Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bangalore: Of a club, a park and a Chief Secretary couple

Last weekend I stayed at the Century Club, Bangalore. The attraction of this place is its location on the fringes of the beautiful Cubbon Park. I strolled down from the club’s front gate to the back gate through the park and took these photographs (click to enlarge):

Views of the Public Library

A road junction in Cubbon Park

A fruit vendor.

An old tree outside the exit gate of Century Club.

I commit the pictures to the public domain for free use by anyone who wants to promote Bangalore, provided due acknowledgment is given.

I had always wondered how the Century Club acquired the rather strange name. Was it in commemoration of 100 years of some event or person? I had the answer when I dropped in for lunch at the residence of Mr.& Mrs. BK Bhattacharya on Sunday the 14th.

Bipul (BK Bhattacharya) is a Bengali and his wife Teresa a Malayalee. Both were in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). When Bipul retired as Chief Secretary, Karnataka, it was his wife Teresa who was appointed to the post. That was a rare instance of a wife taking over as Chief Secretary from her husband.

But recently the roles were reversed and it was the husband who followed the wife. Teresa had a heart bypass surgery three months back. It was Bipul’s turn last month. By God’s Grace, in both cases, the surgeries were successful.

Bipul told me the story he heard about how Century Club got its name. Bangalore United Services Club (BUS Club), now known as Bangalore Club, was started in 1868 for the British service officers stationed at the Bangalore Cantonment. The Bowring Institute was also founded in the same year as a literary and academic institution, but in course of time came to be branded as an Anglo-Indian club.

There was no such facility for the Indians. Dr. M. Visveswaraiah, the father of modern Mysore State (now Karnataka) asked 100 government officials to come together and form a club for them. The Maharaja of Mysore made a grant of the land required. The establishment that was started by a century of men became ‘Century Club’ and was opened in 1917.

As I mentioned earlier, the club is at one end of the Cubbon Park, the gorgeous garden, which probably was a reason why Bangalore was labeled ‘Garden City’. It was laid by Sir Richard Sankey, Chief Engineer of Mysore, in the year 1864 and was named after Sir Mark Cubbon, the longest serving Commissioner of Bangalore. Originally it was spread over 334 acres. Reportedly the area has shrunk to 250 acres or less today.

The Century Club was probably the first encroachment on the Cubbon Park. I believe that recently the Karnataka High Court has prohibited any further violations on this lovely garden.

Also see:

Nostalgia: Bangalore again


Nebu said...

That was a very informative post. While we were studying in Bangalore during the late seventies, we thought ‘BUS’ in BUS club stood for Bangalore Upper Society. I am not sure how far it is true but it used to be said that at the BUS club the planter (Coorgie) stood at the top of the pecking order (a rare instance) and the doctor came last!

Pray at which hospital did the Chief Secretary couple undergo the coronary bypass surgery? Did you know that one of your nephews is the Consultant cardiac surgeon at Narayana Hrudayalaya, and his wife the cardiologist?

Abraham Tharakan said...

Nebu, in a way, the acronym BUS used to stand for Bangalore Upper Society.

The Chief Secretary couple had the procedure done at Wockhart Hospital.

Yes I know about my nephew and his wife but was not sure which hospital they are attached to.

Kariyachan said...

The very name 'Sankey' reminds me of me travelling most friday evenings from hosur road towards the MG road, turning right at the stadium leaving MG Road, a bit further on and a slight turn left, reaching the 'Sankey Road' towards Sadasivanagar area all the way towards the Palace Grounds, the famous Ramayia Institutions, IISC etc. When I visited Bangalore last december.. after 8 years , it was a big shock to see the changes. For example, the place where the Forum Mall is located used to be vacant, and was the short-cut route for the girls who walked from the Hostels in Suddagundapalaya to the JNC..

Maddy said...

hat was a good one, every time we visit Bangalore, we visit the century club where my aunt is a member. nice food, and teh best place to park - right across mg & brigade..

sankey road fortunately is still the same (one place where we could gun the motors of the bike) ...sadashiv nagar has hardly changed. malleswaram is rapidly changing

Kariyachan said...

Maddy, what you said is right. Sankey road used to be the venue for our speed biking adventures every now and then.

Abraham Tharakan said...

kariyachan, thanks for the comment. Bangalore is changing so fast!

Abraham Tharakan said...

Maddy, I think the Century Club has seen better days. The food is still good, and nothing to beat the location.

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