Vasantnagar is where the bustling market centre of Bangalore meets the quiet Cantonment area
Vasantnagar is where the ‘pete’ (market centre) meets the town (British Cantonment area).
The British, during their time, might have succeeded in keeping these two distinct aspects of Bangalore apart, but today, the worlds of both have come together.
Towering above a busy road, standing tall opposite the Bangalore Cantonment Railway Station, are massive billboards, seemingly signalling the arrival of commercialisation in the locality.
“Vasantnagar today is busier and noisier than it used to be. There are bigger and better houses. More institutions and offices in and around the area have brought more people. Earlier, if one had to find a bakery, we had to walk until Shivajinagar,” said Indira, a resident of the area. “Today, they put four tables in a shop and call it a small hotel and there are plenty of those in every lane.”
While problems of water and electricity supplies have never plagued the neighbourhood, finding rented accommodation, residents say, is extremely difficult. “A rise in the number of educational institutions and offices has led to an influx of people, making Vasantnagar a thriving centre for paying guest accommodations. The rent of a one-bedroom house is close to Rs. 8,000. There are more options here for paying guests than families,” said Thomas, who owns a tailoring shop in the locality.
“On one side, there are plenty of paying guest options, and on the other is the market area. This makes it very convenient for those coming from outside,” said Shalini Sinha, who lives in paying guest accommodation in the area.
Some culture and calm
But not all of the locality is noisy. Walking though the vast, verdant compound of the National Gallery of Modern Art, admiring the artwork that adorns the walls of the Manikyavelu Mansion, one may forget that the congested Cunningham Road is just outside.
Thimmaiah Road and Miller’s Tank Bund Road are markedly different from the market centre, housing an array of cultural institutions and associations, including Alliance Française de Bangalore, Janaagraha, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, and the Samyukt Gujarati Samaj.
“We have the privilege of a beautiful garden within our campus, where people would like to come spend a few minutes sipping a cup of coffee at the café here,” said Philippe Gasparini, director, Alliance Française.
Like every other neighbourhood, the area has a story that traces its identity. An urban legend has it that the area was named after a certain Vasanthamma, who was the wife of a famous lawyer Govindarajulu. “It is believed that the lady is still alive and living in a gargantuan house in the locality, but whether the area is named after her or not cannot be verified,” said Indira.