I have been in Bangalore for now almost 6 months and yet to explore the city to its potential. With this thought in mind, I logged onto the net; stumbled on a website www.bangalorewalks.com which advertised a cultural walk through Basvanagudi; promises to unveil some of the myriad secrets of the area and overall introduce one to a traditional part of Bangalore, hitherto, unknown to most.
We were met at the meeting point by, Savita Rao– a petite framed, soft spoken woman with a love of the area that spilled forth in the first few sentences exchanged with her. We started by climbing through a green park which led to a granite built watch tower, which she informed us was constructed by KempeGowda to keep a look out over his new city that set up there later.
We descended down to an Ancient Cave temple, which had quite a motley of mythological symbols, signifying their allegiance to Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. The temple ground was originally a haven of natural granite rocks; which the temple association had recently tiled over, in a bid to modernize the place. The newly whitewashed sculptures were also done with the same thought. The inner sanctum of the temple was below the unhewn rocks; viewing the underside of the same proved quite claustrophobic for me. But here again, the natural outcrop had been covered in some artificial coating. Philistines – is what I mentally cursed them to be.
Savita, had quite a collection of maps – old maps of the area; paintings, etc which depicted the history of Basvanagudi that she wished to narrate to us. One of the maps showed us the planned layout of the area; seggregation of houses was done on basis of caste and creed- Brahmins, Sudras, and so on. But the overall layout was impressive for the planning and organised thinking that had gone into it.
We walked onto a residential lane, in a old house where the sight of a filter coffee guy, brightened up all our faces. But it was not to be so. The idea was to see a traditional Bangalore house where apparently a TV soap crew was shooting. Savita enchanted us with some more anecdotes; all of which I cant share as its the surprise element of their walk and would ruin it for the others.
We walked on to discover one of the oldest idli joints in town; the first setup of this popular chain, in a narrow by lane. We settled in a katte – a pucca shelter built under the tree with benches where old timers of the colony can be found reading newspaper and exchanging early morning news and gossip over steaming cups of hot filter coffee. The katte reflected the community zeal of the residents, seeing that its built and maintained by them. I was also impressed with the pictures adorning the upper half of the shelter – all of prominent bangaloreans who had contributed and achieved milestones in the fields of literature, engineering, arts, etc. Surprisingly, none was of a politician or an administrator.
I was amazed at the number of the Green Barbet that I could spot in this area; could hear them calling out from every branch, leaf of the trees. But they were too quick for me to get a proper shot of them.
We meandered through a 1920s monastery- temple which had a 8th century Philosophy being practiced there, a local bazaar , resplendent with the colorful wares of the flower vendors to stop at a small shop to snack on some local delicacies, names of which eludes me now.
Finally the walk culminated at the bugle rock park – a beautiful green oasis; colonies of fruit bats hung from various trees, monkeys jumped from branch to branch while the squirrels called out raucously to one another, probably to gawk and comment on us.
All throughout the walk, Savita’s kept up a delightful tempo of history tidbits, enthralling us with one anecdote after another. It was one of the most interesting history class that I have ever attended. Talk of kings, wars, and treaties – almost like exchanging juicy gossip.
We walked up to the Bull Temple where a massive sculpture of nandi – the bull presides in the inner sanctum. The temple surround was full of hawkers with multi-colored wares; soapy bubbles blew past us- all glinting in myriad hues in the sunlight before disappearing into nothingness.
Our walk culminated at Cran-o-la; a juice bar where fresh sugarcane juice is served with varied flavours added to it – lemon, ginger, pepper, chat masala, mint, etc. Refreshed from the cool drink, we bid adieu to Savita with hopes of returning back to another such walk with her soon.