Friday, April 18, 2008



Gandhinagar, in many ways, represents the new Bangalore with the transition it has undergone over the years. The constituency was a predominantly residential pocket that later gave way to a massive surge in commercial activities.
Old residents of Gandhinagar point out that the last couple of decades have decisively tilted the activity mix in the area towards commercial. One of Bangalore’s top business hubs, Gandhinagar comprises seven Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike wards as the constituency braces for the Assembly elections: Dattatreya Temple, Ramchandrapura, Sevashrama, Gandhinagar, Chickpet, Cottonpet and Binnypet.
The population has a good mix of old residents and new settlers, most of whom have moved into the area after setting up business establishments. Tamilians form a substantial population in Gandhinagar, many among them working in construction-related industries. Locations like Ramachandrapura have been known for their industrial units. The constituency also has a substantial share of slumdwellers.
Often seen as an equivalent to movie business hubs like Chennai’s Kodambakkam, the core areas in Gandhinagar are dotted with movie cut-outs and theatres. The constituency also has huge unorganised markets of CDs, mobile phones and electronic goods in national market and Burma bazaar.
The rise in the number of business establishments across the constituency has led to a huge influx of vehicles. During peak hour in the core areas, traffic can be as chaotic as in the IT corridors in south Bangalore. This is the flip side of development that the residents are yet to come to terms with.
Areas like Kumara Park West and Seshadripuram — that did not have a problem of heavy traffic in the past decades — have also become part of the vehicular maze that links areas in the constituency. Like in other business centres in the city, the old residents feel that the corporation has failed to check unplanned development, that has led to a fall in infrastructure standards as well as an altered population mix.
Hotels, lodges and private transportation businesses thrive in the Majestic neighbourhood that has become a nerve centre of the city, thanks to the city railway station and the Kempe Gowda bus stand. A relatively new concern for the residents has been a rise in the number of bars and wine shops in the vicinity of the railway station. Residents of Gandhinagar have, over the years, been vocal about the rise in pollution levels. The areas that connect to major roads like Kempe Gowda Road and B V K Iyengar Road have been particularly hit. Projects designed to improve road infrastructure in the constituency have not met with the desired results. Despite being a high tax grosser for the Palike, Gandhinagar has not had the best of payback when it comes to civic amenities.
With erratic garbage disposal and other civic issues failing to get prompt redressal, some of the residents’ welfare associations have even come forward with their own project proposals. Senior citizens, who form a substantial chunk of the residential population, complain that lung spaces have also become a luxury and some of them prefer walks in the distant Cubbon Park to walks on dusty, chaotic roads in Gandhinagar.
Major areas
Kumara Park West, Seshadripuram, Shastrinagar, Srirampuram, Subhash Nagar, Akkipete, Sultanpete, Nagamma Nagar, Oaklipuram.
City Railway Station, Kempe Gowda bus stand, Santhosh theatre, National Market, Burma Bazaar, hotel Kanishka, Sukh Sagar.
Rise in business activities leading to infrastructure pitfalls, unchecked development in the Majestic neighbourhood, traffic bottlenecks.
Falling infrastructure in city railway station neighbourhood, shrinking lung spaces, rise in number of bars and wine shops. RAJAJINAGAR
Bangalore’s ever-expanding commercial space has taken its toll on many old residential areas. A classic case is Rajajinagar. The constituency, while largely retaining its original social fabric as a residential area, has also been subjected to some major commercial splash.
Comprising the seven Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike wards of Rajajinagar, Kamakshipalya, Basaveshwaranagar, Shivanagar, Srirammandir, Prakash Nagar and Bhashyam Nagar wards, the constituency is dotted with educational institutions, temples and hospitals. For years, this area has been known for its numerous choultries, many converted from sick industrial units.
Major educational institutions — including the National Public School and S Nijalingappa College — have added to the reputation of the locality as an important education hub. Narayana Netralaya, Diacon Hospital and Dr Modi Hospital also fall within the constituency.
Places of worship like the ISKCON temple, Rama Mandir and Shanishwara Temple at Navarang Circle have been major landmarks here. The ISKCON temple, which has been attracting thousands of devotees from home and abroad for years, continues to be the constituency’s biggest landmark. Manjunathnagar is another area in the constituency identified with its temples. The Ramanavami celebrations organized by the Ram Mandir in 3rd Block have been a much-cherished fixture for the residents. Kumara Vyasa Mantapa, with its daily discourses, in 4th Block has also long attracted devotees.
The constituency also has an interesting mix of hotels and restaurants, right from the traditional Sagars to swish coffee bars. The number of parks in the area, like other areas of the city, has been falling but lung spaces like the Gayatridevi Park are a big draw.
According to old residents, the population in the area has in the last decade shown a considerable influx and now has a large floating population. Smalltime traders as well as large business houses continue to set up shop in areas like Srirampuram, that has become a stretch of major commercial activity. Areas like 12th Main and Bhashyam Circle host a large number of hawkers, turning many regular walkers off these stretches. Since the core areas connect to important locations like Basaveshwaranagar, traffic continues to be hit. Many areas like Rajajinagar 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Blocks have been at the receiving end of the traffic boom.
Disposal of garbage has been another concern for many areas. Residents point out that quite in contrast to the earlier public address system and other initiatives that ensured prompt disposal of garbage, the system is falling apart and piles of garbage are left as they are in many pockets across the constituency.
Major areas
West of Chord Road, Basaveshwaranagar, Prakash Nagar, Bovi Colony, Bhashyam Nagar, Dr Rajkumar Road, Vatal Nagaraj Road, Mahakavi Kuvempu Road
ISKCON temple, Rama Mandir, Manjunathaswamy temple, Navarang Theatre, Gayatridevi Park, Narayana Netralaya, ESI Hospital
Industrial boom resulting in change in nature of commercial activity, bad roads in residential pockets.
Civic amenities have not kept pace with the rise in population, erratic garbage disposal, rise in number of hawkers and street vendors

Busy street in Gandhinagar

Navarang Theatre in Rajajinagar


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