Development blues

Published - March 20, 2013 05:04 pm IST

Dual nature: Battles for facilities aside, Kodihalli, ‘the poor man’s Indiranagar’, combines vibrant street festivals and monuments to new Bangalore glitz. Photo: S. Mohan Prasad

Dual nature: Battles for facilities aside, Kodihalli, ‘the poor man’s Indiranagar’, combines vibrant street festivals and monuments to new Bangalore glitz. Photo: S. Mohan Prasad

Home to daily-wage labourers and IT employees alike, Kodihalli stretches on either side of Old Airport Road, and was once a tank.

Official documents list it as being breached under the Malaria Eradication Programme in the early 1980s, following which it was transformed into a residential layout.

The area today sees severe water shortages, and residents lining up for water from the many tankers that populate Kodihalli is a common sight. In his book Building Bangalore: Architecture and Urban Transformation in India’s SiliconValley , John C. Stallmeyer notes that the area has seen a marked inequity in development compared to the more upmarket stretches housing electronic companies in Indiranagar.

“This economic inequity has environmental consequences, including a lack of proper sanitation and a depletion of already scarce water resources due to sinking too many borewells,” Stallmeyer writes. He adds that it is ironic that so many borewells are now required in areas once located close to tanks of “social, cultural and physical” importance.

Bikes and buffalo sheds

Today, the explosive growth of areas like Domlur, Old Airport Road and 100 Feet Road — all near Kodihalli — has begun to affect the area. The buffalo shed on the Kodihalli street where Ramanujam Thodur has lived for 15 years has given way to apartment complexes in recent years. He also points out that homes were not built with large parking spaces in mind, and that is directly linked to the high number of cars and bikes parked on the area’s narrow lanes and pavements.

Despite the woes that inevitably come with accelerated development, many residents of the area retain a marked fondness for Kodihalli.

For Ramanujam, the area’s well-connected nature, due to its proximity to Indiranagar, is a huge positive. That Inner Ring Road is close by provides connectivity to Koramangala, he points out, and bus services to other parts of the city are frequent, too.

“I seriously cannot even think of relocating…I’m attached to Jeevan Bima Nagar, Kodihalli and New Thippasandra,” says Raju Gunashekar, a communications professional who has lived in these neighbourhoods for over 17 years in all (he currently lives in Kodihalli).

Even as recently as 1996, Raju recalls, the area wore a quiet, tranquil air, of a primarily residential character. So the multiple BMTC Volvo buses, the dust and crowds, are things he’s not too fond of.

Kodihalli in fiction

Sriram Narayan, an IT professional, even set one of his short stories, “The Fiddler of Kodihalli”, in the area. The story features Kabir, a young software engineer who takes up the violin in his spare time, practicing in his rented house by a narrow road in Kodihalli.

Angry traffic jams and honks interrupt his practice; his less-than-enthusiastic landlord asks him to stop, as he believes Kabir’s violin playing is mistaken for additional honks by drivers, leading to an increase in traffic noise.

Living in Kodihalli means residents have access to Indiranagar’s ever-changing cosmopolitan offerings. “The thing about these eateries,” says Sriram, “is they thrive or shut shop — no plodding along; guess it is the high rents.”

Another distinctive feature of the area is its dual nature, of both city and village. Just behind monuments to new Bangalore glitz such as the Leela Palace and other swanky restaurants are tiny market streets that bear familiar, small-town features, and other reminders of parts of the city less favoured by development.

“Just a few steps away from the modern, rich Diamond District apartments, we can see Corporation quarters,” says Anjali Reddy, who is from Andhra Pradesh and moved to the area six years ago.

A yearly festival sees a night-long procession, which sees much of the area out on the streets, and kabaddi competitions conducted.

It’s this vibrant slice of old Bangalore represented by Kodihalli, then, that sets it apart from its plush, glass-façade-wearing neighbours. “It can be called the poor man’s Indiranagar,” says Ramanujam.

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