Bengaluru (Bangalore), India: Background information when reading Miss New India

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Miss New India

A Novel

by Bharati Mukherjee

Miss New India by Bharati Mukherjee
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  • First Published:
    May 2011, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2012, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Karen Rigby

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Bengaluru (Bangalore), India

Print Review

Situated on the Deccan Plateau in the south-eastern Indian state of Karnataka (aka Mysore), of which it is the capital, Bengaluru sits approximately 940 meters above sea level, and is one of India's largest and fastest growing cities.

Karnataka Map Legend suggests that Bengaluru was named after King Veera Ballala of the Vijayanagara Kingdom (14th century), who, lost on his travels, was given a meal of beans by a charitable elderly woman. He named the town "bende kaalu ooru" (town of boiled beans), which then became known as Bengaluru. However, the word "BengaLooru" is documented as having been used long before King Veera Ballala's time and can be found on an inscription on a 9th century temple in the village of Begur, rendering the legend rather unlikely.

Modern Bengaluru originated as a mud fort built by Kempe Gowda, a feudal lord, in 1537 when he decided to create a capital city over which he could rule and work to preserve Hindu Dharma in India. Over the centuries, the city has been controlled by Sultans, Marathas, and the British who established a cantonment in the early 19th century and modernized much of the city's infrastructure.

Today Bengaluru is an international center for information technology that includes an area known as Electronics City. Karnataka Map Sometimes referred to as the "Silicon Valley" of India, it hosts a diverse population as well as numerous universities. Languages spoken in Bengaluru include Kannad, English, Telugu, Tamil, and Hindi. And with its moderate climate and cultural richness, Bengaluru is a major tourist destination; each year people come to see attractions such as Yakshagana, a type of musical theater that reenacts Indian epic stories and mythologies; the Karaga Festival in celebration of the deity of Vanikula Kshatriya Thigalas, one of the foremost communities in Karnataka; the Bangalore Palace, a Tudor-style palace built in 1887 by King Chamaraja Wodeyar; and Cubbon Park, a place with such beautiful flowers and landscapes, it is said to have inspired Bengaluru's nickname, the "Garden City."

Map image by CC-by-SA PlaneMad

Article by Karen Rigby

This article was originally published in June 2011, and has been updated for the June 2012 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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