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21.12.2017

Is it a plane? Is it an elephant? Are those kids from a horror flick? We tell you the stories behind some of the ornaments that glisten on Bangalore’s traffic islands.

Twinning Since 1986: HAL Ajeet to LCA Tejas

After the Second World War, as a means to foster the broken relationships between diverse cultures, the practice of “town twinning” was started. For the past three decades, Minsk, the capital of Belarus, has been one of the city’s five sister-towns. The urban planning feature of a traffic island at the junction of Cubbon Road and Cavalry Road was selected to mark the friendly ties between these two cities. Until two years ago, it was decorated with a HAL Ajeet, a jet-powered fighter and has been replaced post-Metro construction with an LCA Tejas. While, here the square has simply been a receptacle for Indian-made planes, Bangalore Square in Minsk is used as a site for public protests organised by the Belarusian opposition. Minsk Square at the junction of Cubbon Road and Cavalry Road.

The Thambi’s Take-Away Tanker: M5A1 Stuart

The Thambis, the popular name for the troops of the Madras Engineering Group, have been around for more than 200 years. In an earlier avatar, they helped the East India Company to victory in two battles – The Battle of Assaye in 1803 and The Battle of Meanee in 1843. At the fork of the two roads named after these battles stands a gleaming, majestic black tank – the M5A1 Stuart Tank – a light reconnaissance vehicle used in North Africa during World War II. It was unveiled at this spot in October of 2005, on the 225th Anniversary of this regiment as emblem of their participation in the Great War. Mother Teresa Circle at the junction of Assaye Road and Meanee Avenue Road, Ulsoor.

The (Old) Marker of the Southern-Most Point of The City: Ashoka Pillar

This 20-foot-tall stone pillar that has the National Emblem of four lions and the Gandaberunda, the two-headed bird, which was the seal of the royal family of Mysore, was inaugurated on August 20, 1948 by C Rajagopalachari, the last governor-general of India. It was erected to mark the nine blocks of Jayanagar, then Asia’s largest planned neighbourhood, and the southern-most part of the city. It was built at a cost of Rs 3,000 by Messrs Rangantha Char & Co. Engineers on contract from the City Improvement Trust Board in a record time of ten days. Ashoka Pillar Road, Jayanagar II Block.

Aspirations of a Biotech City: Applied Helix

The much-feted city-based artist Yusuf Arakkal decided to call out the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike for letting his nod to the double helix made in shining steel, gather dust. You’re wondering, where it is too right? In April 2003, on the 25th anniversary of Biocon and the 50th anniversary of the discovery of human DNA, this sculpture was erected in the city. Wondering why there’s a third curve? That represents “the industrial growth of the city”, said the artist. At the junction of St Mark’s Road Cross and MG Road.

The City’s Oldest War Memorial: The Madras Pioneers’ War Memorial

The British built this memorial in 1919 for the Indian soldiers of the Madras Pioneers during the World War I. The four-sided memorial stands dedicated to soldiers of three regiments: the 61st Pioneers, 64th Pioneers and the 81st Pioneers of the British Indian Army. After a long stand-off, the army fraternity of the city will see this memorial turned into a more publicly accessible square under the city’s new civic beautification programme. At the junction of Brigade Road and Field Marshal Cariappa Road.

The Only Khaki Man You Don’t Have To Fear: The Unknown Policeman

While a policeman at a traffic junction is a scary sight, this one inaugurated by then Chief Minister D Devaraj Urs on 7, October 1976 stands to commemorate the lives of the State Police, who laid down their lives in the line of duty. At the junction of Nrupathunga Road and Kempegowda Road.

Gentlemen Have Busts Too: Raja Ram Mohan Roy + Vittal Mallya

WH Hanumanthappa, one of the founders of the Gandhinagar High School in 1942 was extremely inspired by Raja Ram Mohan Roy and the tenets of the Brahmo Samaj and decided to donate a marble bust of his to the State. On the epitaph, it reads “the arch that spanned the gulf between ancient caste & modern humanity, between superstition & science, between despotism & democracy.” At the junction of Vittal Mallya Road and Raja Ram Mohan Roy Road.

The junior Mallya might be bust but more than seven years ago, when he was still the king of good times, he inaugurated a bronze bust of his father to commemorate his contributions to the city. At the junction of Walton Road, Lavelle Road and Vittal Mallya Road.

A Cement Company’s Presents: Five Animals + Four Horses + Kids Around A Tree

After the task of painting the city’s walls, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike decided to erect some sculptures. Again, instead of turning to the city’s artist community, they decided to go out on their own and commission work from the firm Bharati Cements. Voila! We’ve got three intriguing traffic junctions that might be more perplexing than the traffic jams that you’re constantly stuck in.

Picture this: a giant elephant, on its head is a seated creature that one would be hardpressed to describe as feline. On the pachyderm’s back is a rhino balancing a turtle that has a vulture on top of it. A friend suggested that, “it might be creatures from the Panchatantra Tales” but much asking around and some Googling has produced no story with all these five creatures. At the junction of Miller’s Road and Jayamahal Main Road.

This might be the most appropriate gift, in that it is four horses at a traffic junction outside the Race Course, but one wouldn’t bet on these equines to win anything. At the junction of Race Course Road and Hare Krishna Road.

It might have been less funny or more poignant if a cement company wasn’t preaching about saving the environment but these kids that surround this leafless tree look like the Children of the Corn and in that case, they might actually be warning us to save the planet. At the junction of Enayathulla Mekhri Square Road and CV Raman Road.

This story was contributed by Joshua Muyiwa, a Bangalore-based poet and writer.

Photo Source: The Hindu Archives 

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