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The house on modi musjid road

Bangalore boasted of a very large number of bungalows which dotted every part of the city even as late as the 80s. Some of these were the legacies of the British residents in the former cantonment area. The “city” part of Bangalore also had its share of huge residential buildings built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries which lent the city an old world charm. With the efflux of time and to cater to the needs of the increasing populace many of these buildings with large compounds gave way to the multi storied residential complexes in recent times. But a few of those old buildings still dot the skyline of the city reminding one of the past era when large residential buildings were the norm for the rich and famous people.

Way back in the middle of the last century when I first landed in Bangalore, the cantonment area was a charming little town (with literally several ‘towns’ spread out over the area) and many Europeans and well to do Anglo Indians and indigenous aristocracy were living in large palatial bungalows. My uncle was working in the establishment of the Commissioner of Police as his P.A. in the rank of Sub Inspector. He was allotted the Police Quarters located on the Chick Bazaar Road off Queens Road near the Modi Musjid in the Cantonment for his residence. This was no barrack type quarters. It was a semi palatial residence with a vast compound and a three roomed out-house for servants. The main house itself had three big rooms with tall ceilings and three ante rooms topped by tiled roofs. The front of the house had a cute portico with trellis work upon which flowery creepers climbed lending it a charming façade.

I spent the early years of my life in Bangalore as a teenager in this house which has many happy memories of the pre and past independence days. The town was still virgin with vast tracks of open land from the Cantonment Railway Station to South Parade (the present day M.G.Road). The Miller Tank in close proximity was a vast tract of water and we used to spend many hours sitting on its banks enjoying the serenity of the evening hours. It was during my stay here that the country celebrated its independence and also saw the cruel assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. On the 15th of August 1947 , I bought a small Khadi Tricolor at a cost of Rs.6/- and raised it on top of the bungalow for the first time much to the shock and amusement of my uncle who had served the British masters in the pre-Independence days. I still cherish the possession of that flag which I raise every Independence Day and Republic Day even today. On 30th and 31st January 1948 I was glued to the radio listening to the running commentary of Gandhiji’s assassination and funeral.

I recently had an opportunity of visiting the place which was my residence of many years which brought back old memories. It was a shocking experience. The former mansion is in a dilapidated condition with the whole place in complete ruin and neglect. The beautiful compound where we had raised many fruit bearing trees is full of shrubs and resembled a forest. I was told that many senior police officers had occupied the place for many years. But now it suffers neglect and appears to be waiting for a real estate developer to turn it into a multi-storied complex as it is a prime property. It surprises one to realize how it escaped the land sharks’ axe for so long.

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