Basavanagudi – Land of the Bull Temple
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 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