How Babu Ajaz, a history buff, is helping preserve the history of Whitefield

Apr18,2024


Facade of the famous Meersahib General Store in Whitefield

Facade of the famous Meersahib General Store in Whitefield
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

If you ask any Bangalorean what Whitefield is synonymous with, the answers would most likely be ‘ITPL’, ‘Tech corridor’, ‘IT hub’ or unfortunately ‘traffic’. Well, there is no denying that this locality, which was originally developed as a self-sufficient farming community for Anglo Indians in the 1880s, has undergone a sea change.

Once home to beautiful gardens and sprawling villas, the history and heritage of Whitefield is indeed engaging. One person passionate about this cause is 41-year-old Babu Ajaz whose family has been residing in Whitefield for generations. “My great grandfather moved from Medimallasandra village to Whitefield in the early 1900s to supply chicken and mutton for British settlers,” says Ajaz.

History lover

History was a subject that fascinated Ajaz even as a child. Apart from studying the subject in college, he developed a keen interest in looking for history around him. “I was inspired by the stories of my maternal grandmother. My maternal grandfather was an Indian soldier who served in the 515-Army base and hence, my grandmother had a lot of stories about Anglo Indians who lived here, which piqued my curiosity. I started visiting old buildings and spoke to long-time residents of the locality to gain more knowledge about the area,” adds Ajaz, who runs a provision store in Whitefield.

Babu Ajaz

Babu Ajaz
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

In a bid to connect with the local community, Ajaz and his friend, Salman Ahmed Shariff, decided to start a Facebook group. “We started Whitefielders Past & Present around 12 years ago. Initially, we used the group to update the cricket scores of our local matches. Later, I started contributing posts related to the past of Whitefield while Salman focused on civic issues.” With over 4,500 members, the group serves as a great platform to share and exchange information on the past and present of Whitefield.

Engaging Facts

Since its inception, the group has been sharing some wonderful insights about Whitefield which is a revelation for most city dwellers. For instance, when the much-awaited metro to Whitefield became operational, most of us wondered why the station in front of ITPL is called Patanduru Agrahara. Well, before becoming an IT hub and startup capital of the country, Bengaluru was also a place of Vedic learning and housed several agraharas. Patanduru Agrahara, Kariyammana Agrahara, Kalena Agrahara and Dasarahalli Agrahara were just some of them.

Portion of the Sir Ismail Sait mosque in Whitefield

Portion of the Sir Ismail Sait mosque in Whitefield
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Agarahara is land typically granted by erstwhile kings to build centres of learning and worship. According to Ajaz there is also a Patanduru Agrahara Lake, which dates back to the 11th century in Bengaluru. An inscription stone found in a graveyard in Kadugodi mentions how King Rajendra Chola gifted land for the development of this lake to mark the 32nd year of his rule (1043 AD).

The group is a source of interesting trivia. For example, did you know that in the 1900s, the fare for a bullock cart trip from Whitefield railways station to Inner circle costed just eight annas? Or the fact that jackals and hyenas roamed freely during the 1930s around Inner circle? “All posts in the group are published after being verified from sources such as old articles and from narratives by long time residents of Whitefield, which are crosschecked with others. I do a lot of homework before putting it out.”

Bengaluru calendar: An annual ritual

Since 2016, Ajaz has also been curating a Bengaluru-themed calendar. The first three years covered heritage structures and bungalows of the city. Since then, he has released calendars featuring the city’s famous schools, hospitals and even theatres.

Whitefield’s Waverly Inn of yore

Whitefield’s Waverly Inn of yore
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

This year’s calendar features eminent personalities who have a connection with Whitefield and includes people such as Sri Chamaraja Wodeyar IX, the Maharaja of Mysore who allotted the land for the formation of Whitefield; Sri Rangacharlu, the Dewan of Mysore who executed the allotment of land for the formation of Whitefield and David Emmanuel Starkenburgh White, the then president of the E&AI Association, South India Ltd who gave it the name ‘Whitefield’.

Both his posts and calendars are much looked forward to and according to Ajaz, it is the enthusiasm of the community that keeps him going. Ajaz soon plans to start heritage walks around Whitefield. “We are planning to do a complete tour of Whitefield starting from the CSI Church, then moving to Inner and Outer Circle crossing the Roman Catholic Church and finally visiting the British cemetery.”

Related Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *