A writeup on the place where I have spent more than 20 years ( I will be spending more time when I get back) is not easy to start off. Malleswaram is the oldest residential area in Bangalore North, and together with Basavanagudi in Bangalore South, forms what can be hailed as the most conservative part of this cosmopolitan city. Malleswaram is more than just an area, it is a part of the family for a few thousands inhabiting the area. There is an aura about Malleswaram that prevents me from reaching out to the other parts of the city for a living. The perfect combination of conservative outlook tinged with not too modern and sophisticated way of living makes it a perfect place for a typical middle class family to settle here.
Malleswaram is characterized by two main roads connecting it to the rest of the city - Margosa Road and Sampige Road. Margosa Road derives its name from the entire stretch of Neem(Margosa) trees lined up on either side of the road. This part of the city follows the Main and Cross structure for representing an address. All roads parallel to these main roads are refered to as Mains and the ones perpendicular to them are the crosses. If you are new to the place, it is very easy to lose your way in the array of mains and crosses. Most of them who visit the city for the first time say Every road looks the same! But once you get adjusted to the area, it is easy to find your way through every nook and corner.
There are many things about Malleswaram that makes me nostalgic and gives me the drive to return back to Bangalore as soon as possible. There are a few things in life not of much significance, but can have a big impact in life. So, where do I start to take you for a brief tour of the place I love so much! I live in the 8th Main Road(one of the busy roads) off 9th Cross very close to the Malleswaram Railway Station. This railway station is a great place and the setting is such that it looks as if it has been lifted directly from Malgudi Days of RK Narayan. By the way, RK Narayan was so impressed with Malleswaram and Basavanagudi that Malgudi was derived from these two names. The railway station has two entrances just like any other railway station, with two tracks separating the junctions on either side. The area is flanked by a number of trees with benches lined on the platforms in neat fashion. This serves as a meeting point for the many elders in the area, a perfect place for an early morning or a late evening walk, a place for some people to come and read books, a romantic hangout for young couples on the steps that form a sort of sidewalk from an overhanging bridge to the reservation counter, and for some young kids to have a peek at the not so many trains that whizz past the station during the day. For some people like me, it serves as a perfect hangout to meet with friends. How can I forget those days when all of us in the group used to meet here for hours together and discuss about everything in the world ranging from girls, future, placements, life, philosophy, religion, politics, family, wealth, controversies, college, education, bigwigs and what not! This used to be over a jhola(corn) with a lot of Khara(hot chilly paste) or a plate of bhel puri. It is amazing even today to think about the amount of time I have spent here with my friends. Just by the side of the Railway Station is the Anjaneya temple, which provides solace to the residents in the area. I used to make it a point to visit this temple almost everyday with my mother. A visit to the temple was a definite must before taking any decision. It used to provide me the comfort, warmth and confidence like never felt before. Anjaneya was(and is) a part of daily life and I can still hear my mother's voice ringing in my ears, Anjaneyara innikki parthuttu vandhaya (Did you meet Anjaneya today?) Such is the faith in the Lord not just of my mother, but all the residents in the area. On the other side of the railway station is a small shop which sells very good idlies and vadas. Four or five rupees for a plate of idly-vada. Heaven!
On the 5th main Road is the school where I studied, BP Indian Public School, from the first grade upto the tenth grade. Just beside the school is the famous Kanchi Mutt and the serene composed face of Kanchi Kamakshi is truly comforting. Though the main Mutt in Kanchipuram is in the news for all the wrong reasons, this is one of those places which can really fill your void. There were a lot of young kids learning Vedas from the main priest and it was truly a wonderfuly sight to see them with the washtee (dhoti) and pattai (sacred ash on the forehead).
The busiest street in Malleswaram is the 8th Cross. This is the main shopping street for the residents. It has everything here - clothes, vegetables, fruits, utensils, chats and what not! This street is always crowded and is the lifeline of Malleswaram. During the festive season, the street used to be packed not with vehicles but of people. There never used to be an inch of space to move, but that was never a cause to lose motivation to shop on this street. This was the best time for the vendors to make business and they never left a stone unturned to attract customers. The price of the essential commodities always used to go up during this part of the time, because whatever maybe the cost, people used to end up buying it. Whenever I used to pass through this street, I used to come across a known face. The charm and joy one finds in shopping at such places can never be compared to the sophisticated and gloss associated with the big malls. This is truly a different kind of experience.
Talk of fast food joints and Malleswaram is the place. Let me list my favourite places:
- As I told you before, the idly shop next to the railway station is too good.
- CTR (Central Tiffin Room) or Shree Sagar (if you are going by the new name) is the best place where I have had Masala Dosai. This place is also good for the vadas, pooris, chow chow bath, idlies, but Dosai it is that is unbeatable here.
- Sahyadri, another place too good for Dosais, and one of my favourites. This is on the Margosa Road at the 8th Cross Bus Stop. Such a place is called as Darshini (fast food joint) and these are the kind of places one should stop by to have superb South Indian delicacies.
- Janata Hotel on the 8th Cross and this too is very famous for the dosais.
- Veena Stores on 16th cross right opposite the Telephone exchange and this place is terrific for idlies and chutney.
- Crunchy Munchy ulundu(uddin) vadai, masala vadai, bondas, Mensinkai(Chilly) bajjis in a shop diagonally opposite the Sai Baba temple on 15th cross, Sampige Road. This is a very small shop but that shouldn't deter anyone from going there. There is also a juice center beside the Sai Baba temple that serves refreshing fresh fruit juice.
- My favourite North Indian food joint is the Sai Shakthi Hotel on the 8th cross which is just a walk away from Margosa Road
- There is a place in 18th Cross in the corner on 8th Main road which serves very good parotas with Channa Masala for ten rupees. I can't recollect the name but it is really good.
- The chat wala who used to park his gaadi just in front of MES College. This guy serves the best Tomato puri, chips masala, cucumber masala and bhel puri in the area.
- Amrith Ice Cream Parlour in the street adjacent to my school serves authentic home made ice cream.
- How can I forget New Krishna Bhavan (NKB as it is fondly called) located opposite the Sampige Theater. This place serves very good south Indian dishes with a lot of new varieties, apart from the conventional items. To supplement this with the North Indian dishes is the attached restaurant Gopika and I like the place mainly for its ambience along with good food!
Malleswaram also is home to IISc (Indian Institute of Science), the best Research school in India and one of the best in the world. It was established way back in 1909 by J.N. Tata and has built up a terrific reputation over a long period. One of the reputed Pre-University Colleges in the state MES College of arts, science and commerce is situated in Malleswaram.
All in all, Malleswaram is truly complete in every sense. I am always filled with passion to talk about this place. It took me about three to four days(couldn't do this continuously) to compose this writeup and I realise how much I love this place. Malleswaram brings a lot of emotions flooding within me and I am sure all those peope who have spent their time here will agree with me on this. It was really difficult for me to write up this piece, as I used to go back to time and recollect all those things that I loved doing here. Though off late it has resulted in a spate of apartments and heavy traffic in many parts, it is the most cherished place for me to spend my future.
I am sure there are many things I might have missed out, and it would be wonderful if you could post your comments on the parts where I have failed to cover. Next time I go to Bangalore, I am updating this writeup with pictures.
Update: Please click on this link to visit the updated blog with pictures. Thanks!