Malleswaram can rightly be called the cultural heart of Bangalore. It was envisioned by Sri Venkatranga Iyengar who foresaw a locality of noblemen where they would lead a rich and cultured life. He was connected to Bangalore’s municipality and when a need to expand the city came up, he suggested the area of Kaadu (jungle) Malleswara. This was taken up, and soon the British Raj had designed and built Malleswaram locality.
Patankars who are descendants of the Divans of Mysore were invited to stay here, as was Divan Sheshadri Iyer (one of the founders of IISc), Divan Krishna Murthy and Divan Nanjundiah. These rich noblemen bought properties of about 2-3 acres, where they chose to retire and thus, quickly Malleswaram became an area where erstwhile busy rich and civic minded people decided to spend the last years of their lives engaged in various social and cultural efforts.
Two to three generations of their families lived in these places, before the inevitable process of dissolution of joint families created the division and sub-division of these plots.
However Malleswaram’s cultural links continued to thrive. The area’s history boasts of cultural icons from various art disciplines, including legends like Chitrashilpi Venkatappa, Veena Doraiswamy Iyengar, Krishnawamy, G. P. Rajaratnam and T.A.S. Mani. This old locality also has several religious centers besides the ancient Kaadu Malleswara temple, like St. Peters Seminary and at least 3 different Mutts and other beautiful sites including the Ganesha Temple, Krishna Temple and Grace Church.
Education especially for women has been one of the major areas of interest and schools such as Mysore Education Society (MES), Malleswaram Ladies Association (MLA), Government Girls School and Cluny Convent were built to encourage them. NGO’s and social service organisations like Seva Sadan, Crafts Council of Karnataka and Malleswaram Entrepreneurial Women’s Society (MEWS) were founded and sustain their activities here too.
In fact, even to this day, Malleswaram has remained a hub of creative and cultural activities. With several schools of classical Indian dance be it Bharatanatyam or Kathak, percussion schools, auditoriums and galleries promoting the arts, to more recent art groups like Bar 1 and Guruskool, Malleswaram seems to have its heart set – then and now – on Culture.