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Basavanagudi – Land of the Bull Temple

June 4, 2009

Basavanagudi. Traditional Bangalore.

Where mornings begin with a walk in Krishna Rao park, past the laughter club’s guffawing women and the old men who enquire “Why you did not come yesterday?” Where you stop at Vidyarthi Bhavan for a ‘strong’ coffee and step outside to smell the roses (and jasmine) at the Gandhi Bazaar market.

Where residents went ‘tut-tut’ at the ‘modernization’ when the swanky Upahara Darshini opened in the late 80’s (but promptly proceeded to indulge in its delicious malnad kadbu and talked about its automatic hand drier over conversations at the Katte BaLaga).

Basavanagudi, land of the December Peanut Fair around the benevolent Big Bull Temple at the Bugle Rock park. Where Bhavani Bangle Stores , seller of Β velvet-cloth-flower-painting-kits (as seen on the housewives show on Udaya TV) and Maybeline for the middle class added an additional floor to accommodate customers. Where Sangeeth Sagar tried the same , failed and went back to the narrow column of a shop selling Rajkumar hits on cassettes now also on MP3.

Where the annual Vidyaranya Ganesha festival grew from hosting the local ‘Blue Boys’ orchestra to inviting Daler Mehndi to perform at the Acharya Patashala Grounds. Where many a young impressionable mind grew up reading the dog-eared Asterixes , Tintins and Amar Chitra Kathas at the Public Library at the Indian Institute of World Culture.

A Basavanagudi that’s now choking thanks to the ugly plastic coconut trees on DVG road outside the numerous kitschy Gold Palaces that we are told belong to powerful ministers. Where it’s perfectly okay to ask at Sreenivasa Brahmin’s bakery :” Eggless items are there ? ” Where little Brahmin boys play cricket in the lanes near the Shankar maTa and as adolescents , discover Swami Vivekananda at the Ramakrishna Ashram.

Where Subbamma, maker of deep fried snacks sold her wares from a tiny shop near Surveyor Street. Where the rationalist H.Narasimhiah walked the streets of Gandhi Bazaar during a solar eclipse to prove a point. The same streets Maasti Venkatesh Iyengar took not so long ago from his house in Gavipuram to the Basavanagudi Club, handing out toffees to children along the way.





I’ve lived in Basavanagudi all my life. I drew this map a couple of years ago for Savita, a close friend who does the Traditional Bangalore Walk for Bangalore Walks, run(?) by another friend Arun Pai. It’s a wonderful way to spend a weekend morning – discovering a part of Bangalore you probably didn’t know about over a walk and breakfast. You may sign up here. Better still, send me a mail identifying (any number of) the five places marked on the map above and the person with the most correct answers (lucky draw in case of a tie) shall be invited to an all expenses paid FREE Traditional Bangalore Walk (courtesy Savita). Contest ends 12th June 2009.

Arun Pai does the Victorian Bangalore Walk (around the MG Road area) and there’s also a Lalbagh Walk (Tip : breakfast at MTR ! ). These are fine people you should be spending your weekend with.So , people – if you are in Bangalore, mark your calendars for a Saturday/Sunday morning !

Recommended reading : Multiple City – Writings on Bangalore compiled by Aditi De

44 Comments leave one →
  1. Veena permalink
    June 4, 2009 4:43 pm

    amazing Jai – never thought i could put what i feel for my Bangalore in such simple but moving words. Its ironic that though you and I are ‘not from here’. But this is home. basavangudi is where I grew up too. I still remember sitting on the road eating hot vadas from SLV and I have never tasted better vadas in my life. I remember going for walks to Lalbagh just so we could catch a glimpse of Anil Kumble when he got back from practice at 8:25 a.m and there was practically nobody in sight. I remember walking the streets of Bangalore with friends when there were no coffee shops. Even power cuts didn’t scare us. Crimes were very rare – so rare that one would remember a crime years after. but now it is difficult to keep pace.
    I have so much to say but then its what all of us know – then you wonder – whats the point.

    Jai (author) : Stalking Kumble in those days , eh? Abhishtu !

    • Veena permalink
      June 8, 2009 4:36 pm

      hey, when was honesty a crime ? :))) don’t give me those pavam – i never ogle(d) stories. :))
      but i’m glad u have started this series. can’t wait to read the next one. πŸ™‚
      ofcourse i forgot to mention the map – brilliant. i knew this place so well, now i look at the map and wonder what i am looking at.

      • June 8, 2009 6:31 pm

        Would it jog the memory if I marked the map with ‘Kumble ate palya-bun here’ etc?

      • Veena permalink
        June 9, 2009 4:37 pm

        hey, i was i think abt 18-19 then – things change – now it is all Vettori. To think of it, Vettori might never taste palya bun – oh my God, what r we going to do!!!!!!!!! :))

  2. June 5, 2009 2:09 am

    This is so beautifully written and the map is a delight for the eyes. Basavanagudi has always been a favourite place of mine, purely for the traditional Bengaluru life that is becoming such a rarity nowadays. I see a lot of parallels with the place I spent most of my life in – Malleshwaram – and I hope that certain things never change in these places. I hope to see you doing a map of Malleshwaram too soon πŸ™‚

    Jai (author) : Malleshwaram map – on the cards.

  3. June 5, 2009 5:15 am

    Jai! What a nice writeup. Came here via FB.

    I haven’t looked into the map yet, but namma college idhiya? πŸ™‚

    Jai (author) : Hey thanks. Of course idhe.

  4. Suyog permalink
    June 5, 2009 10:00 am

    Hey, my college is there and I can even see the building where I used to have my classes! Also seen are the wonderful green lawns courtesy of Melton Foundation. Wish the katte could have been shown too πŸ™‚

    Jai (author) : zoom in really close and you can see James walking around asking for a beedi πŸ™‚

  5. June 5, 2009 10:39 am

    Great read.May be Peter Colaco’s Bangalore can be added to the list of good reads on Bangalore(the older version).


    Jai (author) : I haven’t read the Peter Colaco / Paul Fernandes book myself. Must do it one of these days….

  6. June 5, 2009 12:11 pm

    Beautiful. And that’s a lovely map πŸ™‚

    Jai (author) : Thanks! And I’ve been a big fan of your photographs for a while now. Have been doing some snooping in the Chickpet bylanes myself – hope our mains cross someday πŸ™‚

  7. June 5, 2009 2:10 pm

    “….Where little Brahmin boys play cricket in the lanes near the Shankar maTa and as adolescents , discover Swami Vivekananda at the Ramakrishna Ashram.”

    Hmmm.. I must say, very poetic.. I didn’t know this trait of yours..
    Brilliant sketch and moving description.
    Great post.

    Jai (author) : Poetic trait? This is more a R.K.Narayan hangover πŸ™‚

  8. June 5, 2009 4:34 pm

    That’s wonderful. I went for the Traditional Bangalore Walk about two months ago, and I loved that very map so much, that I have carefully preserved it. I am thrilled to be able to compliment the artist on it.

    Jai (author) : Thanks! I’m glad.

  9. Basavanagudi Boy permalink
    June 6, 2009 5:39 am

    1 xxx
    2 xxx
    3 xxx
    4 xxx
    5 Brahmanara Coffee Bar (a naive gentlemen once asked Ramakrishna agida, why don’t you serve sambhar along with idli? Mr.Adiga visibly irritated said, chutney ne sambhar thara suruthi valla!!)

    Jai (author) : Basavangudi Boy , answers by email only please πŸ™‚
    I’ve censored your comment – but I left the nice Brahmins’ Coffee Bar anecdote untouched.

  10. June 6, 2009 3:30 pm

    Loved this post! Basavanagudi is one of the last gracious localities of Bangalore.

  11. June 6, 2009 7:43 pm

    Your affection for Basavanagudi shines through, and I’m sure each morning there’ll be something new to discover. Will look forward to pictures of the places you ran through in your post.

  12. Quijibo permalink
    June 8, 2009 7:36 am

    Jaipsaw, I didn’t have the time on friday to see it. Its BRILLIANT. The article reminds me of the savita walk and the walks with you around basavangudi.

    But perima’s house and Gawndhi Bazawr are all not there on the map?

    Jai (author) : Walcome ji. Bzaar hai na. Around the spot marked ‘4’. Your Prima’s house is err cough cough ahem not in Basavanagudi proper.

  13. Jayanth permalink
    June 9, 2009 11:49 am

    Excellent post Jai…in my opinion your best till date πŸ™‚

    The map is fab kano. i cud only identify 2 & 5. 5, ofcourse from the comment of “Basvangudi Boy”. That chutney quote was ROFL :)))

  14. Jayanth permalink
    June 9, 2009 11:52 am

    well…got a typo there. i cud only identify 3 & 5…what are 1, 2 & 4??? still scratching…my head!

  15. rashmi n subramanian permalink
    June 22, 2009 10:43 am

    hey jai…very artistic blog..orey kalakkals…

  16. My3 permalink
    June 23, 2009 5:50 pm

    Since I live in the flats next to RK I shall not enter the competition I know all the landmarks πŸ˜€ . But am taking the boys on the y-early morning touru as soon as arrive! Muchos thanks for the map. Yenjoy maadi the rest of you. It really is a treat to be in this part of Bangalore.

  17. June 30, 2009 3:28 pm

    Wow, you are an AWESOME artist!

  18. Malavika permalink
    July 21, 2009 10:40 am

    I’m a little late here. But seriously, Awesome! I just stumbled upon your blog and my god! This map makes me feel so nostalgic. Spent 4 magical years in this area thanks to BMS. #senti

    Beautiful map! *bow*

  19. Manaswi MG permalink
    July 22, 2009 11:35 am

    1) KR Road police station??
    2) Bugle Rock
    3) The statue of hanumantha hugging ram after which hanumanthnagar gets it name…fond memories standing in our classroom block adn trying to figure out where on earth these statues were actually located.
    4) Vidyarthi Bhavan
    5) Brahmin’s coffee bar

    and how come no katte ra??or even the basketball court where rvce was so often belted??

  20. July 22, 2009 6:25 pm

    Oooooooh Bangalore boy! I found ya through some online tangling – ok Rads’ twitter.

    Anyway – I lived in Jayanagar until I got married and come to this useless country. Ayyo, I miss Subbamma and SLV. Vidyarthi Bhavan also (on the side :D). And that bridge which, hopefully, is built now.

    I have no direction sense, but isn’t Brahmin’s Idli Bar somewhere around Bgudi?

  21. July 23, 2009 4:18 pm

    niec – both the map & writeup… have been to last four places many times… and once to first one – to get my bike back which was towed away… πŸ˜›

  22. Meena permalink
    August 6, 2009 9:15 am

    This is so nostalgic and I am passing the memories to generation next ( to my son) who is a fan of these places too. His favorite hang around is in the Bugle Rock Park . Eating the buttas , blowing soap bubbles sitting on the rock , the baele masala , nipatu masala et al……. . The weekends in Bangalore are spent here most of the time still.

  23. September 3, 2009 4:03 pm

    I’ve been trying to get Mity to read it… I don’t think she still has! But you have to see the latest on our blog.


  24. October 12, 2009 4:15 pm

    Hi Jai,

    visited your blog from a link on FB from one of my friends..I must say you have captured the essence of Basavangudi so beautifully!felt very nostalgic as I read your post..good one!!

  25. November 14, 2009 5:23 am

    my home too. πŸ™‚
    Lovely lovely post.
    LOVED the cartoon!!! totally absolutely amazin. im a fan!

  26. Lakshmi permalink
    December 3, 2009 4:13 pm

    Very nice post – I must say I’m a Basavanagudi-ian(?) a little late in life by marriage. But I’m proud to call it home, although I do wish I had caught a glimpse of Kumble being a huge fan.

    BTW – do you do Malleswaram also?

  27. February 16, 2010 8:44 am

    Karnicara paatshale kids coming to borrow the hose/mango leaves , banana leaves/neem leaves.Mata versus Mata cricket. My Dad simply refuses to walk in Lalbagh .. he prefers the National college grounds(the school he studied in) , walking with dog lovers/ talking to the PT masters of National High school.Lovely sketch its so apt πŸ™‚

  28. Stardust permalink
    March 16, 2010 9:48 pm

    Wow ! I chanced upon your blog accidentally and what a treat !!

    I wonder if anyone remembers the hot ambode-bajji seller on Ganesh Bhavan road, Hotel Dwaraka on Bull temple main road, ‘hale-newspaper’ shop in nr colony that would sell computer sheets, a lottery ticket shop near nr colony bus stand that would always be crowded, a Gym near NR colny bus stand (30,31),A newspaper stall near 32 bus stand that would be the first shop to get get ‘sanje vani’ ..and i remember the day i waited with a million butterflies to see 10th std rank holders list !! πŸ™‚

    Thanks so much for making my day with this blog πŸ™‚

    • March 17, 2010 11:20 am

      Dwarka has shifted from Bull Temple Road to N.R.Colony, opposite your hale-newspaper shop (which still exists). No lottery tickets in Karnataka, so no lottery stand.And yes, the NR Colony gym is still around, only uglier.

      • Stardust permalink
        March 18, 2010 9:15 pm

        Wow ! Nice to know.

        That map sure made me dust my memories. I hope someday, you would post another quiz about Basavangudi of yester years. I am already trying to remember the names of shops on DVG Road, that are no longer there now πŸ™‚

        Cheers !

  29. Harish permalink
    April 21, 2010 5:46 am

    Stumbled on this blog..enjoyed reading through it. Been in Basavanagudi since the early 70s grew up in the vicinity of M N K park and witness to the changes that have taken place, most of it a departure from the greenery and calm of my childhood to the mad traffic, bursting ‘southtindies’ and the transformation of “Nittor Bhavana” to a fast food joint and much awaited fine dining restaurant !!

  30. Galadriel permalink
    May 3, 2010 11:33 am

    Sometimes, I wonder if things just seem rosier in hindsight? La (past) vie en rose?

    I mean, the drudgery of work life, end-of-financial-year-blues, the ubiquitous-ness of McDonald’s and all those little things that make once-familiar landscapes so different.
    Sometimes I feel like the carpet is being pulled from under my feet.

    But maybe that’s why people ALWAYS feel like everything was so much nicer and better “in those days”. Because, when I was young, I distinctly remember thinking that the Annual Peanut Fair thing was kitschy and a bit of drag, really. I remember falling violently ill after eating at “Halli Thindi” and swearing off it forever (besides, the food really wasnt all it was cracked up to be). I remember absolutely DETESTING the walk from my house to K.R. Park in the morning, what with having to dodge “hi baby” type romeos (at freaking 6 am!) and skip over the generously cowdung-ed footpaths and the horribly busy streets on the way back.

    But, having said that, my kingdom for a time-travel machine.

  31. Lakshmi permalink
    June 6, 2010 4:34 pm

    Great article; evokes the same emotion and drive to make me draw up a map of Malleshwaram. Iyers like their neighbourhoods just this way!

  32. June 29, 2010 4:40 am

    awesome blogpost!! Being a Basavangudi-ite myself I could relate to every beautiful line in the post! *clap* *clap* πŸ™‚ I can see National college (my college), Ashrama and circle(btw, now it has become a square with the vivekananda statue in it] – everything! lovely map as well!

  33. shobha permalink
    September 4, 2010 9:18 am

    I chanced upon your beautiful map when I was browsing for ideas to teach special kids( at Deepika school, inside Shankar Mutt) map reading.
    It’s simply beautiful, both map and the write up.

  34. January 15, 2011 6:24 am

    Fun coincidence, we’re doing the Bangalore Victorian Walk tomorrow morning!

  35. Ramesh Krishnamurthy permalink
    January 27, 2011 6:14 am

    Awesome! my time in BGudi goes back even further – when the space behind Bull Temple was a lake – before it was closed and made into a BWSS B water tank!

    Oh! those summer days in Karanji Anjaneya temple, biting into Totapuri Mavinkayi and listening to some music program….

    Thanks for the trip, keep it coming…

  36. Ramesh Krishnamurthy permalink
    October 3, 2011 9:48 pm

    About Masthi and Gandhi Bazaar – my dad (now 84) used to be Masthi’s table-mate at cards in BUS club at the end of the road. story is that he used to walk from his house on the other side of BTR with his umbrella open even during the non-monsoon days. his explanation – the other “white” rain from the canopy of the trees along Gandhi Bazaar.


  1. Basavanagudi – Land of the Bull Temple | DesiPundit
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