A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: ADAMYAMEY

SURPRISING MOHAN BUILDING

A lovely old building in Chickpete

Mohan Buildings Chickpete  facade

Mohan Buildings Chickpete facade

Bangalore (Bengaluru) is not every tourist's favourite place, but it is full of hidden delights. Being a frequent visitor to the city, I have time to explore it slowly and thoroughly. At first glance, Bangalore may seem a sprawling, confusing, place where one might not want to linger. However, if time is taken to walk around, the visitor will discover many surprising and delightful surprises.

Mohan Buildings Chickpete view of courtyard

Mohan Buildings Chickpete view of courtyard

Mohan Buildings Chickpete courtyard

Mohan Buildings Chickpete courtyard

Mohan Building in Chickpete is one of these. To reach it, turn off Avenue Road at Chickpete Cross. Its main facade and entrance is on Old Taluk Cutcherry ROad. Best way to find it is to ask a local when you reach Avenue Road.

Mohan Buildings Chickpete  a shop in the courtyard

Mohan Buildings Chickpete a shop in the courtyard

Its long rambling somewhat dilapidated facade hides a lovely, equally dilapidated courtyard, from the street. Built in 1909, Mohan Building contains numerous shops and warehouses connected with the textile industry. These textiles include silk which is still dyed and woven in the heart of Bangalores old City district.

Mohan Buildings Chickpete  facade detail

Mohan Buildings Chickpete facade detail

Mohan Buildings Chickpete facade detail

Mohan Buildings Chickpete facade detail

This building with its lovely staircase, its crumbling architectural details, and its busy atmosphere, is a truly evocative spot in Bangalore.

Mohan Buildings Chickpete  staircase

Mohan Buildings Chickpete staircase

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 07:12 Archived in India Tagged india bangalore building bengaluru mohan chickpet Comments (2)

A GREAT BOOK ABOUT SOUTHERN INDIA

Review of THREE-QUARTERS OF A FOOTPRINT by Joe Roberts

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This is a superbly written book about southern India. It describes the several months that the author spent based with a family in Bangalore in 1990. Joe Roberts views India realistically and sympathetically, and not without a sense of humour. He recounts his time spent with his host family brilliantly, conveying a great sense of what it is like living in an Indian home: its ups and downs. Roberts made many excursions from Bangalore to a variety of places in southern India, and one up north. He paints a vivid picture of each place, each of them being portrayed accurately and atmospherically. Encounters with strangers, both Indians and foreigners, are incitefully and often humourously related.

I am a regular visitor to southern India, and have been so since 1994. I feel that what Roberts wrote following his extended stay in 1990 resonates well with my experiences of the region over the past more than 20 years.

The end section of the book contains a number of informative and interesting notes on things to which he referred in his text. The 'articles' on the Jews of Cochin and the Syrian Christians were particularly good examples of these.

This is a wonderful travel book that should appeal to those who know southern India and alson those who do not. A great read.

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 11:11 Archived in India Tagged travel india book bangalore bengaluru Comments (0)

COMMONLY SEEN IN THE STREETS OF BANGALORE

Here are a few of the things that are commonly found in the streets of Bangalore. I have not included cars, cycles, and auto-rickshaws.

The rangoli ('kolam' in Tamil Nadu) is a geometric pattern traced outside entrances to buildings every morning. During the day, the rangoli becomes damaged by footsteps of those entering and leaving the building. Every day, a new rangoli is traced out using either white or coloured powders. The rangoli is designed to bring good luck.

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The mochi is a shoe repairer or cobbler. In Bangalore, many of them set up shop on the pavement. The mochi works with his fingers and toes, and often repairs bags and cases in addition to shoes and sandals.

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The dhobi is a professional clothes and linen launderer and ironer, usually a man. Many dhobis ply their trade in small barrows on the pavement often in residential areas. Most, if not all dhobis, use heavy metal irons filled with glowing charcoals.

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Feeling thirsty? If you are lucky, you can find a pavement sugar cane juice seller with his sugar cane press that squeezes the juices out of sugar canes. Tastes good, but be careful if you are worried about food poisoning, as the glasses are not always too clean!

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Beggars there are aplenty in Bangalore. Many of them are mutilated, and they often 'prey' upon drivers and passengers sitting in or on their vehicles whilst awaiting traffic lights to cahange from red to green. Some unfortunate individuals wheetl theselves along on little trollies, others are pushed along in carts.

Cows are to India what windmills are to Holland and pubs are to the the UK. Cattle are all over the place, grazing on whatever urban waste material they come across. Every now and then in Bangalore, you can spot shelters where the cows are milked.

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All over Bangalore you will see PUNCHER shops or stalls. They are simply places where tires with punctures may be replaced or repaired.

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Hungry? Why not buy a snack at a chaat stall? Word of warning: hygiene should be considered before considering consumption!

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There is no shortage of street sellers in Bangalore. They sell everything from snacks to shirts, from fruit to foot wear, from belts to books, from toothpaste to tomatoes, from hats to hair-clips, and so on.

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The hijra is a transvestite. They make their living by accepting donations in exchange for conferring blessings. In Bangalore, they are often found soliciting from people waiting in vehicles at red traffic lights. A small donation will buy you a blessing.

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The observant visitor will spot many more interesting things on or besides the streets of Bangalore. What is described above are some of the more common sights. I would love to have included a horse-drawn tonga, but so far I have never taken a good photograph of one.

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 02:39 Archived in India Tagged streets bangalore vendors dhobi bengaluru hijra rangoli Comments (2)

CONTROL YOURSELF!

Men in India often prefer or maybe need to pee 'al fresco'. However, property owners are not so keen about people peeing against their walls.

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The picture above includes the warnings not to pee alongside symbols of Islam, of Christianity, and of Hinduism. These are the three main religions in Bangalore. For a long time, I was puzzled by the proximity of these holy symbols and the exhortations not to pee. I believe, that these symbols of 3 religions are placed on the wall in an attempt to prevent them from being desecrated by urination and also the wall on which they are drawn from being peed against.

I have also seen external walls on which images of Hindu gods have been affixed at regular intervals. A friend of mine suggested that their presence is also supposed to deter the deperate from peeing nearby.

Address: Almost any wall in Bangalore

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Posted by ADAMYAMEY 04:20 Archived in India Tagged india bangalore walls wc toilets bengaluru urination Comments (0)

GANDHI and BANGALORE

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When Mahatma Gandhi visited Bangalore, he stayed in a guesthouse close to where the Gandhi Bhavan stands today.

The Bhavan is well worth visiting if you have some interest in one of the most unusual personalities of the 20th century.

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At the entrance, there is a small shop where a helpful assistant will sell you publications by, or about Gandhi.

The entrance leads to a courtyard with a garden in it. In the garden, there is a statue of Gandhi.

On the first floor, there is a small museum of photographs showing different stages in Gandhi's life. Some of the captions are in English, and a few in Kannada only.

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Next door to the Bhavan on Kumara Krupa Road, there is a Khadi Shop. Khadi is home-spun textile, which Gandhi encouraged Indians to make instead of buying textiles spun in the UK before being sold in India. The shop is delightfully old-fashioned, and there are some lovely goods to be bought there at remarkably reasonable prices.

Visiting the Gandhi Bhavan is a very charming Indian experience, and well-worth doing.

Address: KUMARA PARK EAST

Directions: Near Chitrakala Parishad Art College

Phone: +91 80 22261967

See also: http://gandhibhavanbangalore.blogspot.co.uk/

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 04:00 Archived in India Tagged india bangalore gandhi bengaluru mahatma_gandhi Comments (0)

NGMA - a Bangalore 'must see': ART & ARCHITECTURE

NGMA - National Gallery of Modern Art

NGMA - National Gallery of Modern Art

This is really a must-see attraction of Bangalore.

It was opened only a few years ago but does not get the flood of visitors that it truly deserves.

House partly in a restored palace and partly in a tastefully designed, beautiful contemporary structure attached to the palace, this place houses a permanent collection of mostly paintings by Indian artists, ranging from the 18th century to modern times. There is a good collection of paintings by Bengali artists including several members of the Tagore family and Jamini Roy. For some odd reason, there is one painting by the pre-Raphaelite artist Alma-Tadema. All in all, the permanent collection is varied, well-chosen, and nicely displayed. It is a perfect and comprehensive introduction to the development of art in modern India.

There are frequent temporary exhibitions, which are usually hung in the new extension. These are always exhibitions of major artistic importance. See WEBSITE for examples.

There is a good shop selling cards, posters, and catalogues. Also, the café with tables under an airy verandah is a good place to linger and to enjoy a range of foods and drinks.

Finally, take time to wander around the sculpture-filled gardens in front of the NGMA

Address: 49 Palace Road, Bangalore

Directions: Near Mount Carmel College

Phone: 080-2234 2338

Website: http://ngmaindia.gov.in/ngma_bangaluru.asp

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 03:53 Archived in India Tagged art architecture gallery palace bangalore bengaluru Comments (0)

BURIED IN BANGALORE

A small Jewish cemetery in Bangalore reveals much about Jewish presence in India

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Once, I calculated that the chance of randomly meeting a Jew who was born in India was minute – less than 0.0005%. So, writing about the Jews of India is to describe a microscopic proportion of the country’s vast population. That proportion is diminishing. This is not because Jews have ever suffered persecution in India.

While flicking through a street atlas for Bangalore, I noticed that the city has a “Jewish Grave Yard”. I have visited it several times. It contains less than sixty graves, but together they open a window that provides an overview of the Jewish people who have lived in India. The story of India’s Jewry has been described in detail elsewhere (for example: “India’s Jewish Heritage” edited by Shalva Weil and “Shalom India” by Monique Zetlaoui).

This article reveals what examination of the gravestones tells us about the presence of Jews in the whole of India.

Jews have lived in what is now Kerala since time immemorial. They dwelled on the Malabar Coast in, for example, Kranganore and Cochin, where there is still a fine synagogue. It is said that St Thomas came to India to convert them into Christians. He failed, converting, instead, the other people, mainly Hindus, who he found living there. Today, there areonly one or two elderly Jews still living in Kerala. A grave in the cemetery commemorates Elias Isaac, who came from Cochin to Bangalore to act as the schochet (ritual slaughterer) to the Moses family. Jews in India ate ‘Indian cuisine’, but modified so that it did not contravene Jewish dietary laws.

The oldest graves in the cemetery mark the resting places of Subedar Samuel Nagavkar (1816-1904) and Benjamin Nagavkar (1877-1910). Samuel served the Maharaja of Mysore, Krishnaraja Wodeyar, who donated the land for the cemetery in 1904. The Nagavkars were members of the Beni Israel community, whose origins are obscure. According to HS Kehimkar, they claimed to have come from “the North” to India in about 175 BC (BCE). Many of their community still live in and around Maharastra State.

There are several other graves of Beni Israel Jews. Their stories and those of the others buried in the cemetery reveal something of the range of activities in which Jews were involved in India. Sion E Nissim (1900-58) was a horse-trainer; one of his horses, Commoner, won the Indian Derby. Mrs Abigail Jhirad, daughter of the Subedar (a military role); and Joshua Moses Benjamin Bhonkar (1920-2005) was both a writer (“The Mystery of Israel’s Ten Lost Tribes and the Legend of Jesus in India”) and a Chief Minister in the Government of India.

Whereas the origins of the Malabar and Beni Israel Jews are obscure, this is not the case with the Iraqi Jews, who came to India from the Middle East beginning in the eighteenth century. Many of them settled in Bombay and Calcutta, where they were involved with commerce and trade. The most famous of them being the Sassoon family.

The Bangalore cemetery contains graves for the following families from Calcutta: Ezra, Elias, Earl, and Moses. Edward Earl (1910-1953) was the proprietor of the once well-known Earl’s Pickles company.

Calcutta had a large Jewish community, including the Moses family, who are buried in Bangalore and originated in Iraq. Ruben Moses (1871-1936) left Iraq to join the California gold rush. He left California for India in 1906, following the San Francisco earthquake. He headed for the Kolar gold fields, but ended up in Bangalore, where he founded a shoe store in Commercial Street. The store, which is now occupied by Woody’s veg fast-food outlet, was once the largest shoe retailer in southern Asia. His home, now long since demolished, contained a prayer hall where the city’s few local Jews and Jewish visitors from all over the world came to worship along with the Moses family.

What else did the Jews do in Bangalore? Poor Moses Ashkenazy(1957-1982) was a student, who died of an overdose of drugs. Sassoon Saul Moses (d. 1975) was a ‘hawker’. The widow Rebecca Elias (1927-1992) lost her husband early, and then worked in a needle factory in Bangalore. GE Moses and Isaac Cohen, neither of whom are buried in the cemetery, were, respectively, a clothes retailer and an auctioneer. The grave of RE Reuben (1877-1939) records that he was “Malarial [sic] Supervisor of the C&M Station Municipality”. He might have met the Nobel laureate Sir Ronald Ross (1857-1932), the pioneer of the fight against malaria, who visited the C&M Station.

Anti-Semitism in Europe and the outbreak of the Second World War (‘WW2’) led to other Jews entering the Indian Judaic scene – refugees and soldiers. They are well represented in the Bangalore cemetery. But, before describing them, let me describe the Russian-born Saida Abramovka Isako, who died in 1932. She was the wife of FY Isako, who was proprietor of the ‘Russian Circus’. Her coffin was carried on a bier drawn by white circus horses. I imagine that the burials of the German refugees Siegfried Appel (1906-1939) from Bonn, Gunther and his mother Mrs Rahmer from Gleiwitz, and Dr Weinzweig, were less memorable. Carl Weinzweig (1890-1966) and Gunther Rahmer were both dentists practising in Bangalore.
Amongst the military personnel that passed through Bangalore during WW2, was the future President of Israel, Ezer Weizman, who was stationed at an RAF base in the city. His name appears in the Moses family guestbook. The cemetery records the casualties of war, who died in the city. These include Yusuf Guetta (1921-1943), evacuated from Ben-Ghazi in Libya by the British in 1941, and Private Morris Minster (1918-1942). Morris served in the South Wales Borderers Regiment and was initially buried in the grave yard. His stone stands, but his remains have been moved to a Commonwealth War Cemetery in Madras.

The “Jewish Grave Yard” in Bangalore encapsulates the story of the larger of the Jewish ‘groupings’ that have lived in India. The cemetery is so unknown that even a few of the Jews who have lived in the city have been unaware of it. I have met the heirs of the Jewish refugee from Germany, Mr Jacoby, who introduced popcorn and machines (for making it) to India and settled in Bangalore. Their nearest and dearest are resting in peace in Christian cemeteries, of which there is no shortage in Bangalore.

I mentioned that India’s Jewish population is diminishing. Over the years many Jews left India. My wife, who went to school in Calcutta, remembers that the city had many thriving synagogues and that there were several Jewish girls in her class. When we visited Calcutta four or five years ago, we saw three synagogues. Two of them were well-maintained, by Moslem caretakers, as is Bangalore’s Jewish cemetery. The third that we saw appeared to be about to crumble.

India can be proud to remember that, unlike so many other countries, it was not anti-Semitism that caused Jews to migrate. Just as so many other Indians have left the country to better their economic prospects, so did the Jews.

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Posted by ADAMYAMEY 03:42 Archived in India Tagged india cemetery bangalore jewish jews bengaluru Comments (0)

SUFI SHRINES

The 'dargahs' of Bangalore are hidden gems - oases of peace in a bustling city

A 'dargah' is a shrine that is built to shelter the grave or graves of highly revered Sufi Muslim personalities - often saints or dervishes.

The old 'City' area of Bangalore contains a number of these, some of which are described below.

Dargah Shareef of Hazrat Sharf-uddin Shah Qadri Shaheed

Hidden away from the street, this is a gem of a dargah ( the final resting place of a notable Muslim). The tomb of Shah Qadri Shaheed (I don't know his dates) is kept within a beautifully decorated domed chamber. Its walls are decorated with calligraphy and plant motifs. Just before entering this exquisite tomb chamber, be sure to notice the collection of 'dias' (typical Indian ceramic oil lamps used often in Hindu ceremonies).

Please be sure to cover your head and to remove your footwear before entering the inner sanctum of the dargah. It is customary to place flowers at each corner of the tomb.

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Address: OTC Road, behind LIC building
Directions: OTC Road, in City Market , Behind LIC Building , Opposite
to Jammu and Kashmir Bank
Website: http://www.aulia-e-hind.com/dargah/Sharfudeen_Banglore.htm

The Hazrat Hameed Shah Complex, close to Ulsoor (Halusuru) Gate Police Station, blocks some interesting sites from view.

A tunnel extends through a modern building to a courtyard area behind it. This coutyard contains two dargahs (Hazrat Besar Auliya Shaheed dargah and Hazrat Syed Hamid Shah Khadri dargah) and is lined by a metal fence separating the yard from an open field.

This field is the burial ground for soldiers of Tipu sultan who died in the Battle of Bangalore in 1791. Only two tombs are visible. The other graves can no longer be discerned.

Hazrat Besar Auliya Shaheed dargah

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Hidden away behind a modern building this peaceful dargah contains the tomb of Hazrat Besar Auliya Shaheed, who was decapitated by the British during the Battle of Bangalore in 1791 (see: info about battle).

His tomb has no roof. It is open to the elements. The reason for the lack of roof is related to the fact that the poor man was beheaded.

Address: Beside Hazrat Hameed Shah Complex Bangalore
Directions: Near Ulsoor Gate Police Station
Website: http://www.aulia-e-hind.com/dargah/MuheebShahQadri.htm

Hazrat Syed Hamid Shah Khadri dargah

Close to the Hazrat Besar Auliya Shaheed dargah in the same compound, this dargah contains two tombs. One is that of the sufi warrior Hazrat Syed Hamid Shah Khadri, and the other (in a smaller room) is of one of his female relatives.

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Address: Close to Ulsoor Gate Police Station
Directions: Beside Hazrat Hameed Shah Complex Bangalore

Some dargahs just near Avenue Road and KR Market)

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and another:

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And one more:

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Posted by ADAMYAMEY 00:50 Archived in India Tagged bangalore shrine graves islam sufi bengaluru dargah turbe Comments (0)

FLOWERS GALORE!

KR ("City") MARKET

This central market in Bangalore is best visited early in the morning. Here is a place to buy flowers by the kilo!

Watch this to get some of the flavour of the place:

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 06:05 Archived in India Tagged flowers india market bangalore bengaluru Comments (0)

WHIZZING AROUND THE CITY BY AUTORICKSHAW - a video

This is the only way to get through Bangalore's dense traffic!

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 06:01 Archived in India Tagged traffic india bangalore rickshaw bengaluru Comments (0)

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