Bengalūrū: Mud Fort to Metropolis

Bengalūrū: Mud Fort to Metropolis

Our Bengalūrū has a history that dates back a thousand years. This city was ruled by The Chola Empire and The Hoysala Kings before Kempe Gowda established Bengalūrū. Its vast history continues to intrigue and amaze us to this day.

The Hoysala King Veera Ballala II is believed to be the one who named this city. While on a hunting expedition, the King lost his way in the forest; tired and hungry, he came across a woman who served him boiled beans. The grateful King named the place “ಬೆಂದ ಕಾಳು ಊರು” (“bendakaal-ooru”) literally, “town of boiled beans”; which was eventually colloquialised to “Bengalūrū”. This story is questionable; however, a more authentic source to the name “Bengalūrū” can be found in a ninth-century Western Ganga Dynasty stone inscription. In this inscription found in Begur, “Bengalūrū” is referred to as a place in which a battle was fought in 890 CE; it states that the place was part of the Ganga Kingdom until 1004 and was known as “Bengaval-uru”, the “City of Guards” in Halegannada (Old Kannada).

Later in the year 1587, this miracle city came under the visionary Kempe Gowda. Kempe Gowda a vassal of the Vijayanagara Empire built a mud-brick fort that would become the central part of modern Bengalūrū. He established the city and referred to the new town as “gandu bhoomi” translated as “Land of Heroes”. He was successful in achieving his dream of building a big futuristic city. As per his vision, Kempe Gowda built the Bengalūrū Fort which comprised of small towns called Petes (Markets). He is noted for his societal reforms and contribution to building temples and water reservoirs in Bengalūrū.

Kempe Gowda’s successor Kempe Gowda II continued in the footsteps of his father. Kempe Gowda II built temples, tanks including Kempapura and Karanjikere tanks and four watching towers that marked Bengalūrū’s boundary. The four watch-towers built at the time in Bengalūrūare are still seen today in the following places: Lal Bagh Botanical Garden, Kempambudhi Tank, Ulsoor Lake and Mekhri circle.

Many saints and poets from the Vijayanagara rule referred to this city as “Devarāyanagara” and “Kalyānapura” or “Kalyānapuri” (“Auspicious City”). After the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire in the year 1565, Kempe Gowda III was defeated by Adil Shahi and ShahjiBhonsle from Bijapur in 1638. Almost 50 long years Bengalūrū was ruled by Shahji Bhonsle.

Later the Mughal general Kasim Khan defeated Ekoji I, son of ShahjiBhonsle, and sold Bengalūrū to the Kingdom of Mysore’s ruler Chikkadevaraja Wodeyar in 1689. Bengalūrū rule once again changed hands when Woedeyar King Immadi Krishna Raja Wodeyar gave the city to Hyder Ali as a personal Jagir in 1579. After the death of KrishnarajaWodeyar II in 1759, Hyder Ali, Commander-in-Chief of the Mysore Army, proclaimed himself the de facto ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore.

The beautification of our glorious city Bengalūrū began under the reign of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. Hyder Ali commissioned the building of Lal Bagh in 1760 and Tipu Sultan completed it. Bengalūrū developed into a commercial and military centre of strategic importance. During the Third Anglo-Mysore War, the British armies under Lord Cornwallis captured Bengalūrū Fort. In 1799, Tipu Sultan was defeated and killed in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War.

The British East India Company arrived in 1807 and it leased some land east of the old city to set up a cantonment near the lake in Halasuru aka, Ulsoor which belongs to Shivaji Nagar Constituency. Bengalūrū became not only a military base for the British but also a settlement for many Europeans, Anglo-Indians and missionaries. The names of many of its streets in Cantonment are retained till date like- Artillery Road, Brigade Road, Infantry Road and Cavalry Road. The Company’s military installations and symbols still dominate the landscape: Parade Ground, Brigade Road, the Indian Army’s oldest engineering group Madras Sappers, and many others.

Bengalūrū saw a rapid growth with the introduction of Telegraph connections to all major Indian cities in 1853 and a rail connection to Madras, in 1864. After the Indian Independence in August 1947, Bengalūrū continued to be the capital of the unified and linguistically homogeneous Kannada-speaking new Mysore state that was created in 1956, and renamed to Karnataka in 1973.

This engaging city continues to grow in terms of people and trade. Bengalūrū experienced swift growth in the decades 1941–51 and 1971–81, when it welcomed many immigrants from northern Karnataka. By 1961, Bengalūrū had become the sixth largest city in India, with a population of 1,207,000. In the decades that followed, Bengalūrū’s manufacturing base continued to expand with the establishment of private companies such as MICO (Motor Industries Company), which set up its manufacturing plant in the city.

Bengalūrū was the fastest-growing Indian metropolis after New Delhi between1991–2001.With an estimated population over ten million, Bengalūrū is now the fourth most populous city in India and the 28th most populous city in the world. In 2005, the Government of Karnataka announced it had accepted the proposal to rename Bangalore to Bengalūrū.

From Mud Fort to Metropolis, this charming city is constantly developing; and with the advent of metros it has instilled confidence in both the citizens and investors. Being people friendly, this city is ideal for citizens of all age groups. Ever growing, forever diverse, the tag “Namma Bengalūrū” brings a heart-warming smile upon many faces.


  • Ramesh

    By Ramesh


    Mud Fort to Metropolis – Very interesting article, its going back to King rule and back to ITPL, Namma Bengaluru is always innovating, be it the growth in Telegraph and now Information Technology, its always been driven by people and supported by the nature and beauty of the city.

  • Nithya

    By Nithya


    Very well written with interesting details on the history of Namma Bengaluru. Would like to read more!

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