1. The Four watch towers; 2. Lakshmamma Devi temple; 3. Gavi Gangadhareswhara Temple; 4. Ulsoor Someshwara temple ; 5. Kempambudhi tank
The story, as most Bangaloreans know, goes like this: Kempegowda, a feudatory of the Vijayanagara Empire was out hunting when he saw a hare chasing a hound. Taking that as an auspicious sign, he decided to build a new city at the spot and is said to have called it ‘Gandu Bhoomi’ (heroic land). Kempegowda I is credited with having established Bangalore city, circa 1537 AD, by building a mud fort here. Centuries later, several towns and monuments built during the reigns of the chieftain and his sons still remain, hidden among Bangalore’s concrete vastness. We asked Vikram Sampath, author of two books, Splendours of Royal Mysore: the Untold Story of the Wodeyars and more recently My Name is Gauhar Jaan! to tell us about five monuments in the prosperous city that Kempegowda’s clan ruled.
The Four watch towers
Kempe Gowda II erected four watch towers to mark the boundaries of Bangalore during his reign. All four towers are now in the heart of the city, standing as an indication of its expansion. In the north on Bellary road, in the South inside the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, the eastern one on a rock near Ulsoor lake and Western one overlooks the Kempambudhi tank.
Gavi Gangadhareswhara Temple in Gavipuram
Having established his city, Kempegowda I set about building a series of temples, including the well known Dodda Ganesh temple and the Basava temple on Bull Temple road. But among the earliest was the Gavigangadhareshwara temple to the south of the fort area. The deity of lord Shiva rests in the middle of a narrow cave and, today, devotees throng here during Makara Sankranthi, when rays of the sun fall on the Shivalinga for one hour.
Bangalore was also called ‘Kalyananagara’ which translates to mean city of good fortunes, and also the city of tanks. Right next the the Gavigangadhara temple is the Kempambudhi tank, also constructed by Kempegowda I. Other tanks built during this time include the Dharmambudhi Tank. (The present Majestic city bus stand, was built on this lake). The rulers intended to make the city commercially vibrant and the tanks served as a great location for fairs during temple festivals. The Kempambudhi tank is dry at the moment, but the city corporation plans to fill it again, and construct a walkers’ path, a garden and children’s play area around it.
Ulsoor Someshwara temple
Though the original structure was built during the earlier Chola rule, Kempegowda I made several additions to this temple, including the main tower (gopuram) that gives the temple its splendour.
Lakshmamma Devi temple
The sacrifice of Kempegowda’s daughter-in-law Lakshmamma/Lakshmi Devi is legendary. During the building of Kempegowda’s fort, the builders found that the portions of the wall crumbled repeatedly. It was told, that the sacrifice of a pregnant woman would ward off the eye of evil spirits. Lakshmamma, the chieftain’s daughter-in-law who was then pregnant stole out in middle of the night and killed herself. Kempegowda built a temple in her honour, which is located in the current Koramangala area.