Bangalore through the Centuries
Mirza Firuz Shah
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Akbar III 1948-2012
M. Fazlul Hasan
Publisher and Place:
Historical Publications, Bangalore - 1970
Royal Mughal Ref:
A journey through the history of our vibrant, perpetually growing, multilingual cosmopolitan city.
It is interesting to know that Bangalore had been a pawn on the chess-board of Indian intrigues. Kempe Gowda built it. Bijapur Sultanate conquered it. The Moghuls sold it. Chikkadevaraja Wodeyar purchased it. It was the personal jahagir of Shahji Bhonsley and Haider Ali, two great historical personalities, in different periods of its history. It was a Spot of England in India� during the British days. These are the words of the then Governor of Mysore Dharma Vira. They are part of the foreword he had written to the book Bengaluru Through The Centuries penned by M Fazlul Hasan. Not much is known about Hasan but his book, published in 1970 and now out of print, is a must read for anyone who wants to know the history of this vibrant, perpetually growing, multilingual cosmopolitan city.
Everyone knows that it was Kempe Gowda the first who carved his dream city through a forest filled with thick trees and wild weeds. But who could have guessed that it was bullocks which laid out the first streets of our town. Hasan writes thus in his book: Choosing an auspicious occasion, in consultation with his astrologers, he commenced his town building work in a typical Gowda way. Right at the spot where now stands the Dodpet Square, in the heart of the city, one fine morning in 1537, four pairs of milk white bullocks stood harnessed to four decorated ploughs and at the royal command off they went, driven by young men, furrowing the ground in the four directions up to the limits marked. The routes traversed by those four ploughs became the nucleus of the new town's four main streets. Thus were laid Bangalore oldest streets � Chikpet and Dodpet � which ran east to west from the Halsoor Gate to Sondekoppa Gate and north to south from Yelahanka Gate to Anekal Gate respectively. Those narrow streets continue to exist to this day and are the busiest commercial centers of Bangalore India.
Kempe Gowda, a feudatory of the Vijayanagar empire, also built a mud fort in the area and shifted his capital from Yelahanka to Bangalore. As his city became a successful commercial enterprise and his fame spread far and wide, Kempe Gowda became a bit too big for his boots. He established a mint of his own and put into circulation his own currency � the Vira Bhadra Varahas. This angered the king of Vijayanagar, Sadasiva Raya, who caught and threw Gowda into prison. The founder of Bengaluru was held captive for five years. When Rama Raya succeeded Sadasiva Raya, he was threatened by the combined forces of the kings of Ahmednagar, Bijapur and Golkonda. Since he need to buffer up his coffers he offered to release Kempe Gowda in lieu of a huge amount of money.
Kempe Gowda's son, Kempe Gowda II, not only expanded his empire, he built the four well-known towers. Though he too was a great warrior, he could not fight against the might of the Bijapur Sultanate. When the well-equipped Bijapur army forced open the gates of his fort, he was left with no option but to surrender Bangalore to the victors and move to Magadi. What is interesting is that Chatrapathi Shivaji's father, Shahji Bhonsley, was at the forefront of the Bijapur army. Impressed by his valour, the Ali Adil Shah II gave Bangalore to Bhonsley as a jahagir. As a result, both his sons, Shivaji and Venkoji, grew up in Bangalore. Upon Bhonsley's death, Shivaji inherited the Pune portion of the empire while Venkoji got the Bangalore portion. Venkoji, who was not mean soldier himself, captured Tanjavur and shifted base there. Since he felt he had too much on his hands and found it difficult to run Bangalore, he decided to sell it off to Chikkadevaraja Wodeyar for a princely sum of three lakh rupees.
When Shivaji came to know of Venkoji's intentions, he was furious because he had a strong sentimental attachment to Bangalore. He appealed to his brother not to sell it. Even when the negotiations between Venkoji and Wodeyar were going on, Shivaji passed away. Yet, both the Mughals and the Marathas were keen on capturing Bangalore. Unfortunately for the Marathas, the Mughal army arrived earlier and ousted Venkoji in 1687.
Hasan notes that the seeds of the cosmopolitan nature were sown at that point of time in the city history. Mughal officers and soldiers spoke in Pushtu, Punjabi, Gujarati, Rajasthani, Mughalai and Persian languages. But the language which was most useful as a medium of expression between the newcomers and the local inhabitants was Rekhta, says he noting that Rekhta later came to be known down south as Deccani and when it crossed the Vindhyas it was termed Urdu. With the Mughals in occupation of Bangalore State, Wodeyar renewed his offer. In 1690, they sold it to Wodeyar for the same price he had offered Venkoji.
Chikkadevaraja Wodeyar strived as much as Kempe Gowda to develop the city. But after his death Mysore was attacked repeatedly by hostile neighbours. The Nawab of Arcot had to be paid four crore rupees to back off. Salabat Jung extracted 56 lakh rupees. Peshwa Balaji Rao demanded and got 32 lakh rupees. When the Wodeyar dynasty was facing difficult times, it was a valiant soldier named Haider Ali who came to its aid. When the Maratha army invaded Mysore once again, it was Haider who fought them off. The Mysore king was so happy that the honour of his kingdom was restored that he conferred the title of "Fatah Haider Bahadur" on the soldier and granted him Bangalore and its adjoining areas as a jahagir. Haider Ali got the entire fort rebuilt in stone in order to protect it from Maratha invasions. Under his rule, Bangalore became a military centre where arms and war equipment were produced.
When the British arrived here, they realised the strategic advantages of Bangalore and tried to occupy it. Though their earlier efforts failed, they launched a huge attack in 1791 as part of the third Anglo-Mysore war and succeeded. They held it for one year and handed it back to Tipu Sultan as per the Seringapatam Treaty. Hasan says that that war was so horrendous that a large area surrounding the fort and the old town was practically littered with graves.
After Tipu's death, Bangalore city too was handed over to the Wodeyars. In 1809, the British established their Cantonment in the city. As the Cantonment expanded, so did the city around it. But it was a peculiar situation. While the Mysore Maharaja was head of the city, the British were owners of the Cantonment area. While the Maharaja insisted that the Cantonment too should come under his rule, the freedom movement gained momentum. When India was on the threshold of gaining freedom, on 26 July 1947, the British handed over the Cantonment to the Wodeyars. Two years later, in 1949, the Cantonment area and the city were merged and the �Municipal Corporation of the City of Bangalore� was formed.
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This is not the same may be one of his great grand children ???