A Travellerspoint blog

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)

RUSSELL MARKET

Important food market in central Bangalore

Take a quick look at Russell Market in Shivajinagar, close to Commercial Street.

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 05:48 Archived in India Tagged india market bangalore bengaluru Comments (0)

COFFEE, WRESTLING, CAR PARTS, A SHOP, A MARKET,

A few off-beat delights in a vibrant city

Bangalore looks, at first sight, like an unruly city with little for the tourist to see or do. If you are looking for attractions like the Taj Mahal or The Gateway of India or The Caves of Ajanta and Ellora, then this is not the place for you.

Bangalore is a city that slowly reveals itself to the patient viewer. Hidden in the hustle and bustle of this hectic place, there are sights that will delight the sympathetic visitor to India. Although a modern city, it contains aspects of Indian life some of which are century's old: from the roadside shoe-mender to the roadside necklace re-threader; from the flower markets to the meat markets; from the remains of British colonialism to ancient temples.

Travel by auto-rickshaw to feel the city's pulse, and make sure that you drink South Indian 'FILTER COFFEE' rather than the newer and trendier espressos and lattes!

FILTER COFFEE - Bangalore's life-blood!

This is a description of the way coffee is made in South India.

A few hours before it is needed, hot water is put into the upper chamber of a coffee filter (see illustration). The water filters through a layer of finely ground coffee, producing a dark brown filtrate known as 'decoction'.

The decoction is far too strong to drink

When a coffee is ordered, a little decoction is put in a cup, and freshly boiled milk is added to it to produce a highly delcious coffee. Be sure to specify whether you want sugar or not (ask for 'sugar-less'). Watch my video to see how it is done:

Sometimes, the coffee will be served in a cup with a bowl.
The idea is that to cool the coffee you pour it from the cup into the bowl, and vice-versa. Watch other customers to see how to do it!

Bangalore is full of places that serve this traditional South Indian coffee. The Malleswaram area is a good place to find such a café, but almost anywhere in Bangalore will do. Just don't expect to find it in modern chains such as Coffee Day, Barrista, and Costa.

Address: Most cafés in Bangalore

Here are a few 'off-beat' things things that I have found in Bangalore

WRESTLING WITH THE GODS

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NB: This is very difficult to find. I was shown it when going on a guided walk of the Nagarathpet district of the oldest part of Bangalore, which was organised by the excellent BENGALURUBYFOOT www.bengalurubyfoot.com Our guide told us thast this particular place was called "Kunjanna Garai".

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The original city of Bangalore was a tiny proportion of what the city is today. A tiny cluster of narrow streets protected against attackers by a thorny hedge surrounding it and a huge fortress attached to it did not provide much space for games that required large open spaces. It was in the confined city that men kept fit by wrestling. They trained in special buildings known as 'akhara' in Hindustani. One of these may be found (with great difficulty) in the heart of Nagarathpet. When we reached it, the wrestlers had already long finished their daily practice session. The caretaker unlocked the building to allow us to enter.

CAR PART MARKET

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I last visited this in 2007, so I hope that it is still in existence. There are still plenty of references to it on the internet.

Various alleyways lead into what at first sight seems to be a giant animated scrap heap containing a seemingly random selection of car and motocycle parts. Well, I suppose that is what it is in reality. Numerous dealers display their wares in a large open space. I suspect that there is no car for which you cannot find a spare part in this market. Wend your way through piles of lamp-housings, spare wheels, engines, gear-boxes, carburettors, dynamos, seat-belts, radiator grids, and a multitude of assorted motor engine parts, and 'snap' away with your camera. This mechanical mayhem is a real Indian experience. What appears to be total chaos at first sight is really a highly sophisticated market place. It is almost an allegory of India.

It is always polite and wise to ask first before taking photos.

May be a little difficult to find at first, but be persistent and ask around!

Address: ASK FOR: 'Stephen’s Square', OR 'Shivajinagar gujri' OR 'gujri gunta'

A SHOP IN AN ARCHITECT'S HOME

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FABINDIA is a chain of stores selling a variety of goods, all supposedly exhibiting the best aspects if Indian handicraft. You can buy anything from soap to saris to sofas! And, on the whole, the quality is good.

The branch in Koramangala is unusual. It was the house of one of India's leading architects, CHARLES CORREA. Designed by him, it is a series of interconnected spaces, some of which surround small internal courtyards, which are open to the elements.

There is a small but beautifully designed café attached to the shop. Although this post-dates Correa, I am sure that he would have approved of it.

Stroll arund this attractive shop to appreciate its architecture

Address:
FABINDIA,House No. 54, 17th Main Road, Opp. Madivala Masjid, Koramangala 2nd Block, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560034

Phone: 080 4254 9000

A SMALL MARKET

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This market at the beginning (Richmond Town end) of Hosur Road specialises in food mainly.

Much smaller than the more central Russell and KR (City) Markets, this mainly indoor market is shady and therefore cool to explore on the hottest of days. Wander right through to its far end, along a shady corridor lined with vegetable and dried fish sellers, to see the beef butchers and fishmongers.

Next to the market is Fanoos (restaurant), which I have not tried, but it has a good reputation for grilled meats, kebabs, etc. Also, close to the market there is an attractive new mosque with a large golden dome.

Built in 1929, this attractive market building has some 'heritage' value in the city of Bangalore, and I hope that it won't be demolished as so many buildings are in this ever-changing city.

Best to visit in the morning.

Address: Hosur Rd, Bangalore, Bengaluru 560025


In other blogs, I will describe more of the delights of Bangalore

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 04:36 Comments (0)

NEVER JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER

It takes time to get to know Bangalore. Some tips for the visitor, who likes 'recognised' attractions.

Bangalore is a place through which many visitors to southern India must pass in order to make connections. Few visitors spend sufficient time there to get a favourable impression of the place.

In Lal Bagh Gardens

In Lal Bagh Gardens

Unlike Paris, Manhattan, Rome, or London, Bangalore is one of those cities which like, for example, Belgrade or Milan, require time and patience to enjoy.

First impressions are of hustle and bustle, too much traffic, and excessive pollution. These all exist, but so do they in other cities. Bangalore has a few 'tourist sights' (listed below), but its real interest lies within its detail. This can only be appreciated by walking along its streets and, especially in its alleyways. The observant visitor will begin to enjoy seeing close-hand many aspects of Indian life, both traditional and modern. I will describe what I mean in other blog articles.

For those who feel that they must see 'recognised' tourist attractions, here is my list.
The best way to get from one to another is by auto-rickshaw. Some are close enough for walking between, but in the heat of the day, the open-sided autorickshaw saves you energy and cools you down as it winds its way adventurously through the traffic.

==ADAM'S CHOICE OF TIPS FOR THE ENTHUSIASTIC 'MUST-SEE' TOURIST==

Vidhana Soudha.

Statue of Nehru outside Vidhana Soudha

Statue of Nehru outside Vidhana Soudha

Cubbon Park including Seshadri Library (must enter).

Tippu Sultan's Summer Palace.

National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA).

NGMA

NGMA

Bull temple.

Commercial Street bazaar area.

Hindu temple near Commercial Street

Hindu temple near Commercial Street

Lal Bagh Gardens.

KR Market.

KR Market

KR Market

St Marks Cathedral.

Ulsoor Lake and Sri Aurobindo Bhavan.

Sankey Tank.

Chowdeiah Memorial Hall (see below).

Chowdeiah

Chowdeiah



Mayo Hall

Gandhi Bhavan and nearby Chitrakala Parishadh Art Gallery

Freedom Park

This is my list. It omits other 'attractions' such as the Iskcon Temple and the UB City, neither of which I particularly like!

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 03:41 Comments (0)

SPREADING OUT

An Indian Los Angeles?

I first visited Bangalore in 1994, when the city was known as 'Bangalore, rather than its current 'Bengaluru'. Since then, I have been visiting it on average twice a year.

Lily pond in central Bangalore

Lily pond in central Bangalore

I came to get married. My in-laws live in Koramangala, a suburb to the south of the city's incredibly diffuse central area.

In 1994, Koramangala was separated from the centre by uninhabited open spaces. Now, apart from some old cemeteries and the National Institute of Dairy Research (NDRI), the five miles of the Hosur Road between the centre of the city (say MG Road area) and Koramangala is almost entirely built-up. A large shopping mall was built, and then this was followed by others. they are separated by apartment blocks, mostly designed with horrendous architecture (see below). One complex reminds me of how the Romanian president Ceaucescu had hoped to transform/wreck his capital Bucharest.

Apartment block on Hosur Road

Apartment block on Hosur Road

Each time I visit Bangalore, it has grown. Koramangala, which was a sleepy suburb in 1994, is now a bustling township, almost as congested and polluted as the city centre. Koramangala used to be the last urban settlement on the way out towards Sarjapur and Chennai (Madras). Now, new suburbs and the IT hub, Electronic City, have ensured that Koramangala is separated from 'open country' by urban developments, filled with high-rise blocks, for at least 20 miles.

A few years ago, a new airport was opened near the village of Devanahalli, far to the north of Bangalore. Since its opening, the country side between Devanahalli and Bangalore has become rapidly eaten up by developers, who have planted yet more high-rise buildings and residential colonies in it. It seems that many people actually want to live close to the airport. Its proximity is a selling point.

Bangalore is spreading. It has become an Indian Los Angeles, but without the American city's excellent highway system.

Although it may seem as if I am painting a grim picture of a city, I must admit that I love Bangalore. In other blog articles, I will try to share my enthusiasm for this vibrant, culturally-rich, city with you.

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 02:46 Comments (0)

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