History of Bangalore

Vidhana Soudha

Gangas, Cholas and Hoysalas

The Gangas ruled Gangavadi from Kolar starting c. 350 and later shifted their capital to Talakadu. An article, published in The Hindu, states:

An inscription, dating back to 890 AD, shows Bangalore is over 1,000 years old. But it stands neglected at the Parvathi Nageshwara Temple in Begur near the city… written in hale Kannada (old Kannada) of the 9th Century, the epigraph refers to a Bangalore war in 890 AD in which Buttanachetty, a servant of Nagatta, died.

Though this has been recorded by historian R. Narasimhachar in his “Epigraphia of Carnatica” (Vol. 10 supplementary), no efforts have been made to preserve it. The inscription stone found near Begur reveals, that the district was part of the Ganga Kingdom ruled from Gangavadi until 1024 C.E and was known as ‘Benga-val-oru’, the City of Guards in old Kannada.

In 1024 C.E, the Chola Empire captured the city. Today, little evidence can be seen of this period. A small village in south Bangalore and one in Anantapur district bear the Chola name but the residents are of native stock. The later Gangas often fought alongside the Chalukyas, Rastrakutas and the Hoysalas. In 1117 C.E, the Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana defeated the Cholas in the battle of Talakad which led to the Hoysalas regaining control of Talakad.

The Hoysala architecture is noted for its elaborate motifs.

The Hoysala architecture is noted for its elaborate motifs.

A popular anecdote recounts that the 11th-century Hoysala king Veera Ballala II, while on a hunting expedition, lost his way in the forest. Tired and hungry, he came across a poor old woman who served him boiled ladyfinger. The grateful king named the place “benda kaal-ooru” (Kannada: ಬೆಂದ ಕಾಳು ಊರು) (literally, “town of boiled beans”), which was eventually colloquialised to “Bengalūru”. There are also theories that the name has a floral origin and is derived from the tree Benga or “Ven-kai”, also known as the Indian Kino Tree (Pterocarpus marsupium). The city as it is known today was named by Kempe Gowda I.

Vijayanagara and Kempe Gowda

Kempe Gowda I (1510–1570), Modern Bangalore was founded by a feudatory of the Vijayanagara Empire, who built a mud fort in the year 1537. Kempe Gowda also referred to the new town as his “gandu bhoomi” or “Land of Heroes”. Within Bangalore, the town was divided into petes (IPA: [pete]) or market. The town had two main streets: Chickkapete Street ran east–west and Doddapete Street ran north–south. Their intersection formed Doddapete square – the heart of then Bangalore. Kempe Gowda’s successor, Kempe Gowda II, built temples, tanks including Kempapura and Karanjikere tanks and four watching towers that marked Bangalore’s boundary.

The four watchtowers built at the time in Bangalore are still seen today in the following places which are:

  • Lal Bagh Botanical Garden
  • Kempambudhi Tank
  • Ulsoor Lake
  • Mekhri Circle

Sultanate of Bijapur

It was captured by the Maratha chief Shahaji Bhosale, father of Shivaji, then working for the Adil Shahi sultans of Bijapurin 1638. During the siege of Bangalore, Shivaji’s elder brother Sambhaji/Shambhuji was killed by incumbents of Mudhol State, for which Shivaji was to later exact revenge.

Mughal Influence

After conquering the Sultanate of Bijapur, the Mughals under the command of Khasim Khan, then arrived in Bangalore, which was ruled by Shivaji’s brother Venkoji/ Ekoji Bhonsale. Ekoji , who faced the prospect of losing his jagir to the Mughals, made an offer to sell Bangalore to Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar in 1689 for three lakhs. Later, Bangalore was given as a personal jagir by the then Woedeyar King Krishnaraja Wadiyar II to his dalvoy Hyder Ali in 1759. But by 1761, Hyder Ali had become a de facto Ruler and was proclaimed as the Saravadhikari (Regent) of the Kingdom.

Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan

When Hyder Ali died in 1782, his son Tipu Sultan deposed the weak Wodeyar, proclaimed himself Sultan. Under Tipu Sultan and Hyder Ali the state progressed economically and trade flourished with many foreign nations through the ports of Mangalore. Tipu successfully stalled the British in the first, second and third Anglo-Mysore Wars.

Bangalore fort was captured by the British armies under Charles Cornwallis, Lord Cornwallis on 21 March 1791 during the Third Anglo-Mysore War and formed a centre for British resistance against Tipu Sultan, being incorporated into the British Indian Empire after Tipu Sultan was defeated and killed in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War (1799). A prominent role was played by the Madras Sappers in the capture of the Fort and subsequent development of the cantonment and the city. Bangalore is the permanent home of this Indian Army regiment since the mid-nineteenth century.

Wodeyars and British East India

Upon the passing of Tipu Sultan, the Wodeyars returned to the throne of Mysore, and therefore Bangalore, although only as figureheads. Bengaluru remained part of British East India until Indian independence in August, 1947.

The ‘Residency’ of Mysore State was first established at Mysore in 1799 and later shifted to Bengaluru in the year 1804. It was abolished in the year 1843 only to be revived in 1881 at Bengaluru and finally to be closed down in 1947 with the departure of the British. The British troops which were first stationed at Srirangapatna after the fall of Tipu Sultan in 1799 were later shifted to the Civil and Military Station of Bangalore in 1809.

The salubrious climate of Bangalore attracted the ruling class and led to the establishment of the famous Military Cantonment, a city-state close to the old town of Bangalore. The area became not only a military base for the British but also a settlement for a large number of Europeans, Anglo-Indians and missionaries.

Water shortages

The lack of water supplies within the city of Bangalore was first tackled in 1873 by building a chain of tanks called Miller’s Tanks in the Cantonment area. The city area drew water from a Karanjee system from Dharmambudhi and Sampangi tanks. The Great Famine of 1875-77 and the failure of the monsoons led to drying of all these water bodies. During this time water carriers Bihistis supplied water.

Plague-Crisis of 1898

Bangalore was hit by a plague epidemic in 1898. The epidemic took a huge toll and many temples were built during this time, dedicated to the goddess Mariamma. The crisis caused by this epidemic catalyzed the improvement and sanitation of Bengaluru and, in turn, improvements in sanitation and health facilities helped to modernize Bengaluru.

Telephone lines were laid to help coordinate anti-plague operations. Regulations for building new houses with proper sanitation facilities came into effect. A health officer was appointed in 1898, the city was divided into four wards for better coordination and the Victoria Hospital was inaugurated in 1900 by Lord Curzon, Viceroy and Governor-General of British India.

Lady Curzon hospital in the Bangalore Cantonment

Lady Curzon hospital in the Bangalore Cantonment was established in 1864 and later named after the first wife of the Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon.


Sometimes it is claimed that, in 1906, Bangalore became the first city in Asia to have electricity, supplied by the hydroelectric plant situated in Shivanasamudra. Bangalore’s reputation as the Garden City of India began in 1927 with the Silver Jubilee celebrations of the rule of Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV.

Several projects such as the construction of parks, public buildings and hospitals were instituted to improve the city. Bangalore therefore served traditionally as a retreat for people from the surrounding South Indian regions. Even today, the city administration manages to maintain several parks. Cubbon Park and Lal Bagh are two such examples.

Indian Independence (1947)

After Indian independence in August 1947, Bangalore remained in the Mysore State of which the Maharaja of Mysore was the Rajapramukh. Bangalore 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.

Public sector employment and education provided opportunities for Kannadigas from the rest of the state to migrate to the city. In the decades that followed, Bangalore’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.

Industrialization created further growth that extended from the Peenya Industrial Area in the west to Indiranagar and Whitefield in the east; from Yelahanka Town in the north, to J.P. Nagar in the south.

1991 Economic Reforms

Bangalore experienced a growth in its real estate’s e market in the 1980s and 1990s, spurred by capital investors from other parts of the country who converted Bangalore’s large plots and colonial bungalows into multi-storied apartments. In 1985, Texas Instruments became the first multinational corporation to set up base in Bangalore. Other information technology companies followed suit, and, by the end of the 20th century, Bangalore had firmly established itself as the Silicon Valley of India.

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

In 2006, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the third level of government, passed a resolution to implement the proposed name change. However, this process had been stalled due to delays in getting clearances from the Union Home Ministry. In 2014, Union ministry approved the name change to Bengaluru.