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The birth of the cosmopolitan city

Bangalore was not the first choice to base the British troops. But the city quickly gained popularity and grew to become the State capital

— Photo: K. Viswanathan

The Central College was one of the earliest educational institutions of the city. — Photo: K. Viswanathan

AFTER THE fall of Tipu in 1799, it was considered necessary to station British troops in Mysore. The Duke of Wellington, who was the Military Commander, decided upon Srirangapatna as the ideal place. But the mosquito menace and the consequent outbreak of malaria in Srirangapatna soon forced the troops to look for alternative accommodation. The Duke of Wellington was not particularly favourable to choosing Bangalore, presumably on account of its water shortage, but following his departure from India in 1804, the Government vetoed his opinion and shifted the troops to Bangalore.

Military station

The environs of the village of Ulsoor furnished vast vacant grounds for the settlement of British troops and thus the year 1807 witnessed the foundation of a military station in Bangalore. A mighty swarm of Indian nationals of all kinds soon flocked to the station and the Maharaja of Mysore assigned 9,000 acres of land for their accommodation. They remained under the control of the military officer commanding the division.

In 1811, the Madras Government asked the Maharaja to transfer the entire Civil and Criminal jurisdiction over the assigned areas to their Commissariat Department. Although reluctant, the Maharaja agreed to appoint a Commissariat Officer under the authority of his government to be the Superintendent of Police, Bangalore. Mark Cubbon, then an Army Captain, became the first Superintendent of Police for Bangalore under this new arrangement.

In October 1811 the Maharaja of Mysore, Krishnaraja Wodeyar III, visited Bangalore along with the Resident A. H. Cole to participate in the horse races. To add to the general excitement, a couple of tigers were let loose on the racetrack to be hunted!

In 1831 the British took control of the administration of Mysore State, citing the misadministration of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III as reason for his deposition. The first step the British took was to make Bangalore the capital of the state. This marked the beginning of Bangalore's importance and soon the British even contemplated making it the southern capital of their Indian empire.

With this newfound status, Bangalore made rapid strides in education and communication. In 1858 the Bangalore High School was started, which later became a first grade college and was then designated as Central College in 1875. In Cantonment area the Bishop Cotton School and the St. Joseph's College were started in 1865 and 1882, respectively. A philanthropist, Rao Bahadur Arcot Narayanaswamy Mudaliar, also started a school, the Present R.B.A.N.M. Institutions, in 1873, where, interestingly, Bipin Chandra Pal, the famous Congressman, functioned as Principal.

Railway line

Bangalore being the State capital, roads were laid connecting it with all major towns. The work to lay the railway line from Bangalore to Jolarpet began in 1859 and The Great Famine of 1877 prompted the line to be extended to connect Mysore as well.

The Bangalore-Mysore track was opened for passenger traffic on February 25, 1882. The train used to leave Bangalore at 6.45 a.m. and reach Mysore at 2 p.m.

The fare of the ticket fixed specially during the Dasara season for an individual was Rs. two and one anna: inclusive of the return journey. In 1893 some members of the Mysore Representative Assembly requested that separate compartments in the train be reserved for high caste Hindus, similar to the reservations provided to Europeans and Euro Asians. But the Diwan curtly refused.

S. SRINIVAS

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