Memorial of Lakshmamma, daughter-in-law of Kempegowda

Last week’s photo was of a memorial that is said to be of Lakshmamma, daughter-in-law of Kempegowda, founder of Bangalore. The story goes that when Kempegowda was building his new fort, its southern gate would collapse every night.

Astrologers advised him to conduct a human sacrifice but Kempegowda was reluctant to do so. And then one morning, as workers went to work on the gate once again, they found it had not collapsed. But nearby lay the body of Lakshmamma, Kempegowda’s pregnant daughter-in-law, who had killed herself to appease the Gods. A distraught Kempegowda is said to have built a temple in Lakshmamma’s name. The temple is less than half a kilometre from this memorial in 6th Block, Koramangala.

Tower at Lalbagh. Pic: Swaminathan, Wikimedia Commons.

This poignant story of sacrifice is almost certainly apocryphal. If only some of the Horticulture Department’s plans for Lalbagh would also remain so. The Department wants to have a musical fountain and laser show close to the very rock where Kempegpwda II, son of Bangalore’s founder Kempegowda I, built one of his iconic towers. This is also near the place where archaeologists discovered an Iron Age burial site, 1800 to 3000 years old.

The rest of Lalbagh also has a distinguished history. Ever since Hyder Ali set up a formal garden here 250 years ago, people have always added to its wealth of trees, be it Tipu Sultan or later, the botanists who administered it for the East India Company, the Mysore Maharajas, and after Independence, the new Mysore state government. And it isn’t just Lalbagh’s halo of history and tradition that should give the Department pause. Have they thought of how laser shows will affect the garden’s vibrant birdlife?

As several people have suggested, if the government wants musical fountains and laser shows, there are other sites in Bangalore where it might be appropriate. Leave Lalbagh be. 

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