When Churchill lived in the City

Winston Churchill came to Bangalore in October 1896 as a young army officer and left three years later to fight in the North West Frontier, now in Pakistan.

In his book, My Early Life he writes, “The climate of Bangalore, at more than 3,000 ft above sea level, is excellent. The sun even at midday is temperate and the mornings and evenings are fresh and cool.”

In the days Churchill made Bangalore his home, it was not a bustling city with bright lights. It was then a sleepy cantonment town with little to offer in the way of amusement to young soldiers. Churchill himself wrote that he found the city boring. He spent most of his time reading and collecting butterflies. He described the house alloted to him as ‘a magnificent pink and white stucco palace in the
middle of a large and beautiful garden’. And he was well served by his staff, that included a gardener, a water-carrier, a dhobi, and a watchman.

Old timers in Bangalore will remember Victoria Hotel opposite Mayo Hall, which has now been demolished and replaced by a shopping mall. This was the place where Churchill used to read his morning paper. Churchill was also a member of the Bangalore Club.

After eight months in Bangalore, he wrote to his mother in a letter about his life in Bangalore, “Poked away in a garrison town...out of season and without the sea, with lots of routine work and … without society or good sport—half my friends on leave and the other half ill—my life here would be intolerable were it not for the consolations of literature…”

Chirs Wrigley in his book, Winston Churchill: A biographical companion, writes that it was in Bangalore that he met Pamela Plowden, daughter of an Indian civil servant based at Hyderabad. He was much enamoured by her at their first
meeting.

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