As Bengaluru becomes one of the most important metropolitan cities in the country, it has come under almost everyone’s radar. But how much do you really know about this city? Here are 35 lesser-known facts about Bengaluru that you might not have heard about before.
- Winston Churchill owes Rs. 13 to the Bangalore Club
The Bangalore Club is the oldest and most prestigious club in Bengaluru, founded in 1868. To mark its 125th year anniversary, the club released a book which showed a ledger entry specifying that one of the most iconic Prime Ministers of the UK, Winston Churchill, owes the club a grand total of Rs. 13 in the form of several unpaid bills.
2. Bengaluru invented the Rava Idli
Rava idli is a popular fixture in almost any South Indian restaurant today, but few know about where it originated from. Contrary to popular belief, Rava Idli wasn’t invented in Tamil Nadu, but in Bengaluru. During the Second World War, rice, the most essential component in idlis, was in short supply. To cater to the never-ending demand for Idlis, MTR ingeniously thought of using semolina instead of rice, giving birth to the Rava Idli.
3. It was the first city to receive electricity
Bengaluru’s reputation as the most technologically advanced city in India might actually go back to over a hundred years ago. In 1906 when hydroelectric power was initially being introduced in India, the first city to be electrified was not Delhi or Mumbai, but Bengaluru! A plant in Shivanasamudra provided electricity to Bengaluru for the first time ever and a building located in City Market was chosen to be the first to receive electricity.
4. Most number of nominees for the Nobel Prize
One of the unknown facts about Bengaluru is that it has produced the most number of nominees considered for the Nobel Prize as compared to any other city in India. The most famous of them was Sir CV Raman, who won the 1930 Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of the Raman Effect. In his honour, a locality in East Bengaluru was renamed CV Raman Nagar.
5. It has the most number of engineering colleges
In what shouldn’t be too surprising, Bengaluru has the most number of engineering colleges as compared to any other city in the world. Bangalore University has around 57 affiliated engineering colleges while there are 21 engineering colleges within the city limits. There are also over a million engineering IT professionals currently working in Bengaluru.
6. Malgudi Days was inspired by the city
India’s most beloved series, Malgudi Days, actually has its roots in Bengaluru. R.K. Narayan, the creator of the series, combined the names of two of the oldest localities in the city, Malleshwaram and Basavanagudi to come up with the unique name ‘Malgudi’. Readers of the series might find it hard to imagine Swami and his friends running around in
Bengaluru of today, however!
7. There are competing stories about its etymology
One of the unknown facts about Bengaluru that has always been debated is the story of how it got its name. One of the theories is that it was originally called Bengalval-uru which in the local dialect literally translates to ‘city of guards’. Another story is that the Hoysala ruler Veera Ballala was once served boiled beans in the city and began to call it Benda-Kaal-uru (land of boiled beans), thereafter.
8. It has the oldest army regiments in India
Bengaluru was one of the most important cantonments in India and has a number of reputed regiments dating back centuries. Madras Sappers, formally known as the Madras Engineering Group was first formed in the 1770s. The regiment is still very active today and plays an instrumental role in maintaining the Ulsoor Lake.
9. It is home to the highest number of pubs in Asia
There might be thousands of companies opening up in Bengaluru, but that doesn’t mean the city is all about work and no play. Bengaluru has the highest number of pubs in Asia and the most exciting nightlife of any city in India. It also has a large number of microbreweries opening up, which offer unique craft beers to the dedicated pub crowd.
10. It is also the Biotech capital
Bengaluru is the IT center of India, but that’s not all it’s known for. This city also has the highest number of biotechnology companies in the country. Almost 47% of the biotech companies in India are located in Bengaluru. This also includes Biocon, the largest biotech company in India.
11. Freedom Park once used to be a jail
In what might be one of the most ironic facts about Bengaluru, Freedom Park was once the location of the Central Jail. It was first built during the Independence movement by the British to imprison the freedom fighters.
12. It has the most places of worship
In what is a testament to the cosmopolitan nature of the city, Bengaluru has the most number and diversity of worship places compared to any other city in India. The city has a large number of temples, mosques, churches and gurudwaras to cater to the growing population. Bengaluru is also known for its tolerance, with all these religions co-existing in harmony.
13. A rich cultural diversity & a cosmopolitan crowd
Bengaluru city is welcoming & resides people from across India. Reports show that the number of Kannadigas in Bengaluru today are 41% of the population. The remaining consists of Tamilians (25%), Telugites (14%), Keralites (10%), European (8%) and Others (6%). This shows that Bengaluru is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in India.
14. The beautiful weather is due to its elevation
One of the greatest parts of living in Bengaluru is the incredible weather you can enjoy all year round. This was also why the British preferred Bengaluru to other cities in India. The reason behind this weather is the fact that it is located at an elevation of 920m above sea level. To put this into perspective, Dehradun is located at 437m above sea level. Few other metropolitan cities in India can boast of the same pleasant climate.
15. There are 25 lakes in Bengaluru
Bengaluru has a unique combination of nature and technology co-existing side-by-side. At present, there are around twenty five lakes in Bengaluru, the most popular of which are Ulsoor Lake, Hebbal Lake, Madiwala Lake and Lalbagh Lake. Sterling Ascentia in Bellandur overlooks the beautiful Bellandur Lake. Bengaluru in 1960s had around 262 water bodies in the city.
16. Lalbagh is home to an ancient rock formation
The beautiful Lalbagh park is home to some of the oldest and most beautiful rock formations in the country. These rocks protrude from the surface, looking like little hills. The Geological Survey of India discovered that one of these rocks dated back to around 2.5 to 3.4 billion years ago. It has also been declared a national geological monument and is one of the best spots to visit in Bengaluru.
17. The Victoria Hospital was named in honour of Queen Victoria
To celebrate the 60 year anniversary of Queen Victoria’s reign, the Maharani regent of Mysore laid the foundation stone of the Victoria Hospital on 22 June 1897. Operating since 1900, the hospital is one of the oldest and most respected hospitals in Bengaluru even today, a century after it first started.
18. Bengaluru’s airport was the most unique in the world
One of the interesting facts about Bengaluru most of us might have missed out is that the old Bengaluru Airport was the only airport in the world where commercial and defence flights operated from the same strip. Now, however, commercial flights have moved to the newly constructed Kempegowda International Airport. Today, the old HAL airport is used for military flights, test planes and smaller chartered flights for VVIPs.
19. It is the Startup capital of the country
Bengaluru and startups have become almost synonymous with each other. The city is teeming with entrepreneurs coming up with innovative new ideas. To date, there have been around 14,000 to 19,000 startups in Bengaluru. Some of the most successful of these include Swiggy, redBus and Flipkart. There have also been many startup incubation centres started to nurture this talent.
20. The Bangalore Torpedo was created here
The Bangalore Torpedo was a deadly explosive used throughout the world in both, the First and Second World Wars. The explosion can clear up an area of around 4 metres. It was first invented by the Madras Sappers unit under the orders of Capt. McClintock. The use of Bangalore Torpedos has also been featured in several movies such as Saving Private Ryan.
21. Shivanasamudram Dam is Asia’s first hydroelectric power station
The Shivanasamudram Dam located on the banks of the River Kaveri is the single largest source of piped water to Bengaluru. It is also the site of the first ever hydroelectric power station in South Asia. It was first proposed around 120 years back in 1902 by the then king of Mysore. There are also a number of old temples located near the dam, suggesting that this area was home to an ancient settlement.
22. Bengaluru has the highest number of IT companies
In what isn’t one of the most surprising facts about Bengaluru, it has the highest number of software companies as compared to any other city in India. A 2016 report showed that Bengaluru had 212 IT companies while Hyderabad was next with 108. This number has definitely increased since then, however, as even more companies have opened up their offices in Bengaluru. This city has rightly been dubbed the Silicon Valley of India. Many of these IT companies are located in Hebbal, within close proximity to Sterling Pointe.
23. It has the most two-wheelers
The city has the highest number of two-wheelers as compared to any other place in India. A recent survey conducted in January of this year showed that there are at present, 50 lakh two wheelers in Bengaluru.
24. It has an excellent public transport system
There might be a high number of privately owned vehicles in Bengaluru, but the government has also taken the initiative to improve the public transport system. Bengaluru was the first city in India to introduce Volvo AC buses, which made commuting a lot more comfortable for its residents. It was also the first city in South India to start a metro project. Currently, the Namma Metro project covers almost every important area in Bengaluru and has drastically reduced travel time.
25. It has one of the oldest drainage systems
After it was officially founded in 1537, the civic body of the city laid down drainage systems to make the city more sanitary. One of the unknown facts about Bengaluru is that many of these sewage lines exist even today, centuries later. This makes the drainage and sanitary systems of Bengaluru one of the oldest in the world. It also shows the expertise the builders of the time had since many of their structures have survived to this day.
26. It is home to the Bugle Rock
The Bugle Rock is a massive, unique rock formation in Bengaluru’s Basavanagudi area. It was the location of one of Kempe Gowda’s four towers, each of which marked the boundaries of the city. The Bugle Rock got its name from the daily ritual that was followed, where a sentry guard would shine a torch that could be seen from the other four towers and blow a bugle. This tower exists even today and visitors can enjoy a beautiful view of the city from here.
27. The Mughals once invaded Bengaluru
The Mughals were known for capturing almost every kingdom in North India, but few know that they also made their way down South. 50 years after the Marathas overthrew the Vijayanagara Empire and ruled Bengaluru, the Mughals invaded the city and captured it. Instead of ruling it, they sold Bengaluru to the Mysore Kingdom. It remained with the Mysore royal family until the British captured it in 1799.
28. Bengaluru was always at the heart of globalisation
Today everyone knows Bengaluru is one of the most cosmopolitan and globalised cities in India. But this identity Bengaluru has developed might actually go back several millennia. In what is today Yeshwantpur and HAL, coins were discovered dating back to 27 BCE belonging to Roman emperors like Augustus and Tiberius. This suggests that Bengaluru was involved in global trade even centuries ago.
29. Bengaluru became the ‘Garden City of India’ in 1927
The fact that Bengaluru is one of the greenest metropolitan cities in India today is no accident. In 1927, to commemorate the silver jubilee of Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, many parks were constructed in every part of Bengaluru to beautify the city. Due to his efforts, Bengaluru has become one of the best cities to live in.
30. The city paid a unique tribute to cartoons
One of the most interesting facts about Bengaluru is that it is one of the best cities for artists to gain recognition. For the first time in India, Bengaluru opened a cartoon gallery to exhibit the best cartoon illustrations. The exhibition was conducted by the Indian Institute of Cartoonists who are headquartered in Bengaluru to bring the art of cartooning to light.
31. Kempegowda bus stand used to be a lake
The site on which the Kempegowda bus terminus currently stands has a long history. It was first a man made lake created during Kempegowda’s reign, to collect water from multiple sources into one large reservoir. Later on, the lake dried up and it became a popular spot among locals to meet up and socialise in. In 1931, Jawaharlal Nehru even conducted a rally here and hoisted the flag.
32. It has the longest bus route in India
The country’s longest bus route extends from Bangalore to Jodhpur in Rajasthan. This journey takes a total of 36 hours to cover a distance of 1935 kms. If you have been infected by the wanderlust bug, this is an unforgettable experience you should never miss out on. The huge changes in landscape and culture as you travel from one city to the other can be seen up close throughout this bus trip.
33. It might have played a huge role in the drawing of the map
According to some sources, the first ever map of India was drawn using Trinity Church on MG Road as the starting point. In fact, there is even a stone here that exists to this day which is believed to be the exact point from where the map was drawn.
34. Lalbagh is home to a huge variety of natural life’
Lalbagh is every nature lover’s heaven on earth. Apart from its famed rock formation, Lalbagh is also home to more than 1000 distinct species of flora and fauna. There are many varieties of birds here like the Purple Moorhen, Common Egret, Parakeets and Pond Heron. This abundance of natural beauty right in the heart of the city is unique only to a city like Bengaluru.
35. ‘The World is Flat’ is inspired by Bengaluru
The popular book, ‘The World is Flat’ by Thomas Friedman was actually based on how globalisation had changed the socio-economic fabric of Bengaluru. This book provides an in-depth look into how globalisation has essentially ‘flattened’ the world by providing equal opportunities to every competing brand.