By • May 16th, 2012
Category: Books, Movies, Music, Televison, Bangalore, India, Life, Travel, Video, YouTube Videos

Bangalore Aerial View. Copyright The Kamla Show 2012Bangalore. Every year for a few weeks I become a Bangalore local, and try to pick up the threads from where I  left it the previous year. I have been doing this exercise for over over a decade. Before Bangalore, it was Madras (Chennai) where I spent a few weeks of my precious vacation before heading back to the US of A. My ties to both the cities go back to my childhood, Madras is where I grew up, and Bangalore is where we drove up every year for our annual pilgrimage in our trusty “Amby” or Ambassador car.The drive from Madras to Bangalore would take the better part of the day, and the minute we spotted signs for Kissan factory, we knew Bangalore was not too far off.

Excited at the prospect of visiting our favorite city, we would stick our heads out of the car, and watch the car roll into South Parade Road or Mahatma Gandhi Parade Cafe by Paul Fernandes of BangaloreRoad. The minute we spotted the familiar red color building that houses Cauvery Emporium, we knew we were a hop, skip and a jump from our favorite lunch stop – Brindavan Hotel. Sadly, Brindavan Hotel is on the verge of being pulled down. Back then Bangalore had  few cars on its tree-lines roads, and it had lots of roundabouts. Bangalore simply felt, looked and behaved differently from Madras, whose roads and flyovers were filled with cars and autorickshaws rubbing shoulders with a mix of old and new buses from the trusty old Pallavan Transport Corporation. That was in the 20th century.

UB City in Bangalore. Copyright The Kamla Show 2012Fast forward to 21st century, and suddenly the laid-back “garden city” has morphed into the Information Technology (IT) hub of India, and its population has shot through the roof and there are more cars than the narrow city streets can handle. To say Bangalore has morphed into a whole new city is an understatement. The once charming, tree-lined roads that barely saw any cars have given way to traffic grid-locks complete with loud, incessant honking. The charming bungalows with their monkey-tops have given way to tall, gleaming office buildings or apartment blocks. And around the edges of the city, a cluster of neighborhoods have sprung up complete with apartment complexes, shopping malls and schools. The road that threads through the periphery and helps connect one neighborhood with another is appropriately called “Ring Road.” Outer Ring Road is the correct name for it.

Ring Road in Bangalore. The Kamla Show copyright 2012If there is one road that I am familiar with in Bangalore it is Ring Road. Ten years ago traveling on Ring Road from North Bangalore to Koramangala or Sarjapura Road was a breeze. It literally took us 20 minutes to reach our destination and we would be hard pressed to find more than a handful of cars on the road.  And if it was after 6 pm, then the driver would gently suggest traveling through the city streets instead of driving through the sparsely populated Ring Road that had barren stretches of red land on either side with barely any buildings except for a tea stall or a granite storefront. There were a couple of tech park buildings near Sarjapura and Intel was one of the first companies to set up shop in this neighborhood.  Of course, Wipro had setup shop a long time ago on Sarjapura Road and sometimes drivers would refuse to drive on the bumpy, stone-filled, red colored  kuccha road for fear of puncturing their car tires. Autos and taxiwallahs flatly refused to drive up to this part of the city.

Scooter Priest. Copyright The Kamla Show 2012And then about 8 years ago we noticed the start of what would later become a traffic nightmare – the dreaded crossing at Marthahalli on Ring Road. God forbid if you were ever caught in this junction and had a plane to catch from the old Airport. God forbid if you were on a parallel road to Ring Road, which was the  100 feet Road in Indra Nagar or the Inner Ring Road and had a plane to catch. Your best bet was to get off  your vehicle and walk, and this was the quickest and most effective way to reach the airport.

EMC on Ring Road, Bangalore. Copyright The Kamla Show 2012It was about 8 years ago that the first signs of big changes became evident when  a handful of tech park buildings started to materialize on either side of Ring Road near Sarjapura. And then before I knew it the entire stretch of Ring Road from Bellary Road to Sarjapura was studded with apartment blocks, tech buildings and schools. Today, it takes me about 90 minutes to make that trip from North Bangalore to Sarjapura on Ring Road. Ironically, it works out far quicker to travel to Sarjapura through the narrow city streets of Bangalore that comes complete with traffic choke points at Kaveri theatre circle, Infantry Road,  MG Road, Richmond Circle, Vellara Junction, Vivek Nagar, Koramangala 4th Block and Jakkasundara. I can recite a litany of things you can expect at each junction and the cause for traffic snags. For instance, at Koramangala 4th Block traffic light expect to see “perennial” road work. If there is no road work, expect to be stuck at the infamous and inordinately long traffic signals.

Taj West End Monkey top - Bangalore. Copyright The Kamla Show 2012The charming old city of my childhood has transformed into a gleaming, modern city of the 21st century. The change started on a slow pace, and then a few years ago picked up full steam and is changing so rapidly that it is hard to keep tracks of the change. Mercifully, there a few pockets of that charming old city still evident in places like Malleshwaram and Jaya Nagar. But, sadly many of the monkey top houses have disappeared, and given way to modern, new buildings. There are a few bungalows, but most Taj West End. Copyright The Kamla Show 2012are in poor condition. If you want to experience the charm of old Banglaore, you can leaf through TP Issar’s book “City Beautiful” or head over to The Taj West End, which has managed to beautifully preserve that old and familiar charm of Bangalore.

Tagged as: , , , , , , ,

7 Responses »

  1. [...] father developed his interest in the old, charming city. Trained as a lawyer in Kerala, he came to Bangalore in 1930 and worked for the British residency and then went to work in the Bangalore’s High [...]

  2. Beautiful word pictures to bring out the charm of a wonderful city.

  3. Dear Kamala,

    Enjoyed the interview with my sister Cecilia Anthraper, on my dad Kora Chandy. I moved back to Bangalore in 1993, after 18 years in the U.S. Started HOSMAT hospital, on Magrath Road, adjacent to Richmond Road. India Today in 1992 wrote an article, where I said that I had achieved the American Dream, and was seeking the Indian dream. After 19 years in Bangalore, I think I have achieved the Indian dream.

    Enjoy your web. Please put me on your mailing list. You can look me up in Google, as well as on (my love for music0


    Thomas (Tom) Chandy

  4. Thanks Snehalta for the comment

  5. Dr. Chandy…Happy to hear that you enjoyed the interview with your sister about your dad Kora Chandy. Will include you in my mailing list. And yes, do know about your music interest. Will look it up.



  6. [...] Bangalore was a pensioner’s paradise in the 20thc. “It was a lively place and every town had a youth center,” says Glenn Webber, who grew up in Bangalore in the 1940s and 1950s. “Restaurants used to be open till 2-3 am,” says Mona Webber, his sister. Their conversation is peppered with names like MacIver Town, Tasker Town, Austin Town, Cox Town, BVR and  The Only Place, many of these names are unknown to the new denizens of Bangalore. [...]

  7. [...] Taj West End Hotel turned 125 years old in 2012. This iconic Bangalore hotel  is perhaps one of the oldest hotels in India. Established in 1887, the Westend was initially [...]

Leave a Reply