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As citizens of Bangalore, the city we see around has evolved with different custodians of its governance. Revisiting the city’s topographical history provides a fascinating glimpse of the city.

The 1791 map of Bangalore shows an area called Petta adjoining the Bangalore fort. It consists of areas representing present day Avenue Road, Chikpete, and surrounding areas. The outer walls of the Petta are surrounded by agricultural fields.

Bangalore Map of 1791. Image Source: www.deeplythinking.files.wordpress.com

Bangalore Map of 1791. Image Source: http://www.deeplythinking.wordpress.com

A city is shaped by social and political events of its time and Bangalore is no exception. The city’s governance changed hands between its founding in 1537 and 1831, when the British took over the city’s administration.

In 1809, the Cantonment was established by the British which resulted in building administration and residential areas for the British military. 1881 saw roads named after military conventions – Infantry Road, Brigade Road and Artillery Road. (The city even today retains the names of these streets!) The city thus expanded beyond the surroundings of Bangalore fort.  In 1893, 1898, plague broke out in Bangalore, which necessitated a plague quarantine area and hence a ‘Plague Camp’ was created south of Richmond town (see map below.) The epidemic took a large toll in Bangalore especially in populated places, but provided an impetus to the development of civilian areas of Bangalore. While telephone lines were laid to assist anti-plague operations, regulations for building new houses with proper sanitation facilities came into effect. The Victoria Hospital was inaugurated in 1900 by Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy. Residential areas such as present day Malleshwaram and Basavanagudi were also formed.

The map of Bangalore in 1924 shows a town dotted with lakes and exhibiting civil and military station boundaries.

Bangalore Map of 1924. Image source: www.deeplythinking.wordpress.com

Bangalore Map of 1924. Image source: http://www.deeplythinking.wordpress.com

In 2013, it is not surprising to see significant changes in the configuration of the city. The changes have been driven by the social and economic forces at work in Bangalore. The growth of Bangalore as a city for employment has brought large scale migration and with it changes in land use patterns. An obvious change in the city’s land use is the elimination of nearly all water bodies. Dharmambudi tank is the present day’s Kempegowda (Majestic) bus stand where as Sampangi tank is the Kanteerava stadium. Numerous lakes have been drained or left to die for use as residential or industrial areas. Agricultural land has been converted into apartment and shopping complexes.

Year Area (Sq Km)
1949 69
1963-64 112
1969 134
1979 161
1995 226
2006 696

Bangalore City Corporation Limits over the years. Source: Urbanisation in Bangalore

With an increase in city limits, Bangalore faces the growing problems of urban sprawl, loss of natural vegetation and open space, and decline in wet-lands and wildlife habitat.

Understanding the land use patterns in Bangalore is the key to future urban planning. The Bangalore Mahanagar Palika master plan for Bangalore needs to be understood by its citizens to enable participation from the people most affected by the proposed changes. Urban planning of Bangalore is in the hands of multiple agencies (Bangalore Development Authority, Bangalore Mahanagar Palika, Bangalore Metropolitan Region Development Authority, Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation) and coordination among these agencies is crucial to developing and implementing a cohesive plan.

As city authorities and agencies take on the challenge of city planning, the role of citizens in determining the design of city spaces will become more important.  Perhaps this will be the next force dictating the growth of Bangalore.