Lung space touched by history

Lung space touched by history

Bangalore earned the sobriquet of Garden City through its many large parks and gardens in addition to Lalbagh and Cubbon Park.

One such green space was established in 1914. The Coles Park is located in Cleveland Town, a small residential neighbourhood near Fraser Town, a busy commercial zone in the Cantonment area (officially renamed as Pulikeshinagar sometime back). The locality is also known for schools like St Germain's, Goodwill Girls and large religious institutions namely St Francis Xavier’s cathedral, St John’s church, Wesley English church, St Joseph’s of Tarbes convent and eponymous schools on the wide Promenade Road. In fact, the famous St Joseph’s High School was situated here before it moved to Museum Road.

Spread over a vast expanse, Coles Park is named after Arthur H Coles, one of the British Residents (who played a key role in the British controlled administration of the Mysore kingdom) based in Bangalore. Contrastingly, Fraser Town was christened after Stuart M Fraser, a tutor to Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV who later became a British Resident in Mysore.

And then there was General John Wheeler Cleveland who served in Queen Victoria’s Army who is remembered by Cleveland Town and Wheeler Road, an important thoroughfare that originates in the vicinity.

Interestingly, a stone plaque at the intersection of Mosque Road (called so owing to the presence of the century-old Hajee Sir Ismail Sait mosque) and Coles Road, records the founding of Fraser Town in 1910.

Coles Park is usually open to the public from 5 am to 11 pm, unlike many parks in the city. But its plant nursery remains closed for sales for most part of the year except when the flower show is held at Lalbagh.

Even then, saplings or seeds are sold only at the venue of the main event. “The mini Bal Bhavan inside the nursery enclosure is opened only in summer. During this season, people associated with the Jawahar Bal Bhavan in Cubbon Park go to Coles Park to conduct activities based on art, music, dance and theatre for children,” says a park employee.

Within Coles Park there is a bandstand where the Band of Bangalore Rifle Volunteers, a military band of the British army used to play, mostly on Sunday evenings and during other holidays. Nowadays, this canopied stage is utilised to celebrate Independence Day and Republic Day.

Further inside is the freedom fighters’ park that belongs to the Madras Engineer Group, or Madras Sappers, a 230-year old regiment which has its headquarters in Ulsoor. And of course, there are various species of beautiful trees and plants, some of which are trimmed in the shapes of animals! It is heartening to note that these have all been taken care of, over the last few decades.




At one time, Coles Park had three tennis courts too with the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) using at least one of them, apparently.

A first for India

Apart from all these, Coles Park has two play spaces with swings, slides, climbing ropes and other amusements for children. Thanks to the contribution of the Bangalore based NGO Kilikili (http://www.kilikili.org), one of these places was particularly designed for children with different kinds of disabilities.

Different playthings such as the tyre tunnel, sand pit and bucket swing that can enhance the locomotion and sensory skills of physically and mentally challenged children, are available. When inaugurated in mid 2007, this was the first inclusive public play space in the country and it excited children, their families, schools and caregivers, very much. A skating rink where regular classes in roller skating are conducted for children by a private agency is also present in this play area.

Sadly now, some of the equipment is broken or missing due to poor maintenance. Although the park still attracts many youngsters, it is unfortunate that kids with disabilities cannot use the space easily.

According to Kavitha Krishnamurti, the co-founder of Kilikili, the BBMP has not been very responsive to repeated requests to restore the inclusive play area. The office of the BBMP councillor of Pulikeshinagar (ward 78) states that the repair work has been pending because of budget constraints. See who 'pays' for whose apathy!

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