November 9th, 2016Arts, Culture & Entertainment, Historical Links, Pre-Independence, Records, All, Travel
The structure built in 1887 has seen the city change, from a quiet abode for retiring seniors to a rushed metro that stays up all night.
Located in a lush green 20 acres, the hotel is said to be one of the first luxury hotels in the city. As you walk around the hotel, you will be greeted by turkey, geese and butterflies.
“Bengaluru was a leafy British cantonment and all families owned a part of the city’s gardens. A British couple, Mr and Mrs Bronson, opened a boarding house with ten beds and called it Bronson’s West End. It was opened to offer efficient boarding with laundry and kitchen facilities to the soldiers,” says Somnath Mukherjee, General Manager at the hotel. The single-storey building has been now converted into a Jiva Grande spa.
Arun Prasad, a historian and researcher, says that the guesthouse was need of the hour as there were no exclusive lodgings to accommodate the upper-class British who visited the city. “They would come here to visit the city or the officers living here. Some of them would also come to visit Royal Maharaja of Mysore,” he says.
“While the guesthouse was run by Mrs Bonson, who was married to a British officer, she started getting enough visitors and next year her husband also joined her and helped her in developing the property,” says Arun Prasad. The hotel had an ideal location – on the high grounds, next to Golf Club and adjacent to Race Club. The historian says that this made it easier for officers to access both the facilities.
There was so much demand that they extended it to two other existing buildings. One of the two buildings was earlier occupied by Grenadier Guards Regiment, one of the units of British Army, says Arun Prasad. Another building, he says, belonged to the secretary of the Race Club. They must have been built in early 1900s.
Oldest Post Box
Walk to the right of this building and you will find a post box that is still functional. It was used by the guests when it was Bronson’s West End. “It is the oldest operational post box in the city. It has the original Victorian Crest. It is made of cast iron,” informs Somnath Mukherjee.
But much before the guest house was opened by Bronsons, Muneshwara temple existed a little ahead of the building, which is now part of the hotel. The year in which it was built remains unknown. “It would have been a place of worship for people who lived in this locality,” says Somnath Mukherjee. The carving in front of the temple says that a great jamun tree fell on this temple ‘kalasham’ splitting the trunk into two but the temple remained unharmed. Even now the temple is open to the guests who visit the hotel and also to outsiders.
Even the trees here are ancient, among them is a Rain Tree. According to a carving put up in front of the tree, it was planted in 1848 approximately. A Christmas tree planted in front of it measures more than 130 feet and is believed to have been planted even before the guesthouse came up. Eagles and parrots have made their nests here. Many more trees have been added and maintained by The Taj West End which occupied the place in 1984 and have preserved it with much love.
Arun Prasad says that in a book called Cyclopedia of India, a descriptive account of the landmarks and the people of India in early 1900s is listed. One of the landmarks mentioned in the edition printed in 1909 is Bronson’s West Land.
“The book describes it as an establishment of six fine buildings, spacious verandas, overlooking beautiful gardens and cottages. It also mentions that the building had a large dining room, a spacious drawing room, lofty billiards room with two full-sized billiard tables. All the rooms were furnished with modern amenities. There was a bakery, a dairy and carriage services as part of the hotel according to the book,“ he tells us.
source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Bengaluru / by Pratima Shantaveeresh / Express News Service / November 09th, 2016
October 27th, 2016Arts, Culture & Entertainment, Green Initiatives / Environment, Historical Links, Pre-Independence
Amid cries of protest over the steel flyover, which could sound the death knell for over 800 trees in the heart of Bengaluru, a ringing message to protect green spaces reverberates across the pages of the city’s past. Gustav Hermann Krumbiegel, the German botanist who was largely responsible for turning Lalbagh into the wonder it is today, often cycled around the city with his oldest daughter, Hilda, their baskets leaden with plants to raise awareness on the importance of trees.
As the city’s lung spaces shrink, Krumbeigel’s greatgranddaughter, Alyia PhelpsGardner, 55, is all set to resurrect her forbear’s legacy . In a bid to restore the dilapidated Krumbiegel Hall, Alyia too will cycle around Bengaluru. The cost of restoration comes up to £32,000, and Alyia is being helped in her endeavour by Intech Bangalore. The plan is to have the house restored in a traditional manner, with lathe and plaster.
Pointing out that her greatgrandfather was described to her in heroic terms, Alyia said, “He was affectionately known as Krumbie, and his wife as Great Granny Krumbie.”
Seated on the Lalbagh wall, Krumbiegel sipped his coffee along with a cigarette – a ritual in itself – while his family members relaxed in the garden. This will be Alyia’s first visit to the Garden City . Her tryst with Lalbagh too, is confined to pictures. “The hall, once restored, can be used as a media library for all horticultural students. He had a special love for Lalbagh. He also loved books. In this day and age, I would like to offer books and internet access. His work, and mode of thinking will come alive,” she said. She attributes the image of Krumbiegel that she carries around in her head to the many tales and anecdotes that her grandmother, Hilda Gustav’s daughter used to narrate. “One story that makes me giggle even to this day is of a tiger jumping through a window of their house in Vadodara, when the family was having a dinner party . Only Granny Krumbie saw it. She left the room, and it jumped out again.She didn’t say anything, since she did not wish to alarm anyone,” she said.
Alyia recalled that Maharaja Wadiyar had intervened twice to prevent Krumbiegel from being sent back to Germany by the British.
“He always wanted independence for India. One of his last planning assignments was Mahatma Gandhi’s tomb. One of his greatest wishes was to start a horticultural school, a dream not many were aware of,” she added.
Alyia’s granddaughter, Sofia too shares her love for planting flowers and other planting.Alyia said that she is regaling her grandchildren with Krumbie’s any adventures in India.
Previously a horticulture lecture hall, it was named Krumbiegel Hall to honour the German botanist. Built in accordance with the classical principles of Greek architecture, one of the distinctive features of the structure is the Gandaberunda – the two-headed mythological bird, which is believed to possess magical strength.
The many years of neglect have rendered restoration both difficult and expensive. The lime and mortar that the British builders used cannot be replaced with regular cement or plaster of Paris.
source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News Home> City News> Bangalore / by Aditi Sequeira / TNN / October 27th, 2016
October 13th, 2016Arts, Culture & Entertainment, Historical Links, Pre-Independence, Leaders, Records, All
by Pushpa Vikram
Apart from the grand Vijayadashami Day procession, royal rituals and people’s participation in the festivities, Dasara is a time to recollect the contributions made by the erstwhile kings. While paeans are sung every year hailing the contributions of the Maharajas, very rarely, the sacrifice of the Maharanis are recollected or remembered.
Realising this, the Mysuru Zilla Panchayat has, this year, planned a tableau exclusively dedicated to the Maharanis of Mysore who have selflessly worked for the kingdom and have made sacrifices like selling their jewellery for the welfare of the people.
The tableau has been conceptualised and named ‘Mysurige Maharaniyara Koduge’ when translated in English means the contribution of Maharanis to Mysore. It will be a pictorial representation of the contributions of Maharanis Doddammanni, Lingarajammanni, Devajammanni, Lakshmammanni and Kempananjammanni (Vani Vilasa Sannidhana).
The tableau, one among the 41 tableaux that will be a part of the Dasara procession on Oct.11, is being designed by artists from all parts of the State.
Maharani Doddammanni: In the year 1660 the then King Ranadheera Narasaraja Wadiyar inspired by Maharani Doddammanni built the Bangaradoddi Dam for River Cauvery near Srirangapatna. This turned out to be the first dam built by Kannadigas across Cauvery.
Maharani Lakshmammanni: The kingdom of Mysore saw its low when Haider Ali, a common soldier in the Mysore army, usurped the throne in 1761. He and his son Tipu Sultan kept Maharani Lakshmammanni under imprisonment. Despite being in jail, Maharani Lakshmammanni was able to connect with the then ruling British and was able to give back the kingdom to the Yadu dynasty. Maharani Lakshmammanni’s negotiations with the British proved to be Tipu’s ultimate nemesis. He died fighting on May 4, 1799 at Srirangapatna. Between 1803 and 1804, Mysuru kingdom had to face the outbreak of deadly plague. Though the rulers took effective steps to control the disease, people were not ready for vaccination. Maharani Lakshmammanni had to convince the people and she told the doctors to vaccinate her first. This act by the Maharani earned her laurels from the British and the incident has also been mentioned in the gazette.
Maharani Lingarajammanni and Devajammanni: The Maharanis of Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar, Lingarajammanni and Devajammanni built two lakes in the eastern side of Mysore – Devambudhi Lake – and the western side of the city – Lingambudhi Lake. They also constructed many temples.
Kempananjammanni (Vani Vilasa Sannidhana): Among the Maharanis of Mysore kingdom, Vani Vilasa Sannidhana is the most remembered queen. She was the mother of Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar (then a mere teenager) and she ruled the kingdom in the capacity of ‘Rajamathe’.
Vani Vilasa Sannidhana started separate schools for girls, planned the hydro electric station at Shivanasamudra, drinking water and UGD lines for Mysuru city and built Mari Kanive, a dam popularly known as Vani Vilasa Sagara in Chitradurga. This was the biggest reservoir in India at the time of completion. Under Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar (called Rajarishi among kings by Mahatma Gandhi), Mysore witnessed tremendous economic, social and cultural progress. Mysore State had many firsts to its credit and was hailed as the Model State.
The Krishna Raja Sagar or the KRS Dam, completed in 1931, was then the biggest reservoir in Asia. As the estimate for its construction exceeded the State budgets, Nalwadi and his mother Vani Vilasa Sannidhana sold costly diamonds, ornaments, gold and silver plates of the royal family to provide seed capital for the project.
In designing and displaying this exclusive tableau, the ZP hopes to showcase the role played by the Maharanis for the welfare of the people.
source: http://www.starofmysore.com / Star of Mysore / Home> Features Articles / October 07th, 2016
Mahatma Gandhi visited Bengaluru for the first time on May 8, 1915, four months after he returned from South Africa.
A photograph of a young Gandhi and his wife Kasturba, taken during this visit is one of the many that are on display at a week-long exhibition that began at the Rangoli Art Center at Metro station on Mahatma Gandhi Road on Sunday.
Vemgal Somashekhara, a former teacher from Kolar who wrote a book on Gandhi’s visits to Bengaluru, ‘Bengalurinalli Mahatma Gandhi’, explained the significance of Gandhi’s first visit.
Gopal Krishna Gokhale had passed away in February that year and Gandhi had come to Bengaluru for a condolence service organised for his mentor, said Somashekhara.
“Gandhi looks very different in the picture compared to his later avatar. He is seen wearing a ‘topi’ and a kurta in the picture. By the time he comes here for the second time in 1920, we see a different Gandhi, clad in only a dhoti.”
The exhibition is based on pictures and texts from Somashekhara’s book.
Between 1915 and 1936, Gandhi would visit the city a total of five times. Pointing at an old picture of the Eidgah Khuddus Saheb on Miller’s Road, Somashekhara said, “In 1920 on his second visit, Gandhi visited the Eidgah Khuddus Saheb and stayed in the city only for half a day. However, this short visit saw a gathering of around 40,000 people in and around the Cantonment. Such a huge gathering was never seen before.”
Then, there is a picture of the Mahatma getting down from a train at Yeshwantpur and offering prayers at the platform. This is from his third and the longest visit to the city in 1927.
Another picture shows Gandhi on a visit to the Imperial Dairy College in Adugodi (now the National Dairy Research Centre) flanked by William Smith, the then director of the college and nationalist leader Madan Mohan Malviya.
“Gandhi stayed in Bengaluru for 87 days during this visit and visited various places. He stayed at the Nandi Hills for 42 days,” said Somashekhara.
It was in 1990 that Somashekhara took interest in chronicling Gandhi’s visit and stay at Nandi Hills. Later, he expanded his project to include Gandhi’s visit to Bengaluru and published his book in 2006.
source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> City / DHNS – Bengaluru, October 03rd, 2016
September 26th, 2016Arts, Culture & Entertainment, Historical Links, Pre-Independence, Records, All, Travel
D.V. Gundappa, a prominent poet of Karnataka, had penned 60 Kannada poems in his book ‘Antahpura Geetegalu’ in 1950 after being mesmerised by the dexterous chisel of the stone sculptures at Belur.
After that poetic attempt, a book, ‘Belu-Halebeedu Shilpakala Saamrajya’, brought out by Kikkeri Publications, Bengaluru, tells tales through the photography of illustrator and photographer Pundalika Kalliganuru.
The pictures in the book are also enhanced with commentaries, verses, and hymns penned by Pramod Nallur and Kalliganuru.
The 400-page book, with around 2,000 pictures, is a compilation of Mr. Kalliganuru’s four years of painstaking effort.
Assisted by other photographers, such as Mahalingu, Deepu, M. Viswanath and Vipin Baliga, the work of the 10th century Hoysala sculptors of the Jakkanachari style comes through splendidly in the book.
“If you see the grandeur of Hoysala architecture you will know that sculptors created more than 1,500 Hoysala temples. Belur and Halebeedu were their signature works. I wanted to showcase them pictorially giving them a huge spread,” says Kalliganuru.
“Amongst the 5,000 pictures clicked in four years, I felt bad that 3,000 could not be accommodated. This speaks of the specifics of detailing in each stone sculpture of Belur and Halebdu,” he adds.
The assortment in the stone art made Kalliganuru present his pictures in 39 chapters with nearly 10 categorisations of the sculptures.
“The carvings are intensely soaked in their explicit details. The only way that I could mirror them was shoot them in both natural sun and in rain where they reflected their true poetry in stone,” says Kalliganuru.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Bengaluru / by Ranjani Govind / Bengaluru – September 26th, 2016
August 12th, 2016Arts, Culture & Entertainment, Historical Links, Pre-Independence, Leaders, Records, All, World Opinion
Many years ago in Madras, reclining on an easy chair and chewing on a piece of clove, R.K. Narayan (RKN) quite uncharacteristically said: “Although I have built the Mysore house brick by brick, I carry no emotions, no nostalgia about it… In life one has to move on, you can’t simply dwell in the past,” recalls RKN’s grand-nephew, the journalist-turned-corporate manager Chetan Krishnaswamy, who recaptures life as it used to be at 15, Vivekananda Road, Yadavagiri, Mysore – 570020, in this writeup…
by Chetan Krishnaswamy
I don’t quite remember the details now, but oddly, that muggy afternoon, I thought I detected a streak of nostalgia beneath the veneer of cold pragmatism and bravado.
The true magnificence of RKN’s sprawling bungalow on 15, Vivekananda Road in Yadavagiri, Mysore, lies in the lively people who inhabited, or were associated, with it throughout its 60-plus years of existence.
In 1948, the scrubby land measuring 180 x 120 was bought from a local Shetty at the rate of around Rs. 2 per square yard. Narayan’s older brother R.K. Pattabhi had a share in it, too.
By this time, Narayan had already established himself as a writer and was attracting global acclaim.
Mysore’s famous Chief Engineer Shama Rao (who had built the famous Krishna Raja Sagar [KRS] Hotel and after whom a string of buildings are named in Mysore’s Vontikoppal, including the shopping complex on 3rd Main Road called Shama Rao building), who was retired by then, was given the contract to construct RKN’s house in 1949.
Narayan designed a large, roomy home that would accommodate his brothers, their wives and their children. By this time, the cartoonist R.K. Laxman, the other famous sibling, had already flown the coop and was building his reputation in distant Bombay.
The extended family which resided at Door Number 963, Lakshmipuram, comprised brothers R.K. Srinivasan and Pattabhi and their families apart from Narayan’s daughter Hemavathi (RKN’s wife Rajam had passed away suddenly in 1939).
Reigning over the household was Narayan’s mercurial mother Gynanambal — expert cook, chess champ and tennis player, all rolled into one.
The house was completed in 1952, with the griha pravesha being a grand affair. Among the guests was Soma, a blind mystic who lived atop Chamundi Hill and who had taken a liking for the family. On one occasion, the gifted Soma through his clairvoyant powers had accurately traced Laxman’s wife Kamala’s missing diamond ring, that had been swept away with the garbage.
And then came the unforeseen crisis: None of Narayan’s brothers were keen to relocate to Yadavagiri from the centrally located Lakshmipuram. This, despite the comforts of a large house.
In light of this new dilemma, Narayan settled into a peculiar routine: Every day after lunch he was driven in his Morris Minor to Yadavagiri by driver Rangappa.
In the unbroken silence of his house, Narayan wrote profusely. This was the phase in which he wrote two of his novels: The Financial Expert and Waiting for the Mahatma.
By about 5.30 pm, after lighting the lamp in the ‘puja room,’ Narayan would be back home in Lakshmipuram for his routine evening walk with brother Srinivasan. Eventually, for about a year, 15, Vivekananda Road was rented out to Henry C. Hart, a Visiting Professor of Political Science from the University of Wisconsin, on a monthly rent of Rs. 200. Hart was in India on a Fulbright Fellowship, with his wife in tow.
Their legacy was an elegant piece of furniture custom made for the house: wooden seating that skirted the entire semi-circular perimeter of the large living room. After many years of service, and in the wake of sustained onslaught from a riotous bunch of kids, that primarily included my cousins, the furniture slowly disintegrated.
One morning, 15, Vivekananda Road, had a surprise visitor.
The flamboyant actor Dev Anand accompanied by Yash Johar (Karan Johar’s father) had dashed to Mysore, after giving a day’s notice to Narayan. The actor was there to negotiate for the filming rights of The Guide.
Narayan’s starstruck nephews were directed to fetch a breakfast of idli-vada and dosas from Seshagiri’s hotel (Hotel Ramya now). After thoroughly enjoying the meal, Dev is said to have whipped out his cheque book and asked “How much?”
RKN feebly said,“I don’t know.”
Dev left after presenting the author with an advance of Rs. 5,000.
Finally, with the daughters of the house married and gone and brother Srinivasan moving out of Mysore in pursuit of government service, a hesitant Pattabhi gave in. Much to Narayan’s relief, Pattabhi moved to Yadavagiri with his wife and mother. Also in tow were Narayan’s young nephews R.S. Krishnaswamy and R.S. Jayaram, both studying at the Mysore’s National Institute of Engineering (NIE).
In 1973, Narayan’s mother Gynanambal passed away.
The large, two-storied house of around 5000 sq.ft. had five bedrooms with attached bathrooms. There was a spacious semi-circular living room with an array of windows that brought in the sunlight.
The dining hall, kitchen, an unusually huge store-room adjoining a ‘puja room’ formed another portion of the expansive house.
A winding, narrow flight of stairs led to Narayan’s airy room on the top floor.
The room was minimalistic, almost spartan in décor. Apart from a single cot, there was this heavy easy chair and a solid walnut table from Kashmir on which rested an assortment of books and papers.
In another corner Narayan displayed his interesting collection of miniature owls, which he had picked up during his travels. On a wooden bracket fixed to the wall rested the Filmfare award (which the writer had won for The Guide) and other memorabilia. That he never thought too highly of this award was another thing.
The room had a modest ante chamber where Narayan tucked away his veena. He played it well.
On the wall of his room was a framed picture of his late wife Rajam. He would regularly place a string of jasmine flowers on the frame every day. The room opened up to a cosy balcony, which was Narayan’s favourite spot. He sat there, hours on end, writing, watching the flitting birds and squirrels on the frangipani tree that majestically arched into the compound, scattering its canopy of green.
Sometimes he would meditate and recite a version of the Gayatri Mantra sitting here. Narayan had revealed to my aunt Rajani, Jayaram’s wife, that this particular Mantra was a revelation that was relayed to him from another spiritual plane.
The other room, which usually accommodated guests and other relatives who were on an extended stay, had an unusual revolving wooden shelf, which originally belonged to Narayan’s academic father R.V. Krishnaswamy Iyer. The shelf creaked and groaned under the weight of the thick hardbound classics, some of which were rare out of print editions.
The house had a garage which at one time held Narayan’s Mercedes Benz, a gift from a publisher which he subsequently disposed off. There were also two make shift ‘sheds’ that in the later years were used to park the other automobiles in the house.
In 1987, after Pattabhi’s death, Narayan travelled into Madras and the US, periodically coming into Mysore. From 1991 onwards, he started living in Chennai owing to his ill health. For many years, the empty house was taken care of by Narayan’s driver Krishnamurthy.
Sometime in early 2000, the house was leased out to the cousin of a very powerful Congress party politician. The influential tenant used it as an office-cum-residence, altering certain facets and progressively destroying the old world charm of the house.
At one point, he stopped paying the rent and refused to move out. The family seemed helpless…
One fine morning, suitably galvanised by Narayan’s son-in-law Chandrasekaran, who lives in Chennai, I strode into the house determined to take on the truant tenant.
After making us wait for a long time, the kurta-clad man came down and spoke to us in the most unfriendly manner, clearly indicating that he would leave the house when he felt the need to do so.
I left the house quite disappointed and reported the conversation back to Chandrasekaran. In a few months’ time, good sense prevailed and the man left the house but in complete disarray.
Today 15, Vivekananda Road, which stood forlorn, almost ghostly for years waiting patiently, uncomplainingly, for that fresh gust of wind to breathe again, has finally seen the light of the day with the Karnataka Government converting it into a museum. Now, once again one can hear the echoing laughter, the quibbles and the genius of four generations of an uncommon family that it has nurtured.
source: http://www.starofmysore.com / Star of Mysore / Home> Feature Articles / August 06th, 2016
August 5th, 2016Education, Historical Links, Pre-Independence, Inspiration/ Positive News and Features, Records, All
But just two years ago, the Government Model Higher Primary School in Guluru was a crumbling edifice lacking basic infrastructure
A 108-year-old government school at Guluru in Tumakuru taluk has embraced modernity gracefully and has become a model for others. Just two years ago, the Government Model Higher Primary School was a crumbling edifice lacking basic infrastructure. However, today it boasts of computer labs, airy classrooms, a library, science labs, separate toilets for boys and girls, and all other amenities offered by private schools that charge hefty tuition fees.
“We proudly tell our friends who go to private schools that we work on computers,” says Nethravathi. V. G, an eighth standard student. Like his friends, he can’t get over the fact that till recently, their school was in a dilapidated state with broken tiles, leaky roofs and cracks in walls.
Worried about the safety of their children, villagers approached MLA Suresh Gowda seeking a new school building. Mr. Gowda sanctioned Rs. 80 lakh from the MLA LAD (Local Area Development) funds.
MLC Lehar Singh offered Rs. 10 lakh and former minister V. Somanna contributed Rs. 5 lakh towards construction of a new building. L&T, an Indian MNC, offered Rs. 10 lakh as part of its corporate social responsibility initiative, which is being used to pay the salaries of LKG and UKG teachers, the computer teacher and a sweeper.
“Earlier, our friends used to make fun and tease us, as we were studying in an old building. But now, we are happy to show them our new school,” said Vinutha N., a seventh standard student.
The co-ed school, which has LKG, UKG and classes from I to VIII, has a total strength of 282. The pride of the school is the computer laboratory, which has 20 computers and Wi-Fi connection.
Another student Akbar Khan adds, “Seeing us in such a nice building, now my friends want to join our school.”
Headmistress N. Hemavathi says, “After the revamp, we have been getting applications from students of private schools nearby.”
The school will be celebrating its 108th anniversary on Friday.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Bengaluru / by S. B huvaneshwari / Bengaluru – August 05th, 2016
July 16th, 2016Green Initiatives / Environment, Historical Links, Pre-Independence, Nature, Records, All
The century-old Bhutanal tank here is all set to get revived by October as the work to fill the tank is nearing completion.
Lorries and earthmovers have been engaged in dredging the tank and a pipeline is being laid to draw water from the Krishna. “The dredging work is expected to be completed by August 15 and the pipeline laying work by October. The tank, constructed in 1911, is being revived for the first time,” Rajendra Rudagi, Assistant Engineer, who is monitoring the project, said.
He told presspersons during a visit here on Friday that of the 3.94 lakh cubic metres of silt, 2.75 lakh cubic metres had been removed. Mr. Rudagi said that the tank was spread over 322 acres while the catchment area covered around 87 km. He said that the tank had four rivulets from which water flew to it during the monsoon. “One rivulet comes from Torvi village, two from Ittangihal village and one from Kardendoddi village,” Mr. Rudagi said. The official said that as these water sources were closed for decades, the rivulets were being cleaned for easy flow of water to the tank. Mr. Rudagi said that filling the tank would not only help supply drinking water to the city but also recharge the ground water in the catchment areas.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National> Karnataka / by Staff Correspondent / Vijayapura – July 16th, 2016
July 13th, 2016Arts, Culture & Entertainment, Historical Links, Pre-Independence, Leaders, Records, All, Travel, World Opinion
by June Gaur
Brand Mysore is set to get a fillip with the restoration of R.K. Narayan’s Yadavagiri bungalow opening up exciting possibilities not just for tourism but also for scholarship, part of the city’s raison d’ etre. Ironically, this comes at a time when Mysureans are locked in a battle to save Chamundi Hill, foremost among “the really worthwhile things” in the city as listed by R.K. Narayan (RKN).
One Vijayadashami, prodded by his grandmother, RKN pulled out a brand new notebook and wrote down the first sentence about his town. ‘It was a Monday and the train had just arrived at Malgudi station.’ India’s best-known fictional town was born.
From this home in Lakshmipuram, he sallied forth every day without fail into “the loved and shabby streets” (Graham Greene) of Malgudi (Mysore). The city of talkers yielded rich material for his characters. His destination was the town centre at K.R. Circle and Srinivasa Stores, from where he got a special kind of lavanga without which he couldn’t write, and M. Krishnaswamy & Sons on Sayyaji Rao Road, who supplied him with the tools of his craft. He made several stops along the way, antennae on the alert for stories. There was always time for stimulating conversation with the people he met. Indeed, as he notes in his 1974 memoir, My Days, many pressing issues of the day, “were settled on the promenades of Mysore.”
A backbencher at the Maharaja’s College from where he graduated, Narayan honed his writing skills and powers of observation working as a stringer for a Madras newspaper, The Justice. The joint family he lived in shored him up financially. When he decided he wanted to be a full-time writer of fiction in English, Narayan knew he was opting for a vocation that had not been heard of in India. In the 1930s, there was no literary tradition he could fall back on; no publisher or audience waiting to receive his first novel, Swami and Friends.
For years the manuscript sat on various publishers’ desks in England. A despondent Narayan gave up hope of ever finding a home for his “ugly orphan” as he called it. Yet somebody other than his grandmother believed in him. That was Kittu Purna, a friend from Mysore studying at Exeter College, Oxford. Purna disregarded Narayan’s entreaty that he “weight the manuscript with a stone and drown it in the Thames.” He did go to London however, and, with a phenomenal heave of the imagination, landed the manuscript, not in the Thames but at the door of one of England’s great writers: Graham Greene. Charmed out of his skin by the sheer theatre of Narayan’s little provincial town and its delightful people, Greene saw to it that Swami and Friends was published in England.
A series of wonderful novels, 14 to be exact, and scores of Narayan’s short stories written over a period of 60 years, are set in Malgudi. For many, the town, nestling somewhere between the forested Mempi Hills and the Sarayu River, is the real hero in his fiction. In its creator’s lifetime, speculation about Malgudi’s exact location fuelled an industry of research and never failed to amuse him. A New York researcher even went so far as to compile a map of Malgudi, a cartographic fiction of course, which pleased the author and was published in his 1981 collection, Malgudi Days.
Did Mysore inspire Malgudi? Most of Narayan’s contemporaries, among them Dr. M.N. Srinivas and H.Y. Sharada Prasad, thought so. Ramchandra Guha thinks it’s the town of Nanjangud while former ambassador A. Madhavan sees typical Mysore signposts of the 1960s in the Boardless Hotel, a popular eating joint of those times, and the ubiquitous jutkas, then the undisputed kings of the road.
While the exercise of matching up Malgudi with Mysore continues to draw the nerds, RKN himself was always non-committal on the subject. Though he did take a BBC crew around Mysore to familiar landmarks such as the Chamarajapuram Railway Station, where his story apparently began, he insisted that Malgudi existed only in his imagination and, therefore, he was free from the constraints that chronicling an actual place would impose. “I wanted to be able to put in whatever I liked and wherever I liked – a little street or school or a temple or a bungalow or even a slum, a railway line, at any spot, a minor despot in a little world. …..I began to be fascinated by its possibilities; its river, market-place, and the far-off mountain roads and forests.”
Despite the ambivalence here, there can be little doubt that many of RKN’s memorable characters were inspired by the real life people he met in Mysore. Syd Harrex, the Australian poet and Narayan scholar, once told me he’d met Cheluva Iyengar, undoubtedly the model for Mr. Sampath, at the writer’s Yadavagiri house for an interview recorded in 1972. Syd recalled that RKN had gifted Cheluva Iyengar a copy of Mr. Sampath – the Printer of Malgudi and had inscribed it so – ‘To Sampath the original.’
Cut to the present and the mammoth task confronting the authorities with regard to converting RKN’s home in Yadavagiri into a fitting memorial for the writer. Ten years ago, when the Sahitya Akademi held a seminar in Mysore to mark Narayan’s birth centenary, scholars visited this intriguing double-storied, cream-coloured house. In the semi-circular first floor study with its eight windows and criss-cross grills, they lingered to let imagination take wing, picturing the bird-like figure of the writer hard at work spinning the Malgudi magic that brings the world to Mysore’s doorstep.
The recent centenary celebrations have reinforced Mysore’s reputation as a University town. No doubt the decision to involve the University in establishing a Research Centre for archival and scholarly materials pertaining to R.K. Narayan will also involve Dhvanyaloka, the Centre for Literature and the Arts set up by the late Prof. C.D. Narasimhaiah (CDN). R.K. Narayan, scholars from India and around the world have always homed onto Dhvanyaloka where Prof. CDN guided countless numbers painstakingly through their research. The tradition has continued with CDN’s family, all English teachers, and CDN’s pupils from the University of Mysore who pioneered research into Indian Writing in English, having picked up the baton.
Among the resources which should be available here are T.S. Satyan’s priceless photographs of the writer, including one of him playing cricket in the compound of his Lakshmipuram house. A Trust run by Satyan’s family now takes care of all his work. However, one hurdle which will somehow have to be circumvented is the fact that all the writer’s manuscripts are with the Boston University Library, preserved in air-conditioned lockers. Only recently, in an expression of goodwill, the US has returned precious artefacts to India. Surely, Boston University can be persuaded to part with at least a fraction of the Malgudi man’s work from their archives. And hopefully, we’ll be able to take good care of this gift.
However, Mysureans looking to perpetuate RKN’s legacy please be a
source: http://www.starofmysore.com / Star of Mysore / Home> Feature Articles / July 13th, 2016
Mysore Palace Tailor Rama Rao, who used to stitch long coats and suits of Mysore Royal Family members, passed away here yesterday following brief illness. He was 97.
A resident of Ramakishnagar ‘K’ Block, he leaves behind his wife, three sons, including KMF Dairy employee Mukund Rao, seven daughters and a host of relatives and friends.
An expert in stitching long coats and suits, Rama Rao was well-known as ‘Royal Family Tailor.’
Rama Rao, who was close to Chamaraja Wadiyar, used to take part in Palace Durbars, earning a good name for himself among the Royal Family members. Rama Rao, who was well-versed in gold decoration for long coats, used to remove the gold jewellery from the coats after functions and hand them over back to the Royal Family members.
Last rites were performed at the foot of Chamundi Hill last evening, according to family sources.
source: http://www.starofmysore.com / Star of Mysore / Home> General News / July 04th, 2016