A gory legend about the city’s founder and his daughter-in-law Lakshmamma lives on in Koramangala village

There’s a curious story linking Bangalore’s founding father to Koramangala: according to legend, only a pregnant woman’s sacrifice would ward off evil from Kempe Gowda’s constantly-crumbling fort. His daughter-in-law Lakshmamma rose to the occasion and killed herself, and it is said that in her honour, the chieftain built the Lakshmi temple and memorial in the southern part of the city, in what is now Koramangala.

Forgotten tale

Currently, however, this curious piece of folklore has been largely forgotten. The temple and memorial are located in Koramangala village, reachable by a quick walk from the Regional Passport Office, but the temple remains closed for most of the time and acts as a dumping ground for the odd empty liquor bottle.

A little down the road from the temple lies a memorial, located in a BBMP park. On the way, your sense of excitement is kindled when a large arch informs you that you are in the vicinity of the memorial of Lakshmamma’s “sacred sacrifice”, as a board inside describes it.

One has to plead for entry, though. Large iron gates keep the park closed most of the time. Besides early mornings, briefly, it’s open only on request, says Pushpalata, who along with her husband Dinesh has worked as a caretaker there. She says the police have often had to come and ward off drunks and prevent other illegal activities.

Little evidence

Historian S.K. Aruni says that of the two types of temples largely found in the city — organised, ritual-oriented, large-scale ones such as the Kote Venkataramana or the Kadumalleshwaram temples, and smaller, ‘gramadevatha’ (village deity) temples, the Lakshmi temple in Koramangala falls in the second category. “You won’t see large-scale gatherings here, but they have their own, local importance,” he says.

Aruni also warns against conflating history and myth, saying that there is little evidence to strengthen what is essentially a folk tale. “Even if it was built by Kempe Gowda [in memory of] his daughter-in-law, why was it built so far away from the central area? Koramangala would have been a remote village in his time.”

Indeed, similar tales — of sacrifices to ward off difficulties in constructions of forts — can be found in other forts in medieval India, he says.