Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Kempegowda Towers - the earliest boundaries of Bengaluru!

Kempe Gowda I is a name very synonymous to Bengaluru and the people alike. Well, he is the founder of the city who planned the city in the 16th century. He was a chieftain of the Vijayanagara kingdom. His vision of a pete (town) on the lines of Hampi was bought to life and thus created were the present day Avenue road, Nagarthpet and Chikpet and many forts, temples, tanks and lakes, fascinating isn’t it! Thus came into existence the Bengaluru pete that is now our Bengaluru city.

His grandson Kempe Gowda II built the four towers predicting the limits for the growth of the pete in the future. The towers are said to be built in four corners of the city keeping the Dharmarayaswamy temple as the focal point. I was stunned when I read the fact that the 4 towers geometrically intersect the temple gopuram in an ‘X’ shaped fashion (see the map below), brilliant planning skills! Historians believe there were many such towers in the city and I would be more than happy to know about it!

The locations of the Kempe Gowda Gopuras (Towers) are as below:
(In order of how I traversed and I covered all of them in half a day)

1. Lalbagh Tower (South East Tower)
It’s a prominent landmark and you won’t miss it in Lalbagh. It’s on top of a hillock believed to be centuries old. Enter via the main entrance (double road junction) and the tower is visible right from the entrance. The best maintained of the lot with all granite pillars and flooring.

2. Gavipura Tower (South West Tower)
I will reveal the easy location of this. Ask for Bandi Mahakali temple on the banks of the now dry Kempabudhi Lake; go behind the temple and to your left you would see the gopuram amidst rocks and trees. You need to climb up a few steps to see the tower in full view. A park has been constructed with walkway and play area and a deer park is adjacent to this lake. I roamed nook and corner of the lake and finally decided on giving up on a hot afternoon; plain curiosity led me near to the temple and the tower finally :)

(I will get a better picture next time)
3. Mekhri Circle Tower (North West Tower)
It’s located in a park adjacent to Ramana Maharishi park (you can see the tower from here too albeit from a distance). While moving on Bellary road coming from Windsor Manor bridge, as you near Mekhri circle underpass, get on to the ramp on the left and just before the Bajaj showroom is the park on the left alley. One can see broken statues on the pillar in the picture above, quite different build from the other towers.

4. Ulsoor Tower(North East Tower)
It’s in the Madras Sappers campus and permission to visit is difficult, try your luck with them. You can see the tower from the main road or from the other end of the Ulsoor Lake (from a far distance). As you ride along the opposite bank of Madras Sappers, this tower is clearly visible.

All the four towers are renovated and looked in good shape. I would never know how they looked earlier but seeing all of them painted yellow or white was not a happy sight for me, I just could not connect to the history with them!

Another prominent feature of these towers is that they are all located close to lakes or tanks. Lalbagh Tower near the Lalbagh Lake, Gavipura Tower on the bank of Kempabudhi Lake; Ulsoor Tower on the bank of Ulsoor Lake and the Mekhri Tower close to Sankey Tank. (It would be definite that at that point of time, these towers were exactly on the banks of the lakes that have shrunk drastically in size over the years)


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