Bengaluru (Bangalore) – the Silicon Valley of India
By Sangeeta Sinha
The capital city of Karnataka (one of the four south Indian states), Bengaluru (earlier known as Bangalore) is located on the Deccan Plateau. At present, it is India’s 5th most-populous urban agglomeration and 3rd populous city. The city is also very popular as the hub of India’s IT sector and therefore, is known as the “Silicon Valley of India”.
It is the 2nd fastest-growing metropolis and a major cultural and economic hub of India.
— Metropolis —
Nickname(s): Silicon valley of India.
|741.0 km2 (286.1 sq mi)|
|Elevation||920 m (3,020 ft)|
|• Density||11,000/km2 (30,000/sq mi)|
• Metro rank
In Kannada (the local language of the people of Karnataka), “Bengaluru” means “listen”. Bangalore was actually the Anglicized version of Bengaluru. A stone inscription (found in Begur) on a “vira gallu” (meaning “hero stone”) from 9th century West Ganga Dynasty rule suggests reference to the name “Bengaluru” where a battle was fought in 890 ACE.
The inscription reads that this place, till 1004, was part of Ganga kingdom; it was known as “City of Guards”, that is, “Bengaval-uru” in Halegannada (the old Kannada language).
Another story behind the name goes like this: King Veera Ballala II of the Hoysala Dynasty (11th century) was hunting in a forest when he lost his way. He was very tired and hungry. An old woman gave him boiled beans to eat. The king felt so grateful that he named the place “Benda-kaal-uru” meaning “town of boiled beans”; hence, Bengaluru.
Even though change of name (to Bengaluru) was initiated on December 11, 2005 and officially implemented on November 01, 2006, its clearance is still pending at the Union Home Ministry.
Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is looking after the metropolitan expansion—includes Hoskote, Bengaluru urban area, Ramnagara, Bengaluru rural district, and the area beyond the Bangalore international Airport (BIA). It is also planned to include Hosur in the metropolitan area.
Between 1941 and 1951 and again 1971 and 1981, Bengaluru had experienced rapid growth. It became the 6th largest Indian city by 1961. Numerous technology companies, aerospace, telecommunication, defence organizations, public sector heavy industries, colleges and research institutions are located here.
Climate in BengaluruTropical Savanna climate with dry and wet seasons, Bengaluru experiences a moderate climate throughout the year. One of the major factors that play a role is the city’s high elevation. April is the hottest at 91.3 °F and December is the coolest month at 59.7 °F.
The temperature in summer hardly goes beyond 93.2 °F and 95 °F. On an average, the winter temperature hardly drops below 53.6 °F. In January 1884, the lowest temperature recorded was 46.04 °F; in March 1931, the highest temperature recorded was 102.02 °F. August through October sees heavy rainfall—in October 1997, the heaviest rainfall recorded was 179 mm.
Bengaluru History in Brief
After the Western Gangas ruled the area for centuries (starting in 9th century ACE), the Chola Dynasty captured the region in 1024. Thereafter, the Hoysala Dynasty overthrew the Cholas In 1116 and extended the empire.
In 1537, Kempe Gowda, a vassal of the then Vijayanagara Empire and in charge of Yelahanka, built a mud-brick fort (now a central part of modern Bengaluru) that literally house a whole town inside. He called it “Gandu bhoomi” (meaning, Land of Heroes). In fact, during the Vijayanagara rule, Bengaluru was referred as “Kalyanapura” and “Devarayanagara” by many poets and saints.
Later, Kempe Gowda II (successor of Kempe Gowda) got four watch towers built to mark Bengaluru’s boundary (whatever is left of the watch towers today, they stand in the heart of present Bengaluru).
The town inside the fort was divided into “pete” (sections)—Balepet, Chickpet and Cottonpet. There were two main streets—(1) Doddapete Street that ran north-south and (2) Chikkapete Street that ran east-west. Doddapete Square was formed on the intersection of these two roads.In 1638, Shivaji’s father Shahjirao Bhonsle captured the city; it was later taken by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb’s army in 1687 and sold to Wodeyars. One of Bengaluru’s beautifully laid-out gardens, Lal Bagh, was built in 1759 by the Wodeyars. Same year, Krishnaraja Wodeyar II gave this city to Tipu Sultan’s father Hyder Ali as a jagir; he fortified the southern fort and it was turned into an army town.
After the 4th Anglo-Mysore War in 1799 (Tipu Sultan died in this war), the British gave Tipu’s kingdom (that included Bengaluru) to Krishnaraja Wodeyar III and made sure that a British resident lived there to keep a track of day to day activities.
In 1809, the Cantonment was established and a General Post Office (GPO) was opened; finally, the British took over the city’s administration in 1831. British influence worked its magic here also—telegraph, post, police, railways were opened. In 1859, the first train was flagged out of the city, and in 1864, Richard Sankey, chief engineer of Mysore, built the beautiful Cubbon Park.
Places to Visit in Bengaluru
- Lal Bagh: “Lal” means “red” and “Bagh” means “garden”—so named because of red roses that bloom here throughout the year. Started by Hyder Ali and completed by his son, Tipu Sultan, it is one of the most beautifully-laid gardens over 240 acres. There is a Glass House (designed in accordance to London Crystal Palace) that houses 1,800 botanical species. Also, there is a Lawn Clock—first of its kind in India and a beautiful lake spreading over an area of 1.5 sq km.
- Cubbon Park: Built by Richard Sankey, chief engineer of Mysore, this park covers an area of about 250 acres. In 1864, Maj. Gen. Sir Mark Cubbon laid out this beautiful park in 1864. Government Museum, Doll Museum, Public Library, Cheshire Dyer Memorial Hall—these Greco-colonial buildings are located here. There are status of Chamarajendra Wodeyar, Maj. Gen. Sir Mark Cubbon, Rajya Dhurandhar, Queen Victoria and other personalities of fame. For children to enjoy in the park there is toy train among other entertainments. One major attraction here is the illuminated “fairy fountain”.
- Begur: More than 1,100 years old, it is Karnataka’s oldest shrine. Earlier, it was called “Bhaskarkshetra” and “Nimbapuri”. The fact that it was a Jain pilgrim center is known from a 5 ft long headless statue of Jain Sharanappa.
- Mekadatu: In the local language, it means “goat’s leap”. According to a legend, a goat could leap across the holy River Arakavathi that narrows down while flowing into a ravine. The temple of Lord Sangameshwara is located at the confluence of rivers Arakavathi and Cauvery.
- Bull Temple: Dedicated to “nandi” (bull), Lord Shiva’s “vahana” (vehicle), there is a huge monolithic statue—4.5 x 6 m—of a sitting bull carved out of a single rock. It is said that this statue was here much before the temple was built.
- Shiva Statue: 65 ft tall, this statue of Lord Shiva seated in lotus position (padmasana) is one of the largest statues in India. The background resembles Shiva’s abode—Mount Kailash, with a jyothirlinga nearby.
- Bannerghatta National Park: Built on quite a large area, this park is known for tiger safari, butterflies, and crocodiles. The animals housed here are Royal Bengal tigers, leopards, barking deer, bisons, elephants, wild boars, hyenas, and black bucks.
- Bangalore Palace: Covering an area of about 800 acres and resembling England’s Winsor Castle, this palace was built in 1887 in Tudor style by Chamaraja Wodeyar. Gothic windows, elegantly carved woods, turrents, and battlements adorn the palace. This royal home is now used for various events and rock concerts.
- Nandi Hills: If one is looking for taking pleasure from nature’s bountiful beauty and escape summer heat, this is the place to visit. This is where Tipu Sultan and his assorted royal would come to live during hot summers. Presently, it is a well-known health resort that is situated 1,615 m above sea level. The highest peak is 2,004 m; “Tipu’s Drop”, at 600 m high, offers an excellent view of the plains.
- Bangalore Aquarium: The second largest in India, this diamond-shaped aquarium has a great collection of aquatic life; it is located at Cubbon Park’s entrance.
- Tipu Sultan’s Palace: Built between 1781 and 1791 ACE with teakwood in ethnic Mughal architecture and layout style, this double-storied building was the sultan’s summer palace. Replete with arches, pillars and balconies, the walls and ceilings have beautiful floral motifs. Till 1867 (after Tipu’s death), the British used it as their secretariat. Now literally in ruins, one can see a small temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha.
Other places worth visiting in Bengaluru are:
- ISKON Temple
- Venkatappa Art Gallery
- Attara Kacheri
- Fun World
- Gandhi Bhawan
- Nehru Planetarium
- UB City
- Vidhan Soudha
- Vishveshwarya Industrial and Technological Museum
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