Kempe Gowda Towers

Kempe Gowda Towers

The significance of

Kempe Gowda Towers

,   has much to do with the history of Bengaluru. Some of these towers which were once the watch towers of the Kempe Gowdas, are still in Bangalore. Historians believe there could have been more such towers.

Kempe Gowda I, known as the founder of modern Bangalore was a Chieftain of the Vijayanagara Empire, during the 16th century. Inspired by Hampi, the then capital of Vijayanagara, Kempe Gowda nurtured a grand vision since his childhood, to build a new city for himself. King Achutaraya, the ruler of Vijayanagara, approved and funded this venture.

In 1537 A.D., Kempe Gowda I, is said to have conducted a ritual by ploughing the land with four pairs of decorated white bulls in four directions. The 2 main streets were: Chikkapete Street along east–west and the Doddapete Street ( Avenue Road) along north–south intersecting at the Doddapete Square. The Bengaluru Pete he built around the junction became the hub of commercial activities. As the pete flourished and expanded rapidly, Kempe Gowda built a mud fort surrounded by a moat, around his new city with 9 large gates. He also built several temples, tanks and lakes inside the fort, perceiving the needs of a growing population.

It was his grandson Kempe Gowda II, who built the historical watch towers, predicting the limits for the growth of the Bengaluru pete. The Kempe Gowda Gopuras (towers) are said to have been built in 4 corners of the city with Dharmarayaswamy temple vimanagopura kalasa as the focal point. Bangalore today, has expanded much beyond these limits. These watch towers are still located in:
  1. Ulsoor ( North East)
  2. Mekhri Circle ( North West)
  3. Lal Bagh ( South East)
  4. Gavipura ( South West)
One more such tower exists on the Bugle Rock, near Bull Temple. The structure of this tower, differs from the 4 historical towers and looks more recent. Bugle Rock has got its name from the belief that during intrusions or attacks it served as a watch tower from where a sentry alerted the people with a bugle call.

A striking similarity amongst these towers is that they are located on hllocks near lakes (kere in Kannada) : The Ulsoor tower near Ulsoor Lake, Mekri Tower near the Sankey Tank, Lal Bagh tower near the Lal Bagh lake and the Gavipura tower near the Kempambudhi Kere. Mekhri Circle tower, is the only tower that is not located on a hillock. The Lal Bagh tower is the most visited tower. Recently it has been renovated. The Kempambudhi tower is the most neglected tower. The Ulsoor tower which is the best maintained tower, is inside the campus of Madras Sappers, a division of Indian Army.

Travellers Info :

Lal Bagh tower : At one end of K.H.Road, inside Lal Bagh, on a very old rock formation.
Kempambudhi tower : Near Bandi Mahakali temple, Gavipura.
Ulsoor tower : At one end of Ulsoor Lake inside the Madras Sappers campus.
Mekhri Circle tower : Near Mekhri Circle underpass, next to Ramana Maharishi Park, on Bellary Road.
Bugle Rock tower : Near Bull Temple.

The strategic location of the 4 Kempe Gowda towers and Dharmarayaswamy temple may be seen in the Google map below. One cannot help but marvel at the amazingly meticulous city planning skills of the Kempe Gowdas, way back in the 16th century !

4 Kempe Gowda Towers and Dharmarayaswamy Temple Kempe Gowda Towers