How Bangalore got its name

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Bangalore (Bengaluru), which has been a melting pot of several cultures since time immemorial and silently transformed itself from a sleepy little town to the bustling Silicon Valley of India, has always evoked curiosity about its historical background among citizens and historians alike. One such curious question is about the origin of the name “Bangalore”. i.e How Bangalore got its name?

The most popular folklore which tries to answer it is an anecdote about the Hoysala King Veera Ballala II from the 13th century AD. Legend has it that during one of his hunting expeditions near Yalahanka (which was a prosperous town those days), Veera Ballala II lost his way into a forest. After hours of aimless wandering, the hungry & exhausted King spotted a hut which was inhibited by an old woman who offered him boiled beans because that was all she had. Impressed by the old woman’s “generous” hospitality, the King named that part of the forest as “Benda Kaalu Ooru” or “Bendakaalooru” in memory of that meal. (Benda means boiled, Kaalu means beans and Ooru means town/city, which effectively translates to “City of boiled beans”). It was this part of the forest which went on to develop over time and its name “Benda Kaalu Ooru” or “Bendakaalooru” was shortened to “Bengaluru” and anglicized into “Bangalore”.

However, that popular folklore does not have any credible evidence and moreover is inconsistent with historical chronology because Veera Ballala II was from the 13th century, but there are archaeological evidences which proves that the name “Bengaluru” was in usage even in the 9th century.

A 1000+ year old temple in Begur (just a few kilometers south of Bangalore city) has undoubtedly been one of the most popular archaeological structures among historians due to the fact that it unravels some mysteries about Bangalore’s history. The most prominent evidence in this temple is the Sculptured stone slab called “Veera Kallu” (or “Veeragallu” which means “Heroic stone”) which depicts a battle scene along with an inscription which says “Bengaluru Yuddha” in Hale Kannada (Old Kannada. Yuddha means War)

begur_inscription
Image courtesy: British Library

Within the same temple premises, there are rocks with inscriptions with references to Bengaluru. The inscription on one of the rocks reads: “Bengaluru kaleghadhul buttana setti sattam” which translates to “Buttana Setti died in Bengaluru”.

Coming back to folklores, there is another interesting speculation which says that in order to establish a town, Kempe Gowda (Founder of Bangalore) had to burn down a forest and hence the town was referred to as “Benda Kaadu Ooru” (Burnt Forest Town) which was shortened to “Bendakadooru” and later transformed to “Bengadooru” and eventually to “Bengalooru“.

Another folklore with a floral flavor suggests that the city of gardens had a large number of Benga” trees and hence it was called “Bengalooru” (The town of Benga trees).

trees

Before wrapping it up, here is the final & the most recent theory (based on geology) by Chidananda Murthy, an eminent historian. Geological evidences proves that the central parts of Bangalore had vast deposits of quartz & granite stones which gave the land a light (whitish) complexion due to which it was referred to as “Biliya Kallina Ooru” (Town of white stones) which later was shortened to “Bilikallinooru“, eventually transforming the name to “Bengalooru“.

For more such interesting insights on Bangalore, visit:
http://guruprasad.net/posts/category/articles/bangalore/

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