Against a backdrop of increasing protests by heritage lovers against Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) decision to raze 18 heritage markets in Bangalore, an INTACH-led photo walk around Murphy Town Market drew a lot of participants. The Sunday morning walk, an initiative of INTACH in collaboration with noted photographer PeeVee and Kiran Natarajan of Bangalore – photos from a bygone age (a Facebook group), started at the Murphy Town Market. The market which was built around 1913 in this quaint British-era settlement has 28 shops and is predominantly a meat and poultry market. The colourfully painted stone building which houses the market has a large open space. Another stone building on the outside of the market, which is a library frequented by people of Murphy Town, stands tall amidst the frenzy of buyers and vendors.
The Murphy Town settlement mushroomed around the 1830s and was constructed by a British engineer Murphy for servants of British officers. A majority of those who resided here were traders, potters and leather workers. In the 1800s, the settlement was called Knoxpet. Most of the buildings in the area were constructed around the early 1900s. The market, a couple of schools and wide roads are remnants of the architecture and infrastructure of those days. The 100-year-old V.M. Stores, one of the shops in the market, is as old as the market. The shop-owners who are the third-generation of the family that runs the stores are an enthusiastic bunch and are hoping like many others that the building demolition does not happen. One of them had an anecdote to tell us about the British-built drainage of the market. When he emptied a glass of water into the drain he could trace the path of the water as it disappeared down the drain. Recently, the drain was vandalized in the name of repair work. They are of the view that if the proposed demolition goes through, the worst hit are going to be the hundreds of residents of Murphy Town most of whom are from the lower income groups because at the market they get to purchase stuff at very affordable rates. There is also a police quarters in the vicinity which houses the families of lower-cadre police force.
While a lot of walkers made their way through the teeming crowds to shoot pictures some others waited for the library to open. Sadly that never happened. For some reason, the lady in charge of the library didn’t turn up.
Our next stop was the 1913 Elementary School, another vintage building. The roads that lead to the school, which is nestled among the houses of Murphy Town, are home to a lot of street dogs who unlike stray dogs elsewhere look remarkably healthy which goes on to say that people here care for dogs. As we neared the school we could hear the barks of a pack of dogs. There were a lot of them inside the school compound. The barks died down as we entered the compound. The cream-washed British style building that houses the school is striking looking and very typical of British-style architecture. It is surrounded by a lot of open space and large trees. We were bowled by the charming building and just couldn’t have enough of it. Needless to say it turned out to be a great subject to photograph.
Like the library in front of the market, the other school in the locality was closed and out of bounds for visitors. We left hoping to have a peek into the school on our next visit. Hopefully by that time better sense prevails over the BBMP and they decide to leave all the 18 buildings alone. Heritage buildings in a large way define the character of a city and are a significant feature of the cityscape. We need to preserve them for posterity.
If you want to save Bangalore’s heritage markets from demolition join the campaign now at
Recently, Murphy Town was re-christened as Hoysala Nagar. But the new name has not caught on. And a new building constructed to house the nearby vegetable market is lying unused with almost all the vegetable vendors preferring to sell on the roads as they cannot afford the rent. The residents of Murphy Town are a photo-friendly lot and some of them beckon you to take their photos like this auto driver who wouldn’t leave till I took his picture.