After being pretty much indoors because of the third wave, it felt was a good time to go back to another part of my roots last evening. You may have read my previous blog on Gorur and Kittane, where my ancestors migrated from Tamil Nadu. Centuries later many families migrated to Bangalore in search of a livelihood. My father’s family lived here for many years in a quaint bungalow. It was a meeting point for all the sons and daughters and their families for many, many years before it was sold. Sadly, in its place, a commercial establishment has come up. I had stayed in this house at various points of my life; when I was very little and my army man dad was posted in a field area, and I studied at the Cluny Convent, the Kendriya Vidyalaya before I was packed off to a boarding school in the Nilgiris. Later I studied at the M.E.S College for my undergraduate degree and then later at the Indian Institute of Science for my doctoral studies. The IISc was built in 1909 as a research institute on the land donated by the Maharaja of Mysore and active financial support from Jamshedji Tata. So Malleswaram has been a major influence and part of my growing years.
The locality of Malleshwara, officially known as Malleshwaram, is located in Bangalore’s northwest area. It was planned in 1889 after the great plague of 1898. It was developed as a suburb in 1892 and finally handed over to the city municipality in 1895. The earliest residents of Malleswaram were the Patankars, the descendants of the Dewans of Mysore, and also Dewan Sheshadri Iyer.
- Kadu Malleshwara Temple: In the 17th century, Bangalore was taken over by the Maratha chief Shahji Bhonsle, who worked under the Bijapur Sultanate at that time. According to the book ‘Seen and Unseen‘ by Arun Bharadwaj, Sir Venkataranga Iyengar, the counsellor to the Maharaja of Mysore, was riding on his horseback when discovered an old temple of Lord Shiva ( Mallikarjuna) also known as the Kadu Malleshwara Temple. This temple was built in the 17th century by the Maratha kings in the Dravidian style, during the reign of King Venkojirao Bhonsle of Thanjavur, who was the younger half brother of Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj. It is a large temple complex with a long flight of steps and verdant surroundings. There are three other temples on this Temple street, but only Kadu Malleshwara has been recognised by the government as having historic value. This temple is hence protected by the Archaeological Survey of India. This temple was completely renovated by Yele Mallappa Shetty, a noted philanthropist of Bangalore doing it by the close of the 19th century.
- Lakshmi Narasimha Temple: Adjacent to the Kadu Malleswara Temple is the Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy temple, which was built by Shivaji’s brother Ekkoji Rao. It is located on a hillock and houses an udbhava murthy (Swambhu idol) of Sri Lakshmi Narasimha. The entrance of the temple has a pair of sculpted elephants on either sides of a flight of steps. Other than the sanctum sanctorum, there are sannidhis for Sudarshan Chakra and Narasimha on the other side as is found in Sri Vaishnava Temples, there is the utsava murthi of Lakshmi Narasimha, and the 12 Azhwars.
- Gangamma Temple : On the left hand side of the Lakshmi Narasimha Temple is the Gangamma temple. The main deity of the temple is Gangamma or the Goddess Ganga, who is also considered to have manifested on Earth as the River Ganga. She is also believed to be an incarnation of the primordial Shakti.
- Nandi Theertha Temple: Sri Dakshinamukha Nandi Tirtha Kalyani Kshetra is a small temple located in front of the Gangamma temple, that was ‘rediscovered’ in 1997 as it was submerged under layers of soil. B N Sundara Rao in his book called Bengalurina Ithihasa (in Kannada) says that late Rao Bahadur Yele Mallappa Shetty constructed this Kalyani along with the Nandi, and the Shiva-linga. A local politician wanted to sell of this land to a property development agent and when residents got wind of the news, they vehemently opposed the move. That’s when the excavation took place and they discovered a sacred tank. Digging deeper they found a Nandi carved out of black stone with eyes painted in gold. The digging also discovered a black Shiva linga too.
- The most famous roads are called the Sampige Road (named after Champak trees) and Margosa Road (named after Neem trees). The Sankey Tank built by Col. Richard Heiram Sankey is a prominent landmark and was built to meet the growing city’s water needs.
The area has some iconic eateries and we decided to go to the Veena stores for a plate of the legendary idlis. However, it was already late and they were shutting down for the day. So we made our way to ‘Halli Mane’ that serves food from North Karnataka and other cuisines too.
There is so much more to Malleswaram; the bustling market area, the renovated Malleswaram vegetable, fruits and flower market and more beautiful temples. I will keep updating this page as and when I can!
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P.S: Some readers asked me about my saree. It is a saree from West Bengal that is inspired by the weaving of the Dongria tribes of Orissa in the Niyamgiri Hills.