Bengaluru was not always this bustling city it is now, till a few years back it was the pensioner’s paradise, a calm and quiet garden city, full of culturally rich hot spots, parks , old temples , food streets and avenues of trees. May be the city has grown drastically, there are a few old Bangalore places that still retain the charm. A lovely place to start exploring this is Basavanagudi.
It is one of the most amazing parts old Bangalore with markets, temples and a long standing history and some authentic food places.
This heritage art walk that was done in collaboration with the trekking and travel company “ Plan The Unplanned ” . It was a great way to explore old Bangalore not with the lens but with the brush, participants learned to sketch the streets of Basavanagudi and learned the history of the place. We visited a well known temple and sketched its structure. Stoped for some much needed South Indian snacks and filter coffee, discussed the heritage of the place while sketching.
This art walk was a Kickstarter to all those who think they can’t draw, or even the ones who have been drawing for a while and want to explore and learn further all the while exploring and learning about Bengaluru’s history.
Here they learned how to compose, draw natural surroundings, buildings and other landmarks of Bengaluru city with ease understanding how to create free flowing sketches, using pen and watercolour and also how to keep a journal.
We started with a short introduction to sketching, the value of sketching and how it can help in our fast paced day to day lives and how it can be used for documenting our travels , thoughts and more.We walked around main Basvangudi area while sketching with watercolors.
The participants learned the basic techniques in observing and eliminating extra details and concentrating on the subject,learning basic drawing and watercolour techniques. Then all their work was reviewed and feedback was given along with constructive help all while having fun , talking discussing the about the place and stopping for some filter kaapi.
A Little about Basavangudi History
The legend has it that the area now called Basavanagudi was an agricultural village called Sukenahalli, consisting of groundnut fields. It is believed that an enraged bull ruined the groundnut crop year after year. Legend has it that a farmer, frustrated with the rampaging bull, hit it with a club. The stunned bull sat still and became motionless. Soon, it transformed into stone. Later in repentance, the farmers built a temple for the bull. The name Basavanagudi stems from the Kannada word ‘Basava’ or bull. In tribute to this legend, every year, a groundnut fair called Kadale Kaayi Parishe is held around the Bull Temple area. All the local farmers congregate and offer their first groundnut crop each year to the sacred bull. It’s not often that an entire area in a city – and an affluent one at that – is named after a temple. But Basavanagudi is a rare temple in more ways than one. For instance, it’s perhaps the only temple where the ’vaahana’ (vehicle) gets precedence over the master. The giant bull, adored as Basavanna, is the prime attraction for visitors and its popularity gave the place its name – Basavanagudi or the Bull temple.
Basavanagudi as we know it today, was formally developed around the late 1800s. A devastating plague struck Bengaluru in 1896. By the year 1898, more than 3000 people were dead. The core areas of Bengaluru at the time were Mavalli, Chamrajpet and the Fort area. Aware of the rapid spreading epidemic and its potential effects, the then Deputy Commissioner , V P Madhava Rao ordered citizens to move to the outskirts of the city to distance themselves from the rampant plague. Madhava Rao proposed the development of two new hygienic extensions of the city as ‘modern suburbs’. The government supported this idea, and thus two new extensions, namely Malleswaram and Basavanagudi, were built. The wide, tree line streets in Basavanagudi and its defined gridiron layout are owed to Madhava Rao’s foresight and vision. Basavanagudi is still home to some of the oldest and most beautiful gulmohur, tabebuia and coconut trees. This locality houses numerous old and beautiful temples, elite institutions, busy marketplaces, parks lush with green trees, tiny lakes and awesome restaurants. It is one of the oldest areas in Bengaluru. This serene place had many wide roads lined up with shady trees and huge mansions and European styled bungalows. The Ramakrishna Ashram located on Bull Temple Road and the Sringeri Peetha Matha are other places of interest in the neighbourhood.
Gandhi Bazaar still continues to be a busy marketplace with innumerable shops and street hawkers. It is an absolute delight to visit this marketplace during festive seasons as all the shops are packed with bargain hunters and all the roads leading to this marketplace are decorated with vibrant banners and colorful lights. Interestingly, decades old mammoth trees that are still left unchopped by the local municipal corporation, continue to shelter many species of birds. Old-time residents of Gandhi Bazaar in Basavanagudi have a couple of all-time favourite anecdotes. One of them is about two legendary litterateurs, Masti Venkatesha Iyengar and Devanahalli Venkataramanaiah Gundappa (DVG), going for their evening walks, relishing dosas and coffee at the Vidyarthi Bhavan and heading to Bugle Rock. They were often joined by artist AN Subbarao, former Chief Justice of Karnataka Nittoor Srinivasa Rau and TP Kailasam. Vidyarthi Bhavan, a quaint little restaurant located in the heart of Gandhi bazaar makes one of the best Masala Dosas in Bengaluru. This awesome restaurant is perennially jam-packed and still one of the most sought after hotels in the town. Among the other eateries, Dwaraka, Kamat, Janata Hotel, SLV, Kottureshwara Benne Dose Hotel, and Upahara Darshini are extremely popular hangouts. Dodda Ganeshana Gudi has the biggest stone statue of Lord Ganesh in the world. Ganesha statue is carved on a rock measuring 18 feet by 14 feet surface area.
Bugle Rock is an abrupt rise above the ground of peninsular gneiss as the main rock formation and with an assessed age of about 3,000 million years. Kempe Gowda II (who came to power in 1585), the feudal ruler of Bangalore, is credited with building four watchtowers setting limits for Bangalore’s expansion, which included a tower on the Bugle Rock (on the southern boundary) as it commands a panoramic view of Bangalore city. It is said that at sunset a sentry would blow the bugle and hold a torch which was visible from the other three watch towers (one on the southern bank of the Kempambudi tank on the west, the second near Ulsoor Lake in the east and the third tower adjoining Ramana Maharshi Ashram on Bellary Road, namely Mekhri Circle in the north). This was done to inform people that everything was safe at that location and to give a warning bugle call to alert the citizens of any intruders into the city. Most of the rocks on the Bugle Rock, next to the Bull Temple, have hollows, which were once used to light lamps. This landmark spreads over an area of 16 acres This rock is contiguous and similar to the rock at Lalbagh tower.
Thank you for joining us on this Heritage Art Walk