and his son Tipu Sultan deposed the Mysuru Royal family and declared himself as the ruler. With the help of the French and Napolean, Tipu kept the British away from Mysuru and Bengaluru. However, during the third Anglo-Mysore War in 1791, Lord Cornwallis of the British army captured the Bangalore Fort. Tipu was eventually killed in the fourth Anglo-Mysore war in 1799. The Madras Sappers played an important role in capturing Bangalore Fort. Since then, Bengaluru has been the permanent home of the Madras Sappers. Bengaluru remained under the control of East India Company until 1947.

The British rule in India brought about many changes in the city. One of the monumental structures that stands today is the Bangalore palace. The work on the palace was started in April 1874 and the construction was completed in 1878. The land was initially owned by Rev J Garrett, the first principal of the Central High School in Bengaluru, now famously known as the Central College. The Mysuru Royal family purchased it from Rev Garrett in 1873 AD at a cost of Rs 40,000 by Maharaja Chamarajendra Wadiyar X using his personal funds. Built in the Tudor Revival architecture style, the palace is owned by the Mysuru Royal family and is currently controlled by Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar. The palace has a floor area of 45,000 square feet with 35 rooms, most of them being bedrooms and a swimming pool. Its ground spans 454 acres.

One of the major impacts other than the change in rulers was the plague of 1898. This was the time many Mariamma temples were built seeking divine help in controlling the situation. Many people left Bengaluru for other villages in fear of segregation and forced inoculation. The plague saw thousands dead year after year with over two thousand, who died during 1900-1901. It was around this time that the Victoria Hospital was inaugurated by Lord Curzon, Viceroy and Governor-General in 1900.

After the independence of India in 1947, Bengaluru was chosen the capital of Mysore State. Bengaluru had become so vital that it remained the capital of the state when Mysuru State was renamed Karnataka with new boundaries in 1956. The city that was known as Bangalore was officially renamed Bengaluru in 2006.

With Indian technological organisations like ISRO, Infosys, Wipro and plenty more headquartered in the city, Bengaluru is rightly called the 'Silicon Valley of India'. The city houses most prestigious institutes including Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Indian Institute of Management (Bangalore) (IIMB), National Institute of Design, Bangalore (NID R&D Campus), National Law School of India University (NLSIU) and National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS).

It also boasts of state-owned aerospace and defence organisations including Bharat Electronics, Hindustan Aeronautics and National Aerospace Laboratories.

Sandalwood or the Kannada film industry is also based in Bengaluru's Gandhinagar.

The mud fort (now stone fort) that Kempe Gowda built is now maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.

With Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, Cubbon Park, Bannerghatta National Park, Bengaluru still has some forest reserve and greenery remaining. Amusement parks in and around the city offer short getaways and allow for family outings. Bengaluru is still home to many temples and churches. These historical structures embody the diverse culture of Bengaluru and is a mark of the influence of various rulers.

Once known as the pensioners paradise because of the calm and the green synonymous with the city’s name, Bengaluru has seen rapid development in the 2000s and has become the hub for job seekers.