Saturday, November 28, 2009

BEST OF THE WHOLE LOT

BEST OF THE WHOLE LOT

Indiranagar stands out among Bangalore localities for its peculiar mix of quiet neighbourhood
and vibrant commercial hub

Senthalir S



Indiranagar started life, almost 40 years ago, as a quiet, leafy Bangalore neighbourhood peopled mostly by retired defence personnel and PSU officers. Today, it is one of the city's most important and vibrant commercial and social hubs. Yet, in spite of the row of swanky showrooms that dot its main artery, 100ft Road, Indiranagar continues to command a premium for being one of the most sought-after residential addresses in town.
According to most residents, it is here that Bangalore still retains its 'garden city' character. A quiet neighbourhood, a dynamic and cosmopolitan culture, well-kept parks and good schools, hospitals and retail outlets within easy distance puts the locality on the top of the charts, say the residents.
Teresa Bhattacharya, former chief secretary, government of India, chose to live in Indiranagar 30 years ago when it was not as thriving a locality as it is today. "I like to live here because of the beautiful mix of people and the self-sufficient nature of the neighbourhood. Even after commercialisation, most of the residential areas remain largely untouched," says Bhattacharya, who was the only woman to hold the post of commissioner, Bangalore Mahanagara Palike between 1981 and 82, during the long administrative period of the BMP.
According to Bhattacharya, Indiranagar is mainly home to highly educated professionals. "Thirty years ago, when we came here, most employees of the public sector industries chose to stay here. Earlier there were not too many educational institutions around. But now, it has the best educational institutions and two good hospitals – Chinmaya Mission Hospital and Manipal Hospital," she says.
Speaking about the pros and cons of living in Indiranagar, Xerxes Desai, president of the Defence Colony Residents Association (DECORA) underlines that Indiranagar has a large number of smaller neighbourhoods each with their own resident welfare associations, no less than 18 in number.
"The USP of this area are the walk-up apartments, three to four storey buildings, parks and shopping complexes. Property values have gone up in this area. A lot of young people like this area for its upwardly mobile aura. A great thing about Indiranagar is you need never go anywhere else for all your shopping needs," says Desai, who was the managing director of Titan Industries from 1986 to 2002. He was rated as India's fifth best CEO in a 1997 survey carried out by Business World. He was also a member of the national commission on urbanisation.
Uncomfortable with the rapid commercialisation of the area, Desai fears that unchecked commercial growth and the increasing number of apartments, shopping establishments and restaurants have altered it. "When I came into Indiranagar 15 years ago, it was quiet with lots of greenery and 10 acres of park area. Most areas in Indiranagar were clean and well-maintained. But with the growth of Bangalore, even Indiranagar has changed. Now, there is a huge working and visitor population, vehicles and parking demands are growing by the day," says Desai.
However, Pramila Nesargi, senior advocate and former chairperson of the State Women's Commission, says that commercialisation and infrastructure growth will help in the area's development in the future. "Though residents have been facing inconvenience due to the Metro project, we hope it will help ease congestion and lead to better infrastructure for the area in the future. Indiranagar has a rich cultural heritage; many literary functions and music festivals are held here. This makes the locality more beautiful. It is a self-contained little world," feels Nesargi. Bhattacharya endorses her views.

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