Sunday, April 25, 2010

Calm avenue turns traffic nightmare

Calm avenue turns traffic nightmare

Kavitha SrinivasaFirst Published : 24 Apr 2010 10:49:11 AM IST
This is where Sir Winston Churchill once lived, occasionally spending quiet moments at the Victoria Hotel and the Brindavan Hotel. That’s how life went by for many residents of Mahatma Gandhi Road. Today, MG Road reflects images of the metro rail project, the construction of which causes great discomfort to pedestrians and motorists.
Before Independence, MG Road was a tree-lined avenue, flanked by bungalows with a gabled roof, porch and garden.
The calmness of the place was punctuated by the occasional horse carriage making its way to Russell Market or Bangalore Club, a favourite of the burra sahib and memsahib. The boulevard (now the upcoming Metro) overlooking the raised platform on one side of the road was a canopy, making the place salubrious.
“The cantonment design was based on MG Road being a flat ridge, which connected Ulsoor Lake, the lowest end, to Cubbon Road, the highest end. As MG Road was a flat ridge, place was allotted for Parade Grounds and as it was south of the Parade Grounds, it came to be known as South Parade,” said Arun Pai of Bangalore Walks, a company that organises walking tours on city experiences.
Most trees have disappeared and highrises have replaced the bungalows.
Traffic is a nightmare on MG Road, which stretches 1.5 km-2 km from Trinity Circle to Anil Kumble Circle.
MG Road may no longer have an old world charm, but it has a few buildings that have been in existence for 100-odd years. One of these is Mayo Hall. This brick-mortar structure was built in 1883 in memory of Lord Mayo, the fourth Viceroy of India. The adjoining blocks sprung up later. The Bangalore Municipal Authority functioned there in 1883 and, till recently, Mayo Hall was the venue for BMP Council meetings.
Now it houses revenue offices.
As part of the cantonment, the Holy Trinity Church was constructed in the East end of MG Road in the English Renaissance style between 1848 and 1851. Then, there’s also Higginbothams, a book lovers haunt. While Higginbothams remains part of the city’s history, the Public Utility Building, built in 1977, was considered the city’s tallest building but has now been edged out by the Barton Centre or Barton Court, which ranks among the tallest structures on MG Road. The Ebony rooftop restaurant on the 13th floor gives a panoramic view of Bangalore.
For the aam aadmi, the spicy bhuttas and roadside trinklets remain MG Road’s hot picks, though many eating places have changed their address. Victoria Hotel has ceased to exist, Chit Chat, the popular ice cream parlour of the Eighties closed operations, while India Coffee House shifted to Church Street. Lakeview Milk Bar moved out briefly before returning to MG Road.
Tandoor, the restaurant that serves Mughlai-Punjabi-Tandoori food, is among the few dining places with a permanent address on MG Road since 1981. “When the mall culture began, many restaurants relocated. We’ve never thought of moving out, as MG Road is centrally located,” said Raj Singh, director, Tandoor.
Today MG Road is a commercial hub, home to the Oberoi, Nallis and Cauvery Arts & Crafts Emporium.

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