BENGALURU: The uniqueness of Malleswaram, a Bengaluru neighbourhood that has managed to hold on to its old world charm, perhaps comes from the remarkable people who called the region home. City Express lists some such stalwarts who brought laurels to the locality.
Maker of Modern Bengaluru
Seshadri Iyer, the longest serving Dewan of Mysore and a lawyer, is regarded as the maker of modern Bengaluru. Seshadripuram Road is named after him.
In 1898, plague hit Central Bengaluru. To contain the epidemic, Seshadri had to transport people of the region to Malleswaram in the north and Basavanagudi in the south. His successor Madhava Rao, who served as the Dewan of Mysore from 1906 to 1909, sanctioned land to the Indian Institute of Science for free.
How Malleswaram Got Its Name
S K Venkatranga Iyengar, a lawyer, was a member of Bangalore Municipal Corporation. He came across this tranquil locality and the Kadumalleswara temple. He reported this to Seshadri Iyer and suggested that the city be extended there. After approval and several discussions it was named after the temple.
Sampige Road was originally called SK Venkatranga Iyengar Road. The name eventually changed as people started remembering the road by the Sampige trees on its sides. Now the trees are not there anymore, but people still refer to it as Sampige Road.
Similarly, Margosa Road was originally named after Siddavanahalli Krishna Sarma, a noted author, translator, freedom fighter, journalist, social worker and educationist. He was a close associate of Acharya Vinoba Bhave who is considered as the teacher of the nation. The road was later named after the Margosa trees. “If you tell people that you live on Siddavanahalli Krishna Sarma Road, no one would know where that is,” says M A Sundar, one of the founding members of Malleswaram Residents’ Welfare Association.
Following Gandhi’s Footsteps
Mathoor Krishnamurthy, a well-known Kannada writer, lived in Malleswaram. The Padma Shri awardee was the former director of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and played an important role in establishing a branch of the institution in London.
Unable to afford college fees, in 1947, he took up a job as a city bus conductor with a monthly salary of `200. He worked on the Basavanagudi-Shivajinagar route. Within three months, Krishnamurthy was promoted as a traffic inspector. But due to family pressure, he gave up his job and started working at Raja Mills as a clerk.
Krishnamurthy was a staunch follower of Gandhi. He visited the Congress party office in Madras when he learned that Gandhi was there during the freedom movement. He saw an ad seeking volunteers. But the Congress party men refused to consider him as he did not speak Hindi. So, Krishnamurthy went back to his brother’s place in Madras, bought books and learnt it in 15 days.
When he visited the party office again, they were surprised to see him speak Hindi fluently and appointed him as a volunteer. He also opened Malleswaram Tutorials to help students perform well in SSLC exams. But later, it was shut due to financial issues. He also worked for a Kannada newspaper and All India Radio for a brief period before he took over as the registrar of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Bengaluru in 1969.
Poets of Malleswaram
A Kannada writer and poet, Dr M Shivaram co-founded Bangalore Medical College in 1955 along with Dr Mekhri. After running it for about five years, he handed over the institution to the government for free. It still stands as one of the best medical colleges in Karnataka.
Rao Bahadur Narasimhacharya was the director of the Archaeological Department of Karnataka. He published the book Karnataka Kavi Charite in 1929. It is a compilation of works of poets from 800 AD to 1900 AD. It is regarded as one of the best books on the history of Kannada literature.
Narasimhacharya also played an important role in the construction and establishment of Sri Venugopala Krishnaswamy temple.
Kannada poet Kuvempu wrote Ramayana Darshana in Malleswaram. He was conferred with the Jnanpith Award for it.
Men of Science
Chintamani Nagesa Ramachandra Rao, also known as C N R Rao, also lives in Malleswaram. He currently serves as the Head of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India. The chemist has honorary doctorates from 60 universities around the world. He is the third scientist to receive the Bharat Ratna after C V Raman and A P J Abdul Kalam.
Scientist M N Srinivas was a close associate of C N R Rao. He went to the UK for his doctorate, after which he walked all the way from Edgbaston to Tehran, Iran for adventure. He also directed a lot of plays at Bangalore Little Theatre, of which he is a founding member.
C V Raman, physicist and Nobel laureate, used to reside near MES College on 15th Cross. His house, named Panchavati, is being maintained by the government.
M Chinnaswamy, a prominent Indian cricket administrator, also spent his life in Malleswaram. He was the president of BCCI from 1977 to 1980 and its secretary from 1960 to 1965. He was the driving force behind the construction of Karnataka State Cricket Association stadium which was later named after him as M Chinnaswamy Stadium against his wishes. His residence on 11th Main is called Cricket House. He actively practised as a lawyer for about 50 years. He was a social activist as well. He was one the founding members of MES College. He also founded the Malleswaram Co-operative Bank and Malleswaram Co-operative Society.
First Women’s Hostel
Vimala Rangachar founded the MEWS Ladies Club along with the daughter of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, former President of India. They had to register the organisation to avail government funds but they did not have a name. They called each other ‘meow’ and thus decided to name the club MEWS. Later, they came up with full form, Malleswaram Entrepreneurial Women’s Society.
Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone was brought up in Malleswaram. Her father Prakash Padukone started playing Badminton here and established Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy in 1994. It started its operations at Prakash Courts in Malleswaram before shifting to the KBA stadium.
B Saroja Devi, the only actress to play the lead role continuously in 161 movies, is also from Malleswaram.
Malleswarada Rashtra Shilpigalu
H V Nanjundaiah was the first vice-chancellor of the University of Mysore. He was a close associate of the Maharaja of Mysore. He also played his part in developing this locality. After his death, he donated his residence for the Government Girls’ High School. An open university was also developed near it in 1920.
Nanjundaiah started Karnataka Sahitya Parishat in 1915. To mark its centenary year, the Malleswaram RWA has published a book, Malleswarada Rashtra Shilpigalu. It is a compilation of life sketches of over 160 famous personalities from Malleswaram over the past 150 years. “It took over eight months to publish it. We first thought of coming up with a 250-page book with briefs about 100 personalities. But we couldn’t hold back. We went to each house, looked at every record and carefully documented everything,” says Gopal Rao, President, Malleswaram RWA. They will soon come up with a second edition of the book.