Bengaluru-the story behind the name

The city of Bangalore was officially established in the year 1537 by Kempegowda I. Most historians agree that the establishment of Bengaluru city was a stroke of genius. Its geographic location secured it from earthquakes, and its height above sea level gave it strategic importance, in terms of both military and governance needs. The city prospered and grew rapidly under the rule of the Kempegowda bloodline. Kempegowda II gave the city a large number of monuments. The watch towers that we see today at Lalbagh, Kempambudhi tank, Halasur tank and near Mekhri circle were built by Kempegowda II. The Kempegowda tower, as the watch tower is now popularly known as, is the insignia of the BBMP. The contribution of the Kempegowda rule to the development of Bengaluru is immeasurable. It is interesting to see then, that the name ‘Bengaluru’ was not coined by Kempegowda I. The story behind the name stretches across several centuries and civilizations.

The earliest reference to the name ‘Bengaluru’ appears in the ninth century Ganga inscription on a ‘hero-stone’ (vira kallu) found in Begur. The inscription makes a reference to the battle fought at ‘Bengaluru’. The name is believed to owe its origins to the Ganga rulers. Bengavalu was the name of the hamlet that the rulers built for their security guards. Bengavaluru, the name of the guards’ residences is believed to have morphed into Bengaluru. The city has had other names-Deverayapattna in the 16th century and Kalyanpura. During the British rule, the city came to be known as Bangalore. At the 2005 golden jubilee celebration of Suvarna Karnataka, UR Anantha Murthy proposed that the city’s name be changed to Bengaluru. In 2006, BBMP passed the resolution to implement the change of name. On November 12, 2006, the then Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy declared ‘Bengaluru to be the city’s official name.

Several legends actively compete with facts in the narration of the history of Bangalore. Among the most popular ones is the story, set in the 12th century, of the tired Hoysala King Veera Ballala who was offered boiled beans (benda kallu in Kannada) by an old woman. In praise of the boiled beans, he named the town Bendakaluru (town of boiled beans). Such stories add a highly interesting dimension to a city’s history, but are not backed by any evidence.

From Bengaluru to Bangalore and now to Bengaluru again, the name has turned a full circle. From the era of Kempegowda to being the Silicon Valley of the country, the city has come a long way. Knowledge of a city’s history is crucial to city governance. Appreciating the city’s history will fuel a sense of pride and love for the city among its officials and as a result, empower them to work efficiently.

The History of Bangalore city was covered by Suresh Moona in the B.CLIP classroom sessions

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