ULSOOR, where Bangalore history comes alive

Ulsoor (or Halasuru) is one of the most historic and fascinating neighbourhoods located at the centre
Bangalore and begins roughly near the eastern terminus of MG Road. It has a very rich cultural and
historical background. The story of Ulsoor is little known and hidden behind the hustle-bustle of daily
chaos the place exhibits. The beauty and culture of Ulsoor has been recognised far and wide by its
residents, but the history of Ulsoor and how it’s become an integral part of Bengaluru has been
untapped.
Every nook and corner of Ulsoor is studded with innumerable evidences of five centuries ofglorious
past. This neighbourhood has seen many rulers and dynasties. It was once part of Hyder Ali’s zaagir.
Then it was bought by the Wodeyars, the royal family of Mysore, from the Mughals. Tipu Sultan, a
rather famous ruler of southern India, annexed the area from the Wodeyars. However, the British
seized control of Ulsoor from Tipu Sultan and returned it to the Wodeyars. The British then had an
understanding with the Wodeyars and so converted Ulsoor into a cantonment. To this day, it is known
for its Cantonment railway station. The British thereon built an entire settlement around their
cantonment. They established an entire town complete with offices, courts, government buildings,
etc. A separate community for the labourers, mostly Tamilians, was also built by the British. Even
today, Tamilians are a major part of the Ulsoor community.
The Madras Engineer Group (MEG) or the Madras Sappers of the Indian Army is based in Ulsoor. They
were instrumental in helping the East India Company win battles of supremacy in the Southern
Peninsula in the 1780s. They fought in various wars such as the World Wars and the Afghan Wars. To
commemorate the work of MEG there are two tanks displayed at their headquarters in Ulsoor.
Several adjacent roads and the islands in the Ulsoor Lake are named after the victories of Madras
Sappers.
The community founded in the early 1800s flourishes even today and has a vibrant mix of people
from different parts of the country. The largest Sikh shrine in Bangalore, the Sri Guru Singh Sabha, is
situated on the banks of the Ulsoor Lake. The sprawling white building on the edges of the lake, is
indeed a well known place on the City’s landscape. The Bengali Association in Ulsoor is the epicentre
of fun and frolic during the festival of Durga Puja in mid October every year. The Sindhi Association is
also a nerve centre of the Sindhi community in the city. The largely untouched buildings in Ulsoor are
attractions to tourists from all over the world. The summer palace of a Nepalese King built on the
banks of the lake is one of the many beautiful sights Ulsoor offers.
We can definitively say that Ulsoor is a gem of the city which has withstood the currents of time. It
preserves the history of Bangalore in the best possible way. Ulsoor is an all-embracing blend of the
urban lifestyle and the quirks and foibles of a bygone era.

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