BENGALURU: To the west of Avenue Road, on its southern end, lies the famous City Market or the Krishna Rajendra Market. What not many realise is that there are actually three different structures here. In the front lies the Victorian style K R Market that was inaugurated on October 11, 1921. At the centre is the New Market that was built around 1990. The oldest, which has a giant arched entrance, stands close to the Gundopanth Street and was built during the 1800s.
Before 1920, the existing City Market comprised low-roofed, zinc-sheet sheds. In January 1907, the Diwan and other officials, after a site inspection, suggested that the municipality should build a new market and that the existing market should be shifted to a new place, as its location was unhygienic. Kalasipalyam was suggested as the new location, but the idea was dropped as the soil there was not suitable for a building of this magnitude.
Finally, the Siddicutta area was chosen. The new market was designed by Lakshminarasappa on the model of Sir Stuart Hogg Market of Calcutta with some modifications. The inaugural function was presided over by B K Garudachar, the then president of the Bangalore City Municipality, and other councillors.
At the southern end of the erstwhile Pettah Fort built by Kempe Gowda was a tank called Siddicutta, which was the main source of water for the inhabitants of the fort. After the war of 1791, this tank was not used. It was later filled with rubble from the fort walls that were demolished for the installation of better infrastructure during the British rule.
Legend has it that every time Kempe Gowda attempted to construct a gate on the Southern side, it collapsed in the evening. In order for the Anekal Gate to be constructed, it was prophesied that a pregnant woman must sacrifice her life. This reached the ears of Kempe Gowda’s daughter-in-law, who chose to end her life for the sake of the gate.
In the olden days, there was a market sergeant who maintained hygiene inside the market as well as supervised the wares put up on sale. Under the erstwhile Bangalore Municipal Council, fruit and vegetables shows used to be held regularly.
In 1930-31, a Charka Competition was also held. Likewise, in the market show held on December 22 and 23, 1946, wrestling matches, orchestra and nadaswaram programmes were held.
My earliest memories of visiting the City Market involve trying to get a parking slot right in front of this sprawl. Other memories include the beautifully landscaped Sir Mirza Ismail Chowk. Three decades ago, my father and I would shop for fresh vegetables and flowers inside the clean market. I vividly remember the HMT clock at its entrance. Taking in the fragrance of flowers was a real pleasure too. We used to shop there long before the FoodWorlds and the Big Bazaars came up. Now all these are just distant memories.
Today, the market is an urban disaster. Mounds of garbage litter the area and the stench is unbearable. Finding a parking spot there is akin to finding a needle in a haystack. There is a proposal to utilise the unoccupied upper floors of the New Market, which have been vacant for the past 15 years, but nothing seems to be happening. The once pristine Sir Mirza Ismail Chowk, which had a beautiful statue and Bengaluru’s first electric lamp post, is now a mere shadow of its former self.
The statue is long gone, as are the lamp post and the beautiful garden. I hope BBMP pulls up its socks and makes the market as clean as it was a few decades ago. Or it can think about shifting the market to four different parts of Bengaluru to reduce congestion and pollution of the area.
Named after Krishnarajendra Wadiyar, K R Market is located adjacent to Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace on Mysore Road, and was established in 1928. The building has three floors, a basement and an underground parking. The location of the market is said to have been a battlefield in the 18th century. The market is said to be the largest flower market in Asia.