The best of stories begin a long long time ago. And the story of Bangalore is no exception. In the early 1800s when the British Army had defeated Tipu Sultan’s forces in the 4th Mysore War, they decided to move, lock stock and barrel, from swampy Srirangapatnam to beautiful Bangalore. It was 1809, and Bangalore, the cantonment began to grow.
Families of army folks, those employed by the Raj, hopeful traders, and missionaries came from all over. The presence of the empire was becoming evident. For the colonial masters built wide roads, large parks, promenades, churches, schools, hospitals, golf ranges, a race course, dance halls and more. Stately bungalows with fountains and gardens came up in areas like Richmond Town and South Parade (now M.G. Road). And Bangalore, was forever changed.
Central Bangalore Is Constantly Evolving
Two hundred years hence, so much has changed, yet much has remained the same. Step away from the traffic, into the grounds of St. Mark’s Cathedral and maybe you will hear the restored pipe organ, play, like it is 1939. Peer at the arches of Mayo Hall and spare a thought for the young Viceroy, Lord Mayo, who was stabbed to death, in Port Blair. Or look more closely at Hard Rock Cafe, at the end of MG Road and you will see a 100-year old tudor style building which was The Blighty’s Tea Rooms, home to the Salvation Army and a HMV record store before becoming a cool watering hole of today.
Central Bangalore has helped mark time, and has kept pace with it. Today, the area has a new set of landmarks that draw curious and envious stares. On one end there's UB City standing tall at 20 floors, on the other end, is the exstensive gourmet store Food Hall, at 1 MG mall. Also, every turn features a prestigious school, from St. Joseph's, to Bishop Cottons and Baldwin’s. Star hotels and consulates of countries ranging from Slovenia to Japan are housed in the lanes crisscrossing this district.
But even as central Bangalore retains its exclusive, graceful air - amidst all the chaos reigning all around it - some places have disappeared or changed forever. Gangarams the bookstore on MG Road has moved away, and Premier Bookshop shut down after a long struggle to stay open. India Coffee House has relocated, and Plaza Theatre has given way to an impersonal brand. Big Kids Kemp - India’s first ever megastore, so symbolic of Bangalore in the eighties and 90s, stands forlorn - wearing a dilapidated air.
But perhaps, this ceaseless cycle of change is what lends Central Bangalore its sense of momentum. Because even as neon signs overshadow the almost forgotten, quaint charm of the area - a new landmark vies for our attention. Why, as Wikipedia informs us, the Bengaluru Turf Tower, a 156 floor building is all set to change the skyline in 2020. So, buildings may come and go, but the heart of Bangalore, its Central Business District, does promise to go on for ever.
Gautam John Sees Central Bangalore
Gautam John Sees Central Bangalore with IC! Berlin
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