Monday, April 19, 2021

#AtoZChallenge - Palace, Pete, Pensioners' Paradise

This month, each day, except the four Sundays, I will be blogging about interesting features associated with Bengaluru, formerly known as Bangalore, as part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

Before I start today's post, I must thank everyone who has been not only reading all my posts but also taking the effort to key in interesting and elaborate comments.

I must also tender an apology for one, not being able to acknowledge all their comments and two, not being able to make a return visit to all their posts; and even if I have, not being able to post a comment. I hope you would understand that this month has been really hectic.   

The city has a massive palace too to boast of. The huge 45,000 square feet mansion belongs to the Wadiyar family, the erstwhile rulers of Mysore. The Bangalore Palace is one of the major tourist attractions of the city and it has an interesting history. 

The property was bought by Chamarajendra Wadiyar X, the 23rd maharaja of the Kingdom of Mysore in 1873 from Rev J Garrett, principal of the Central High School, now known as Central College.

(The following three photos were taken by me when I took my friends from England and Germany to the Palace in 2014.)

The maharaja was then a minor, and he used to come to Bangalore for various training activities in the run-up to his ascension to power in 1881. The property was refurbished into a palace for him to stay during his Bangalore sojourn.

REGAL SPLENDOUR

The 35-bedroom mansion was built in Tudor Revival style architecture. There is an open courtyard, a ballroom, and a durbar hall, where the king used to address the assembly, besides a number of articles and furniture used by the members of the royal family. The interiors are adorned with highly artistic lamps of various sizes and shapes, and the walls sport many paintings.

Here's a description of the palace by Late Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar, 26th head of the erstwhile royal family and a former member of Indian parliament, in an interview in 2007.

My great grandfather lived in the South-West wing of the palace and my father lived in the North-East wing. I also grew up in the rooms on the first floor in the Northern-Eastern wing.

Standing in the heart of the city, near Vasanthnagar, the palace is a regal slice of medieval England and its architecture. The structure has fortified towers and its interiors embellished with elegant wood carvings and Tudor-style architecture, complete with aesthetic Gothic windows, battlements and turrets. The interiors have awesome floral motifs, cornices, moulding and relief paintings on its ceiling.

MUSIC CONCERTS

Near the mansion is what is now known as the Palace Grounds, which is a popular venue for cultural programmes. There is an amusement park called Fun World here.

A number of famous international music bands have performed here, like Iron Maiden (2007), Black Eyed Peas (2007), BoneyM (2008) Backstreet Boys (2010), and Lamb of God (2010). 

The performance by Metallica in 2011 was the last musical event in Palace Grounds as the government shifted such mega concerts to the outskirts of the city.

PETE AREA

On another side of Bengaluru is one of the oldest commercial areas, the Pete, which means market in Kannada, the regional language of Karnataka of which Bengaluru is the capital.

It refers to a large swathe of land set up and developed by Kempegowda, a chieftain of the Vijayanagara empire, who is widely believed to have founded the city in 1537.

It ran 2.5 km from east to west (called Surya beedi or what is now the Chickpet Road) and 1.5 km from north to south (Chandra beedi or what is now the Avenue Road). It was protected by a mud fort wall and a deep trench around the perimeter.

The Pete was divided into many smaller areas known by different names depending on what was predominantly traded. For example, Akkipet (rice market), Cottonpet (cotton market), Kumbarpet (clay/pot traders), Upparpet (salt traders) etc. (The -pete suffix has got anglicised to -pet.)

Chickpet last year soon after it was reopened
after the lockdown. Courtesy: The News Minute 

After the Kempegowda rule, came the Adil Shahis of Bijapur and then Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan of Mysore. During this time, Pete suffered from a lack of attention and finally lost out to the Cantonment set up by the British.

With gradual urbanisation, the mud walls and trenches around the Pete vanished. 

According to Dr S K Aruni, Deputy Director of the Indian Council for Historical Research, Bengaluru, in an article in The Hindu, "Amazingly, all the houses of the old capital town are now shops or commercial establishments. Nowhere else in South India can such an example be found of an entire old city being converted into a commercial area."

Even today, in a sense, Bengaluru continues to be a commercial hub, trading in everything related to the ubiquitous Information Technology.

PENSIONERS' PARADISE

This is one of the many sobriquets for the city. That's because of the salubrious climate the city has, owing to its unique geographical location: somewhat halfway between the east and west coast on the Deccan Plateau, at an altitude of 920 meters above sea level.

That combined with the extremely quiet, laidback pace the city had made it an attractive destination for many people post-retirement. 

However, since the late 1990s, the city has rapidly transformed into a fast-growing burgeoning metropolis with concrete structures chipping away at the greenery the city was always known for. 

In spite of this, the city is still a very popular destination for students, various professionals, entrepreneurs, besides, of course, tourists and senior citizens.

(Tomorrow, we turn to food again.)


13 comments:

  1. Ah yes, April is hard to get all the blogging and visiting done. This is why I'm not officially doing A to Z. Too much to keep up with.

    What is it about places where the retired congregate? Too bad industry is finding the place. Laid back is a nice vibe to have.

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  2. Hari OM
    It's true, I am eating, sleeping, drinking alphabet this month - but it has been entertaining and informative and I am glad to have been part of it - especially where there is good 'repartee'!

    This palace is quite the edifice. In the end, all we need is a room to eat, a room to sit/work, one to cleanse and one to sleep. Beyond that it is excess! YAM xx

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    1. Hi Yamini - Thank you. You reflect the same views regarding needs.

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    2. I meant, the same views as I have. I too don't like to have anything more than what I need.

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  3. Oh, we have similar 'pet's Hyd, most of which are commercial areas and are always bustling with people.
    The palace is so beautiful! You must have had a great trip touring the insides. :)

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    1. Hi Srivalli - Hyderabad too have a number of heritage structures. I worked there in the late 1990s for three years, before moving in to Bengaluru.

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  4. Very impressive. Why stand in awe of the British castles and palaces when India has lot of them.

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  5. It's like a fairytale reading your posts... so many awesome pictures. Thank you for taking the time to share. It's very informative and brings me to a virtual paradise.
    Cheers,
    https://crackerberries.wordpress.com/2016/04/19/people-pleaser/

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  6. What a fascinating post on P. I was always curious about the Pete and finally it makes sense. Pensioner's paradise indeed and the city of gardens.

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  7. Hi Pradeep - I hadn't realised the Deccan Plateau covered such a large area - I've learnt a bit more! Also can see why the pensioners would like to retire to an amenable climate. The market looks amazing ... while that Palace must be stunning to explore ... loved this - cheers Hilary

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  8. Your description of the palace reminded me of our exploration of Mysore Palace. Our children were amazed to see the splendour.
    Reading the extract from Dr. Aruni's article makes me nostalgic for all that is being lost in the name of commerce.
    By the end of this A to Z, I'll know more about BLR than my friend who live there:) Thanks to your posts Pradeep.

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  9. Really amazing architecture in the mansion.

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