Myths and Urban Legends of Bangalore

From the earliest mentions of Bengaluru in the 1000-year-old hero stone that now resides in Begur’s Sri Panchalinga Nageshwara temple, and Kempe Gowda I’s mud fort built around the early city of Bangalore in the 16th Century, to the division of Bangalore into two cities during the English crown takeover, to today, Bangalore has ‘been there, done that’. With so many years of history and changes under its belt, the city is bound to have some legends attached to its name. Some are historical, some are spooky. But all have answers to one question – Bob, why is Bangalore so legendary, literally?

Here are some popular myths and urban legends about your favourite city, Bangalore.

One of the most famous legends about the city tells us that Bangalore got its name from boiled beans. According to the legend, the Hoysala ruler Veera Ballala II went on a hunting expedition and lost his way in a forest. As time passed, he grew weary and hungry. He eventually came across a poor old woman, who saw the famished visage of the king and offered him boiled beans to eat. Grateful for her generosity, the king named the place benda kaala-ooru which translates to ‘the town of boiled beans’. This eventually became Bengaluru.

Kempe Gowda I, a chieftain of the Vijayanagara Empire, is the founder of Bangalore as we know it. His leadership quality combined with his town-planning skill led him to construct the city of Bangalore within the walls of a mud fort. Construction began on an auspicious day, with four pairs of oxen ploughing the land in four different directions, from the point where Chikpete and Doddapete met. These were marked as the four most important trade roads.

During the construction of the fort, however, the southside wall kept collapsing, no matter how many times it was rebuilt. People began prescribing a human sacrifice to the gods, to ward off any evil that was causing the wall to collapse. However, Kempe Gowda was against such a sacrifice.

Unknown to him, his daughter-in-law, Lakshmamma, offered herself as a sacrifice, and slit her throat in secret, in the dead of the night. Soon after, the southern wall was completed, with no further collapses.

Legends of Bangalore
Legends of Bangalore

In Basavanagudi stands the Nandi Temple, which is the birthplace of a handful of legends by itself! The temple is estimated to have been built in 1537 during the rule of Kempe Gowda I, with its main draw being the large idol of Nandi carved out of a single block of granite.

Legend has it that the area was known for its bumper crop of groundnuts. However, a bull in the area would wreak havoc and damage the crops. As the bull’s rampage became more frequent, local farmers grew worrisome and decided to build a temple for the bull, to appease it.

Soon after the temple was built, the bull stopped its rampage. In thanks, the farmers began hosting a groundnut offering next to the temple. This festival, known as Kadlekai Parashe, is held even today, in November or December. The farmers’ promise to the bull never ceased.

Another legend has it that the Nandi idol would not stop growing in size till Lord Shiva placed a small iron plate over its head.

This one is from among the more modern legends of Bangalore; it had its seeds sown in the 1990s and reached full bloom by being the inspiration for the 2018 Bollywood movie Stree. The legend states that a witch roamed around the streets and gullies of Bangalore. She would knock on doors, and call out to the inhabitants in the voice of their loved ones. Whoever opened the door to the witch would die. However, the witch had a particular fondness for men; they were her main targets.

To prevent the witch from harking their doorsteps, locals would write naale ba (come tomorrow) on their doors. The witch seemingly believed in consent, and would come back the next night, only to read the writing again and arrive the next night, and so on. (Image source: Shriya Murthy)

Legends of Bangalore

‘Macha, this witch knew how to read?’

Sure looks like it! Bangalore is one of the leading hubs for education, so we’re not too surprised by this.

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