He who gave us flowers
Send up a salaam to Hyder Ali every time you feel grateful for the soothing green of Lalbagh amidst our concrete jungle
Lalbagh is one of the very few lung spaces left for Bangaloreans. Photo: N. Sridharan
DURING THE reign of Chikkadevaraja Wadiyar, Bangalore and its surroundings were all of 12 hoblis and were looked after by a Parupatyagar. The first one was Dalvoi Doddiah, who repaired the fort, built earlier by the Kempe Gowda family. He was succeeded by his uncle Malarangiah, who encouraged traders and merchants from different parts of India to settle in Bangalore.
It is said that he repaired the dilapidated Basavanna temple in the fort, but consecrated in it the image of Venkataramana. The Basavanna image was moved to Mamulpet and consecrated as Belli Basavanna. A total of 27 Parupatyagars looked after the city between 1687 and 1754.
In 1758, a powerful Maratha army under Gopal Rao Patwardhan invaded Bangalore. The Maharaja of Mysore deputed Hyder Ali to oppose the invaders, and he succeeded in driving them away. Bangalore came as jagir to Hyder Ali along with the title Nawab Bahadur.
Hyder Ali appointed Ibrahim Sahib as Quilledar for the city and he rebuilt the fort from the foundation up and mounted on it 72 guns besides several cannons, always ready for action. He also constructed a Topkhana (foundry) to cast guns and manufacture firearms.
Hyder Ali then laid Lalbagh, where plants procured from Delhi, Lahore, and Multan were planted. To tend to these plants, he hired men from Tamil Nadu who were then known as tigalas (corrupt form of Tamila). These people are from the Vanhikula Kshatriya caste and they celebrate the famous Karaga festival during the month of April.
Tipu, who followed Hyder in 1782, added to Lalbagh's flora by importing exotic plants from places such as Kabul, Persia, Mauritius and Turkey. During the Commissioner's rule in Mysore, John Cameron, the superintendent of Lalbagh, established a zoo where many animals were exhibited. But now these animals have been transferred to the Mysore Zoo. Tipu also introduced sericulture to Mysore and mulberry cultivation was started in 21 locations in the state.
In 1896, J.N. Tata established the Tata Silk Farm in Bangalore, which undertook mulberry cultivation, silkworm rearing, and egg production. Though the farm is now extinct, even today the area is popularly known as Tata Silk Farm.
During the Third Anglo-Mysore war, Cornwallis after capturing Yelahanka came to Bangalore. But by now a dry ditch, hedges and a rampart had fortified Bangalore fort. So the invading army had to storm the town before entering the fort. Ten guns were used to breach the fort defences.
After the fall of Tipu in 1799, the British restored the Wadiyar dynasty to power in Mysore. Professional moneylenders from North and South India, Marwadis, Jains, Multani bankers and Chettiars migrated to Bangalore due to its growing commercial and industrial importance.
The British then commissioned Francis Buchanan to survey Tipu's territory. He gives a general description of Bangalore as it then existed: "Bangalore transacts with Arcot, Hyderabad and Madras provinces. Betel nut, black pepper, sandalwood, blankets, yarn, drugs and salt are the main items of trade in Bangalore. Women of all communities, except the Brahmins, spin yarn and Bangalore yarn is of fine quality. Other industries that exist are tanneries, oil pressing units and gunny manufacturing units."
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