Bengaluru’s BVK Iyengar Road turns 60, litigation delayed development | Bengaluru News

BENGALURU: BVK Iyengar Road, the bustling stretch from Kempegowda Road to Arcot Srinivasa Char Street in Chickpet, has turned 60.
Its transition from a small stretch meant for bicycles in the early 1900s to an arterial road in 1960s began with a VVIP visit and ended in a court battle that dragged on for 20 years.
The road is named after Bindiganavale Venkatappa Krishna Iyengar, the first Kannadiga and Indian to hold office as deputy commissioner in princely Mysore state when he took charge in Kolar in 1864. His red bungalow named Manorama stood at the junction of Kempegowda Road and what is now BVK Iyengar Road. Bengaluru historian Suresh Moona describes Iyengar as a luminary and statesman of bygone Bangalore.
The narrow stretch was often referred to as Manorama lane by locals. The turning point came in March 1935, when Maharaja Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar arrived on an official visit to Chickpet and used the narrow lane.
“During the visit, the Maharaja shared his displeasure about Manorama lane with many business establishments, saying it was a narrow stretch and people were finding it difficult to move in and out. Following this, then Bangalore civic body decided to transform the tiny stretch into a 160ft road with 40ft-wide footpaths and municipal officer A Narasinga Rao, father of famous writer Aa Na Krishnarao, was made in-charge,” says Kannada writer and historian Vemagal Somashekar.
As a first step towards widening the lane, Rao met the most famous resident of the stretch, philanthropist BVK Iyengar, the senior BVK’s grandson, who was a philanthropist. BVK junior offered to give away half of his bungalow for the arterial road to come up. “However, the biggest hurdle was residents and traders who weren’t happy about losing their land for the development project. They went to court in 1935 and got a stay, halting the road work,” Somashekar added.
The court battle over what would become the well-known BVK Iyengar Road went on till 1955. It took the former mayor of Bangalore and then minister for city development Y Ramachandra’s intervention for the residents and traders to reconsider the issue as a settlement was reached after the planned road was reduced from 160ft to 80ft, including a 10ft footpath on either side. Those who lost their land were given sites and houses through the Bangalore Trust Board, then BDA equivalent.
Finally, work for developing a 60ft road and a 10ft footpath on either side commenced in 1956. It was completed towards the fag end of 1960, after which the road was thrown open for two-way traffic without a formal inauguration ceremony. Today, BVK Iyengar Road is a busy business stretch of Bengaluru known for its row of lighting shops.

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