Monday, 24 June 2013

When the twin cities became one

Generally when two cities grow near each other or in close proximity with each other, they are labeled as twin cities. In India, one of the best known twin city is Hyderabad and Secundrabad in Andhra Pradesh. Both these cities have managed to retain their distinct identity and made a name for themselves.
In Karnataka, the cities of Gadag-Betagiri is among the most known. Both Hyderabad-Secundrabad and Gadag-Betagiri have retained their entity and distinctness. However, till 1947, Karnataka had one more twin city that was separated by a beautiful park and a huge body of water. If the older part of the city was ruled by a native prince, the newer part was controlled by the British.
Both the older city and the newer part had separate administrators and each had their own municipality and rules governing them. Each developed separately and till Independence they each retained their identity.
It was only after August 1947 that both the cities were merged and today both are an integral part of the bigger conglomerate of  Bangalore. The old city, till 1947, was called the Pettah or Pete area and the new British area was called the Cantonment.
Even today, the Cantonment retains vestiges of  British style of planning and architecture and the Pettah area the Indian style. Surprisingly, till the late 1920s, it was the British built Cantonment that had more population and also collected more revenue from levy of taxes on people than its Pettah neighbourhood.
The history of old Bangalore or the Petah goes back to several centuries and the discovery of Roman coins have proved that Bangalore was an important trading centre even during the Roman times. Inscriptions of the Nolambas (they ruled over large parts of Kolar and Bangalore), Gangas, Cholas and Hoysalas prove that Bangalore was a fairly well-populated city and it was also an important military centre during the middle ages.
It was, however, Kempe Gowda or Hiriya Kempe Gowda (1510-1569), who gave a push to Bangalore and made it politically significant.  His descendent, Kempe Gowda, the third, had to surrender Bangalore to the Adil Shahis in 1637 and retire to Magadi.
Bangalore from 1637 to 1686 remained under the Adil Shahis of Bijapur. During that time, the Adil Shah granted Bangalore as a Jagir to Shahaji, the father of Shivaji. In 1687, the Mughals under Quasim Khan captured Bangalore and then sold it for Rs. 3 lakhs to Chikadevaraja Wodeyar.
The Marathas once again captured Bangalore in the mid 1700s. Their claim to Bangalore lay on the fact that Bangalore along with Kolar, Doddaballapur, Chikaballapur, Hoskote and Kanakagiri was part of  Shahaji’s jagir. Hyder wrested Bangalore from the Maratahs and his son Tipu held it till his death in Srirangapatna on May 4, 1799.
After Tipu’s death, Bangalore initially was held by the British. The British restored the Mysore throne to the Wodeyars and established their Residency in Mysore city itself. They later shifted the Residency to Bangalore in 1804. The Residency was abolished in 1843 and revived in 1881. It survived till 1947.
The British planned a Cantonment to house their troops in Bangalore and construction of this township started in 1806. The Cantonment was planned away from the Pettah area and the British compelled the Wodeyar King to hand over the vast area covering the present Ulsoor to them. It was divided from the Pettah by Cubbon Park and Sampangiramanagar tank.  
In just a few years, both the Pettah and Cantonment began developing in contrasting styles and soon they became among the first twin cities in Karnataka.
The Cantonment had broad and clean streets and footpaths and huge bungalows. The military were housed in barracks surrounded by rolling lands. The British introduced gardens to the city by surrounding their houses and offices with flowers and fruit trees. The localities came to be well laid out and beautifully designed.
In sharp contrast, the Pettah area continued to be “dingy, dark and ugly.” The roads were narrow and winding. The houses were small. Sanitation was almost absent. The drains were narrow and mostly clogged. Since the Pettah was under the control of the Wodeyars, all decisions could be taken only in Mysore. The decision making process thus was delayed unlike the Cantonment which enjoyed a free hand.
The old Bangalore had more temples and more historic structures than the Cantonment. On its part, the Cantonment had more churches and educational institutions.  If the Pettah was the epitome of a typical Indian city, the Cantonment had an European flavour.
While drinking water to Bangalore was from several lakes and  tanks like Dharmambudhi and Sampangi initially and Hesaraghatta and Thippagondanhalli reservoir in the later period, water to Bangalore Cantonment was mainly supplied from Ulsoor, Millers tank, Sankey tank and Shoolay tank.
When Bangalore was under the Wodeyar rule for 68 years from 1690 to 1758, it was governed by administrators known as Parupathegars. There were 26 such administrators who governed Bangalore.
In 1758, Immadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar, the second, gifted Bangalore as a Jagir to his able Commander Hyder Ali. Under Hyder and Tipu, the Kannada speaking Parupathegars were replaced by Muslim Amildars.
When Bangalore came back to the Wodeyar fold again in 1799, it came to be ruled directly by them. Thus, the history of the two cities began unfolding in distinct ways. It was on March 27, 1862 that Cantonment got its municipality. It was called Bangalore City Municipality (BCM).  This municipality was set up under the provisions of the Improvement of Towns Act of 1850. The first nine members of the municipal board comprised Indian officials, non-officials and British officials.
A few years later, the pettah too got its municipality. The two bodies were legalised in 1881, but both continued to function independent of each other. In 1882, the system of election was introduced to induct non-official members in the municipality. The same year saw the introduction for the time property tax on houses and business establishment.
The British also conferred the right on property tax payers to become eligible to elect non-official members to the board of each of the two civic bodies. It was only in 1920 that the British agreed on the idea of electing a president.
Thus the president was the same for both the municipal boards and this system was in force till 1949, after which the two boards were legally merged to form the Corporation of the City of Bangalore, Now it is the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike.
Dr. J.H.Orr was the first to head both the Bangalore and Cantonment municipal bodies.
When a census was conducted in 1891, the population of Cantonment outstripped that of Bangalore, As per this census, Bangalore had a populace of  80,285. Of this, 67,388 were Hindus and Jains, 10,472 Muslims and 2,425 were Christians. In  contrast, the Cantonment’s population was 1,00,081. Here, the Hindus including Jains numbered 58,251, Muslims 23,892 and Christians numbered 17,902. Of the Christians, 4,985 were classified as Europeans, 2,649 Eurasians and the rest Indian Christians.
However, till the mid 1920s Cantonment outstripped Bangalore in both population and collection of taxes, particularly octroi. Till 1923, the area of Cantonment exceeded that of Bangalore and it was only in later years that Bangalore expanded rapidly.  
The following table shows the comparative population of both the municipal bodies.  
Population of Bangalore Pete
Population of Bangalore Cantonment






So we see that Bangalore Pete began developing only from the mid 1920s and since then there has been no looking back. Today, Bangalore is the fifth largest municipality in India and it was only  Independence that brought both the entities together.    

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