Once a battlefield, now bustling K.R. Market

S.K. Aruni traces the history of the fort area, once the venue of a historic battle

January 18, 2012 08:13 pm | Updated November 17, 2021 12:10 am IST

The buffer zone: What the K.R. Market in the 1950s looked like. Source: British Library

The buffer zone: What the K.R. Market in the 1950s looked like. Source: British Library

Who would have guessed that the present day Krishna Rajendra Market bus-stand was a battlefield in late 18th Century.

Vital role

This place was a buffer zone between the fort area and what is at present the Avenue Road area till mid-19th Century. It played a vital role during the Third Anglo-Mysore war which took place in 1791 A.D. The Mysore War broke out in 1790 and the British army captured a number of forts in Tamil Nadu and later reached Bangalore in March 1791. In the beginning, the British army captured the Halsur Gate (opposite Corporation building) and later began to lay siege to the Bangalore fort area.

The siege

The Kotwal of Bangalore fort, Bahadur Khan, resisted aggressively along with 2,000 sepoys of Tipu Sultan's army.

The British army was scared to enter the fort so they tried to camp in the open area in front of the fort. The battle continued for 15 days with no significant result. Finally, the British army chief, Capt. Cornwallis planned to attack the fort at midnight. This was against the rules of war. The Tipu Sultan army, unaware of this vindictive act, were defeated. The 70-year-old Kotwal Bahadur Khan and several others laid down their lives to protect the fort. On March 20, 1791, the British army captured the fort.

The market place

Soon after the British occupation of the Bangalore fort, the battlefield was made a public place.

Since this area was a buffer zone between the native town and the fort area, it turned into a small market place. There used to be an extensive platform known as Siddikatte. Merchants and vegetable vendors from the neighbouring villages came here to sell their produce and it soon grew into a big market place.

In 1921, a new market building named after Krishna Rajendra Maharaja of Mysore was built.

Sir Mirza Ismail Oval Park

There was a beautiful oval-shaped park in front of the K.R. Market building, which was named after Sir Mirza Ismail, Diwan of Mysore state.

Old photographs and sketches

There is a rare photograph taken in the 1870s by an unknown photographer, which is available with the British Library, London.

It depicts the fort walls, the ditch and the native city or Doddapete adjacent to the fort wall. From the 1890s, this area began to develop as a city hub and the fort walls disappeared, the ditch was filled and a wide road was laid to connect Avenue Road to the fort area.

The ‘Picturesque India' collection contains one of the rare drawings of this area by artist H. Pedder.

It appears that in the 1890s, a proper road was laid and many vendors occupied the open area.The native city or Dodda pete is prominently visible in this drawing.

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