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Revisiting the Forgotten Heritage of Pete on Feb. 17

In Nation
February 14, 2019

When the princely state of Mysore was hit by a plague in the late 19th century, its rulers of the Wodeyar dynasty stumbled upon an ingenious idea to fight the killer epidemic: they built Malleshwaram. Today, the area is among Bengaluru’s oldest modern suburbs and awash with fascinating stories about its origin.

Formed in 1889, the quaint locality of Malleswaram has since then shaped into a hub of vibrant industrial economy, symbolised by the iconic Mysore Sandal Soap and Mysore Lamp factories of the early 20th century, and a diverse socio-cultural milieu. It has a number of superior academic institutions; restaurants that provide gastronomic delights; resplendent temples; and a thriving flower market. To crown it all, it is home to cultural icons and boasts of various dance and music studios.

A free guided walk on February 24, organised by Sahapedia in partnership with UNESCO as part of the ongoing second edition of the India Heritage Walk Festival (IHWF), will provide an opportunity to local residents to explore some of the landmarks of Malleshwaram. All bookings for the festival are powered by Odigos, a product by the Bird Group, is an online marketplace that connects tourists to certified guides in India. Odigos app provides a seamless way for travellers and locals alike to understand and explore the iconic sites of our country.

Sujatha Balakrishnan, a history teacher, counsellor and theatre actor, will lead the tour during which participants can stroll across the Sampige and Margosa Roads and visit the 8th Cross Shopping Street which caters to all ages and pockets. They will also visit the Venugopalaswamy and KaduMalleshwara temples, and experience the sensory delights of the Malleshwaram fruit and vegetable market. In addition, they can pamper their taste buds with local food delicacies.

Another walk in Bengaluru, slated for February 17, has been planned in the fortress town of Kempegowda, whose Pete occupies an extraordinary role in history. Founded in 1537, the Pete was once a defensive terrain that put up a tough resistance against the British colonial power, with a large number of Mysoreans sacrificing their lives to protect the area..

Many from the current generation may not be aware that the first metal encased rockets in the world were used by the Mysore Army, reflecting the advanced military status of the period. Pete has also found its place in the children’s novel Riddle of the Seventh Stone. Kempegowda now boasts of a number of temples, tanks and a diverse trading community.

Balakrishnan will also be the walk leader for this guided tour that will include a visit to the Yelahanka Gate, Anjaneyaswamy, Maramma and Ranganathaswamy temples, Rice Memorial Hall and Mohan Building. Along with a glimpse into history, the attendees will savour the culinary delights of Avenue Road.

The IHWF, which received the prestigious PATA Gold Award 2018 for its maiden edition organised last year, is a one-of-its-kind month-long festival covering 37 cities, with nearly 110 heritage walks and outreach events. The February 02-28 festival is being supported by NMDC, a state-run mineral producer and explorer. The events’ bookings are facilitated by Odigos, an app that makes travel and discovery easier in India.

Vaibhav Chauhan, Festival Director (IHWF) and Secretary, Sahapedia, said: “We want to democratise access to local history and culture. One might be living in the same neighbourhood for years, but there is a big chance that an important landmark, tucked away in a back alley, has been missed and forgotten. The IHWF is that opportunity to discover the hidden gems linked to the history of a place, town or city.”

Junhi Han, Head and Programme Specialist for Culture, UNESCO New Delhi office, said, “The IHWF programme addresses knowledge of local architectural heritage, sustainable tourism, with a special focus on gender-related issues and accessibility in cultural heritage facilitating more inclusive and better outreach. The festival is expected to involve, engage and sensitize more people, in particular the youth, about their cultural heritage.”

Details about the walks, registration and other programmes of IHWF 2019 are available on https://www.odigosguides.com/India-heritage-walk-festival