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Bengaluru History & Travel Information

Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka State, was renamed Bengaluru on November 1, 2014.

The stone implements dating back to about 4000 BCE (Middle Stone Age) found in the outskirts of Bangalore are the oldest evidence of human activity in this region. An inscription written in old Kannada Language of the ninth century CE in the Parvathi Nageshwar Temple in Begur near Bangalore dating back to 890 CE refers to a Benga Val Oru war in which Buttanachetty, a servant of Nagatta was killed. This inscription also revealed that this area was part of the Ganga Dynasty Kingdom whose capital was at Gangavadi until 1004. The Benga Val Oru or the city of guards in old Kannada language seems to be the name of the area.
 
The region came under the territory of Chola Dynasty in 1015 CE; they collected revenue through local chieftains until 1116 CE. After this period the Hoysala Dynasty ruled the area until 1336 when the Vijayanagar Empire was established. Under this dynasty, Kempe Gowda (1510 to 1570) moved from Kanchipuram in Tamilnadu to establish the city of Bangalore. After the fall of the Vijayanagar Empire the region was taken over by various regional powers many times. The Maratha Chief, Shahaji Bhonsle, who was father of the legendary Maratha warrior and commander Shivaji, took the city in 1638. Shahaji Bhonsle was working in the service of Adil Shahi Sultans of Bijapur at that time. The brother of Shivaji, Vyankoji Bhonsle, ruled the region of Bangalore as a Jagirdar (fiefdom owner or landlord) of the Sultan of Bijapur, after his father passed away.

In 1686 the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb conquered this area forcing Vyankoji to retreat in the southern areas of Karnataka. The Mughal Emperor based in Aurangabad was too far away from Bangalore to control it. He leased it to Chikkadevaraja Wodeyar, the ruler of Mysore in 1689. In 1789 Wodeyar’s army commander, Haider Ali, took over the region as de facto ruler but maintained good relations with Wodeyar Royal family. He was a very progressive administrator. Under his rule the port city of Mangalore became an important international trading center. In 1760 already he designed the layout of Lalbagh Gardens in Bangalore and imported plants from faraway Delhi, Lahore and Multan in the Sindh province (the latter two cities are now in Pakistan). In 1782 Tippu Sultan succeeded his father, Haider Ali on the throne of Mysore and renamed the territory under his rule as Sultanate of Khudadad or given by God. He is referred in history as the Tiger of Mysore. There is an account written by a European chronicler that Tippu Sultan went hunting with a European and at the very moment when they spotted a tiger, his gun and dagger fell down. He managed to get hold of his dagger but not the gun. With his dagger he killed the tiger. The flag of his kingdom had a tiger on it. Haider Ali and Tippu Sultan aligned themselves with the French (under Napoleon at that time) and were able to defend their region from the three invasions referred to as the first, second and third Anglo-Mysore Wars launched by the British East India Company. During reign of Tipu, a new calendar, new coinage, and seven new government departments were introduced as well as innovations in the use of rocket artillery were made. Many scholars consider him to be the inventor of rocket artillery. The Nizam of Hyderabad and Marathas joined the British against Tippu Sultan and his French backers. In the fourth Anglo Mysore war he eventually died fighting the British at Srirangapatnam on May 4, 1799. Tippu Sultan is considered a great patriot in Indian history. He was liberal in his views. He said: There can be no glory or achievement if the foundation of our palaces, roads and dams are mingled with the tears and blood of humanity. Though he followed the Sunni Islamic tenets quite strictly, he was very secular in his political views. Hindus held very high positions in his court and especially in his army. A famous quote from him is: Religious tolerance is the fundamental tenet of the Holy Quran. He also laid the foundation of the famous Vrindavan Gardens, built roads, public buildings and seaports along the Kerala shore-line. Under his rule external trade extended to Sri Lanka, Afganistan, France, Turkey, Iran etc. Under his leadership, the Mysore army proved to be a school of military science to Indian princes. The serious blows that Tipu inflicted on the English in the First and Second Mysore wars affected their reputation as an invincible power. Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the President of India and the father of Indian nuclear technology, in his Tipu Sultan Shaheed Memorial Lecture in Bangalore on November 30, 1991, called Tipu the innovator of the first war rocket in the world. In fact, two of these rockets, captured by British at Srirangapatana, are displayed in the Artillery section of Woolwich Museum in London. The island summer palace of Tippu Sultan at Srirangapatnam is a popular tourist attraction in Bangalore vicinity.

After the death of Tipu Sultan, the Wodeyar Royal Family returned to the throne of Mysore and also Bangalore. But they did not wield any political power because the British East India Company maintained Bangalore as a directly administered British territory. After 1857 it was governed by the British Government until it was transferred to the independent India on August 15, 1947.

In 1898 Bangalore was struck by a serious plague epidemic. Thousands of people died in this deadly epidemic. During this time many temples dedicated to goddess Mariamma were constructed partly in an effort to seek divine intervention to overcome the epidemic and partly to provide work and food for the people of the city. Many modern improvements in sanitation were done during this period. In a coordinated effort to fight the plague, telephone lines were laid for better communications. In this way rumors could not spread that used to create panic in the already suffering population. Building regulations were revised to make proper sanitation effective. In 1898 a health officer was appointed to coordinate medical care facilities in the city and suburbs. Lord Curzon, the Viceroy and Governor-General of British India, inaugurated the Victoria Hospital in 1900. In 1906 Bangalore became the first city in Asia to be served with hydroelectric power supply from the Shivasamudra reservoir.

After their victory over Tippu Sultan, the British maintained their military in Bangalore, thus it became one of the most important cantonments of British India. The Bangalore cantonment was expanded in 1881. Because of this military connection, the names of many Bangalore streets have a military origin, like Artillery Road, Brigade Road, Infantry Road and Cavalry Road. The South Parade after independence became Mahatma Gandhi Road. During the British Raj, the Royal British Resident (an overseer plus ambassador) used to live in the cantonment area of Bangalore. The road near his official residence became Residency Road. In 1960s and 1970s a very elite residential area was developed in the grounds and gardens surrounding the Palace of the Maharaja of Bangalore. It was called Sadhashivnagar. In modern Bangalore it is the area where celebrities and politicians have their houses. Bangalore is still called the Garden City but the city administration has to fight a constant battle to keep builders from encroaching into green areas. The two great parks that provide a green belt to Bangalore are Cubbon Park and Lal Bagh.

The Chief Engineer and Diwan (Chief Minister) of Mysore from 1912 to 1919, Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya, was instrumental in the establishment of the University of Agricultural Sciences. The Indian Institute of Science was established in 1909 under his guidance. The noble prize winner in Physics, C. V. Raman, was later the director of this institute. Bangalore is home to one campus of the Indian Institute of Management, the National Law School of India, the Bangalore Medical College, and the St. Johns Medical College. These institutes are considered some of the best in India. The Indian Institute of Technology campus of Bangalore provides a steady stream of young talent to the growing information technology industry of the city, which is often referred to as the Silicon Valley of India. The National Center for Biological Sciences is one of the three important research centers for work on Stem Cell. The other new institute that boasts some of the best facilities in the world is the International Institute of Information Technology.

After independence of India, Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, laid great stress on the development of basic heavy industries in the country. Bangalore profited from this drive because it could provide the required trained engineers and technicians. Some of the most important high technology industries of India like Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, National Aerospace Laboratories, Indian Space Research Organization, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, and Bharat Earth Movers Limited are in the public sector and are based in Bangalore. In the private sector the big industries are Infosys and Wipro (both information technology industries). Biocon and Hindustan Motors are two other big industries in Bangalore that are also in private sector.

Bangalore sightseeing:

Vidhana Soudha is the neo-Dravidian granite building that dominates the northern boundary of the Cubbon Park and houses the State Legislature and the Secretariat. The massive sandalwood door of the Cabinet room is a spectacular feature of this imposing building. The Vidhana Soudha is bedecked in illuminated glory during special periods like the Dasehra celebration in October or November.

The Bangalore Palace & Fort : Kempe Gowda built the Bangalore Fort and Tippu Sultan expanded it. The sixteenth century Ganapathi Temple is well preserved within its walls. In 1887 a Wodeyar king built the Bangalore Palace. This palace was built in the Tudor style inspired by the Windsor castle near London. Complete with Gothic windows, the foiled windows, battlements and turrets resembling the Daria Daulat Palace in Srirangapatanam, this summer palace was constructed largely of wood and is famous for its carvings and paintings.

Lal Bagh : Haider Ali had this famous botanical garden established and his son, Tippu Sultan, added horticultural wealth to them by importing trees and plants from northern India and several foreign countries. The garden today houses over 1000 species of flora which include rare and enchanting collection of tropical plants, trees and herbs. The Glass House, modeled along the Crystal Palace of London, is the center of attraction in this 2400-acre park. Bi-annual flower shows attracting participants from all over India are held in the Glass House.

Cubbon Park: This wooded and blooming park was laid out in the heart of the cantonment in 1864. Since then, fairy fountains and many other additions have been made. But the most important aspect of Cubbon Park is its new buildings that have added beauty and cultural wealth. Lush green lawns, shady flowering trees, vibrant flower beds, make Cubbon Park an ideal place for morning joggers. Also in the Cubbon Park are the Seshadri Iyer Memorial Hall, which houses the public library, the High Court and the Jawahar Bal Bhavan. The Jawahar Bal Bhavan, with its toy train, fairgrounds and theater, is a recreational, hobby and educational center for children.

Government Museums: The Government Museum in Bangalore, established in 1886 is one of the oldest in India. The special attractions here are the antiquities from Harappa period. Situated nearby the museum is Visveshwaraya Industrial and Technological Museum named after the great engineer-statesman of Bangalore.
Next to the VITM is the Visveshwaraya Industrial Trade Center, the first of its kind in India. In addition to its trade promotional activities, the Center has two exhibition floors housing a permanent display of some of the most important products manufactured in Karnataka.

Near to the Museum is the K.Venkatappa Art Gallery that has a permanent exhibition of the works of the great artist, K. Venkatappa. The Gallery also promotes appreciation and education of art.

The Bull Temple was built by Kempe Gowda. It has a gigantic granite stone statue of the vehicle of Lord Shiva, the Nandi Bull. It is over 15 feet tall and more than 20 feet long. In the months of November and December every year, after the harvest a groundnut fair is held near the temple. The first fresh harvested groundnuts are offered by the farmers to the Nandi bull.

The Gangadhareshwara Temple was also a construction of Kempe Gowda and is known for its four huge monolithic pillars. It is one of the few Hindu temples with the idol of Agni, the God of fire. On January 13 and 14 each year the rays of setting sun pass through the horns of Nandi Bull and shine on the Shivlingam inside the temple.

The Dharmaraja Temple is located at Nazarethpet in the suburbs of Bangalore. There is a very popular annual Temple Karaga Procession when the revered idols of Shri Dharmaraja Swami, a hero of holy epic, Mahabharata and the idol of Lord Krishna are taken out of the temple.

Dargah Hazarath Tawakkal Mastan is a mausoleum of a Sufi saint but it is an important place for Hindus and Muslims alike because the procession of Karaga from the Dharmaraja Temple visits this mausoleum during its annual tour.

The Jumma Masjid is the oldest mosque in the city. It is an imposing structure with tall ornamented granite pillars adorning the elevated prayer hall. Scores of devote Muslim worshippers throng this Masjid during the annual festivals of the Muslims. It is located in the busy K.R.Market area of Bangalore.

The Kalakshetra, built to commemorate centenary of Poet Nobel Laurate, Rabindranath Tagore, promotes cultural activity in the city. It has a superb theater and houses the Cultural Academy Offices. Next to it is the gothic styled Puttannachetty Town Hall that has a huge auditorium to accommodate about 1500 persons.

St. Marys Church was established by a French missionary Abbe Dubois in 1811. It is the only church in Karnataka state to be elevated to the status of a minor Basilica. Every September, the festival of Virgin Mary is celebrated with a procession that attracts people of all faiths. The church is situated near the Shivaji Nagar Bus Terminal.

International Center of the Art of Living Foundation of Shri Shri Ravi Shankarji is located in a vast beautifully landscaped area in the north of Bangalore. Thousands of devotees visit the foundation in Bangalore for a variety of courses in Yoga, meditation and relaxing techniques. There is an Ayurveda Hospital and College in the complex along with a Panchakarma center for a variety of therapies.

5-star Hotels:

Leela Kempenski Palace Hotel – 254 rooms
ITC Hotel Windsor - 240 rooms
ITC Royal Gardenia - 292 rooms & 12 suites
Le Meridien Hotel – 195 rooms
The Grand Ashok Hotel – 186 rooms
The Taj Residency Hotel – 166 rooms
The Taj West End Hotel – 122 rooms
The Oberoi Bangalore Hotel – 158 rooms
Ista Hotel – 143 rooms
Bhagwan Mahavir Service Apartments – 75 rooms
Hotel Mahavir – 45 rooms

4-star Hotels:

Purple Lotus Hotel - 20 suites
Lemon Tree Electronics City - 175 rooms
Lemon Tree Hotel City Center - 188 rooms
Casa de Bangaluru - 41 rooms
Holiday Village Hotel – 10 rooms
Hotel Luciya International – 50 rooms
Gateway Hotel on Residency Road – 98 rooms
St. Marks Hotel – 95 rooms
Evoma OMR Hotel – 66 rooms
Regaalis Bangalore Hotel – 52 rooms
Eagleton The Golf Resort – 48 rooms

3-star Hotels:

Doddis Resort Hotel – 54 rooms
Sri Laxmi Comforts Hotel - 28 rooms
Hotel Bangalore Gate – 81 rooms
Hotel Samrat Residency – 60 rooms
Central Park Hotel – 130 rooms
Mercure Inn Guestline – 96 rooms
Harsha Hotel & Convention Center – 80 rooms
Museum Inn Hotel – 52 rooms
Nahar’s Heritage Hotel – 48 rooms
Angsana Oasis Spa & Resort Hotel – 39 rooms
Safina Hotels – 34 rooms

Distance from Bangalore in Kilometers and Miles:

Hassan: 187 Kilometers or 116 Miles
Mangalore: 347 Kilometers or 216 Miles
Mysore:
139 Kilometers or 86 Miles
Sravanbelagola: 145 Kilometers or 90 Miles
Bandipur Wildlife Park: 198 Kilometers or 123 Miles
Ooty: 273 Kilometers or 170 Miles
Chennai:
331 Kilometers or 206 Miles
Hampi: 505 Kilometerrs or 314 Miles (Hampi Express Night Train)

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