The past as a present

Bangalore - photos from a bygone age’, is a one-of-a-kind initiative started three years ago by CN Kumar, Kiran Natarajan, Mansoor Ali and Naresh V Narasimhan.

A Facebook group with 9,337 members (and counting!), it aims to archive photographs of old Bangalore.

Kiran Natarajan, a group administrator, informs that Bangalore was one of the only Indian cities where photo-documentation wasn’t actively emerging and it was only a few old studio photographs and postcards by companies like Tuck that depicted Bangalore.

The group attempted to fill this gap by asking Bangaloreans to dig out archival material and share it with others.

“Typically, most photographs are scans from old postcards and books. Initially, it took time for the Facebook page to pick up but of late, a lot of people have been sharing family photographs and those depicting places, people and practices in Bangalore.

The future plan is to manage the archive better, connect with organisations that are into archiving and build a quality member base,” he explains.

Mansoor Ali, another administrator, recalls how four years ago, he went on a heritage walk in Delhi and learnt about obscure monument there.

 “On the way back to Bangalore, I was left wondering if we had any history here other than Tipu Sultan, Kempegowda and the British rule.

I was interested in finding out more about our forgotten history and after going through books on Bangalore, I realised that there was a lot waiting to be uncovered. I joined this page two years ago and ever since, have been uncovering photos both online as well as physically from old Bangaloreans who have priceless photos in their albums lying around in attics and store rooms,” he says.

Other members of the group range from architects and lawyers to housewives – each one is in it for the nostalgia and a glimpse into the bygone Bangalore.

Shashank Kumar, a member, says that he has stayed in a British bungalow near Cantonment (which is 110 years old at present) all his life. “I used to wonder about the mysteries surrounding it and what was it like 100 years ago.

The schools, the churches, the bakeries and cafes around Cantonment brought a certain charm to Bangalore.

I wished to have lived in that era which wasn’t possible. But this group has brought the old Bangalore back to us. It’s amazing that it has such a rare collection of photos that aren’t easily available.”

One of the most active members is Ajay Amrit Ghatage, who contributes as and when he comes across old photos. “I was never very active on Facebook but after retiring, I found time to be on it. I started contributing with my uncle Dr VM Ghatage’s collection of photos from his HAL days.

But I’ve also captured photographs of Cubbon Park Band Stand, Shivajinagar, old Malleswaram and many other places,” he notes.

Rumi Minocher, a member, adds that to him, the page is a safe haven to run to when he get frustrated by what Bangalore has become. “I’m a fourth generation Bangalorean and what I have not seen, I have heard from three generations of hand-me-down stories.

Bangalore is in my blood and today, more often than not, I find myself wanting to understanding it better. This group helps me do that!” he concludes.

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