The city's other face

There’s more to Bangalore than just Vidhana Soudha, High Court, Cubbon Park and Lalbagh. Other equally historical heritage structures, particularly in the spiritual domain dot Bangalore, but are unfortunately not on the Bangalore tourism circuit, for foreign nationals and Northern India.

No information on these structures goes out widely to visitors in any form. There is no branding and marketing, no attempt to build informative stories around them, nothing to show that officials are interested in excavating the deeper history and cultural spread of Bangalore.

Let’s take the Jumma Masjid on Commercial Street. According to Yasir Mohammed, businessman in the area, the Street’s Jumma Masjid is perhaps the oldest in the City. “The mosque is situated between two temples. It is a fine example of secularism.

Immediate locals may know of it, but I am unsure if people from distant areas of Bangalore do, let alone foreign citizens. The mosque needs to be listed in the tourist brochures of the department of tourism, and information needs to be circulated among private travel and tourist companies and be made a major heritage stop in the City.

It would do good if Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) were to take up its revival.” The Masjid, built between 1740 and 1840, has an Arabic touch to it.

The 17th century Kaadu Malleshwara temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is yet another landmark in the City. Again, while locals throng the temple, visitors from abroad haven’t been adequately informed about its historical value and the circumstances under which it was built.

According to Poornima S, homemaker from Malleswaram, the temple sees very huge crowds on two occasions. “The mahashivarathri and Karthika month are auspicious occasions. People from all over the State come to the temple. On regular days too, people from outside visit the temple. But, I have not seen too many foreign nationals nor people from northern India. I am unsure whether they have been informed about the temple.” 

The Dodda Ganapathi temple and Dodda Basavanna temple on Bull Temple Road need more attention to figure in the must-see tourist circuit of the City. M Venkatesh, Secretary of the Basavanagudi Traders’ Association, says the two temples are of historical value. 

“The tourist operators bring tourists to the Dodda Ganapathi temple, but do not always take them up the steps to see Dodda Basavanna temple nearby. The operators have to be told to ensure visits to both shrines. We must do something to enhance their popularity among people from North and tourists from abroad. It is very popular among locals.

But to give it a lift, we should have better branding and aesthetic presentation of the two temples. Gavi Gangadhareshwara temple, Gavipuram, is fairly well known in the tourist circles. Whenever foreigners come, the temple is included in the itinerary. All these three temples and many others in the area can form a very good temple tourism circuit in Basavanagudi.” 

Devotees come in the middle of January every year on Sankranti Day to this cave temple. This is a special day when sunrays fall on the Shivalinga for one hour as it passes between the horns of the Nandi. The Sun illuminates Shivalinga two times a year - from January 13 to 16 late afternoons and from November 26 to December 2.

Someshwara temple in Ulsoor sees a similar phenomenon. Shiva S, a long-time trader near the temple, says there is heavy rush during Sankranti and Shivaratri. 

“I have occasionally seen a few foreigners coming to the temple, but there is no heavy rush. Some persons who take extra interest and are curious about not so well known structures, make it to the temple. But the general stream of tourists needs to go up.” There are stories of how a king who was sleeping near the temple got a dream of Lord Shiva and went on to build the temple. 

Then there are a few other temples that can be brought into the tourist fold - Karanji Anjaneya in Basavanagudi, Pralayakalada Veerabhadra, Kalabhairava in Gavipura Guttahalli, Dharmaraya temple, Ranganathaswamy temple, Balepete, Kote Venkataramana temple (1690) adjoining Tipu Sultan’s Palace, Kashi Vishveshwara temple (1840) in Balepete and Gali Anjaneya temple on Mysore Road, said to have been established in 1425 by Vyasaraja. 

Apart from Hindu shrines, other interesting shrines to visit in Bangalore are the Parsi temple, Tawakkal Mastan Dargah, St Mary’s Basilica and the Mahavira Digambara Jain Temple.

 Bangalore’s multi-religious and cosmopolitan character is best reflected in its many temples, mosques, churches, Gurdwaras like the one at Ulsoor which was built in 1946, Buddhist Viharas, or the Queen’s Road Parsi fire temple. Clearly, there’s lot to show people from all over India and the world that Bangalore has serious archaeological and spiritual spaces to explore. 

Bangalore has been branded and marketed as a technology destination for over 25 years. 

There is a need to rebrand the City also as a cultural-heritage space. Many cities in the world flash a technology-culture facade. Why can’t Bangalore?

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