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Renaming roads: A 'meaningless' exercise

By Our Staff Reporter

BANGALORE, SEPT. 20. The renaming of streets and localities in the City has evoked little protest from the people. In fact, this has been welcomed by the people and the area corporators. Their vociferous support for the move has drowned the protests by a handful of people who are fighting against the ``desecration'' of the City's history and its rich heritage.

After the fall of Tipu Sultan in 1799, the then Mysore state, including the small town of Bangalore, came under British rule. The British made Bangalore their base for the next 150 years. They not only built the Cantonment but also beautified it with Gothic bungalows, wide avenues, parks and playgrounds, and water bodies. It was when Bangalore passed into the hands of the Wadiyars that the first road was, perhaps, renamed. The Fort Main Road was renamed after Krishna Rajendra Wadiyar. Now, it is better known as K.R.Road.

After Independence the move to rename streets, localities and intersections assumed alarming proportions. Now, the local authorities are planning to give a new name to Commercial Street and Brigade Road.

One of the first casualties of this mania was the South Parade. Once the pride of Cantonment, it was renamed as Mahatma Gandhi Road. Today, it is better known as M.G.Road.

Another prominent road which has been renamed is the Residency Road. The road was used by the British Resident to commute to and from his house. The road was renamed as Field Marshal Cariappa Road. But the road is still popular by its old name and very few use the new one. Similarly, the Mission Road, which has been named after the well-known singer, Kalinga Rao, is still better known by its old name.

The Grant Road has been renamed as Vittal Mallya Road while the Sampangiramnagar Main Road has been renamed as Raja Ram Mohan Roy Road. The once-famous Sidney Road, which was bound by the Sampangiramnagar Tank, is now Kasturba Road.

Though the Albert Victor Road was renamed as Alur Venkata Rao Road, it is better known as A.V.Road, and some shops still bear the old name. The Cavalry Road has been renamed as Kamaraja Road and the Madras Bank Road, which stretched from Airlines Hotel to the State Bank of India (SBI) headquarters on St. Marks Road, has also been renamed.

The East End Road from Minerva Circle to the beginning of Jayanagar has been renamed as R.V.Road, while a part of Sankey Road has been named after T.Chowdaiah. The Cubbonpet Main Road has been named as T.M.Naganna Road, and the Kanakanapalya Main Road as Ashoka Pillar Road. The Kanakanahalli Main Road is now better known as Kanakapura Road.

In their zeal to Indianise the names of places, the local authorities have also renamed localities. While Frazer Town has been renamed as Pulakeshi Nagar, MacIver Town has become Shantala Nagar, and Cox Town into Jeevanahalli, Benson Town into Kadamba Nagar, Doddakunte as Sarvagna Nagar, and part of Thomas Town as B.L. Rice Nagar, Murphy Town as Hoysala Nagar, Williams Town as K.C. Reddy Nagar and Tasker Town as Swami Shivanandapuram, and Richmond Town as Sir Ismail Mirza Nagar.

The Oriental Circle has been renamed as Anil Kumble Circle, while Ringwood Circle is now known as Kantharaj Urs Circle. The Irwin Circle, at the junction of K.R. Road and Lalbagh Fort Road, is Professor Shivashankar Circle.

Among other roads and localities that have been renamed are Austin Town as F.Kittel Nagar, Sudda Guntepalya Road (part of Bannerghatta Road) as Christ School Road, Anepalya as Gajendranagar. It was only recently that Miller's Road was renamed as Basaveshwara Road.

Criticising the trend in renaming roads and localities, the former Chief Secretary and author of several books on Bangalore, Mr. T.P.Issar, describes them as ``meaningless and pointless.'' The renaming saga starts when the local authorities have little to show towards the improvement of the City's infrastructure.

Citing the example of Miller's Road and Sankey Road, he said that both Miller and Sankey contributed a lot to the City. What was the point in renaming the roads named after such persons. In many cases, the names have become landmarks and people identify them as such.

Another Bangalorean and pioneer of the Poura Samiti movement, Mr. K.N.V.Rao, said that changing the names of roads and localities was akin to insulting history. ``You cannot erase history,'' he said, and added that naming roads after politicians was not appropriate.

A cross-section of people, when contacted, were against the arbitrary, and often inappropriate renaming of roads and localities. They said it was easier to remember the old names than the new ones.

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