Published: 30th November 2019
Want to discover Bengaluru's heritage? Then, carry Meera Iyer's Discovering Bengaluru and go for a walk
Author Meera Iyer speaks about her book Discovering Bengaluru... and the research that went into writing it
Agra and the iconic Taj Mahal. New Delhi and the towering Qutb Minar. Hyderabad and buzzling Charminar. Basically, almost every city in India is associated with a particular heritage site or a building. And discovering a place through its heritage sites could lead to a very interesting journey. In one such attempt to discover Bengaluru's history and heritage, Meera Iyer went on to write the book Discovering Bengaluru: History. Neighbourhoods. Walks. It was in 2008 when the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Bengaluru chapter started conducting heritage walks across Bengaluru and Meera was part of one. One day, she heard people talking about how these walks and the information delivered during them could be written as a book as no one has done this till date. That's when she decided to write the book, so that people can really get to know the city they are living in. Expressing her happiness on turning these heritage walks into a book, Meera says, "According to me, the book is several years old as I have been documenting everything said during these heritage walks since 2008. I’ve heard people say that Bengaluru has no heritage sites at all. This book is to show them that the city has its own history, lakes, trees, places and a few unique buildings as well."
The book is a 339-pager with nine chapters and each chapter is named after a famous place in Bengaluru like Basavanagudi, Malleswaram, Lalbagh, Sampangi Kere, Whitefield, Ulsoor, Fraser Town and a few other places. "These chapters contain information about everything with regards to a particular area. For example, Whitefield, which is known for MNCs and start-ups now, was once meant for sheep breeding, bee-keeping, growing vanilla and cultivation. In this way, we went on documenting details of important streets, the events that took place and the people who lived there. We were more keen on including chapters on Sampangi Kere and Lalbagh. After all, what is Bengaluru without its lakes and trees?" says Meera who recommends that people of all ages can carry this book when they go for a walk around the city and hopefully, discover what she discovered during her walks. Apart from the research done during her walks, she also referred to materials from the Karnataka State Archives, National Archives of India, the British Museum and many such places. Of course, she also spoke to people who have been living in Bengaluru for many decades, some of whom even donated old photographs of heritage houses, postcards and so on which have been incorporated in this book.
Discovering Bengaluru is a book presented by INTACH
Born and brought up in Bengaluru, Meera has her own memories of this city. She explains, "I spent most of my time in Jayanagar, Basavanagudi, Fraser Town, Austin Town and so on. For me, South Bengaluru meant only walking on the roads lined with huge trees. Apart from this, when my friends and I walked to school, there were some beautiful old bungalows on St Marks Road which no longer exist. We would stop and stare at them for a long time." When we ask Meera what the role of the government is when it comes to preserving heritage amidst rapid urbanisation, she says, "One of the most visible parts of heritage are the buildings and it is more difficult to save buildings amidst urbanisation. According to me, one of the simplest things that the government can do is to pronounce such buildings as the heritage of Bengaluru. And there are many such places in this city. It is from these places that the city gets its charm and character."
Some interesting facts about Bengaluru:
Everyone loves Bengaluru for its lovely weather. As Bengaluru is situated at a high altitude of 3,020 feet above sea level on the Deccan Plateau, it enjoys such weather
Bangalore Torpedoes (a type of explosive) were used in World War I and World War II. It was first devised by Captain RL McClintock of the Royal Engineers while attached to the Madras Sappers and Miners, a unit of the British Indian Army
Halasuru or Ulsoor gets its name from Halsina Hannu (jackfruit), which was cultivated in great numbers in this area
Albert Bakery is one of the oldest bakeries in Bengaluru, which has been operational since 1902