Tag Archives: history


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


A Brief History of Bangalore’s Governance

by Girisha Shankar
Edited by Apoorva Tadepalli

Local governance has existed in India since the Vedic days. The Indus Valley civilization had well planned towns and governing bodies that took care of civic infrastructure. Municipalities were established by the East India Company in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras, and were later empowered to enact their own bylaws. Lord Ripon instituted a major reform in 1882 paving the way for representative form of governance in municipalities. This resulted in elected councils in several municipal bodies – including one in Bangalore as described below.

Municipal governance in Bangalore

Bangalore Town and Bangalore Cantonment, analogous to modern wards, had separate committees with several divisions, with two councillors for each division. By 1892, both these municipalities were free from direct British rule and elections were introduced. The Cantonment municipality, unlike Bangalore town municipality, saw communal representation of councilors. This arrangement continued until independence. This period saw Bangalore Town municipality under the administration of eminent personalities such as Arcot Srinivasachar, K P Puttanna Chetty and A S Nagarkar.


In 1949, City of Bangalore Corporation Act merged the two municipal committees in Bangalore and all their constituent divisions were brought under a single corporation. The resultant body was what we now know as Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, or BMP. At the same time, there was another corporation in operation in Karnataka- Hubli-Dharwad Municipal Council.

The State Government of Karnataka intended to bring these two bodies under the purview of same act. Hence the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act -1976 (KMC Act) was introduced. This act with its various amendments continues to govern the Bangalore Corporation even today.

One of the major amendments done to the KMC Act was the Karnataka Amending Act 35 of 1994, after which Bangalore Corporation got reconstituted with larger urban area under its jurisdiction, and an election commission was set up for running the elections to local bodies in the state. A finance commission was constituted to review the financial position of Corporation vis-à-vis that of state government. This was the first time that state government endowed power and authority to local urban bodies in general and BMP in particular. This included powers to prepare and implement plans for economic development and ensuring social justice.

The next major change into Corporation came in 2007, when the state government issued a notification to merge the BMP with adjoining 7 city municipal councils (CMC), one town municipal council (TMC) and 111 villages. This resulted in a much bigger area of administration for the Corporation which was rechristened “Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike”, or the BBMP.

Electronic City, one of the city’s fastest growing areas, remains out of BBMP’s jurisdiction; in June 2007, BBMP passed a resolution to bring the Electronic City under its administration. However, Electronic City Industries’ association has stiffly opposed this move. This tug of war is went on till March 2013, when a Karnataka state government order declared the creation of an independent Electronics City Industrial Township Authority or ECLIA.

Girisha Shankar is an urban policy analyst with the Takshashila Institution and a student of the B.CLIP pioneer batch. Apoorva Tadepalli is an intern at the Takshashila Institution.