Enduring The Maximum City – ALLOVERIST

[Before traveling to Mumbai, try reading Maximum City written by Suketu Mehta. People living there also should read this.]

I took a KSRTC at Bangalore at 5 PM and reached Navi Mumbai’s CBD Belapur at 9.30 the next morning. My cousin had lived alone there for almost seven months. His wife was a nursing mother and she and her son was at her mother’s house in Bangalore. When the bus exited the Pune city my cousin called up and asked if I used a wash room. ‘No why?’, I asked. ‘The toilet is broken. You cannot use it. But that’s alright we can use the one at McDonalds near my house’, he said.

When I got to Mumbai, I learnt that I would have to see Mumbai alone, and my cousin had to travel to Bangalore for a meeting. The list of places to see and time to spend at those places was prepared by both of us. Beaches was not important to me I told him because I lived in the coastal city of Mangalore for 15 years, and I had already drunk enough water to last me a lifetime. ‘I understand, but do go to the Juhu’s Girgaon Chowpatty when the Mumbai Darshan bus stops there’, he said. Yes I did that and it was brilliant.

I spent the first day running errands, and sleeping off the bus lag (more than 15 hours of travel, so I’m calling it that). In the evening I accompanied my cousin and his colleague to a business meeting with a Gujarati father and son. After the meeting I insisted on having some Maharashtrian dinner. I had Solkadhi. That was how my 9th of June went. The morning of the second day was spent watching PM Modi’s speech on television. ‘Today evening after I leave to Bangalore, you will take a train to Vashi. That way you can experience Mumbai locals. Vashi is a nice hangout place and there are two shopping malls there’, my cousin said.

After my cousin took a bus to Bangalore, I took a train to Vashi where I spent my Monday evening at the Inorbit Mall, and watched Akshay Kumar starred Holiday at the Raghuleela mall. That afternoon I had booked a Mumbai Darshan bus for the next day. So I went home after the movie and mentally prepared to wake up early. Wake up early? I was used to waking up late at 7.30 even during office hours. The tour operators said I had to be there at 6.45 in the morning. I was there at 6.45 but the bus wasn’t. I called the operators. ’15 minutes mein ayenge. Abhi Panvel main hain’, they said.

The bus came a good fifty minutes late, but that was ok. That time was spent watching two auto rickshaw drivers push, shove, and claw each other while swearing at each other in a mixture of Marathi and Hindi over a matter of Rs.1000. They took the fight to the streets, to the Belapur bus stand, and inside their rickshaw.

The Darshan bus stopped at the Gateway, the CST Museum, Nehru Science Center, the Mahalaxmi Temple, Juhu Beach (the famous Girgaon Chowpatty), The Hanging Gardens, at all of them for twenty minutes each. The other popular landmarks that were shown were Regal Cinema, Tower of Silence, The Maharashtra Police HQ, the Legislature Buildings, the Oberoi Hotel, the Breach Candy Hospital, the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, the Brabourne and the Wankhede stadiums, the Haji Ali Dargah, the BSE building, the 6-D show.

‘See houses of your favorite movie stars’, the Mumbai Darshan pamphlet said. The bus took the small streets, taking tight turns of Juhu to show Jackie Shroff’s, Rekha’s, SRK’s, Salman Khan’s, Sachin Tendulkar’s, Lata Mangeshkar’s, Mukesh Ambani’s Antilia, The Maharashtra Governor’s official residence, and Amitabh Bachchan’s house. Along with it the tourists would have to bear the tour guide’s jokes.

The shoe house at the hanging gardens.

‘Woh dekho Jackie Shroff balcony mein’, the tour guide said. After everybody got off their seats to look, he said ‘Mein majaak kar raha tha’. I know that I thought. ‘Unka doosra ghar bhi hain. Shayad wahan rehte honge.’ The bus stopped only for a second at Prateeksha, but Bachchan’s security guard nudged the bus to move. I don’t know how many buses, taxies, and rickshaws stop in front of Amitabh Bachchan’s house to look, but asking people to keep moving is one of the key tasks his security guards need to do.

The bus came back to Belapur at 6.30 in the evening. The Girgaon Chowpatti beach is a nice place for an evening stroll. I had kala khatta for the first time. One day is a short time to see all these but a good way to familiarize yourself with Mumbai. I recommend you to take a Mumbai Darshan bus if your visit to the city is a short one.

I think if you want to see Mumbai and watch Mumbai move, travel by bus. Or use the taxi/rickshaw if you don’t mind paying more. But traveling by local trains is the best and the fastest way to get around. The trains are Mumbai’s lifeline. If the trains stop, so will Mumbai. A friend told me to take care of my wallet, and forget about finding a seat inside the trains. I had used the trains in Chennai, but the Mumbai trains are of a different league. I don’t know if I’ll see a rush like this in London or Tokyo.

On the fourth day, I went back to the Gateway. Taking a ferry to the Elephanta Islands was the plan. However the ferries to Elephanta caves weren’t operating because of the high tide. And it had rained heavily the previous night. That morning I saw waves crashing into the wall, and the water flooded the road in front of the Taj Mahal Hotel. The road was closed by security, and people were not allowed to walk on that road. I even saw news crew reporting the high tide. So, I came back to the CST, and took a train to Andheri. I wanted to watch a show at the famous Prithvi Theatre.

I Googled it and Google showed that Prithvi was at Juhu. So the plan I made was to take a train to Andheri, and then travel to Juhu. The Andheri train was jam packed, but lucky for me that the train terminated at Andheri. I went to a bridge, stood there and looked at the trains stopping at Andheri station below. People did not walk out of trains that stopped there. They spilt onto the platform just like ghee would spill when the packet was squeezed. I saw it in videos, but watching it live was unreal. I exited the station, took a rickshaw, and ten minutes later both of us were at Juhu looking for the Prithvi theatre.

‘Aapko maloom nahi kidar hain yeh?’

‘Pehli baar aaraha hoon’, I answered.

‘Yeh dekho Amitabh ka ghar’, he rickshaw driver said when he went past Prateeksha. It was the second time I was looking at it in the last two days. This time I wasn’t as enthusiastic as the previous day.

‘Kal dekha tha maine’, I answered.

We took a right after Prateeksha, and there was the road to Prithvi. After I paid the man and thanked him for his patience I went over the reception to buy a ticket to the 4 PM show, but I was already twenty minutes late.

Photo courtesy: Guidepal

Continued in Part 2

Enduring The Maximum City – Part 2 – ALLOVERIST

‘Prithvi Theatre jayenge?’, I asked.

This was the second time I would take a trip to the Prithvi. I was there the previous evening but I did not reach there on time for the 4 PM show, although the Juhu Church Road was easy to find, and people were informative. Prithvi just like NCPA, Ranga Shankara, and other theaters has a policy of not allowing patrons to enter the hall after the show starts, and the show starts on time.

I sat at their courtyard cafe run by Mocha, and had a coffee, a Maggi before travelling back to Andheri station, and from there to CBD Belapur. By then I knew how much time does it take to reach Prithvi from the Andheri station, and back. I also calculated the time that I should leave from Belapur the next day to reach Juhu on time. The next time I went back to Prithvi I was confident that my experience will be without a hitch.

‘Prithvi theatre hain kidar?’ asked the auto rickshaw driver.

‘Amitabh ke ghar saamne hi hain’, I answered to him with all confidence as if I lived in Mumbai all my life. While saying it, I drew a circle in the air to denote Big B’s Prateeksha, and then I drew a dot next to it to denote Prithvi. It was my fifth day in Mumbai. My experience with auto drivers and taxi drivers in Mumbai has been pleasant. Nobody swindled me like the richshaw drivers in Chennai did. Auto rickshaws and taxis are used as feeder service most of the time, and so there is less chance of being swindled. I did most of my traveling in trains, and buses. I have also used the Monorail.

This time I reached forty minutes before the start of the show. I had enough time to have a maggi and a coffee before entering the hall. The show was called ‘Wolf’ performed by T.Pot.Production. A great show though. That was the first time I watched something at Prithvi, and after that it was time to add Prithvi to my done list. I didn’t get to see Naseeruddin Shah like people said he would show up sometimes. However, I got to see some great talent on stage.

I wanted to visit the Prithvi theater on the sixth day, but I covered it the previous day. On the sixth day I took a trip to the Japanese temple. The journey was an adventure. I took a train to Kurla, got off at Kurla, and then took a train to Dadar. The best part was that I had not heard about the rush in Dadar trains before, but I experienced it first hand before I read jokes about it. But lucky for me, the train terminated at the Dadar station. But the rush at Dadar was unreal. At Dadar station, I took a train to the Mahalaxmi station, took a taxi from there to Worlinaka.

I thought I would not find it easily, but the taxi driver drove on the E.Moses Road and there I saw the temple right beside the road. They closed the temple before 11.30AM. The sign said it would open in the evening. After walking for some time about Worli, I found a Dominos. After an hour of loitering around, I came back to the bus stand in front of the Japanese temple, waited for half an hour for a bus to the CST. The bus journey was nice considering the fact that it offered better view of the city than the trains, and seats are easily available. From the CST I took a train to Wadala to take a ride in the Monorail.

Picture courtesy: DNA

It had been less than a month since the inauguration of the Monorail in Mumbai. People stood in line to take their ride in  it. The rush in the train was because of a Saturday, which is a wrong day to pick a ride in any public transport in Mumbai. I became part of the crowd. I had a headache because of the heat. All I wanted to do was get home, but Monorail journey had to happen. Authorities in Bangalore have still not made up their mind about building a Monorail. And it would be years for one to come up if they had decided to build one.

The route runs through an industrial area and few slums before it reaches the busy commercial district of Chembur. A vadapav and a tea later, I boarded the train to Vashi, spent my evening at the Inorbit Mall. A drink later came back to Belapur while making up my mind to take the journey to the Japanese temple again before I would go back to Bangalore.

Continued in Part 3

Enduring The Maximum City – Part 3 – ALLOVERIST

Continued from Part 2

This maximum city offers beautiful sites. Sunday, the 15th was Chinese temple time. After a breakfast of Vada Pav and tea at the Balapur station, I took the CST train that I thought would stop at the Dockyard Station. The train took after it stopped at Kurla, took the Central line, headed towards CST via Dadar. So the train did not stop at  the Dockyard Station. I got off the train at the Sandhurst station and took a taxi to the Dockyard station. From there I went on foot on the Nawab Tank Road in search of the Chinese temple. I went down the street and took a left down the steps after the bridge. Take the first right and walk fifty meters, and you’ll see the red building.

I spent an hour at the temple, and after lunch in a nearby restaurant I went over to the Dockyard station. It was a Sunday and so the station was closed due to maintenance. Maintenance was the reason the train took a detour to the Central line from the Harbor Line at the Kurla station. Many trains run in the Mumbai tracks and it is important to keep the train lines checked for errors and fixed. The Railways do a good job about it. The lines will be opened at 4PM the supervisor said, but the Sandhurst station would be open he said. I could see the Sandhurst station and I saw people walking on the tracks. I could do the same I figured. And so I got to the tracks.

I had no problem until I reached the bridge over the Central Railway Godown. I looked down through the gap, I stepped on and crossed the two wooden sleepers but then I saw the huge gap. A misstep would send me down in the 50 foot drop. I looked behind me at the Dockyard Station but I thought if I should walk back two kilometers back to the station, that would be a safe option. When I was deciding what to do, a man who was walking behind me got his foot on the rail and jumped over to the steel platform.

There was a gap between the steel platform and the rail. I was afraid of slipping if I stepped on the rail. The man stopped walking, turned back, held out his hand, helped me cross over to the platform. Before I could thank him he walked away. He was there only to help me get on to the platform. Cool. But why was I there in the first place? I could have taken a taxi back to the Sandhurst station. After all I took a taxi from there to reach Dockyard. I reached the Sandhurst station, got to the Central Line platform and took the CST train.

Outside CST I shared a taxi with a father and son duo, and a couple to the Gateway. This time I walked behind the Taj Mahal Hotel and found a Starbucks. I loved the place because it was attached to the Taj, and it’s also a prime place. Nice place to hang out. I recommend you Starbucks Taj Mahal Hotel.

A coffee and a sandwich later, I walked around to look for the Leopold, but it started to rain. So I took a taxi and came back to the CST. By then the rain had stopped. At the bus stand, I boarded the Nariman Point bus. By the time I reached Nariman Point it was 6 in the evening. I reached the start of the Mumbai promenade. It started to rain heavier this time, and so I took shelter at the NCPA. Earlier I tried to get a ticket, but I had arrived late for the show. The Sunday ended with dinner at Nariman Point, taxi to CST, and then train to Belapur.

Picture taken from: Virtual Tourist

Monday morning was Ganapati Bappa time. This time I found a direct train from Belapur to Dadar. There were taxies at Dadar but no one agreed to take me to Siddhi Vinayak. I walked the streets of Dadar asking for directions to the Siddhi Vinayak. Dadar was like Jayanagar in Bangalore. Full of trees, cobblestone pavements, small grocery, and electronics stores. However Dadar has taller buildings than in Jayanar, I guess more business happens here than in Jayanagar. Siddhi Vinayak was a visual treat.

I expected Monday would be a no show for a huge crowd, but I was wrong. There were people from my state of Karnataka, Andhra, North India, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and from all over Maharashtra in the line. Patience was of the paramount importance here, but I guess Mumbai will teach it to you. The Darshan happened an hour later. The favorite part of the visit there was that I saw how smooth the crowd management happens. The priests didn’t lose patience, and the security guards didn’t lose their cool.

After the Siddhi Vinayak, I took a taxi to the Japanese temple. The Japanese temple was a fifteen minute taxi ride from the Siddhi Vinayak. This time it wasn’t an adventure, and it was 5Pm in the evening, and the temple was open. A bus ride to CST after the visit to the Japanese temple, train to Belapur, a dinner at a Udupi hotel, and a lassi at CBD Belapur’s Sector 4 market  later I went home to sleep.

Read the conclusion in the Maximum City Stories

Sri Lanka – ALLOVERIST

The Buddha                                                                  Source: Abercrombie & Kent

Sri Lanka is nothing like India. It has a different culture than India. So people calling it mini India is not entirely accurate even though we may look alike. You have to arrive and leave from the Colombo airport. Arriving here is a breeze, but you will have to bear with long queues while leaving the country. Other than the famed Adam’s Peak, and its innumerable beaches, the country has some quiet places, offbeat things to do.

Colombo, Capital of Sri Lanka

All Roads Lead to Colombo

Five Reasons To Visit-Dehiwala-Mount

23 Things to do in Colombo

Colombo’s Gangaramaya Temple

Journey Not The Destination

Jaffna

Staying In a Tamil Household in Jaffna

12 Things to do in Jaffna

Anuradhapura

Inside Anuradhapura

What to See at Anuradhapura

Dambulla

Dambulla Cave Temple

Polonnaruwa

Staying at Monkey Camp

10 Things to do in Polonnaruwa

Sigiriya

Sigiriya – Where Lion Rocks

Kandy

Kandy – Pearl of Lanka

Sweet as Kandy

Nuwara Eliya

90 Minutes in Nuwara Eliya

Galle

A Walk in the Galle Fort

Levitation, Unawatuna, and Lord Hanuman

Kandy Archives – ALLOVERIST

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Environment Archives – ALLOVERIST

Our whole life we talk about discipline. However, discipline without concern about the environment is not an honest approach. I looked up some simple…

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Polonnaruwa Archives – ALLOVERIST

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What to See at Anuradhapura – ALLOVERIST

The Buddha at Mirisavetiya

What can you see at Anuradhapura? Anuradhapura was once a magnificent city where there were thousands of people living and making a living, having the best irrigation systems with giant tanks, monasteries, the best university campus, supermarket quarters for traders, and royal buildings. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. So. there is lots to see. This city is existing since the 5th century BC, or the 10th century; depends on who you will talk to. Is there any Sinhalese movie that can rival the new Bollywood movie Mohenjo Daro?

History

King Pandukabhaya planned the layout of the city, and made the city the capital of Kingdom of Upatissa Nuwara in the 4th century BC. It also became capital of Kingdom of Rajarata, and Kingdom of Tambapanni. 113 kings, and four queens ruling Anuradhapura in succession, added to the architecture of the city. The giant stupas here are a little smaller than the pyramids in Egypt. The huge structures made the city famous in the ancient world. Foreigners came to trade here. The creation of tanks made this a hotbed for agriculture. The tanks still exist, and is beautiful to hangout there.

Battle for Anuradhapura

King Dutugamunu famously defeated King Ellalan, a South Indian king of the Chola dynasty. Ellalan, or Elara launched an attack on the Kingdom of Rajarata, and won. Dutugammu of Kingdom of Mahagama defeated his own brother who challenged his position in South Sri Lanka. He then marched towards Anuradhapura. The inevitable battle had a young Sinhala prince question a just but old veteran’s right over Anuradhapura.

The battles between Ellalan and Dutugammu is recorded in Mahavamsa, and is a Sinhala pride. The duel between war elephants Maha Pambata (big rock), and Kandula belonging to Ellalan and Dutugammu respectively is also stuff of legends.

Siege weapons devastated Ellalan’s army. Dutugammu too took losses due to molten pitch Ellalan’s army used. But it was Dutugammu who killed Ellalan, and ended one of the most celebrated rule even in Sri Lankan history. This victory made Dutugammu the overlord of Sri Lanka. Dutugammu built a monument for King Ellalan, but it is famously missing today.

What can you see today?

There are lot of things to see today. There are ancient ruins scattered everywhere. If you get off the street, and go into the bushes, you will stumble upon some ruined buildings. Howver, these are some of the most important:

The Dagobas

The stupas or the dagobas are the bell shaped structures, towering over other buildings in the city, one of the dagobas is a little smaller than the pyramids of Egypt. The stupas were built as a center for meditation, and learning.

Ruwanelisaya*^

This was in ruins, but it was restored after a fundraiser in the 19th century. It is the oldest, the most important one in Anuradhapura. King Dutugamunu built this dagoba, it represents the head of the Buddha. The stupa sits of a platform that has statues of elephants around it. They built this after Dutugammu defeated King Ellalan, a South Indian King from the Chola dynasty in battle for Anuradhapura, so it makes this supremely glorious.

Ruwanelisaya

Jethawanaramaya*^

This is one massive stupa, little smaller than the pyramid of Giza. This big stupa got smaller, perhaps due to the wars. Once upon a time 3000 or so monks used this stupa.

Jethawanaramaya

Lankarama*

King Valagamba built this stupa, the structure looks like the Thuparama stupa. The vatadage houses the structure.

Lankaramaya

Mirisaveti*^

King Dutugamunu built this dagoba due to guilt he felt for not sharing chilli curry with the Sangha (Buddhist monastic community). Miris means chilli, that’s the history behind the name.

Mirisavetiya

Abhayagiriya*^

The largest monastery complex here, the statue of Buddha in Samadhi (meditation) position is near to this stupa. King Valagambahu built the stupa. 5000 monks used this stupa once upon a time.

The Abhayagiriya

Thuparama*^

The right collarbone of the Buddha is part of Thuparama daagab. This is the first stupa to be built at the instructions of a dude called Mahinda Thero after Sri Lanka embraced Buddhism. Mr. Thero brought Buddhism to Sri Lanka. The vatadage encloses the the structure. As you approach the building you see an ancient well at the front made of granite, it has guard stones at the entrance, and a granite doorway.

Lakes

Kuttam Pokuna – The Kuttam Pokuna or the twin ponds is a tank for the monks to take their daily shower. There are figurines of dancing girls in this pool, so there is an opinion that monks did not use the pool at all.

Kuttam Pokuna

Eth Pokuna – Also called ‘Elephant pond’ hides among trees and bushes. It is a water storage for the Abhayagiri monastery.

Tissa Weva – In order to increase the water supply to the city, King Devanampiya Tissa built a huge tank. Later a system of irrigation canals was integrated to it.

Basawkkulama Tank – This is another tank built to supply water to Anuradhapura city.

Moonstone

It is a semi-circular stone at the entrance of an ancient Buddhist school. The ruined structure is also said to be Mahasena’s Palace. The carving on the moonstone is elaborate. There are carvings of elephants, butterflies. In Buddhism, it denotes life cycle.

The Moonstone

Ratnaprasada

The monks belonging to a sect called Pansakulika lived in the Ratna Prasada. It was five storey tall built by King Kantitthuatissa, but today it is in ruins. The monks of Abhayagiri met here twice a month to confess and rectify their mistakes by reciting Pratimoksha.

Ratnaprasada

Lovamahapaya*

Locamahapaya is also called as the Brazen Palace built by King Dutugamunu. This building was nine storey high. Copper and bronze plates cover the roof of this building. It was once a refectory for the monks.

Samadhi Buddha

One of the most worshiped statue in Anuradhapura, perhaps in Sri Lanka. It is statue of the Buddha in meditation position, or the Samadhi position (Dhyana Mudra). It is near the Abhayagiri Monastery. This granite statue is eight feet tall.

Samadhi Buddha

Isurumuniya

Walk towards the giant Tissa Wewa tank, and you will find the Isurumuniya. You have to remove your footwear before entering this vicinity. There are carpet covering the floor to help you not burn your feet. There is a Lotus Pond in the front. The Isurumuni Lovers are carved into the rock which is the main attraction. There is stair case carved into the rock, so that the lovers could go to the top of the rocks, to enjoy the sunset.

Inside the Isurumuniya

Sri Mahabodhi*^

This is the second holiest place in Sri Lanka, the most important site in Anuradhapura. This place has a piece of the tree from Bodhgaya which is famous for the enlightenment of the Buddha. If a leaf from this tree falls on you, you can consider yourself the luckiest on planet Earth. So many people, and monks stand for hours here waiting for a leaf to drop. There is always a ritual happening here.

The Mahabodhi Tree

The Museums

The Archeology Museum – This museum has the main reception desk/ticket counter is. The museum has important artifacts from Anuradhapura and around Sri Lanka. This is also known as Jethawana Museum because it is near the Jethawana stupa.

Abhayagiri Museum – This museum is funded by the Chinese government. The museum has artifacts such as squatting plates used by the monks, jewelry, model of the ancient city, books.

Other Attractions to See at Anuradhapura

Nakha Vihara

This is identifiable as a structure of a house, and some remains of the building are still here. This is off the main road, amidst all trees and bushes.

Nakha Vihara

Main Refectory

In this refectory monks met, discussed with each other, they also cooked food here.

Refectory Dining Area

People Watching

Lot of people, including monks live inside the ancient city. This place attracts people from around the world. Historians, artists, and many others visit here.

* represents Atamasthana, which means one of the Eight sacred places in Anuradhapura. It is holy because the Buddha visited this place.

^ represents Solomasthaana, or the sixteen places of veneration in Sri Lanka. There are sixteen places in Sri Lankan Buddhuism that is holy because Buddha  was here. Six of such sites are in Anuradhapura.

Five Places in Bangalore Created For Special Purposes – ALLOVERIST

The Glass House, Lalbagh                                                                                                                                                                    Source: Raga Design

Bangalore is hardly the market area, or majestic people know of today. Back then the city was started with the pété’s, and then the Cantonment. The growth story of Bangalore, the city of villages is interesting. The villages grew to become little towns which in turn merged to form the city of Bangalore. Bangalore was administered by the Cholas, the Hoysalas, the Vijayanagar Empire, the Sultans of Bijapur, the Marathas, Tipu Sultan, and also the Mysore Kingdom. Looking back some areas have an interesting story behind its creation.

The Bangalore Cantonment

A cantonment is a military establishment or a military quarters. The French word canton means district. After the British defeated Tipu Sultan in the Fourth Mysore War, they established a military garrison Srirangapatna. Because of the cooler climate of Bangalore, and the mosquito menace in Srirangapatna, they saw Bangalore as an ideal place to set up. The King of Mysore who took over the Kingdom of Mysore after Tipu let the British use the 9000 acre land to build a cantonment.

The British wanted entire Bangalore for them, but Cantonment is all they got. At its peak in the 1820s, 8000 infantrymen and cavalry were stationed in the garrisons. There are many streets and avenues in the Cantonment Area. The erstwhile South Parade road is now Mahatma Gandhi Road. There is Cavalry Road, Artillery Road, Infantry Road, Brigade Road, and many others.

Electronics City

Electronics City, India’s first Software Technology park is the brainchild of Ram Krishna Baliga. His vision of making Bangalore the “Silicon Valley of India” impressed the then Chief Minister of Karnataka Devaraj Urs. He made Baliga the Chairman of the Karnataka State Electronics Development Corporation (KEONICS) in 1976, and my 1883 many electronics industries established offices here. After the liberalization of economy in 1991, Electronics City brought in lot of profits to the city. Electronics City is very well in Bangalore today, and well connected to rest of Bangalore, for many people it felt like going to a neighboring city back then.

Whitefield

Other than Electronics City, another place where technology companies like to have their office is in Whitefield. It was set up in the 1800s after Mysore Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar IX granted the Eurasian and Anglo-Indian Association, Mysore and Coorg 3,900 acres of land to build a settlement for Anglo Indians, and thus the name. This vision of this settlement was to be self sustaining by practicing agriculture. The IT boom transformed Whitefield into more than an agriculture village.

The population of this settlement increased after people working in Chennai and Kolar Gold Fields came to live here. Former Prime Minister of the UK, Winston Churchill was one of the residents here when he was in the British Army, and was living at the Waverly Inn. History says he was in love with Rose Hamilton, the daughter of James Hamilton, the owner of Waverly Inn. People today come there to walk around the house and talk how decrepit it is today. However there are many namesake of the Waverly Inn.

Basavanagudi & Malleswaram

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Malleswaram during the recent past

During the year 1898-99, a devastating plague struck Bangalore due to poor sanitation conditions. People needed a new place to stay. This led to the creation of two new suburbs of Basanagudi and Malleswaram. They started doing this by building makeshift health clinics in Malleswaram. Later, these two suburbs were well planned and was important for Bangalore as new immigrants and traders who came to Bangalore ended up settling here. Basavanagudi got its name from the temple dedicated to Nandi, the divine bull, and Malleswaram got its name from Kadu Malleswara temple built by Venjoki, the Maratha king.

The epidemic alarmed Dewan Sheshadri Iyer because the plague spread to Mysore too killing 80% of the people that it effected. So, people avoided the crowded spaces like the market areas, and moved to open spaces reducing the. While the authorities looked at the epidemic more closely, and to nip it in the bud; people built temples dedicating it to Mariamma. The people of Bangalore hold the annual Karaga festival in honor of Mariamma, the Goddess who keep Bangalore safe.

Bengaluru Pété

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Bengaluru Pété before the IT revolution

Kempegowda I in 1537 established Bengaluru Pété. Pété is a market area where traders who associate themselves with various trade and profession lived. The trade and the profession  names of the areas in the pété was the name of the profession that was pursued in the area. One auspicious morning in the year 1537, four young people each controlling a bullock cart with a plough, on the orders of Kempe Gowda drove the cart in four different directions, thus drawing a line in four different directions.

These four lines became the first street of Bangalore. The line from East to West became Chikkapété Street from ‘Surya Beedi’ in the beginning, and the North-South became Doddapété Street from ‘Chandra Beedi’. The intersection of Surya Beedi and Chandra Beedi became Doddapete Square (Avenue Road). After drawing a big line across, he built a mud fort, and surrounded it with a moat calling it Bengaluru. Mr. Gowda took help and built many tanks around Bangalore to supply water to the pétés of Bangalore. Kempambudhi tank is the biggest among all the tank, and it was to be used for daily usage. The Dharmambudhi tank supported Kempambudhi in supplying water to Bangalore. For the purpose of irrigation, Kempe Gowda built the Sampangi tank.

The list of pétés in Bengaluru to begin with:

Chikkapété – For small traders

Doddapété – For big businesses

Upparapété – For salt traders

Mamulpété – For general traders

Balepété – For bangle traders and flower sellers

Akkipété – For rice traders

Aralpété (Cottonpété) – For cotton traders

Ganigarpété – For oil traders

Kumbarpété – For mud pot makers

Mutyalpété – For pearl traders

Nagarthapété – For pearls and jewelry

Ragipété – For ragi traders

Sannakalpété – For limestone traders

Kurubarapété – For sheep traders

Pétés added later:

Chamarajpété – Named in honor of Chamaraja Wodeyar, the Maharaja of Mysore

Cubbonpété – Named in honor of Sir Mark Cubbon

Sultanpété

Have I missed any pété? Please let me know in the comments.

Staying at Monkey Camp – ALLOVERIST

Monkeys at the ruins of Polonnaruwa

Monkey Camp, as it is casually called by locals and guests is a monkey research station at Polonnaruwa, once the capital of Sri Lankan royals. The formal name of this facility is the Smithsonian Primate Research Station. The facility mainly functions as a headquarters for monkey research. They are actively studying monkeys that is in Polonnaruwa, especially the ancient city. There is a lodge that takes in guests. So, you sleep amongst monkeys.

The property is on the Eastern banks of Parakrama Samudraya, the giant water body that existed since ancient times. The backyard of the Monkey Camp opens into this lake. The forest area near by has helped the monkey population thrive.

The Monkey Camp

The Dining Hall

Pathway to my room

Stairway to my room

The Room

Washroom

Who’s Responsible?

Dr. Wolfgang Dittus is the Founder and Director of the Smithsonian Research Institute. He is a German born, Canada educated zoologist, who has done a lot of research about the macaque monkeys. He has monitored social behavior, maintains migration documents, and also genoelogy. Over the years he has written a lot of papers. Many documentaries have featured him, and his work in Sri Lanka.

The Monkey Camp is the brainchild of Vatsala Dittus, Dr. Dittus’s wife. The Monkey Camp is a lodging that is inside the premises. Ms. Vatsala looks after the administration, and interacts with the guests at the property.

Sunil Rathnayake is the manager of the property who manages and maintains it. He is helped by Veeran, and Mr. Ukkubanda, the caretakers. Ukkubanda can make the best food in Sri Lanka. He does not believe it when you complement his food.

Dr. Wolfgang Dittus (The Monkey Kingdom)

Getting There

The economical and fun option is the bus. From Anuradhapura, I took the mini Chinese made bus to Dambulla, and then took another bus to reach Polonnuaruwa in the evening. At the bus stop, I took the Tank Bund Road by tuk tuk to reach the property. The property is reachable by taxi from anywhere.

There are lot of buses from Colombo and Kandy. The way to reach by train from Colombo is to take a train to Kandy, and then take a bus to Polonnaruwa.

Parakrama Samudraya

What can you do there?

1. Book a Stay at the Monkey Camp. The property has about sixteen cozy rooms. In the morning, and sometimes during the night, you can hear monkeys. There are lot of animal research centers around the world. However, this is one of the few that lets in guests, and gives a tour of the facility that has monkeys, monitor lizards.

2. They have a monkey tour. This tour is in a combination with the tour of the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. Polonnaruwa has a big monkey population, mostly of the langurs. However, the members of this facility forgot to tell that the monkey tour, and the ancient city tour can be combined.

3. They have a night tour of the facility that helps you spot Loris monkeys. The property is not lit at night, because it does not attract Loris monkeys that usually require darkness. You spot it with the help of infrared light. When the light shines on the monkeys eyes, you can see a red pair of eyes looking down at you.

4. Get involved, donate to the institute, or work with them. If you would like to learn about monkeys, what better place than the Smithsonian.

5. Watch Disney’s Monkey Kingdom, a documentary that Dr. Dittus created. Well, did I say, Dr. Dittus is friends with Jane Goodall, a British primatologist.

6. Another reason for you stay here is for the food. Mr. Ukkubanda who has stayed here for more than thirty years can make Idiyappam (String Hoppers) with Egg and Potato curry. He can also make some brilliant chicken curry, and parippu (lentil curry).

String Hoppers with Egg and Potato Curry, Lentil curry, Coconut Sambol, and Sauce

Book Monkey Camp on Airbnb, or Tripadvisor.