Which City Was Formerly Called Bangalore?

Bengaluru sign in Bengaluru, India. Editorial credit: PHOTO JUNCTION / Shutterstock.com
Bengaluru sign in Bengaluru, India. Editorial credit: PHOTO JUNCTION / Shutterstock.com

Bangalore was the name of the Indian city that is presently called Bengaluru. The city is the present capital city of Karnataka, one of India's largest states. Established back in 1537, the city has an area of about 274 square miles although the metro area has an area of around 3,091 square miles. With a population of 8.5 million people, it is one of the largest cities in India. The city lies on the Deccan Plateau at a height of around 3,000 feet above sea level in the southern region of India. This elevation easily makes it one of the highest cities in India. Before 2006, the city was known as Bangalore. The Government of Karnataka made the name change after accepting a proposal from U. R. Ananthamurthy, who was a highly acclaimed writer who passed away in 2014.

Origins of Bangalore

The city's previous name, Bangalore, was the result of the anglicization of the original name of the city, "Bengalūru" in the Kannada language. Anglicization is when a word or name is changed to be more easily pronounced by English speakers. 

The first recorded use of the name "Bengalūrū" dates back to the ninth century during the time of the Western Ganga Dynasty. A stone from that time was discovered that seemed to suggest the name. Other sources, although they are of questionable origin, suggest the name came from King Veera Ballala II who lived in the 12th century. According to this story, the king lost his way during a hunting trip in the area. The king came across an old woman who served him beans, which is why he named the area "benda-kaal-uru," which translates to the town of boiled beans. Eventually, according to the story, the name changed into "Bengalūru."

Indian historian Suryanath U. Kamath also put forth a suggestion of the name’s origin. According to Kamath, the name has floral origins from the tree known as "benga," which is the Kannada word for the Indian kino tree. This tree, which is scientifically known as Pterocarpus marsupium, is a deciduous tree that used to grow in abundance in the area.

Name Change

Decorated author U. R. Ananthamurthy submitted a proposal to the Government of Karnataka for a possible change. The proposal from the Jnanpith Award winner was accepted by the government on December 11, 2005. A resolution to change the name was passed by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on September 27, 2006. However, the actual name change did not happen until November 1, 2014. The request also included name changes for eleven other cities in the state.


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