Book Review: Eleven Stops to the Present – Stories from Bangalore

Ask any child what his/her favourite subjects are and it is highly likely that history does not figure on top.  Some of the most predicatable responses given are “it is boring” or “it is too dry”.  Well, this is partially true considering the fact that the history we study in school is mostly confined to text books that speak of kingdoms, cities and rulers that we may not relate to or that it is full of dates that are perhaps very difficult to memorize.  If only history were to be presented in a manner that is more interesting and engaging, kids would definitely enjoy it.  And one such book that does true justice to this statement is “Eleven Stops to the present – Stories of Bengaluru”, published by the Bengaluru chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

The book is a collection of 11 absorbing short stories all centred around Bangalore aka Bengaluru, written by 11 different authors   While Bengaluru today maybe known as the startup capital of the country and the silicon city, Bangalore of the yesteryears was known for its planned layouts, green neighbourhoods and charming parks all replete with oodles of old world charm.   Did you know that the bustling area of Shivajinagar was once called “Blackpully” or the fact that the name “Bengaluru” was discovered in a temple inscription dating back to 890 CE in Begur?  Sounds intriguing isn’t it?   Well, these are just some of the interesting facts narrated in the book.  From Basavanagudi to Whitefield, the book is a great read and a revelation into the history, development and evolution of India’s third most populous city.

Temple inscription in Begur; pic courtesy - 11 Stops to the Present
Temple inscription in Begur; Pic courtesy – 11 Stops to the Present

The stories unearth fascinating anecdotes behind different localities and presents their history through the eyes of protagonists like children, grandparents, teachers and even birds which makes them extremely relatable and fun.  It covers aspects like the famous Kadlekai Parshe (groundnut festival) of Basavanagudi, the opening of the iconic Russel market and even revisits the days of the deadly plague that struck Bangalore in August 1898.

It unravels myraid facts like how Bangalore during the days of the British was actually divided into two parts with one being ruled by the Maharajas of Mysore and the other which was east and north of Cubbon Park (Cantonment area) by the British Government of India. It also narrates the development of Whitefield that was conceptualized by Englishman, David White as the quaint, idyllic White town dotted with vanilla and rabbit farms; a stark contrast of what Whitefield is today!

The story of the battle for Bangalore Fort and how the city was eventually sold to Chikkadevaraja Wodeyar of Mysore is particularly riveting.

Bengaluru Bid; Pic courtesy - 11 Stops to the Present
Bengaluru Bid; Pic courtesy – 11 Stops to the Present

It is a book that arouses curiosity in the minds of children and encourages them to explore their own backyards and look for history in their neighbourhoods.  After reading the book, they are sure to appreciate the heritage all around them and view the city in a new light.  It is key to note that all the historical facts mentioned in the book are verified by INTACH.

Being a diehard Bangalorean and a true blue resident of Basavanagudi, I found the book extremely engrossing.  I loved “Unearthed” set in Basavanagudi as well as “The Royal Treasure of Candy Kingdom” set in Bangalore’s lively city market.  After reading the book, am sure to keep my eyes open for more hero stones, revisit the Bangalore fort and make a trip to Savandurga for the dolemens.

Read my review on the book in the New Indian Express.

Special thanks to Meera Iyer for giving me an opportunity to review this book.  The book is available on Amazon among other websites.

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