The history of Bangalore is a tale of two histories, says Poornima Dasharathi founder of Unhurried. Hers is offbeat travel company that organises heritage and cultural tours around historically important areas in the state.
“Bangalore essentially had the city and the cantonment area,” she points out, “Malleswaram is an extension of the old city of Bangalore that was ruled by the Maharaja.”
The area even today evokes a sense of nostalgia among oldtimers, who pine for its once wide and leafy roads and its very distinct cultural vibe. At the same time, there is an equally strong sense of curiosity among non-residents who want to see the “other part of Bangalore,” she says, adding, “You can still find the Bangalore of a century ago in Malleswaram, thanks to the way some parts of the area have been maintained.”
Getting its name from the Kaadu Malleswara temple, Malleswaram is one of the oldest areas of Bangalore city, besides being a landmark for the foresight of those who “planned” the suburb.
HV Nanjundiah, who was the first vice-chancellor of Mysore University and Dewan of Mysore, is credited with building the suburb, says Meenakshi Bharat, longtime resident of the area and a prominent social activist in Malleswaram.
“Malleswaram, a forest area was turned into a suburb when the plague of 1898 hit the Pete area and a deliberate attempt to decongest the city was made,” says Bharat.
The suburb was planned with parks, roads networks as well as institutions along different parts of the area. “Even at that time, it was a beautifully planned city,” she stresses, her face swelling with pride. “Even market areas were planned.”
Long before there were supermarkets and malls in Bangalore, Malleshwaram was one of the few places where you could get pretty much anything under the sun. “You still can!” asserts Dasharathi. Shopping aside, steeped in history with a vibrant culture, Malleswaram is fascinating for what it holds and what it becomes as the “city grows,” says BC Kiran, regional manager of ecoLogin, another offbeat travel company that specialises in culture and heritage tours.
Apart from the Kadu Malleswara, located on the Sampige road near the 15th cross junction, Malleswaram is also home to many other temples such as Lakshmi Narasimha, Ganesha temple, Venu gopalaswamy and Kannika Parameshwari.
Nobel laureate CV Raman’s home is also in Malleswaram, although it is not being preserved or taken care of as it should be.
A number of famous personalities made Malleswaram their home and even today, the area has a strong South Indian middle class ambience.