Saturday, June 19, 2010

History juts out of Ulsoor barracks

History juts out of Ulsoor barracks

British records of 1791 refer to the towers as Mantapa Hill, but after 1840, maps call them Kempe Gowda tower. There have been different names given to them — Watch Tower, Mantapa, etc. "All the towers were built on hillocks, and were situated near villages. Siddapura, Mavalli, and Ulsoor, for instance. Also, everywhere there are lakes close to the towers. But there is no association between the temples and the towers," says historian SK Aruni.
The tower at Ulsoor is to the north-east of the old city of Bangalore. This one too was built near a village and a lake by Kempe Gowda II in 1597 AD. It was well outside what defined the city then, which extended from the present Mysore Bank Circle to KIMS Hospital, and from Corporation Circle to Majestic or Good Shed Road. There was also a belief that great calamity would befall the city if it extended beyond these limits. But historians opine this could be myth.
The towers come under the archaeology department, and are treated differently in different parts of the city. The one at Lalbagh is accessible to people, and can be viewed closely. One could even sit in its shade, until recently. The one at Ulsoor is inaccessible at it is inside the Madras Engineering Group premises.
Several historians believe there could have been more towers. In south Bangalore alone, there are four such towers — two at Kempambudhi lake, one near Gavigangadhareshwara temple, and one at Lalbagh. There is also one on Harihara Betta, close to Gavigangadhareshwara temple. Similar towers are also located at Magadi and Savanadurga.


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