MAKING A CONNECTION

Everytime I go looking for people and places from Bengaluru’s past, I end up joining a few dots and sorting out some puzzles and missing pieces in city history. But sometimes, there are more dots than one can imagine.I’ve driven past this building for ever so long and always wondered about it, and so it came about that finally one afternoon, I set off to discover what lay behind the beautiful little Annasawmy `Mood.’ Dispensary (1909) tucked away near Moore Road in Fraser Town. It turned out that right behind it was the Annasawmy Mudaliar General Hospital and the Rao Bahadur Annasawmy Mudaliar High School. And though this gentleman of distinction had left behind a large footprint in Bengaluru East,  this was not all. When I finally met Dr. BA Anantharam, his great-grandson and well known plastic surgeon who is also on the Governing Council of the hospital and President of the Rao Bahadur BP Annasawmy Mudaliar CIE’S Public Charities, larger connections to the city began to emerge.

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The dispensary has a gabled roof that is tiled.

Dr.Anantharam told me that R.B.B.P Annasawmy Mudaliar was born in Bengaluru in the mid-19th century on 23rd January and passed away on 22nd January in 1924, exactly one day before his birth date. He graduated with honours from the London Mission High School before joining his brother in a successful construction business. He soon acquired significant real estate in the old city area of Tharagupete, a traditional grain market, and the newly built Cantonment that had come up in 1809. The family originally hailed from the North Arcot sector in Tamil Nadu but “there was a strong ancestral connection to the Vijayanagar kingdom” says Dr. Anantharam. “It reflected in his choice of names for his sons. My grandfather Cheluvaraya was his second son. There are roads here named after all three of them.”An invisible line suddenly joins two dots in Frazer Town; Achyutharaya Mudaliar Road and the legendary MM Road, named after his eldest son, the distinguished magistrate, Madhavaraya Mudaliar. I extended the line to another dot and it ends at the Annaswamy Mudaliar Road that skirts Ulsoor Lake.

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“The road was laid at his own cost during his lifetime” said Dr BA Anantharam. “His house was located on a 4 acre plot that is now the RBI Quarters. I grew up there. It was a traditional house with a huge hall, prayer room, wood panelled walls, and a unique `Trivandrum’ floor.” All that remains of it now is one well, a temple he built and dedicated to the family deity Thiruvengadam, and Annasawmy Mudaliar’s carefully maintained mausoleum. But his memory remains embedded in the city.

“He had a distinctive building style” says Dr. Anantharam. “The Cauvery Handicrafts showroom that still exists at the Brigade Road junction was once the Prince of Wales Building privately owned by him where he also had a retail establishment. He had requested for it to be inaugurated by the prince, George VI, on his state visit here, but since that was not possible, he received permission to name it after him instead.” The Dispensary was a philanthropic contribution to the city that he constructed and handed over to the city municipality.The school behind the Dispensary was built for children in northern Bengaluru.It also intended to offer equal educational opportunities to the offspring of the disadvantaged `night soil workers’ who cleared conservancy lanes in the area.

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The Government run dispensary preserves an old world feeling

Dr. Anantharam says that Rao Bahadur BP Annasawmy Mudaliar received the Kaiser-e-Hind medal in 1911 from George V at the Delhi Durbar, and later, its bar. The prestigious medal, awarded only for exemplary contributions to `public interest in India’, is a recognition of his work that continues to be visible in the city even today.

Annasawmy Mudaliar’s connections with the British administration and an expertise with building in stone resulted in him being associated with several important public infrastructure contracts in Mysore state. The dots transformed into powerful lines of influence across the city when I discovered that these projects included the old Bengaluru City Railway Station, the Mysore-Arsikere railway line (1918) and the beautiful European Classical Mayo Hall(1833) that was built to commemorate Richard Southwell Bourke, the 6th Earl of Mayo and Governor General of India, who was assassinated while on a state visit to the Andamans.

Bengaluru’s stories are hidden in the most unusual places. If I hadn’t stopped and walked in, I would have never discovered this one.

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Find it at: Madhavaraya Mudaliar Road (MM), Frazer Town, Bengaluru

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*This story is a part of our project `Bengaluru-a Remembered City that seeks to map the city through the narratives of its people.It was originally published in the Bangalore Mirror on August 30th, 2015.Read it here. Images courtesy : Nirlek Dhulla.Dejaview for Native Place

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6 comments

  1. I saw it earlier.Would you clarify the dates & years of birth & death of R.B.B.P.Annasawmy Mudr.If you please later write the links with RBANMudr the builder of KarnatakaHighCourt,Bangalore with dates of births, deaths, events, construction, etc., it will educate us people in all walks of life, like teachers,historians, students,writers, etc.,much more. Good,very useful & interesting story.Stirs my soul.I hope that your patience increases so that you search more.

  2. Sir, as mentioned, this information was provided by Dr.Anantharam, who very kindly gave me so much of his time.If there are additional details and connections as you request, that anyone might be aware of, it would be a huge help if it could be shared here.

  3. vikas venugopal · · Reply

    I was to meet Dr.Anantharam…..it it possible . My great grand father was also a builder around ulsoor during 1900-1940.
    Can you share me his number or email

  4. I look forward to your blog for information such as these. It was pleasant reading and appreciate the work by Sri. Annasawmy Mudaliar

  5. B S Sheshadri · · Reply

    Since you were so close-on MM Road ; I wonder how you missed out the Cox Town Boys School & Girls School (opp the refurbished Tamil church)-both from 1910/1912. I live on Charles Campbell Road- Our family has lived there from 1948 -when my Grandfather retired as a civil surgeon-from Bowring & Lady Curzon Hospital service -with a Rao Saheb sannad from the 2nd last Governor General of India-Lord Wavell as a personal honour… So please do another round to cover these..and other very stately colonial residences -behind Bangalore East Station as well as all around Richards Park…

    1. Thank you so much for writing in and for the inputs! Will definitely consider it when I am writing about Cox Town specifically.:-) I did not miss out on it, because this story is not about Cox Town as one may have gathered, but about a specific individual and his connection to a particular area in the city.So Cox Town Boys School and Girls School (both beautiful buildings) may not be relevant here but would definitely merit a story of their own, as does your family too.

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