Updated: July 28, 2022 2:35:46 pm
Colorful flowers, fresh vegetables and fleshy meat — if you think this is what the Krishna Rajendra (KR) market is all about, then you must reconsider. The ever-bustling Bengaluru market which was built in collaboration with the Bangalore City Municipality and Mysore Kingdom in 1921 during the Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar rule, was earlier a place that bustled with cultural activities, greenery and general merchants.
However, cut to 2022, the market is now an eyesore dotted with poor maintenance, a mucky meat market, faulty solid waste management and drainage system. What is also disappointing is the red-coloured heritage buildings that existed since the inception of the market but are now losing their significance. The city market has three heritage buildings — the main building that houses the police station, the building facing the Mysore Road flyover, which also houses the meat market, and another one in the backyard along Gundopanth Street.
Sadly, the shops housed in the heritage building on the meat market side have now been served an eviction notice by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and the Smart City project, in the wake of a renovation. The meat market traders along with the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and Institute of Urban Designers India (IUDI) are presenting a design proposal of 21 urbanists, planners and designers to the BBMP on how to retain the meat market and the heritage building, with minimalistic renovation and installing basic facilities like drainage system, toilets, electricity, drinking water among others.
Arun Kumar, who owns a shop at K R Market inside the heritage building under the flyover, explains that his ancestors were some of the first traders to have set up their business in the 1920s. “Our ancestors were into the safe locker business and we have been one of the earliest traders in the K R market. They used to pay a rent of Re 1 to the municipality. The entire stretch in his heritage building consists of about 24 kirana stores, surgical shops, sugarcane shops among others. However, the facade of the heritage building was demolished when the Mysore Road flyover was constructed in 1998. The remains of the facade can still be seen in front of the shops,” said Kumar, who is strongly opposing the demolition of the heritage building and is demanding the installation of the facades to give the building a facelift.
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In fact, the meat market (which houses fish, chicken and mutton shops) which is behind the heritage building was earlier a general store and was later leased out by meat traders to sell meat, recalls Kumar. Yashaswini Sharma, a city-based architect and a historian explains that the Maharaja of Mysore provided a rear road entry to the meat market. “The Maharaja’s idea was to provide a rear entry to the meat market and separate it from the vegetable and the fruit market because of the sensibilities,” said Sharma.
Talking about the heritage buildings at K R Market, Sharma explains that the design of the building was inspired by the colonial gothic architecture and based on the Kolkata market design. “The Maharaja of Mysore felt that the city market was becoming a place for fairs and informal gatherings of traders. It was then decided by the Maharaja to streamline the market culture and help traders set up their shops and boost the economic activities. There was a health inspector and sanitation officer (mostly British) who were deployed to formalise the market and rents were collected in order to boost the revenue for the exchequer. However, the main red-coloured heritage building carries the rose-like window which resembles the gable structure that comes from the gothic architecture.” In fact, the building which has an arch named ‘Krishna Rajendra Market’ and also a clock tower above it, is a testimony to the colonial arcade.
According to a blog titled Karnataka History, the design for a new market was given by Sri Lakshminarasappa on the model of Sir Stuart Hogg Market of Kolkata with certain modifications and was opened on October 11, 1921. The inaugural function was attended by B K Garudachar the then President of the Bangalore City Municipality and by other municipal councillors.
However, with changing times comes change in conditions. The current traders in the market, especially the meat market traders and the shopkeepers around the heritage building, are now facing a tough time challenging the eviction notice from BBMP. Although the traders argue that they have their businesses set up for nearly 100 years, the BBMP and the Smart City project are looking for complete overhaul of the heritage building. However, the meat market traders along with the urban planners and designers are coming together to present an alternative model to the civic agencies to keep their businesses and also the heritage of the market alive.
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