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Postgraduate Research

Bangalore - The Early City, AD 1537 - 1799

Yashaswini Sharama, is a practising architect and researcher, and also has a background in visual, performing and fine arts. She completed her Bachelor of Architectural Engineering from the B.M.S College of Engineering, Bangalore, and later her MPhil with Prof. Adam Hardy as supervisor from the Cardiff University in 2012. Her research topic focused on the early development of Bangalore city, specifically from its inception in the 16th century until the 18th century. She is presently collaborating with Prof. Hardy on the Shree Kalyana Venkateshwara Hoysala temple project through her architectural practice, Esthétique Architects. Earlier, she was involved in some field work and documentation for the Indian Temple Project headed by Prof. Hardy. Through her practice she has designed and executed several residential, commercial and interior projects in Bangalore: www.esthetiquearchitects.com

Abstract of MPhil Thesis (completed September 2007)

The aim of this study is to reach an understanding of the development of the city of Bangalore, focusing on the architecture and settlement pattern of its earliest urban area, the Pētē and the oval Fort. It attempts to identify the nature of the cultures underlying the architecture of the city by tracing the development chronologically from its establishment in the 16th century to its fortification and expansion during the rule of Hyder Ali (r. 1761-1782 AD) and Tipu Sultan (r. 1782-1799 AD), explaining various functional aspects affecting the form of the city, notably the shift in the character of the Pētē from a largely mercantile settlement to a military one. The city can be described as a melting pot of cultures and resultant built forms, growing from a small town to a city in a short span of time. The analysis, set within a framework of urban design theory, is built upon original documentation based on archival documents, including maps and drawings, and on fieldwork involving sketches, a photographic survey, and discussions with relevant authorities.

A historical survey (Chapter 1) based largely on secondary sources provides the context for the discussion of urban and architectural developments. This traces the rapid changes in patronage and the manner in which it affected the city as well as establishment of new religious nodes. It also explains patronage of few important surviving buildings of the town that have been detailed in Chapter 3.

The early urban development of Bangalore is treated in Chapter 2, which shows the importance of zones or 'sub-Pētēs', apparently from as early as the 16th century, and certainly apparent in 18th-century maps. The names of these sub-Pētēs convey the nature of the trade and social class of their original inhabitants, and these zones accommodate corresponding religious establishments. A reconstruction drawing of the Pētē area in the 18th century is presented, aiming to improve upon previous attempts by Annaswamy and Hasan. The layout of the oval Fort of Bangalore is discussed along with a discussion of other forts in its vicinity. The festival of Karaga and its impact in the social landscape of the city is briefly discussed.

The final section (Chapter 3) focuses on the architecture of significant buildings from the period in question in and around the Pētē area. These are the surviving portions of Tipu's Palace and the oval Fort, and a series of temples: Venkataramana Swāmy, Sōmēshwara, Ranganātha Swāmy, Dharma Rāya, Basava, Gavi Gangādharēshwara. The first two have been documented in new measured drawings and photographs and rest in terms of photographical survey. A brief discussion of the first masjid of Bangalore is made, along with a presentation of the Hazrat Tawakkal Mastān dargah. Tipu's Palace and the oval Fort have been documented through improved measured surveys and photographs. The design of the palace taking inspiration from Shivappa Nayaka's palace at Shimoga, while deliberately attempting a fusion between earlier Hindu methods of planning and Islamic art is discussed along with a brief description of the palaces of Śrirangapatna. The architectural dialogue in structures with different patronage is apparent in mixed motifs presented in murals on the walls of the oval Fort. The temples are provincial versions of imperial Vijayanagara style of architecture after the Vijayanagara Empire had actually ended with an emphasis on pillars, basic and composite. Columns are considered in Tipu's Palace to emphasize the importance of subtle introduction of a different artistry while retaining the structural aspects from earlier patronage.

The changing built form of the city from that of primarily Hindu to one that incorporates Islamic influences has been discussed through the documentation of the surviving structures, temples, Palace and oval Fort. That the principal axiality of the Pētē continues to influence the layout of the city is noteworthy.