The four watch towers of Kempegowda’s Bangalore
The four watch towers of Kempegowda in Bangalore
It was a very hot day in Bangalore, but the bubble wrapped packet that had been just dropped by the courier was waiting to be opened . As my fingers played around with the bubble wrap, a new gadget was asking to be discovered inside – the LG G4 mobile, which am told had a 16 mega pixel camera inbuilt that would vie for attention with any professional camera. So, I decided to brave the heat, traffic and dust of Bangalore, with the new phone in hand, just to test it out on the streets of the city.
Bangalore has so much to offer for a travel photographer – lakes, parks, monuments, markets. And then there is the mouth watering delicacies that are eye candy by themselves. And yet I wanted to see and showcase a bit of everything through the lens of the LG G4 . So I decided to crisscross the city, from North to South , East to West. Bangalore is a sprawling metropolis but in those days of the founders, Kempegowda and his successors, around the 16th century, it was relatively small. There were many Kempegowdas, but the two important rulers were Kempegowda 1 who founded Bengaluru and Kempegowda 11 who built these four watch towers to mark the boundaries of the city. My tryst with Kempegowda’s Bangalore took me to Gavipuram , Lalbagh, Ulsoor and Mekhri Circle near Sadashivanagar, where these four watch towers were built 500 years ago.
My first halt was to Gavipuram. A statue of Kempegowda stands at the Round tana where I can see the cave temple of Gavi Gangadeeshwara temple . We stopped by to ask for the directions to Kempambudhi lake and Bandi Mahakali temple.
The road led to a craggy outcrop behind the temple and I could see rocks scattered all around the landscape with thorny scrubs and wild flowers blooming everywhere.
There seemed to be a buzz about the place. We climbed the rocks to find a watch tower perched on top. There was a music video being shot.
Men wearing bright saffron coloured clothes while pretty women sat on the rocks, their feet barefoot. It was for a devotional song, they told me. Change of location yelled the man who looked like the director . Below the hillock, the lake had completely vanished and turned into a sewage dump. I was however interested in the birds which flocked here.
While I was lost in this little corner of Bangalore, lost largely to the tourists , I was amazed at the ability of the camera to shoot in the low light. The colours were so vivid and it just brought out the flavour of the place.
Hyder Ali might have modelled these gardens based on the Mogul gardens in Sira which have now vanished, but the rocky landscape here is probably 3000 years and more old, with its own little history. The moment I stopped at the gate to buy my ticket, I could see the formidable watch tower from the very entrance.
Lalbagh is everyone’s favourite destination – from lovers to old couples, from kids to students.
This was the day of the bandh, so all the bus conductors were here as well. An old couple asked me to photograph them near the Glass House. I climbed up the hillock but Bangalore’s skyline was wrapped in a haze .
But Lalbagh is a delight for anyone with a camera – nature, flowers , lakes and the sheer colourful atmosphere here was beckoning me.
I had a blast with the camera shooting flowers. The colors stood out so well. It was almost noon and I thought that with the overhead sun, it would be burning. Some landscapes were burning indeed but then the flowers made it worthwhile.
On the banks of the Ulsoor lake, near the Gurudwara is the third watch tower perched silently on a hillock. Not many people had even seen this tower even though the road is one of the most busiest. There was a gate which was locked, from where I could see giant boulders and steps carved inside them.
I saw another small opening. There was a small temple. A dog stirred. An old lady was lying in the shelter of the tree. No, they would not allow you inside, she said. I saw a sentry at another gate. Take the last gate, he said.
It turned out to be a sailing and training centre for the army. They were gracious to let me photograph the tower, although it was so far away, perched high on a rock.
The zoom feature of the LG G4 came in handy. Not just for the tower but even the boats that were sailing past in the afternoon heat.
Ramana Maharishi Park, Mekhri Circle
Finally I was closer home, to North Bangalore. It was more than six years ago, when I had first heard of this park, although it was barely a couple of kms from my house. I used to come here to do some bird watching and that was the first time I had seen this watch tower. I saw a few changes there today.
Located next to Ramana Maharishi Ashram, this park had one of the towering statues of Kempegowda being built. But the tower looked rather dramatic against the greenery and the evening sky. I spent some time bird watching here as well. while children ran around playing.
The city today has grown like a wild concrete jungle beyond Kempegowda’s Bangalore, but it was a miracle that I could brave the traffic and visit all four in a day. However, I could only wish that Bangalore retained her old serene self of the past.
This post was written in partnership with LGG4 , to review the camera features of the mobile phone.
Watch the video of the four watch towers of Kempegowda in Bangalore and do subscribe to my travel video channel on Youtube – Travel With Lakshmi