Little is known about what happened to them when the city gobbled up the little village of Kurubarahalli

Even though one of Bangalore’s villages is named after them, it appears that very few people know anything about what happened to the Kurubas when the city gobbled up their little village.

Now located within ward number 75 (Shankarmath), Kurubarahalli, as the name suggests, was the village of Kurubas, the shepherd community.

An incomplete narrative

While official records have not kept track of the villages that have been absorbed into the ever-widening urban jungle, efforts to discover the whereabouts of the Kurubas that once lived here have only yielded an incomplete narrative.

According to folk singer Jogila Siddaraju, who has made it his business to trace the little stories that have made way for today’s Bangalore, Kurubarahalli has a history of around 250 years.

However, even for him, it has been very difficult to ascertain what happened to the village and its people, engulfed as it has been by the city’s boundaries.

Land holders

Before the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) was formed, Kurubarahalli was a part of the Saneguruvanahalli gram panchayat, which had issued land ownership records to the Kuruba inhabitants of the village. Siddaraju said that according to a survey carried out by the National Literacy Mission for its Namma Bangalore programme, Kurubas possessed land in their own names in the early 1960s.

It was more than a decade later in 1976 that the layout of Basaveshwaranagar was formed. Subsequent development of planned layouts and urbanisation in the surrounding areas swallowed up open land in the village, forcing its residents to migrate elsewhere in search of grazing land or to take up menial work, Siddaraju says.

A different picture now

Today, he says, a significant number of Kurubas are landless and live in rented accommodation, working for a daily wage in the garment industry or as labourers.

The few who have managed to get an education have done well for themselves, according to him.

Shankarmath ward councillor M. Shivaraju, a Kuruba himself, estimates that the Kuruba population in whole ward is around 2,000, but he does not know how many of them still live in Kurubarahalli.

Clues remain

Although the concrete jungle has rendered the shepherds of Kurubarahalli invisible, there are a few signs, mere namesakes it appears, that signify their presence in the area.

One is that the Kempegowda playground and park was once a four-acre lake called Kurubarakere. Another sign is that the village deity of the Kurubas — Doddamma Devi — is still found here, indicating that the village did indeed have a significant Kuruba presence, and perhaps continues to do so.

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