Vyalikaval and Guttahalli have become busy passages for the city, but have managed to hold on to their older character

Walking in Vyalikaval and Palace Guttahalli, a curious feature catches the eye. Signboards in the area bear a variety of names: Sudhindra Nagar, Swimming Pool Extension, Kasturibai Nagar, and so on. No one seems to know why these names came about.

What is generally accepted, however, is that Vyalikaval itself probably refers to ‘horse stables’. As for Palace Guttahalli, “It was near the palace — workers were put up here, as were servants and gardeners,” says Arun Prasad, a resident of Guttahalli who studies the history of Bangalore.

The more upscale residential locality of Sadashivnagar, located on the other end of Bashyam circle, is named after freedom fighter Karnad Sadashiva Rao; the name ‘Palace Orchards’ comes from the fact that the area was home to cashew and grape orchards.

The area’s history — probably as a place where horses were kept — isn’t very visible anymore. Today, the Vyalikaval area is probably most frequented by the rest of the city owing to- the Chowdiah Memorial Hall and the Tirupathi Tirumala Devasthanam, located next to each other. (“This is as good as Tirupati for us,” says Jayalakshmi, a resident of the area.)

The “gutta” probably refers to hillocks, says Arun. One is inclined to agree: walking up and down the roads of the area, you experience the steepness that befits a mini-hill. “People were in fact scared to come to this area because of how steep it was — children were advised to not go towards Guttahalli,” recalls Arun, who has stayed here for 23 of his 37 years.

A city in itself

“It used to be a forest, now it’s a city in itself,” says 70-year-old Venkataramanappa, who has sold vegetables at his little corner on Guttahalli Main Road for nearly 40 years now. But he isn’t lamenting the increase in activity. He counts the increased footfall that came with the area’s growth as having helped his business.

“Rent has definitely increased drastically over the years, but otherwise things have stayed the same,” says Suma, who has run Ashwini Bangles Store, which vends ‘fancy’ items such as bangles and bindis, for over six years now on Nagappa Street in Guttahalli. Her children went to the nearby Stella Maris School, and they go to the KC General Hospital, in Malleswaram, when necessary.

The area’s small bylanes are dotted with medical stores, small clinics, dry-cleaning shops, provision stores and tailoring stores. The main roads are home to fresh coffee stores and mutton stalls, many of which have been running for several years. But the area is also a residential hub: off the main road are leafy, still lanes, filled with gated houses, most marked ‘Beware of Dog’.

Air of quietness

The wide, sprawling 2nd Main Road connects Guttahalli and Vyalikaval; it branches into a number of small but crucial cross-roads, connecting the area with Malleshwaram and Seshadripuram, as well as Palace Road.

Despite the presence of supermarket chains such as Nilgiri’s and Namdhari’s, the area manages to retain an air of quietness.

Over the years, the houses and shops have largely stayed the same, but what has been strained are, predictably, the roads. The narrow roads, especially in Guttahalli, have not been able to take the strain of carrying a majority of the city’s traffic from the north-west to the central part of the city, and attempts to address the problem — such as the ‘magic box’ built in 2008 near Cauvery Theatre — haven’t always yielded results.

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