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Bangalore Press: an unmatched legacy over a 100 years

One of the things on your to-do list as each calendar year comes to an end is to pick up a new calendar for the next one.  Something that is religiously followed, this ritual is done as early as the 3rd week of December.  The new calendar, more often than not is hung on the same nail, right  behind the old one only to be unveiled on 01-Jan! And if you happen to be a resident of Bangalore, Mysore or any city in Karnataka, , it is highly likely that the calendar is the trademark red, black and white one with “The Bangalore Press” written in bold atop each page.  An intrinsic part of most homes in the state, it is a common sight to see these calendars adorn store fronts as early as the last week of November.

Bangalore Press calendar in English
Bangalore Press calendar in English

Pioneer publishing and printing company

Started in 1916, the 2020 calendar from the house of The Bangalore Press marked its 100th year of uninterrupted publication.  Synonymous with consistency, reliability and accuracy of content, this is indeed no mean feat considering the press has witnessed the ravages of time spanning close to four generations, spread over the pre as well as post-independence era.

Printing of the calendar in progress
Printing of the calendar in progress

It all started in the year 1914 when the then ruler of Mysore, H H Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar got his son’s wedding invite printed in London. This was indeed very expensive and it was then that the enterprising Sir M Visvesvaraya made an observation that an entire printing press could be set up at the same cost in the state of Mysore.  A managing committee of 18 eminent personalities including Sir  K P Puttanna Chetty (after whom the Bangalore Town Hall is named) was formed.  They all pooled in funds and decided to run the press which was incorporated as “The Bangalore Printing and Publishing Company” on 5-Aug-1916 when it began printing government related documents.  Calendars started in the year 1921 and interestingly English calendars were printed first and then additionally in Kannada from the year 1936.

Bangalore Press Kannada calendar

Wide array of products

With time, the calendars from the Bangalore Press were soon recognized as the authentic source of information with regard to the Government holidays as well local festivals.  The calendars have a unique design and layout that is being maintained right from the beginning.  While the initial calendars bore the pictures of the Mysore maharajas in the four corners, these were slowly replaced by the images of Indian leaders like Gandhi and Nehru post-independence.  The calendar is a treasure house of information on regional temple festivals that are organized in different parts of the state apart from having information on times like “Rahukala”, “Yamagandakala” etc. A mind boggling 18 lakh calendars are printed each year in three sizes (standard, jumbo and table top).

Printing Press in the Bangalore Press premises office in Bangalore
Printing Press in the Bangalore Press premises office in Bangalore

Since the year 1990, the company has also come up with a unique almanac called the “Mallige Panchanga Darshini” which is not only an almanac that can be read by the ordinary (not necessarily a scholar or someone qualified in astronomy) but also covers comprehensive information on matters of cultural importance as well festivals and their significance.

Offerings from Bangalore Press
Offerings from Bangalore Press

The company also manufactures close to a whopping 100 kinds of diaries including one for doctors, mechanical engineers, lawyers etc and ones with themes like the Vishnu Sahasranama and Bhagwad Gita.  It is interesting to note that the dairies of the 1920s and 1930s had ‘vital’ information like the important hotels in Bangalore including their tariffs as well the jatka (horse drawn cart) fares from the city centre to the various parts!  The calendar today can be downloaded on mobiles and set up to be in sync with your Google calendar.

Almanacs from The Bangalore Press
Almanacs from The Bangalore Press

This article was originally published in The Lonely Planet.

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