Everything You Need to Know About Cubbon Park – Find Your Peace and Tranquil Amidst the Daily Hustle Bustle
Cubbon Park is one of Bangalore’s richest, most natural and plushest heritage sites. What was once a hundred acres of plentiful flora and fauna is today a vast stretch of 300 acres of dense green thickets of oak and rosewood trees. Surrounded by rich foliage, Cubbon Park is also home to several artistically sculpted structures such as those of Queen Victoria, Sir Mark Cubbon, Rajya Dhurandhara, Sir K Sheshadri Iyer, and Chamarajendra Wodeyar and is of great historical value, narrating a story of a time one can only fathom.
Built in the 1870s, this park was originally created by Major Richard Sankey when he was the British Chief Engineer of Mysore and was then given the name Meade Park after Sir John Meade (the acting commissioner of Mysore). However, it was renamed as Cubbon Park after the longest serving commissioner of the time, Sir Mark Cubbon. Cubbon Park along with its wide green expanse also has dense groves, a wide range of exquisite flowers and several
monuments and statues that are reminiscent of a historical period. Consisting also of various medicinal plants and an array of Gulmohar trees, this park is situated in the heart of the city of Bangalore and is one of its greatest prides.
As you drive by Cubbon Park in the mornings, you’ll be amazed to find different groups of people taking walks, meditating and practicing yoga, laughing clubs, and happy-looking faces that come to catch a breath of morning’s fresh air. An association named The Cubbon Park Walkers Association gather together not just for their daily walk, but to protest against the encroachment of cars and vehicles along this stretch of land. The environment is peaceful, a place where people of all kinds gather together, host various events and gatherings to discuss politics and promote change, where young people gather in different groups and exchange poetry readings and dialogue – this is a place of great potential and is also known to be the birthplace of several modern-day poetry movements.
Located strategically, there are several sites in and around Cubbon Park that are worth visiting, such as:
The St. Mark’s Cathedral -
One of the oldest churches in the city, St. Mark’s Cathedral has been named after Saint Mark who is believed to be the author of the first series of gospels in the Bible. With architecture that bears striking resemblance to the 17th century, it depicts a distinct colonial style with a dome shaped roof and several roman arches. As you walk in to the church, one cannot help but pay attention to the detailed woodwork and ornate carvings that are distinctive, and the church bell
which is known to be one of the most well maintained church bells in India.
The church pipe organ was installed in the late 1920s as a gift by Avis F Crowdrey of the Crowdrey family in remembrance of his late parents. The organ has an exquisite design with metal pipes that were designed and brought to India all the way from England. The remaining parts of the pipe organ were built using teak wood in Bangalore, under the supervision of
Herbert Norman, an agent of the British firm in India. Due to years of steady use, the organ became dysfunctional and was not in use for several years until it was repaired by Swiss experts for a whopping 5 million rupees. The restoration of the pipe took about four months, and is today fully functional and used in the church.
The State Archaeological Museum:
The State Archaeological Museum is also said to be one of the oldest museums in India and was constructed by Colonel Sankey in the year 1876. With architecture that bears a striking resemblance to Attara Kacheri – a building that was constructed in 1868 and is currently home to the Karnataka High Court, this museum contains some of the oldest archaeological articles including ruins of the ancient civilization of Mohenjo-Daro and artifacts from the reputed
The Seshadri Iyer Memorial Hall:
Built in 1915 AD, Seshadri Memorial Hall has a distinctive European style architecture comprising Tuscan and Corinthian columns. Having been constructed in honor of Sir K. Seshadri Iyer, who was once the Dewan of Mysore, this brilliant piece of ancient architecture is situated in the middle of the park and is surrounded by acres of green landscape with a beautiful
rose garden at its front. There are several other places of great significance around Cubbon Park like the Venkatappa art gallery, Vidhan Soudha, Tasveer art gallery, Jai Bal Bhavan, the Dancing musical fountain and the Karnataka High Court.
Venkatappa Art Gallery & Museum:
Venkatappa Art Gallery and Museum is home to one of Karnataka’s oldest and most renowned artists called K. Venkatappa (1886-1965). Venkatappa was born in Mysore, into a family of court painters and artists and was a pupil of Abanindranath Tagore, and nephew to the renowned poet Rabindranath Tagore. K. Venkatappa rose to fame with his vivid watercolor paintings and depictions having sharp undertones of realism, his intricate sculptures and his love for the instrument Veena.
On the 24th November 1967, the foundation stone was laid by the chief minister of that time, S. Najalingappa, and the gallery then took a few years to complete itself. In the year 1974, almost ten years after K. Venkatappa’s passing, the Government of Karnataka established a full-fledged art gallery in his name, with some of his best watercolor works, his musical instruments, and some of his most intricate plaster of paris bas reliefs on display, along with the work of a few other well-known local artists. Back then, while the museum was still a work in progress, several other artists gathered together in front of Bible Society demanding that the construction speed up to completion by 1971 and protested against the delays in the construction of the museum. Finally, the museum stood tall and was completed in 1975.
The constructed building was quite diverse in its vision, having and holding space for K. Venkatappa’s paintings, musical instruments and memoirs among the work of other artists as well, and at the same time became a space for artists from all over the world to manifest and create newer forms of art. It became a conducive environment and a humble abode for different artists to display their crafts. Standing right next to Bangalore Museum, the Venkatappa Museum is hyper-accessible and very different from the former, containing a museum as well as a gallery which is a rare combination when compared to other museums of the world.
A fully air-conditioned structure, the building has three floors, although in the original plan it was supposed to be a structure containing five floors. The building is home to not only K. Venkatappa’s paintings, but also houses famous works of KK Hebbar - an internationally recognized painter, the sculptor Rajaram, among many others. Most of the works of KK Hebbar were not purchases, but donations made by the artist to the museum dedicated in memory of K. Venkatappa in 1993. However, there are a few artworks on display that were purchased by the Government of Karnataka in memory of the artist. In 1994, to house KK Hebbar’s paintings, Chiranjiv Singh, the former Indian ambassador to UNESCO partnered with SG Vasudev, a renowned artist and set up a donation that facilitated the construction of a separate wing in the gallery called the KK Hebbar Gallery wing. In 2005, the wing went through further iterations and modifications by Rekha Rao, the daughter of KK Hebbar.
Vidhana Soudha and Attara Kacheri:
The intricate red hued building is the one that houses the High Court of Karnataka and is a short walk from Cubbon Park. Built opposite to the Vidhana Soudha, it is said to have been constructed in the year 1867 using very intricate gothic style architecture having undertones of a classical European period. The two-storeyed building, standing right opposite to the white contrast of the Vidhana Soudha, is one that catches the eye and instills curiosity in any passerby.
The story of the Attara Kacheri dates back to the times of the Mysore Emperor Tipu Sultan. The emperor had intended for the building to be constructed in such a way as to house the ever-expanding offices of all eighteen departments of Revenue and General Secretariat. Since the departments were growing at a fast pace, his palace could not house the happenings of the Secretariat which is why the emperor ordered for the construction of a separate building. The emperor named it the Attara Kacheri, which literally translates to eighteen offices or eighteen departments.
There are a number of buildings worth visiting near Attara Kacheri. They comprise the Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum, Public Library, the Venkatappa Art Gallery and the Government Museum.
Cubbon Park is only one among many other beautiful places to visit in Bangalore such as Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, Bannerghatta National Park, Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace, Bangalore Palace, Gothic-style St. Mary’s Basilica and Devanahalli Fort among others.
There’s only so much one can write about, when the truth of the matter is that Bangalore is a city that is to be seen, listened to, experienced and lived in, for one to comprehend its glorious intricacies.
Bangalore has been known all over the world for being the city that encourages art and houses artists with year-round events, workshops, museums, galleries and art galore. The city always has and continues to have its arms open in welcoming and celebrating people of all races, tribes and communities and stays relevant in this day and age with a growing population of youth that are more socially aware than generations before them. This awareness can be seen through the work of several artists of our time as they stand and fight for freedom, justice and equality on all fronts.
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