‘Uttarahalli’ translates to ‘Northern Village’ in Kannada. The irony is, it is located in the southern-most part of Bangalore. This is the current place of residence of my family and is also the last post in this series. This home seems like a perfect retirement plan for a family that seeks a little bit of nature in the midst of a bustling metropolitan city.
With very little vacant space available, my parents try to grow their own vegetables and fruits, welcome birds and squirrels to have meals with them and sip their ‘kaapi’ while watching the sun go down. These are some among many other things they do to keep themselves running through the day.
The area is soaked in rich history as well.. While the ‘Vasantha Vallabharaya swamy temple’ dates back to the Chola era, an adjacent cave is believed to be the place where Rishi Mandavya had meditated.
The Turahalli forest is a small patch of lung space nearby, that joggers, cyclists, conservationists and the realtors all seem to have an eye on!
The latest addition to the landmarks is ISKCON’s ‘Krishna Leela theme park’ located on the Vaikunta hill. The sunrises and rainbows on cloudy days are mesmerizing, adding a backdrop to the view of this temple from my doorstep.
This is the last post of this series: “I Belong to Everywhere“. I hope you all have enjoyed time travelling with me hopping on- and off from Bangalore to Kodagu. Which place did you like the most? What place would you want to go after reading my posts? What more do you want to know about, from these places?
Napoklu is a small town located in Madikeri Taluk, in the northern part of Kodagu district. I have spent several memorable holidays here, living a high energy childhood. There are several places of interests for tourists and local pilgrimage that are centered around Napoklu. Some of them are ‘Sri Makki Sastavų temple’, ‘Chelavara waterfalls’ etc. The ‘puttari festival’ is one of the best and the most elaborate one celebrated by the Kodava clan native to Napoklu.
If any of you find a tinge of madness in me, it is likely that it has been due to the influence of my cousin who hails from this town. He has been my closest friend as we both grew up together, roaming farms, fields and streams. On weekends when he didn’t come to our grandparents’ house in Madikeri, we would be roaming together, around the other places that are mentioned in this series of posts.
Although I have spoken about how I developed the awareness for conservation of wildlife in one of my earlier posts, but it is in Napoklu, that I originally imbibed the qualities of empathy for animals. Apart from the cattle, dogs and cats that I was surrounded with in Madikeri, my cousin had birds, fishes, tortoises, rabbits and poultry in his house. They shared a unique bond with him. While during the days, we caught dragonflies with aquarium nets, we chased fireflies at night and trapped them all together in empty glass jars to create a mini ecosystem of our own.
If you wonder how I know some names of celebrities from across the globe, it is because we followed them. I watched Formula-One, WWF, Tennis and Cricket without missing a single match or a tournament, because the TV remote would always be with this guy and I had no option. The craziest automobile geek I had ever known, much until I became an automobile engineer and met a few other geeks along the way, was this cousin alone. We traded ‘trump cards’ and fought each other over the ownership rights of the rarest WWF and Cricket cards. We still hold back some of these treasured collections and often reminisce those good days of innocent fun. These are the same things that trigger little momentous joy to me even today and that which helps me spread positive energy.
In this post, I’m going to tell you about my connection with ‘Yelahanka’, an area located on the northern side of Bengaluru. It is rather popular for the air force station located here. And that’s also why Yelahanka has my heart with it.
One of the camps of the Central Reserved Police Force (CRPF) is located at a little distance from my college. So, most of the morning drives to college were alongside the CRPF troops running on their daily fitness routine. The sight of camouflaged men (at least a hundred of them), marching or running in a single line, with rifles in their hands, weight bags on their backs and the tapping of their heavy boots were just enough motivation for a girl whose little heart goes numb in front of any man wearing uniform of the forces.
And then there are days when we bunked classes and we set out on adventure activities: Adventures of sneaking into random grape vineyards around the college campus, grab a few bunches before being pelted with stones by the farmers if caught 😀 It was sort of days of co-existence between the farmers / local villagers and the students. The students just lived up their share of fun from their college days and the villagers were just entertaining themselves with our tactics.
The Yelahanka we know today wasn’t the same back then. There were hardly any good restaurants, cafes or any place where we could hangout apart from the college canteen. Some of the addas that the students would swear by are the railway tracks, the lake, the stables and Balaji. Well, mention these places to any student from this college and watch their expression: These were not just places, these were emotions.
And the most fun rides were those when we wanted to bunk classes and to find transportation to reach to wherever we wanted to go (out of Yelahanka). Back in those days, the college bus was the only available mode of transportation from college until the airport road / highway. If any commutation was required during the day (if we bunked, that is!), the only options were to either hitch a ride or walk to cover the distance of almost 4-5 kilometers. On some days we sat pillion, some days a bumpy lorry, on some days were cars with AC and some days, we sat on haystack and tractors that carried firewood.
Yelahanka is where I have spent four memorable years of college, a place that has made me worthy of a human being and that has guided me towards earning my own food. Yelahanka will always be closest to me, because my heart will always be wandering around my college (in the form of fighter planes :P)
Jalahalli is a locality in the Northern part of Bengaluru where my family stayed for a brief period until I finished my graduation in Yelahanka. Being involved in sports, languages, music, travelling and so many other things along with regular college, some of the busiest days of my late teens were spent here.
On a lighter note, our family lived with a confused identity for all the years spent at Jalahalli. We were surrounded by employees of BEL and HMT in majority, and none in our family worked at either of these organizations. More often, we struggled to decide which side to take when we had friends from both these companies sitting on either side of a discussion table 😀
The BEL sports ground was one of our favorite places, where I accompanied my father for his evening walks and my brother for his hockey matches, while catching up on conversations with some of the who’s who of Indian hockey. The Ganesha temple in the BEL colony was one of the go-to places when my family wanted a shot of calmness, not in praying but by simply soaking in the tranquility of the silent atmosphere.
The HMT sports complex, HMT hospital, HMT theater, HMT employees’ quarters and the HMT shopping complex were less just concrete structures and more like emotions.
A racing heart while entering the ‘Jalahalli Airforce station’ would calm down only after a plate of parathas from the air force canteen and some tasty samosas and Sondesh at the Bengali sweet meat stall at Gangamma circle. Catching up with friends mostly happened on the new-BEL road or at Malleswaram.
Well, Jalahalli is a place which reflected the importance of having a friendly neighborhood. Even when any of us had to stay alone at home, there was always someone from the neighborhood checking on our safety and sharing food with us. The months of yuletide were especially memorable because the carol singers came to all houses and we all made merry together.
We left Jalahalli and thus, North Bengaluru to finally come one full circle by making South Bengaluru our forever home (where we currently reside at).
Chamarajpet is one of the two well planned residential areas of Old Bengaluru. Chamarajpet is in the South whereas the other one is Malleswaram, in the North of the original geography of Bengaluru. Chamarajpet is where my parents lived and worked through all the years at the time of my schooling at Madikeri. So, this locality is like my 1.5th home 😛 (first home is in Madikeri and 2nd home was at Vasanthanagar). I came to Bangalore (and thus, to Chamarajpet) only when I had a long vacation from school. Twice a year, to be precise: Once during the monsoon and once during the summers).
One of the earliest memories I have from this locality is of my family and all our neighbours watching and distributing drinking water and snacks to people who gathered for prayers during festivals at the ‘Eidgah grounds‘ and for the all-night harikatha renditions that happened at the ‘Male-Mahadeshwar temple’ in 2nd main. A large jamun tree in the premises of our house was often mobbed by kids from the entire locality for its fine fruits and the aroma of Rasam from the ‘Vataaras’ of 3rd main are some unforgettable memories.
There were several things that I saw on TV (Doordarshan) and wanted to learn along with regular school while growing up. But there was unavailability of trained people who could teach me any of these extra curricular skills in the small town (Madikeri). Whenever I visited Bangalore during vacation, my effective time spent with my working parents were mostly for eating out in the evenings and making day trips over the weekends. A major chunk of my Bangalore visits was mostly meant for attending summer schools. With a very large community of literary scholars living in and around Chamarajpet, I could learn different art forms. I attended crash courses across various streets of Chamarajpet (and Basavanagudi) to learn sketching, painting, dance and music.
Every stone, structure and lane has history in Chamarajpet. Makkala koota, Bangalore fort area, Tippu’s palace, all the temples around the fort and the old pete area: Talk about them to my mother and she would be in tears of nostalgia. These are the places she saw every day during her career that spanned nearly four decades.
Talking about my family’s favorite eateries, many things have changed and so many old-world structures have been erased now. However, Karnataka Bhel house in 3rd main road along with Gajanana fruit juice center and Iyengar’s bakery in 4th main have managed to stand the test of time.
My family has lived here for 15 years and there is a bond with every lane and its people that we share in Chamarajpet. Here live so many friends, who are more than family to us! Going to Chamarajpet every time is nothing less than travelling to our hometown! So, it is definitely difficult to quantify how much part of me belongs to this area!
In the rapidly expanding Bengaluru city, Malleswaram and Chamarajpet are like two lungs that breathe out air of cultural relevance and nostalgia of Old Bengaluru. Malleswaram in the North and Chamarajpet in the South have always stood equal in their heritage of what the real Bangalore once represented. Although one might disagree with my personal viewpoint, Malleswaram represents the face of Bengaluru that boasts of intellects in the science and academics fields whereas Chamarajpet represents a city that is filled with scholars from the creatives like literature, art and commerce. In the proximity to premium research institutes like IISC, ISRO, C.V. Raman institute, the Wood institute and organizations like BEL, HMT, Mysore lamps, Sandal Soap factory etc. Malleswaram was the closest residential area. Meanwhile, Chamarajpet was an extension of the Pete area and is also the home to the Karnataka Sahitya Parishad. So, those in trade, literary luminaries and Pandits naturally moved in here. Anyway, my intention is not to explain those details and get into a debate, but to come to the point on how and why I believe that I belong to Malleswaram. (More on Chamarajpet in the next post)
Talking about Malleswaram, where do I start from? 18th cross, maybe? I often entered into the premises of Sankey tank from Sadashivanagar and I exited from the other end to Malleswaram. For the first two years of living in Sadashivanagar, I played Basketball. I was trained at the ‘Beagles Basketball Club’ and envisioned to make it big in this sport over the coming years (Destiny had different plans and that’s for another story). Mind you, I had been an ardent follower of Kobe Bryant and the Lakers since school!
Finishing the day’s training usually meant savoring a honey cake for Rs.7 and a biscuit sandwich ice-cream for Rs.5 at the lyengar’s bakery at 16th cross. The aroma of filter coffee in the darshini hotels and a walk in the old Malleswaram market are sensory experiences that cannot be taken away from me. The CTR dosey is an inseparable part for my taste buds (I take the metro train from my current residence in South Bengaluru to Malleswaram even to date, just to eat CTR dosa).
The atmosphere of festivities brought in by scores of vendors on the 8th cross road were the days that were much awaited by me to see what each festival was about and what the key items associated with a specific festival were (decorations, food and other knick-knacks). I had even made up an entire itinerary on my own and applied for a part time job of a tour guide who wanted to walk the interested people through the lanes of this heritage area.
Since I had only then moved into Bangalore after finishing my schooling in Madikeri, for me Malleswaram served as an open school to open my mind to cultures that I was totally unaware until then. The cuisine, the festivals, the spoken Kannada, the traditions and the mindset of people in general, everything seemed new to me in Bangalore from what I had been exposed to until then. I was quick to adopt and adapt and this is where I became a true blue Bangalorean.
With the premium research institutes of India being around, Malleswaram sort of sparked my urge to keep learning/exploring something constantly and inclined me towards pursuing research in general.
‘Ontiangadi’ literally translates to The Only Shop’ in Kannada, and it is the name of a village in South Kodagu, where my paternal lineage hails from. Now, this village has grown beyond just one shop, into a tiny township.
As a child, I would come here on those weekends, when my parents came down from Bangalore. But whenever I came here, there has always been a calm of a different kind. There are two ancestral houses located within the large premises: one nearly 200 years old which is now used as a warehouse and the other, around 50+ years old that is currently being resided at by our family. The latter is surrounded with coffee plants, paddy fields, overflowing ponds and streams, an open well at a walkable distance to fetch potable water. This place has always seemed magical to me, then and now!
While the green paddy fields have been a treat to the eyes, the offseason is when I have lived some of my best holidays. The paddy field would turn into a playground when my cousins, other kids from the village and their cousins, would all congregate here for a game or two of football. Not with a foot-BALL, but with hollow balls of pomelo skin (grapefruit).
And then, came the first monsoons: we ran to the large wild-mango tree and fought a mango war. Who won or lost the battle would be decided by how much mango juice we were soaked in and who got the maximum scolding from our elders!
Wait for a few more days to pass by and the monsoon will peak. Then, the streams would overflow and bring that time of the year for our prized catches: Laying bamboo traps to collect fresh water eels and Koile meen (a local fish in Kodagu), fishing out mud-crabs from crevices along the downstream were normal. On (un)Lucky days, one or two smushy crabs would turn out to be snakes after being grabbed out 😀
Once, the workers had brought home several soft shelled turtles which they had found while working in the paddy field. It was timed well with my then recent experience of volunteering for a sea turtle conservation project in Chennai. With all excitement and inspiration, I had written to so many organizations about my new discovery in the western Ghats 😀 Aaah, what memories!
Apart from this, the ‘Subramanya temple’ at Byrambada and the ‘Palli Swamy Dargah’ (Pulkimaad dargah) have been important landmarks in and closer to Ontiangadi. A nice warm day even now, is often concluded with a hot plate of palam pori and a cup of kattan chai from ‘Ganesh hotel’ at Ontiangadi.
I borrow my surname from this village and so, definitely a part of me belongs here 😀
If you liked this story, you might also want to give a read to: “OMG! Life has changed!” for some more nostalgic content.
Vasanthanagar is an old locality in North Bengaluru, adjoining some of the prominent English areas like the Cantonment, Miller’s road, Cunningham road, Palace road etc. I had been visiting and staying in this locality for all the years that my aunt’s family lived here. Right from the time I was an infant to the time I started to go to college, I have been a regular around this locality. Or to say, this has been my second home whenever I have been in Bangalore. (First home in Bangalore is of course where my parents lived, I will talk about it in another post 😀 )
When you live in an area, your boundary extends beyond. Hence, high grounds, racecourse, golf course, Windsor Manor, Indian Express building, Basava Bhavan, Vidhana Soudha were all just a walk away. If you let my aunt or mom take over this page, then probably they would tell you that even Shivajinagar or Commercial street were also walkable from Vasanthanagar (at least considered so, back in the 80’s and 90’s). So, let me take you through some of the landmarks in Vasanthanagar that bring back nostalgia.
The Sampangi Ramaswamy temple: My aunt’s house was located right opposite to this temple and it was every day, that I woke up to the melody of M.S. Subbalakshmi’s suprabhatam played at this temple. But what best remains with me are the days that my cousin and I were made to believe that a small depression on the boulder in the temple premises were footprints of Lord Rama. So as kids, we would go there every day (whenever I was there) and offer our prayers with vermillion to this rock (and NOT to the temple!)
Loafers’ lane: Palace road is where a majority of my female cousins have attended school. This is also where I got my pre-university education before graduation. Being an all-women’s college, needless to say that the road running perpendicular to the college gate has always been a haunt of all the men of Bengaluru. Apart from the ‘Dove nuts’ from Chechi’s canteen on campus, the chaats from Raj’s on loafer’s lane has always been synonymous with the crowd.
Kodava Samaja: Then, there is this convention hall where almost all community gatherings like festival celebrations, weddings etc., happen. Even if my aunt’s family and I moved out of the area, Vasanthanagar wouldn’t leave us 😀
Adding to the list, the delicious sizzlers of ‘Miller’s 46’, Mughlai Biriyani from ‘hotel Chandrika’, honey cake from lyengar’s bakery and home-needs supermarket were our family’s go-to places for quick bites. Catching a local gig at ‘Alliance Francaise’, a movie or a Mc.D burger at ‘Sigma mall’, Infinitea and several other cafes and restaurants that sprung up and shut down along the way were other newer additions (during the early 2000s).
Talking about the role of this area on my personality: This place has influenced me in more than one way.
If you have ever conversed with me and have spotted a certain peculiar vocabulary sneaking out during a formal discussion, I owe that part of me to Vasanthanagar. That “English” has brushed onto me from my almamater here! For all you should know is that I studied in a gender-neutral women’s college, where we addressed peers as ‘hey, Man!’, ‘hey, Bro!’, ‘hey, dude!’.
This is also where I was introduced to ‘fusion rock’ music. The college fest hosted by my almamater is one of the most popular stages in the country for aspiring college bands who seek a launchpad and get recognition. This small-town girl had grown up listening to the voices of Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh, Rafi, Kishore da, Yesudas, P.B.Srinivas and the likes, until she moved into the city. ‘Fusion’ was a new form of music she was listening to for the first time, here. She had an instant connection.
Although tending to animals is in the genes and the blood of this girl who belongs to forests of the western Ghats, I owe my understanding and awareness for conservations of wildlife and nature to Vasanthanagar. My bond with a classmate whose dad worked in the forest department was so deeply rooted about the holistic topic of environmental conservation, that we would spend several sleepless nights discussing about births, deaths and general health of individual animals from the zoos that we both had seen together, met and knew by names (Click here for a detailed read)
This HAS to be the beginning 😀 Madikeri (earlier called as Mercara) is the district headquarters of Kodagu (earlier called as Coorg). In this post, I talk about Karavalebadaga village in Madikeri Taluk, where my house and my school were both located in proximity. Although the village retains its name in the government documents, the newer names of these fragmented localities have now taken over people’s memories.
This is where I was born and have spent most of my life, so far! I was raised by my maternal grandparents who lived in Madikeri. A large compound with a shed full of cows, a kennel full of dogs, a sty full of pigs, a lair full of cats and an attic full of sparrows in their nests; a house surrounded by a colourful garden, fruiting trees and coffee estate; A short walk down, took us to a paddy field in which flowed a pretty little stream. This is where I grew up, in the heart of Madikeri town.
Throwback to 90’s: As young kids, my cousin and I often sneaked out of the house on weekends for our usual stints. We would steal empty jars of Horlicks and cotton towels from granny’s stash and head towards the stream. We would catch fishes from the stream, get them to fill the tank that had purple lilies in our house’s front yard. We then hid the jar and the towel back near the stream for the next weekend. Come next weekend, the jar would have gone missing and the drill repeated!
Forward to present day: The sheds are empty, the dog is lonely, the sty is erased, the trees are gone and the stream has become part of a concreted sewage.
Throwback to 90’s: My friends and I walked to school, braving the heavy monsoon downpour. Our heavy armours comprising of thick raincoats, high ankle gumboots and wide black umbrellas weren’t enough to keep us dry. Along with this, we made sure we did not return home empty handed in the evening. We filled our lunch boxes with wild mushrooms or mud-crabs that we would pick up from the paddy field for a sumptuous monsoon dinner.
Forward to present day: There exists no trace of a paddy field that has now been transformed to a full fledged housing layout, the present day ‘Cauvery layout’.
Throwback to 90’s: My SCHOOL, the oldest educational institution in the hills is a landmark in itself. Named after it, an entire locality is simply referred to as ‘Convent junction’ that is accessible via a narrow lane (locally called as Oni). This was our alternate route on monsoon days when the paddy fields were flooded. The joy of relishing the masala vadas from ‘Kunyali’s canteen’ or a bite into a pastry from ‘hotel Coorg International’ (probably the only star hotel from our times) gave us a high of a different level.
Forward to present day: The oni is partially gone, but the of joy of taking a ride around the Convent junction and visiting school can never be replaced!
They say home is where schooling starts, and then the formal schooling: My personality is probably a reflection of Karavalebadaga because this is where it all started!
So, that’s all folks! Next week, I will share a post about another place where I belong to. I hope you all will enjoy and share your thoughts with me.
But before that, I hope you all have read my earlier throwback post about Madikeri as well. If you haven’t, here’s the link: ‘My growing up days at Madikeri’.
The original plan for this short family outing was to make an early morning visit to Sanjeevaraya Swamy temple in Channapatna Taluk of Ramanagara district and return. But, since my workplace is located along the same route, I expressed my disinterest in traveling that way. I pitched in the idea to have a change of route at least for one-way. Hence, I added a couple of other landmarks, picked up an offbeat village road and created a circuit with aid from google maps.
For those of you who are not familiar with the geography of Karnataka, Ramanagara is popularly known for its Sholay hills that was featured as the village- ‘Ramgarh’ in the Bollywood movie Sholay. Channapatna is popular for its cottage industries of wooden toys. I am not going to write about any of these places, the search engines are already flooded enough! I am going to take you around some lesser known places in Channapatna, for a half a day’s trip from Bengaluru.
We set out on a Saturday morning and decided to have our breakfast on the way. Sri.Renukamba tatte idly (translates to ‘Plate idli’ in Kannada) needs no introduction for the Bengalureans. So, after a filling plate of tatte idly at Bidadi, we proceeded towards our intended destination for the day. To reach there, we had to pass through Kengal, a village popular for yet another Hanuman temple. Moving ahead from there along a small deviation, we arrived at our first major destination: Sanjeevaraya Swamy temple at Devarahosahalli village. This is a small stone structure dedicated to Lord Hanuman and dates back to the Vijayanagar era. The deity is believed to be powerful and hence, we were there to offer or prayers following the recommendations of some well-wishers.
After spending some time there, we continued onward to our next destination, a little cave temple located atop of a hill. The drive, the scenery, the canopy of the majestic trees along the highway was a pleasant one. We stopped by to do some bird watching at the Neelasandra lake as well. We could see Pelicans flocking in large numbers.
Our next major stop came as a rather surprise to us. Gavi Ranganatha Swamy temple was a random destination included in our day based on an internet search result. The drive, the location of the temple, the valley, the village view from the temple porch and the overall scenery was just so stunning and unexpected. There was just no one else in the temple apart from our family and a few local kids playing in the hill, atop which this temple is located. You can watch the video of our visit to Gavi Ranganatha Swamy temple below:
By this time, the sun was already up and beaming bright. So, we decided to drive back, of course through a different route. We descended the Gavi Ranganatha Swamy hill and took the route that connected to Kanakapura. On the way, we stopped at this beautiful location where the highway passes through green farms on one side, a large lake on the other side and the entire scenery was being overlooked by the temple hill.
Our drive from there continued through large stretches of rocky hillocks, mango orchards, paddy fields, coconut groves and mulberry farms. Ramanagara is also known for sericulture. Several households in the villages here are involved in silkworm rearing. As we passed through, we noticed that families were sitting out in the verandahs of their traditional houses and collecting the fully grown cocoons from the bamboo trays. We stopped by and walked over to one of the houses on our way and learnt a thing or two about sericulture from them.
In a short while, we reached the Kanakapura main road where we had our lunch. Well, it was a late evening lunch before continuing towards home and thus ending a quick trip to the Bengaluru outskirts.