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Thursday, March 26, 2015


I found this Post Card on Ebay depicting the modes of transportation in the early days in KGF. I would like to share a small excerpt from my Book KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE  in this connection. 
When we were children frowing up in Kolar Gold Fields during the 1950s and 60s, public transport was very limited in KGF and there was no local bus facility to take us around the mines and to Robertsonpet. The only buses that passed through the Nandydroog  Mine, were the long distance buses that came from Bangalore and Kolar via Bangarapet. These buses were either Express or Non stop Services, so they didn't stop en route to Robertsonpet. The few ordinary service buses were quite infrequent so no one really depended on them as a means of local conveyance. KGF also didn’t have a regular Taxi service in those days. There were only one or two people like Mr. Parker, or Mr. Das from Robertsonpet who ran their old cars as Taxis. The ‘Jatka’ Service was the only means of conveyance for many, many years. People either traveled in the Jatkas or else just walked to wherever they had to go to.
 The Jatka / Tonga or the Horse drawn carriages came into existence in India, in the middle of the 18th century through the traders of East India Company in Calcutta. It was originally conceived and built for use of the Company but spread to other places in India and soon became a popular means of transport for the common man. The Jatkas and Tongas were the only mode of local conveyance in KGF from the early 1900s till the late 1970s. These Jatkas were fondly called ‘BANDIES’ by the Anglo-Indians which was an Anglicized version of the Tamil word “VUNDIE’, and the Jatka Driver or Cartman was called the "Bandy man" 
 Besides being the mode of transportation in KGF, the Jatkas were also used as a means of advertising the latest film releases in Town. Before a new film was released, posters of the hero and heroine in some catchy pose would be stuck on to Tattie or Bamboo sheets and tied on the sides of the Jatka. Inside the jatka, a gramophone with a loud speaker would blast the title songs of the Movie, and a person with a megaphone would announce in which Picture House the film would be running. All the small urchins would run behind the Jatka and pick up all the pamphlets that were dropped by the person doing the announcing in the jatka. These ‘advertisement Jatkas’ would go all around KGF covering every street and Miner’s Line so that everyone would know about the latest release. This was a very effective advertising tool in those days.

Monday, March 23, 2015



In the early days when the John Taylor and Company started mining operations in Kolar Gold Fields, the miners worked in hazardous and humid conditions underground at the risk of their lives. They went underground in a bucket let down by a rope practically crawling down the shafts with only candles to illuminate their way. It was much later that oil lamps were used to light their way under ground.
 They had to work in the dark, dangerous and cavernous underground passages, often bare headed or wearing flimsy hats made of cane. Some of them just covered their bare heads with a towel or a piece of cloth. The temperatures were very high under ground and often touched 67 Degrees Centigrade. It was literally like working in hell and their bodies were often burnt black with the heat. Many of them developed heat sores and boils but carried on their wok never the less.
 The early Miners also had to handle explosives with their bare hands at high risk to themselves. Several of them met grisly ends when the explosives went off accidentally and many fell to their deaths in the deep tunnels. The underground tunnels were damp, dark and unhygienic, so epidemics like plague and cholera were also rampant due to the poor working conditions. These workers risked their lives to mine the gold that made the John Taylor and Sons Company richer by the day!
 Since labourers were in short supply, the Company insisted on the workers wearing a metal bracelet on their left hand, which had the name of John Taylor and Company, embossed on it along with a number and name of the mine. This was to ensure that the workers did not run away, and if they did, they would be found quite easily as the bracelet was very tight and wouldn’t come off easily. The workers had no option but to wear it. (However, this practice was given up only in 1940 when the miners formed their own unions).    

Thursday, February 19, 2015


Feb 14 at 10:21 PM
Sub: My feelings on your great book on Kolar Gold Fields
Good Evening Mrs. Bridget Kumar!
First things First! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your great book on” Kolar Gold Fields -Down Memory Lane -Paeans to Lost Glory”
First of all, my grateful thanks to you for bringing out such a great book on Kolar Gold have done a great service to all of us –who were born and brought up in KGF and who can never forget the sweet and happy memories of KGF. Everyone-erstwhile residents of KGF- goes down one’s memory lane when one reads it. Reading of your book “Kolar Gold Fields-Down Memory Lane, Paeans to Lost Glory!!” gave me untold joy and excitement and took me down my memory lane.I totally agree with what you said about KGF “Memories of Our Beloved KGF are EVERLASTING and will endure forever and ever in our hearts”. “My memories of KGF are a legacy that I’ll treasure till the end of my days”. And also “This book succeeds in capturing and preserving for posterity the nuances and ethos of bygone era in that once glorious and vibrant place called Kolar Gold fields, and at the same time keeps it alive in the hearts of its erstwhile inhabitants, which still beats for it.”
Your book is a great tribute to all the people who were responsible for the birth of great city called Kolar Gold fields and its glory and all the miners and their sacrifices and their families and the all the Officers, engineers and other personnel of Gold mines and their families who lived and made it a great city of vibrant multi-ethnic culture ,secularism, equality and communal harmony .
Before I proceed further, I need to tell you briefly about me and my life in KGF.
We are from Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh State, and as you observed my grandfather was a drifter from our native place in Nellore who arrived in KGF during its glorious days around 1910 seeking his fortune and settlement and joined in as a domestic help in the house of an English Chief Sanitary Inspector. He got married there and begot children-my dad and uncle. My father Paul got educated up to 8th class in Nellore, worked with English officers as domestic help and later got job as a Time -Keeper in Champion Reefs mines office in Sanitary Department ,responsible for keeping muster rolls of Sanitary workers in Champion Reefs . My father married there in KGF and begot us –twelve children-I am the 9th child.
 I studied in KGF up to 4th class in Telugu Elementary  School in at SC Block, Champion Reefs during  the academic years 1959-60 to 1962-63 and went to Nellore and Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh state where I completed my school and college studies –I completer Masters in Commerce in 1975.By God’s abundant grace, I got recruited as Deputy superintendent of Police in the Andhra Pradesh State Police service in 1980 and got into IPS (Indian Police service), and rose to the rank of IGP ( Inspector general of Police) and retired from service on 30th June ,2013.
I was born on 10th June ,1953 at the Government Maternity hospital,Robertsonpet,KGF and lived in KGF till May 1963 and went to Nellore for my studies .But our family lived in KGF  till 1972 when my dad retired from service and then our family moved from KGF to our native place in Nellore. While studying in Nellore and Tirupati, I came to KGF and spent time during holidays during 1963-1972.
All my siblings living in different places in AP, have live and vivid memories of life and times in KGF and as you said, KGF would never leave you. We always pine to visit  KGF whenever possible, but the pathetic picture it presents today, makes us very sad.
All the three parts in your book are a great reading, as they evoke our memories and furnish us with lots of information unknown to us about many things in KGF and the great community of Anglo-Indians in KGF .As we lived in KGF, we are familiar with Anglo-Indians and their culture.
Knowing about you and your family and life and times in KGF also brought out many memories of our life in KGF as the Places and food and festivals are familiar to me.
As you observed, there were no means of public transport in the city, except for tangas. We, as children, moved all over the length and breadth of KGF and all the places mentioned by you are familiar to us. We have moved around all the mining areas-Mysore mines, Champion Reefs, Oorgaum and Nundydroog and the famous shafts, Gifford’s shaft, Edgar’s shaft Bullen Shaft and Henry shaft.
During my childhood I moved in KGF and saw all famous clubs and halls viz., Gymkhana Club, Oorgaum Hall, and Skating Rink.
The following chapters in your book impacted my  memory very much and brought joy and took me back to my life in KGF.
1.      The start of a golden chapter in history
2.      A new Railway Line.:
We travelled with in KGF from place to place to visit friends in Marikuppam and Oorgaum and Coramandel and also attend churches and also to go to Madras and Bangalore cities. There was a minor accident on one  evening train, when I was going towards Bangalore in our local train with my dad and my dad received a minor injury and the train service was suspended for that evening and we took bus on the next day for our journey.
3.      Water works at Bethmanagala for Piped water to KGF:
 Though we never visited Bethmanagala, but, as children, we visited the water reservoir and meter house at champion Reefs and tried to climb up and see the water and the watchman warned us and sent us away many times.
4.      Townships in Robertson pet and Anderson pet:
 My uncle worked in Municipal Health office, at Robertson pet and we frequented the Town for several purposes –going to shopping and hotels, Cinema theatres like Gay Talkies, Krishna Talkies, Olympia Theatre and going to bus station to go out to outstations in AP.My cousins lived in Robertson pet only.Andersonpert was close to our residence in Champion Reefs and we frequented this place almost daily .I used to go with my dad   to Beershop    to purchase beef and vegetables and clothes. We purchase newspapers and magazines in Anderson pet.Your book threw light on the origins of these town areas and Beershop. It was not clear for me as to why it was called Beershop though I had a faint idea about it, but your book brought out   the reason as to why it was known as Beershop.
5.      Churches and Schools:
The church of Our Lady of Victories at Champion Reefs is my favourite church to attend the 24th December Christmas Mass and on other occasions. The depiction of the birth of Lord Jesus Christ in beautifully decorated place in the church is always my source of joy and faith as a child. I have warm memories of attending 24th December Mass and returning home in the cold weather and eating sweetmeats prepared by my sisters at home. I hardly slept on that night. Our friends and a few cousins studied in St. Josephs Convent at Champion Reefs .So I went there several times including on school functions and school days.
6.      Establishment of Clubs and institutes:
The KGF Gymkhana Club ,Mysore mine Club Nundydroog Club, The Catholic Club in Champion Reefs ,The king George Hall Club in Robertson pet are our frequent jaunts and  my  brothers ‘wedding reception was also held at Mysore Mine Club.
8.The other Side of the Coin:
We are aware of the underground accidents including air blasts etc. ., we used to wake up to the jolts caused by the underground blasts and there were quakes and the housed used to vibrate due to the blasts. All the tragic mining accidents caused gloomy atmosphere in our neighborhoods and any serious accident was the talk of the town, as everyone comes to know such accidents. Now I feel sad for the serious exploitation of mining workers by the John Taylor and Sons Company during the hey days of Gold mining.

9.The birth of a new community: Your book brought out clearly about the birth of Anglo-Indian Community in India and threw light on this aspect.
 10) Their way of Life in KGF.As residents of KGF and having seen them in our neighbourhood    and as officers, and nurses in KGF Hospital, I have a glimpse of their culture and your book gave more detailed account of their life style .One evening, while I was going with my cousin to my cousin’s house in Robertson Pet, we stumbled upon  a wedding function at a roadside   house of Anglo-Indians .We stopped there for listening to the orchestra music ,but later we had the opportunity to watch their dancing and merry making and we were spellbound by their dances as it was our first time to see  such performances.
The Anglo-Indian women excelled in the fields of teaching and nursing-as they were excellent teachers of English language and caring, patient nurses due to their skills and dedication to their duties.
As a child, when I was admitted in KGF hospital for a week, and I had had an opportunity to experience the care and affection of a lovely Anglo-Indian nurse who showed utmost care and love and patience while treating me in the hospital ward. She was a Nightingale personified.
11.Christmas and Festivities
12.Vendors and Hawkers and Other service providers;
Since we shared the same space and times in KGF, the vendors were the same and the service providers were the same to all the Miners’ Lines and Officers bungalows except a few.
13.Cotton Candy ,Iced Candy ,and Bombay muttai ,Glass bangles ,Bamboo Flutes and violins,Namakara Hawkers :
These details in your book are very vivid and brought out lot of interesting memories out of my faded memory and I thoroughly enjoyed reading these chapters, as the other chapters.
14.Familiar Landmarks:
Of particular interest to me of all the familiar landmarks of KGF are “The Cyanide Dumps” and “The KGF Mining Hospital “.We had our own dumps in Champion Reefs area and they were our favorite spots   for playing and gathering for us. They have a special appeal for us all and we can’t imagine KGF without these dumps. When I saw them in Telugu and Tamil movies, I was proudly saying to my friends in Andhra Pradesh that they belong to our KGF City.
The Ming hospital at Champion Reefs which we saw as Children and the same now give us lot of sadness .I was in that hospital as an inpatient as a child and witnessed the praiseworthy services of the staff, especially the Anglo-Indian nurses and always compare them to the abysmally poor conditions and services prevailing in Government Hospitals in Andhra Pradesh .Even the nurses in corporate hospital are no comparison to those service oriented and dedicated nurses in the KGF MINING HOSPITAL.
15.Our Local Train: It brings me sweet memories of my journeys from Nellore to KGF via Bangarapet during school holidays.
16.All souls Day:
We used to spend half a day to decorate the graves and bring flowers and offer prayers at the graves of our grandparents. The area wears a festive look on that day .I have never observed such observation in any place /town/cities of AP as was seen in KGF. We miss the event always.
Other Communities in KGF …Festivals.
There was a sizable population of Telugu people from the Districts of Nellore, Chittoor, and Anantapur Cuddapah of Andhra Pradesh, who came and settled there-not as underground miners but -as sanitary workers in all the mines and sweepers in KHG Mining hospital who lived in Marikuppam, Champion Reefs, Nundydroog area, Coramandel area and Oorgaum areas. Most of them were Hindus .A few families belonged to Christianity and we are also Christian. Among them a few are Catholics while the rest are Protestants. We celebrated Christmas with lot of fervor and joy. Bu as you observed in your book, we also participated in the festivals of Hindus and Muslims-especially Pongal and Bhogi (bonfire) and Deepavali and our Hindu friends’ also celebrated Christmas festival.
Thanking you!
Yours Sincerely!

Friday, February 13, 2015



Dear Mrs. Bridget
My father Mr. M. Subramani  (Late) was born and bought up in KGF  He lived in Nandydroog Mine, close to Nandydroog Club and Skating Rink. . He studied in KGF School and started playing foot ball from childhood. He represented KGF in various tournaments across India. He was part of the first Kolar District Football Team that was  inaugurated by then MD of Kolar Gold Fields Mr. J T M TAYLOR. His siblings too were footballers and created history of sorts when all 7 brothers represented a football team in KGF!
 He got an opportunity to play for the Railways when  he was playing in Trivandrum and he then  shifted base to Madras  and joined the Railways in 1965. He played number of matches for the Railways and Clubs in Madras. He represented various teams in a Career span of 25 years. He died on 30th March 1990 at the age of 54 years of Cardiac Arrest.

Pic 1: This pic was taken in kerala in early 50's at the age of 18.

Pic 2: He was also part first kolar district food ball team inaugurated by then MD of kolar gold fields Mr JTM TAYLOR. My father facing the camera standing next to the person wearing the cap.

Pic 3:This photograph was taken in vellore after defeating the madras team in the final.The person who his standing first in the top left was my dad's elder brother Mr M.Krishnasamy and next to him was my dad (both in jersey).

Pic 4:This photograph was taken in Trichy when he was playing for railways, my dad was sitting second from left.

Thanks & Regards
Magesh Subramani

Tuesday, February 3, 2015



History abounds with tales of mankind’s fascination with Gold. The yellow metal has been considered precious from times immemorial and this fascination is reflected in various references of mining the world over.

Kolar Gold Fields, affectionately known as KGF had a very sizable European and Anglo-Indian population who lived and worked there for generations. Messrs. John Taylor and Sons a British Mining Company owned the K G F Mines for more than a century since 1852. It was well known for its Colonial ambience with elegant bungalows replete with huge gardens, green lawns, and many Clubs with Tennis and Badminton courts, Golf courses, Dance Halls, Swimming Baths, etc. It was called “Little England” and was unique for its secular and egalitarian society not found anywhere else in the world.
 It was one of India’s earliest industrialized towns, which had electricity supplied to it from a captive power plant, good water supply, well-equipped hospitals, schools, etc. The 19th and the early 20th century saw the KGF mines booming and flourishing and it employed almost 4500 employees in its hey days.
 In what was once a desolate, waste, rocky terrain, a large and flourishing town sprang up which was provided with most of the conveniences and comforts of life at that time. All this was possible due to the perseverance and foresight of a group of British pioneers who were successful in their quest for gold.
 Kolar Gold Fields – Down Memory Lane” undertakes a nostalgic journey right from the days of the origins of the Kolar Gold Mines, its historical and mythological connections, the arduous and difficult lives of the miners in those early days, the growth of the mines under the British Company of John Taylor and Sons, its gradual decline, and the ultimate closure of the once prosperous Kolar Gold Mining Company in 2003 after it was taken over by the Government of India. Thus ending a golden chapter in History, which now lies buried in the annals of time. 
 It then moves on to give the reader a brief insight into the lives of the Anglo-Indian Community (a living legacy of the British Raj) in the early days of KGF. It brings out vividly the glorious and cosmopolitan life led by that tiny vibrant community in KGF who lived in sprawling bungalows with beautiful gardens and domestic helpers at their beck and call. It recalls the grand Christmas Balls and Dances held at the Skating Rink and the Jam Sessions and Pound Parties in Buffalo Lodge.
 It finally focuses on my own childhood memories of growing up as a young Anglo-Indian child in KGF in the 1950s and 60s - home, family, school, playmates, entertainments, games, picnics, etc. It recalls memories of old familiar haunts and landmarks of KGF and the people who were an indispensable part of life in those days. This golden period of KGF post Independence was the period of transition, when the influences of the best of old Colonial India merged with the new emerging independent India.
 This book succeeds in capturing and preserving for posterity the nuances and ethos of a bygone era in that once glorious vibrant place called Kolar Gold Fields, and at the same time keeps it alive in the hearts of its erstwhile inhabitants, which still beats for it.

This Book is a small attempt on my part to record for posterity, the story of this once vibrant place and keep it alive in the hearts of its erstwhile inhabitants, which still beats for it. It is a small Legacy that could be passed on to future generations.

Published by:
ISBN 9781452044590

Reprinted at MATHA PRINTS, Bangalore
Price Rs 260.00 (India only)

Contact Bridget White-Kumar for copies : Ph 9845571254 

Copies also at available at Gangarams Book Bureau, M G Road, Bangalore.
Also available online from, Author and other online Book Stores

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


All employees who worked  underground in the Kolar Gold Mines, were fully aware of the dangers of their occupation. They were prepared for any eventuality. There were several instances of tragic and fatal accidents inside the mines that left many workers physically handicapped and incapacitated. Several times, there was loss of lives due to the Rock Bursts or Air Blasts. The Rock Bursts during the 1920s and 30s and the massive Rock Burst in 1952, claimed many lives as quite a few miners were buried alive.
Besides, the Rock Bursts and Air Blasts, there were also many fire accidents in the mines.
The smell of smoke or eucalyptus oil was a direct warning that there was a fire somewhere in the mine. The workers knew that their first priority was to immediately inform the Surface Banksman of the Shaft by telephone or other means about the fire and try to put it out themselves with the firefighting equipment underground.  The miners had to then evacuate the place and come up to safety immediately. As per procedure in the event of a fire breaking out underground, , 2 large bottles of Eucalyptus oil  were immediately poured into the two air mains, and also sprinkled into the downcast air by the Surface Banksman. The strong smell of eucalyptus would quickly spread through all the tunnels underground thereby warning  all the miners working in other tunnels to quickly rush to higher safety levels, from where they could come up to the surface safely. Once the fire warning was announced no one was allowed to enter the mine except the Fire Inspectors and the Rescue team. with their fire fighting apparatus to subdue the fire.. These men wore special masks known as Burrell Masks and other fire resistant gear to protect them from the flames.
I’m sharing below the first 3 pages of the Nundydroog Mines Limited, Underground Fire regulations (January 1950) that was my dad’s copy when he was an Agent in Henry Shaft, Nundydroog Mine.

Sunday, January 11, 2015



In the early days, whenever a new British Officer arrived at K.G.F, the established British families would send the new arrival an invitation through their Butler to visit them. This would read something like, 'Do call on us. We look forward to meeting you and your family. Next Tuesday at 4 p.m. will be fine'.  Social interaction in those days was a well mannered affair, and governed by many rules of etiquette. Social visits were only through invitation only.
 The new arrival /s would usually turn up at the time suggested, in the back of one of those horse drawn carts or 'Jatkas'. It was customary at the time for all the Britishers to have calling cards. Calling Cards streamlined introductions and it was also a way of showcasing the person’s social identity.
 Upon arrival, the Gentleman usually gave his calling card to the servant answering the door. The servant would be holding a silver try and the card would be placed upon it. The servant would then carry the card in the tray to the Host and only then the person would be welcomed into the home.

Calling Cards were then exchanged between the Host and the Visitor. If there was an eligible male in the family, the left top corner of the card would be turned down, and if a female the right. Nothing was ever said about the eligible person, but one would know the situation. Protocol had to be followed!! However, the problem arose when there were both eligible males and females in the same family.  Then both the right and the left corners were turned down!
After exchanging a few pleasantries, Afternoon Tea was served. A pretty little Afternoon Tea Service would be laid out on a small table with plates of dainty crust-less cucumber or tomato sandwiches, biscuits and cake. The guest/s would have to politely wait till the hostess poured him or her, a cup of tea and offered them the refreshments however, hungry or ravenous one was.
The visit would compulsorily come to an end within the hour and the visitor was expected to take his leave as early as possible.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


I was pleasantly surprised to receive this email from Mr Hugh O’Donnell , the grandson of
Dr T. J. O’Donnell the first Chief Medical Officer of the Kolar Gold Field Hospital
Dear Bridget
I am the grandson of the famous Dr O'Donnell who founded the Kolar Hospital.  I am sending you a few photos and memorabilia in a download link. I have a copy of your book. If any of the photos are of interest you may use them on your website. One day I hope to visit Kolar myself and walk on O'Donnell Road, if it is still there.
I should explain that my father Godfrey O'Donnell, the second son of Thomas O'Donnell, had a second marriage later in his life (after the death of his first wife), and I was born when he was in his sixties!  Sadly I never knew the great Dr O'Donnell in person, but am thrilled to discover the contribution he made to the people of Kolar.
Best wishes
Hugh O'Donnell
Dr.. T J O’Donnell was born and educated in Ireland. He qualified as a surgeon from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland where he became a ‘Fellow’. He started working as a doctor at the Rhymney Iron Works in Wales and after a few years he joined the Consett Iron Works in Derbyshire. In 1885, he was contracted by the John Taylor and Sons Company to set up a health service in the Gold Fields. He was the only Medical Personnel at the time and a clinic was set up for him in a Bungalow near Marikuppam. He immediately went to work to set up a good health and sanitation system.  
In 1887 the John Taylor and Company established a small hospital to accommodate 48 patients initially . It was centrally located in Champion Reefs and Dr. T J O’Donnell was appointed as the Chief Medical Officer. He was later joined by his brother Dr.J D O’Donnell. More Medical staff were appointed and by the year 1900, this Mining Hospital became a well equipped hospital, to cater to the medical needs and emergencies of the miners and their families. He served as the Chief Medical Officer for more than 35 years and when he retired in 1911 to return to Ireland, he left behind a first class medical hospital service run by the 6 Irish Doctors specially trained by him. He was awarded the Kaiser-i-Hind Medal by the Maharaja of Mysore in recognition of his services in the medical field and especially during the severe Cholera and Plague outbreak in early 1900.
Dr. T J O’Donnell also served as a Surgeon Lieut. Colonel in the Kolar Gold Field Rifle Volunteers and held the Volunteers Service Decoration for ‘long and good service’ as Hon. Surgeon. He was a keen Cricket and Tennis Player as well. In appreciation of his long services in Kolar Gold Fields, the John Taylor and Sons Company named the road between Champion Reef and Andersonpet as O’Donnell Road,

He passed away at the age of 87 at his residence at Dublin Ireland.

Here are some photographs send to me by Hugh O'Donnell and with his permission I'm sharing it on my Blog 

Monday, December 22, 2014


23rd December 2014

Bring on the batter   Bridget Kumar,Dec 23, 2014, DHNS:

I have always associated Christmas with the smells, sounds and sights of the season. It brings back the memories of my hometown — Kolar Gold Fields. 

The smell of the decorated pine Christmas tree in the sitting room, the enticing aroma of Christmas cakes being baked and the ‘kalkals’ and rose cookies being fried, the sight of all the Christmas decorations, buntings and the soothing sounds of Christmas carols — I have great memories of everything and all these are a part of the wonder of Christmas.

My mother would start the preparation of the traditional sweets and treats that are a part and parcel of Christmas a fortnight in advance. Kalkals, rose cookies, fruit cakes, coconut sweets, the Christmas pudding, bole cake, dodol, bebinca, marzipan, peanut fudge, cashewnut fudge and rice crispies were some of the goodies that were prepared in abundance by her. The delicious aroma of these goodies would drift through the house and neighbourhood.

I am sharing the recipes of two of my favourite Christmas delights — kalkals and Christmas cake.

 As kids, we would wait for the Christmas holidays to begin so that we could all help my mother in the preparation of sweets. We would all sit around the dining table and each of us would take a lump of dough and spread it on a fork to make as many kalkals as possible with it. These kalkals were like small shells and we would also cut out various other shapes like hearts, clubs and diamonds with the help of cutters.

 It was fun competing with each other to see who made the most. As soon as we completed a good number my mother would start frying them till all were fried and a huge heap was kept in basins and trays on the table. Once cold, she would make the frosting by pouring hot sugar syrup on the kalkals. We had a lot of fun helping her and sometimes even our non-Christian friends would join the fun. Of course, a good portion of the fried kalkals would go into our mouths in the process!

The Christmas spirit would set in early thanks to the Christmas cake. The earlier it is prepared with your choice of liquor, the more delicious it turns out to be. Most Anglo-Indian families have their own recipe for Christmas cake, which is usually handed down through generations. Candied fruit, plums, currants, raisins and orange peels are dexterously cut and soaked in rum or brandy a few weeks in advance. Nuts are peeled and chopped and the whole family comes together to make the Christmas cakes.

In our family, different tasks would be allotted to each person — while one whipped up the eggs, another creamed the butter and sugar. A person with strong arms would do the final mixing and stirring. After the cake batter was poured into the tins, the real fun would begin with everyone fighting to lick the leftover batter in the mixing bowl and on the spoons and spatulas! 

Recipe for Kalkals
  (Serves six)

n Refined flour - 1 kg
n Eggs (beaten well) - 6
n Milk or thick coconut milk - 2 cups
n Salt - 1 teaspoon
n Sugar - 300 grams
n Baking powder - 1 teaspoon
n Oil for frying

Mix the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder together. Add the coconut milk and eggs and knead to a soft dough. Keep aside for an hour. Form kalkals by taking small lumps of the dough and roll on the back of a fork or a wooden kalkal mould, to form a scroll. Alternately, roll out the dough and cut into fancy shapes with kalkal or cookie cutters. Heat oil in a deep pan and fry as many kalkals as possible at a time. Keep aside.

To frost the kalkals, melt one cup of sugar with half cup of water and when the sugar syrup crystallises, pour over the kalkals and mix well. Store in air-tight boxes when cold.

Christmas cake 
Refined flour or plain flour - 500 grams
Dark brown sugar - 300 grams
Unsalted butter - 500 grams
Mixed dried fruits (black currants, raisins and sultanas chopped finely and soaked in rum or brandy before hand) - 500 grams
Chopped orange / lemon peel - 100 grams
Lemon or orange zest - 1 tablespoon
Salt - ¼ teaspoon
Nutmeg powder
- ½  teaspoon
Cinnamon powder - ½ teaspoon
Eggs (beaten) - 4
Milk (optional) - 4 tablespoons
Baking powder - 1 teaspoon
Vanilla essence/extract - 1 teaspoon
Black currant jam or orange marmalade - 2 tablespoons
Black treacle syrup or date syrup  (optional) - 2 tablespoons

Heat the oven to 150°C. Remove the chopped fruit from the rum, drain and keep aside. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon powder, nutmeg powder and salt together.

Dust the orange/lemon peel and the chopped soaked fruit with a little flour. Cream the butter and sugar well. Add the beaten eggs, treacle/date syrup, vanilla essence, orange/lemon zest and mix well.

Now add the black currant Jam/marmalade, orange/lemon peel and chopped fruit. Slowly, add the flour and mix gently till all the ingredients are combined well. If the mixture is too thick, add a little milk.

Pour into a greased and papered baking tin and bake in a slow oven for about one hour or more. Check if cooked by inserting a tooth pick. If the tooth pick comes out clean, your cake is ready.

Remove from the oven when done and set aside to cool. When the cake is completely cool, poke all over with tooth pick and drizzle brandy or rum.  Repeat once in every week or ten days if you are preparing in advance. Wrap in foil paper. This cake will last for months if stored in an air-tight container. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014


A nostalgic visit down Memory Lane by Patrick and Heather Taylor on 8th November 2011 after 55 years along with Bridget White-Kumar - 

A member of the Family who owned the British Mining Firm John Taylor and Sons makes a nostalgic trip to KGF after 55 years” ! It all began when Patrick Taylor’s elder sister Anthea “gave me this book on KGF as a Birthday gift. I read it and my itch to come to India intensified,” says Patrick Taylor, referring to the book written by Bridget White-Kumar entitled Kolar Gold Fields—Down Memory Lane.
 London based Patrick Taylor is the great grandson of Mr. John Taylor, the founder of ‘The John Taylor and Sons Company’, the British Mining firm which started the systematic mining of gold in the KGF area and ran the gold mines in KGF for 72 years from 1884. He is the son of Arthur Taylor, a Partner and the last General Manager of the KGF Mines when the Mines were handed over to the government of India in 1956. The Mining Firm of John Taylor and Sons has since been disbanded and is not in existence any more. Treading away from the family trade of mining, Patrick studied to be a Chartered Accountant and worked as one for several years before moving to Radio and Publishing. He now owns an adventure travel and tourism company as well. 

 I was pleasantly surprised to receive this email from Mr. Patrick Taylor from the UK, in October 2011.
“Dear Bridget
My name is Patrick Taylor. I am in the process of reading your fascinating book on the KGF. My father, Arthur, a partner in the firm of John Taylor & Sons, was in charge of the mines during my early childhood, when I lived on the KGF for 7 years before returning to England for my education. Now 63 years old, I have never returned to India but my wife and I are coming to the KGF in November. I would be most interested to meet you if that would be possible. I have many happy many memories of my early life in India and for me this trip will definitely be a trip down memory lane. It will be greatly enhanced if I can have the benefit of learning from your knowledge of the place that was the foundation of my life.
I look forward to hearing from you.
With best wishes
Yours sincerely
Patrick Taylor

I was only too happy to oblige and made arrangements for a day Trip to KGF with them on the 9th November 2011. Patrick and his wife Heather were in Bangalore on the 8th November and the next day I accompanied them on a trip ‘Down Memory Lane to KGF’.We started our trip with a visit to the new exploration site of the Australian Mining Company ‘Kolar Gold Company’ at Chickregunta (which is just outside KGF) near Kuppam in Andhra Pradesh. We were accompanied by Mr. Richard Johnson the Chief Operating Officer, Phillip Dingle (an old KGF boy   presently working as a mining consultant with the firm) and Mrs. Nickie Johnson.  Phillip and Mr. Richards made our trip to the new exploration site truly memorable. It was a fascinating opportunity of looking into the future and seeing a new Gold Mining area taking shape, while it was also a glimpse into the past, as to how the pioneers of our present day Kolar Gold Fields once explored and prospected for gold in a rocky barren area to what it finally evolved into!
After our visit to the new Site we then proceeded to KGF and visited various places around Champion Reefs, such as Our Lady of Victories Church, the Champion Reefs Post Office, the Champion Reefs Water Works and Reservoir, the Champion Reefs Work Shops, the Imperial Bakery and the KGF Mining Hospital now known as the BGML Hospital. Patrick was very sad to see the deplorable state of the Mining Hospital where he recalled being treated for various childhood illnesses and also to have his hand sutured when he cut it while banging on a glass door when he was around 6 years old. This hospital was once the Referral Centre for all Chest related diseases in the District and had eminent Doctors and Nurses on its rolls.
 Patrick was quite nostalgic when we visited the St Joseph’s Convent. The Nuns were so thrilled to have him visit them. They said the ‘son of the house has returned to visit them’. Incidentally, the Convent was earlier the residence of Mr. Arthur Taylor, the General of the John Taylor and Company and Patrick’s father. His old home as Patrick fondly remembers it, is still in the same beautiful condition today and lovingly maintained by the Sisters of St Joseph of Tarbes. The Nuns were kind enough to give him a tour of the entire house and Patrick told them a lot of stories connected with this house.
 Many will recall that  St Joseph’s Convent School was earlier functioning in the premises of St Mary’s Church compound (now Our Lady of Victories Church) in Champion Reefs. However, due to the massive Rock Burst of Earth Quake proportions in 1952, the St Mary’s Church, the Presbytery, the St. Joseph’s   Convent and the School Buildings all collapsed to the ground. All the buildings were completely destroyed. Mr. Morgan, The Chief Medical Officer of the Company Hospital, rushed to help the Sisters he arranged for their indefinite stay at the Bungalow of the General Manager of the Mines, Mr. Arthur Taylor in Champion Reefs, who was away in England on a holiday at the time. The nuns were given half of the main house as their temporary abode. Even though this bungalow was huge and quite spacious it was insufficient to accommodate the Convent and the school with so many students. So while half of the main house, the garage and servants quarters were made use of for the Convent, the classes were held under the trees and in temporary sheds.
When Mr. Arthur Taylor, returned to KGF from the UK he and his family shifted to another Bungalow near the Golf Course which now houses the Mining Offices. We then proceeded to visit the other Bungalow near the Golf Course where Patrick’s family shifted after their return from their holiday in the UK in 1952. He was however quite sad to see it in its present run down state even though the Mining Offices are housed in it. Never the less this house also evoked a lot of Nostalgia and he recalled many happy incidents of his short stay there before he left for the UK in a couple of years. “I have several photographs of the house that is now the Convent, but none from this house,” said Patrick after a brief walk-through.
St Michael’s and All Angel’s Church was also on his list of places to visit and he was very happy to visit the Church which he remembered attending Sunday Service. He spent sometime in the Church speaking to the Church Representatives Mr. Nathan and Mr. Moses who presented him with a copy of the Centenary Souvenir. The Old Pipe Organ that he remembered
The KGF Club was the highlight of his visit. Mr. Kotnise, the President and Mr. Nathan, Secretary of the KGF Club welcomed Mr. and Mrs. Taylor and interacted with them. Patrick was immensely pleased to see the photographs of his Great grandfather John Taylor and all his other Taylor Ancestors displayed on the walls of the Conference Room of the Club. “That’s my uncle,” or “that’s my cousin” he would mumble over his shoulder to his wife Heather. “You’ve kept these for all these years?” he asked the secretary of the KGF Club as he walked by a wall of framed photographs of all the partners and officers of the erstwhile John Taylor and Company. He and his wife stood under the photograph of his Great grandfather John Taylor in the Main Bar and clicked many   photographs. He was immensely pleased to meet Susai Raj, the old Bartender and Caretaker of the KGF Club. Susai Raj is now 88 years old but his memory was quite fresh when narrating various incidents connected with the Taylor Family.  Susai as his British bosses called him, is at home in the club. “I used to make the best cocktails, I still can,” he says his eyes gleaming as he remembered Cocktails and Dances evenings in this once prestigious club. “I went over to his house when his parents hosted evening parties, and he once fell   sick from eating too many cherries,” Susai tells Patrick’s wife Heather. Dressed for the occasion in formal pants and a shirt with a tie and tiepin, Susai was still adhering to the dress code that was in force when the “Dorais” spent evenings at the Club. “Children were strictly not allowed,” Susai further clarifies. 
 Patrick was pained to see the visible signs of deterioration in this once prestigious Club like the rest of KGF. The mounted Antlers and Horns still adorn the foyer of the club, but the beautiful garden surrounding the Club has disappeared. The grand Piano in the erstwhile ‘Ladies Bar’ now lies unused and in need of repairs. The brass door knobs and handles no longer shine and the beautiful crockery and cutlery with the Club’s monogram specially brought from Sheffield in the UK all those years ago have all disappeared and now replaced with ordinary ones. The Bar is also not so well stocked now and soft drinks are served in a bottle with a drinking straw and paper napkins. The snacks and short eats that the club was so famous for in the old days have been replaced with small packets of store bought nuts and fries.
 “My father was proud of what the family had done here in India. KGF was the first Town in India to get electricity almost 110 years ago and was also said to have been one of the first towns to get cemented roads. While I firmly believe that every country should run itself, on coming back here, I do feel a certain amount of sadness on seeing this town fading away,” said Patrick while we drove past the Old Colonial Bungalows that are almost in ruins and the Mineshafts that are now locked and closed to the public. That era is a beautiful blur in his mind.
 Soon it was time to leave KGF as the Taylor’s had to catch the early morning flight back to the United Kingdom. With heavy hearts they bid goodbye to KGF and promised to visit again sometime. “There is so much more to see, which means I have to come back soon,” Patrick said before leaving.
 I was immensely pleased that their visit to KGF went off well and all the arrangements made by me for their visit were appreciated by them. 

Friday, November 21, 2014



The earliest authentic record of Kolar Gold Fields is found in a report in the Asiatic Journal of 1804 of Lieutenant John Warren of His Majesty’s 33rd regiment.

In 1850, an Irish Soldier, named Michael F. Lavelle, from Bangalore Cantonment, who had served in the regiment that fought against Tippu Sultan in Srirangapatnam, near Mysore heard about some native mines in a place named Kolar some distance from Bangalore.  Being retired from active military duty, he decided to explore the Kolar region and see for himself if the information was true. On reaching the place, he was convinced about the presence of gold and decided therefore to hunt for gold and other precious metals himself.  Accordingly, he applied to the Mysore British Government for prospecting Rights.

In 1873, M F Lavelle obtained exclusive prospecting rights  for mining coal and other metals  for a period of 20 years. He began mining operations by sinking his first shaft near Urigaum   / Worigaum (Oorgaum).  The mining permission was the right to mine in Kolar extending over twenty years, at a royalty of ten per cent on all metals and metallic ores, and of twenty per cent on all precious stones.

 In 1877, Lavelle realised that the amount he was earning from mining was far less than he had anticipated, he contemplated to sell the mine. A small syndicate known as the Kolar Concessionaires Soft Corporation and Arbuthnot Company of Madras, heard of Lavelle’s activities and approached him to sell his mining license to them. Lavelle took this opportunity and negotiated with them, for quite a good amount. After obtaining the approval of the Mysore British Government, he transferred all his rights and concessions to this syndicate known as the Kolar Concessionaries formed by Major General G. de la Poer Beresford and some of his friends

The Kolar Concessionaires Soft Corporation, continued mining for gold on a small scale, where Mr. Lavelle left off and its members became quite affluent with the gold that they mined. This Corporation later merged into a company called The Gold Fields of Mysore Company. This new Company, namely The Gold Fields of Mysore Company then took up prospecting for gold in earnest, and in course of time, they acquired a large area

In 1880, The Gold Fields of Mysore Company, contacted a British Engineering firm known as John Taylor and Sons to mine for gold in KGF on their behalf. The John Taylor and Sons Company which were instrumental in striking gold in Africa, arrived in Kolar Gold Fields and began to prospect for gold in the Marikuppam and Oorigaum region.

In 1885, the KGF Gymkhana Club was established by the British with a 12 Hole Golf Course and a Beautiful Victorian Club House. The Club House was equipped with a traditional bar, a library, a ballroom with a sprung floor, snooker and billiard rooms and tennis courts, which were all built and completed in a period of just six months. This Club was the first club to be established in KGF and is ranked as the 4th oldest Golf Club in India.

1894: T he Mysore Government under the British, financed the construction of a branch railway line, 10 miles long connecting all the five mines between Mysore Mine (Marikuppam) and Bowringpet Junction (Bangarpet) to connect KGF to the Bangalore Madras Railway line.

In late 1890’s, the John Taylor and Sons Company with the assistance of Dr T J O’Donnell and J D O’Donnell, established a well equipped 80 Bed hospital to cater to the medical needs and emergencies of the miners and their families. It was centrally located in Champion Reefs. Dr T J O’Donnell was the first Chief Medical Officer of the Hospital and served as the CMO for more than 25 years.

September 1899 The Kolar Gold Fields Sanitary Board was constituted in September 1899 with three ex-officio members and four non-official members nominated by the Mining Board.

April 1900: The KGF Police, a special body with 50 officers and 279 men, under a separate European Superintendent, largely composed of Sikhs, was formed in April 1900, with jurisdiction over Bowringpet, Malur and Mulbagal taluks. Mr. Mainwalling was appointed as Superintendent of Police, Kolar Gold Fields. In 1901, Mr. Simon Reuben was appointed as Police Inspector of Kolar Gold Fields

In 1902, the Mysore government established the first major hydro-electric generating station for commercial operations at Shivanasamudram. The longest transmission line, at the highest voltage in the world, was constructed to meet the power needs of mining operations at KGF. The erstwhile Mysore State became the first state in India to establish such a huge hydro-electric plant and KGF was the first town to get hydro-electric power.

Also in 1902, the township of Robertsonpet was established to house the Kolar Gold Mines related tertiary sector populace. It was named as ‘Robertsonpet’ by the then Maharaja of Mysore, in commemoration of the memory of Sir Donald Robertson, who was the British Resident of Mysore and who was also responsible for launching the first Hydro-electric plant in Shivanasamudram which supplied electric power to the KGF mines. Several trades people such as manufacturers, bakers, printers, confectioners, contractors, printers, outfitters, timber merchants, jewelers, haberdashers, pawn brokers, etc set up their business in the town of Robertsonpet.

In 1903, the Mysore British Government constructed a huge man-made lake in Bethamangala (a small town about 5 miles away from KGF and the underground water source of the Pala River)  to supply filtered drinking water to KGF and the surrounding townships through huge pipelines from the Government Water Works at Bethamangala, Soon Bethamangala became a popular sailing and picnic spot for the British population in KGF.

In the 1920s, when the mining industry was at its peak, KGF occupied 30 square miles and had a population of 90,000. The mines had an impressive 24,000 employees working in various capacities. Out of this number, around 400 were Europeans who held most of the high positions, around 650 were Anglo- Indians who held middle management posts such as supervisors, team heads, etc. The rest of the 23, 000 work force, comprised Tamil and Telugu speaking labourers and workmen, supervisors and Maistries.  The Champion Reefs Mine was more than 12000 feet deep and was / is the second deepest gold mine in the world.  It was the first town in India, which had electricity supplied to it from a captive power plant, good water supply, well-equipped hospitals, schools, etc.

In the mid 1940’s, Trade and Labour Unions came into existence almost overnight under the leadership of leaders like V.M. Govindan, K.S. Vasan, M.C. Narasimhan and others. This marked the beginning of one of the most vibrant Trade Union Movements in India.  

On 28th November 1956, the KGF Mines were ultimately nationalized by the Government of India. The social and economic structure of the Kolar Gold Mines changed after this.  Mining went on as usual in KGF after the exit of the John Taylor and Sons Company. The Mining Industry was now solely in the hands of the Government of India. Even though most of the gold reserves were now depleted after being mined for almost a century, the mines still yielded some gold. However, the pathetic conditions of the workers remained the same with little or no improvement in their working or living conditions.

In 1972 , the KGF mines, were renamed as the Kolar Gold Mines Undertaking Limited. It was made into a Public Sector Undertaking under the Department of Mines, and the name was later changed to the Bharat Gold Mines Limited.

By 1990’s due to the heavy costs involved in mining and with the gold reserves depleting rapidly, the Bharat Gold Mines Ltd Company incurred heavy losses. By 1992, the Company’s accumulated losses were over Rs.502 Crores and went before the Board of Industrial and Financial Reconstruction.

In 1980, the Kolar Gold Mines which produced more than 1000 tonnes of gold during its glorious days, celebrated its centenary. After just 40 years of Government ownership and management, the once vibrant Mining Industry was facing a severe financial crisis.

On 28th February 2001, The Government of India officially closed the KGF Mines and Mining operations came to an end after more than 125 years. With it one of the most famous Gold Mines in the history of the world came to an end. It was the end of an era in gold mining operations. The Company was not in a position to settle the dues of the miners as the case was pending before the Board of Industrial and Financial Reconstruction and it took a number of years before their dues were finally paid a couple of years ago.

On 9th July 2013, the Supreme Court, approved the Central Government of India's Decision to invite Global Tenders for restarting the Bharat Gold Mines Ltd at Kolar Gold Fields which was shut down more than a decade ago