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Thursday, September 17, 2015


An article published in the GUARDIAN Newspaper UK Edition, where they have quoted me on the reopening of our KGF MInes

India shows its metal with plan to open gold mines across country…/india-gold-mines-opening-kolar…

Ministers want to increase domestic supply in country that imports 1,000 tonnes of gold a year, and hope to mine £2.5bn worth near city of Kolar
They are calling it the great Indian gold rush. Within months, Indian officials are expected to auction licences for new gold mines across the country, and abandoned colonial-era mines are set to be revived. India is the world’s largest consumer of the precious metal, importing more than 1,000 tonnes a year. In August alone, 120 tonnes were brought in, and demand is expected to rise still further in the runup to Diwali and weddings season. Local production of gold totals less than two tonnes. Successive governments have struggled to turn Indians away from gold, which economists say accounts for almost a third of the country’s deficit.
Now ministers want to increase domestic supply and believe gold worth more than £2.5bn can be mined in the dusty hills of Kolar, in the southern state of Karnataka, with more to come from other sites in the west and centre of the country. Balvinder Kumar, of the mines ministry, told the Guardian: “There have been investigations and explorations by state governments and we believe there is gold there that can be exploited. These are some very deep and old mines. We will put about 80 [mines] to auction within two or three months.”
Kolar was first mined by British companies at the end of the 19th century, said Bridget White-Kumar, a local author and historian. 
In 1850 a retired Irish soldier who had fought in the army of the East India Company during its campaigns to seize the princedom of Mysore investigated reports of mines in the region. Over the decades that followed, the project and a thriving community grew. But most of the gold was sent back to London, Bridget White-Kumar said. Kolar’s mine was nationalised in 1956 and finally shut down in 2001. Bridget White-Kumar said: “The glorious period was until the mid-1970s. There were a lot of unions that couldn’t agree with each other and costs were mounting. The gold was sold under the market rate. As a community, we haven’t come to turns with it even now. This news is what we have been waiting for.”
Demand for gold in India has continued to rise through years of economic growth. Kumar said: “Indians like gold for security, so in bad times they can sell it, and ladies also go for gold for ornamentation. Traditionally, gold is very attractive and day by day it is increasing.” This month new measures were announced in an attempt to woo Indians away from the precious metal and use the some of the 17,000 tonnes of gold in jewellery and other heirlooms held by Indian families to fuel economic growth.
Read more
Huge quantities of gold – about 3,000 tonnes, more than two-thirds of the gold held in the US bullion depository at Fort Knox – is stored in temples, donated by pious Hindu worshippers. Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister, has already tried to exploit the resource with a scheme that encouraged places of worship to deposit their gold with banks in return for interest payments. The government planned to melt the gold and loan it to jewellers to meet the appetite for gold and reduce imports. There have been other initiatives aimed at satisfying the huge desire for the precious metal. Two years ago, Indian government archaeologists dug for weeks at a site where a religious leader said he was certain 1,000 tonnes of gold was buried. They found nothing. Bridget White-Kumar said the latest project to exploit the mines was “good news for the country and the KGF community”. She said: “We are literally sitting on a gold mine.”

Sunday, August 2, 2015



Some nostalgia – Remembering the old Church of St. Sebastian in Corormandel KGF.
St Sebastian’s Church in Coromandel Kolar Gold Fields  was established in the year 1899. It is one of the oldest Churches in KGF. This Parish of St Sebastian catered to the Catholics living in the mining areas of Coromandel, Balaghat, Gold Field Hill and the whole of Nandydroog Mine.
Inititally, Nandydroog Mine did not have its own Parish church and all the Catholics from Nandydroog were therefore Parishioners of St Sebastian’s Church in Coromandel.
 Since the Church was almost 3 miles way, people  either had to walk or go by train or Jatka to the Parish Church. In view of the distance and the difficulties involved in reaching St. Sebastian’s Church, arrangements were made by the Parish Priest to conduct Mass for the parishioners in the KGF School Hall. All the Catholics from Nandydroog Mine would attend this Mass at 6 O’clock on Sunday mornings. Even though the Service would be conducted in Latin, everyone would take active part in the prayers and sing all the hymns. The Choir was conducted by Mrs. Monisse and Mr. Oliver. However for all important feasts and other occasions such as the Annual Mission, Funeral Masses, Christenings, First Communions etc, we went to our Parish Church. Later on, a new Shrine dedicated to Infant Jesus was established in the old swimming bath premises for the Catholics of Nandydroog mine. Since we belonged to St Sebastian’s Parish Church initially, all of us were  Baptized and also made our First Holy Communion in St Sebastian’s Church.
 St Sebastian’s Feast in the month of January  was celebrated as the Parish Feast with great fervour and religious zeal by all the parishioners. Every year a novena of 9 days was held just before the feast.  On the Feast Day, Masses were held in English and Tamil followed by a grand Car Procession with the statues of St Sebastian, St Anthony and Our Blessed Mother decorated grandly and taken out on all the roads around the Church. While the procession was in progress, people would throw flowers and Gram or “Kudla” mixed with pepper and salt on the statue of St Sebastian as a token of their gratitude for favours received from him. Silver offerings of various figures were also offered either as a request for some favour or in thanksgiving for his blessings. A mini fair would come up around the Church for the whole nine days and stalls selling cheap toys, bangles, Food stuffs, Sweets, etc made roaring business. The giant Wheel, Merry-ground, slippery side etc were major attractions of the children.
 A Shrine in honour of St Anthony was also built in the premises of St Sebastian’s Church. This Shrine and the Statue of St Anthony draws many devotees who throng the Shrine on Tuesdays and on other days to pray to him for help in their daily lives.
 There is a statue of St Roch in the Church which attracts many devotees who pray to St Roche to cure them of various illness most especially skin rashes. St. Roch is known as  the patron Saint against plague, cholera, and skin rashes. St Roch is also known as the patron of Dogs as he loved dogs and it is believed that he got cured of his skin rashes only because his dog would lick the wound .
 Sad to say that this heritage Church building which was built more than a century ago slowly started to disintegrate with the passage of time. Despite of all efforts to repair, conserve and maintain the building, many parts of the Church began to collapse. Out of  no choice, the old church building has now been demolished and a new structure is coming up in its place. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


The KGF Boys' School in Nandydroog Mine (which was later renamed as Parkinson Memorial School and later the BGML School) was a Co-educational School in the early years. I completed my Primary Education in this school during the 1950's and shifted to St Joseph's Convent School, Champion Reefs from the 5th Standard onwards. My first teacher in KGF School was Mrs Borthwick who was the Baby Class teacher as well as the music teacher. She would play the piano during the Singing Class, and also for us to dance the May Pole. Dancing the Maypole was such a delightful experience, watching the coloured streamers / ribbons intercrossing and interlacing each other and forming beautiful myriad designs. The dancers had to keep changing their positions in time to the music in order to weave the required design. It was truly a sight to behold. When she struck the first Chord on the Piano it was the signal for us to bow to our partners. On the second chord we would go to the May Pole and each one would pick up their streamer / ribbon. We would wind it around our waists, and stand still till she struck the next chord. We had to stand in a circle a distance away from the May Pole so that the streamers / ribbons would be quite taut She would then play a tune and we had to change our positions in time to the music to weave and create a most wonderful design. At the end of the tune all the dancers would be near the Pole with shortened ribbons / streamers but under a most beautiful canopy woven by them. 
Actually I have'nt seen a Maypole again ever since I left the KGF School all those years ago. I managed to get a picture of the May Pole from Google Images which I'm sharing above so that those who haven't seen or heard of a May Pole would have an idea of it. This is the Maypole Room below 



Tuesday, May 19, 2015


The KGF Community College was started in August 2001 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Tarbes, in the St Sebastian’s Church and School premises, after the closure of mines, mainly for the children of Ex-BGML workers. The Community College celebrated its 14th Valedictory Function on the 26th April 2014. I was invited by Rev Sister Alexina as the Chief Guest at their 14th Valedictory Function   Indeed it gave me great  pleasure to accept the invitation and be present there  for this occasion in my home town Kolar Gold Fields. Mr Phillip Dingle and Dr. Rev. Fr. Xavier Alphonse S.J were also honoured guests at the function.
The Community College Movement in India was founded by Dr. Rev. Fr. Xavier Alphonse S.J. Director, ICRDCE, Chennai. The Community College System was started mainly for School dropouts and financially backward children and persons of lower socio – economic groups. The aim is to provide them with job oriented training, thereby providing them with the required life skills and training so that they could earn an honest living and come up in life besides bringing in much needed financial assistance to their families. I was told by Rev Sr Alexina that in the past 14 years, more than 1000 students from different religions, have completed the courses conducted at the Community College in KGF, such as Diploma in Office Management, Diploma in Pre-School Teachers’ Training and Diploma in Nursing Assistant and are all gainfully employed. They are the bread winners of their families and have brought their families economically to the main stream of the society in the aftermath of the closure of the mines. Some of these girls are widows or come from broken families but they have the initiative and drive to study and complete the Courses offered by this Community College inspite of their family constraints and drawbacks. They know that it is only when Girls are empowered by providing them with education and life skills can Society itself improve.  Here are some photographs of the Function. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015


(An excerpt from my book KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE ) 

Here are some examples of  words and phrases that were quite commonly used by the folk in Kolar Gold Fields in the olden days. Many of us growing up in KGF during the 1950s and 60s,  were quite familiar with many of them. Enjoy these light hearted , nostalgic memories of colloquial turn of phrase
 Any one with big round eyes was said to have “Bolly Eyes’. The big black ants that came out during the rainy season were ‘Bully Ants’. Other insects including head lice were known as ‘Boochies’ and Garden lizards were ‘Blood Suckers’.
 Liquor or any alcoholic drink was known as ‘Grog’. The local illicit liquor was known as ‘Patte’ ‘Arrack’ or Sarai, Sticky Toffees were ‘Stick-Jaws’ or ‘cumaracuts’, and Money or currency was ‘Pice’
 The nerves and tissues in meat were ‘Jow’. Banana Chips were ‘Patagums’, Peanuts were ‘Jigg nuts’, and Bandicoots and rats were called ‘Bandigoats’.
 Female underwear or Panties were ‘Jungies’ and Boy’s underwear were ‘Jocks or Flying Foxes’. In case the rice got over cooked it became ‘kola kola’, and if the Pepper water or watery curry tasted bad or wasn’t tasty, then it ‘tasted like gutter water’.
 If someone spoke too much then he had a ‘Rubber Gob’.  If someone got startled suddenly, then he would be getting the ‘Fijacks’.
 When someone visited the Loo or toilet it would be that he was visiting ‘the last house to spend a penny’ or ‘No 1’, while “Big Job’ was ‘No 2’ or ‘Tidy’.
 Painting the house for Christmas would be ‘white washing the house’ even if it meant painting the house any other colour.
In case someone sneezed, they said ‘God Bless you’ or ‘Did the devil pinch your bottom?’ A horse cart or carriage was a “Bandy or Tonga” driven by the “Bandy Man”.
 When someone passed wind they said “he was tearing Long Cloth”, and wearing loose fitting clothes meant wearing “Dhola Dhola Clothes”
Mongrel Dogs or dogs of mixed breeds were called “Pie Dogs” or “Country Dogs”
Anyone using bad language was said to have a “Grog Shop Gob” and when someone  died it meant that “he or she kicked the bucket”
Anglo-Indian parents brought up their children to be respectful and helpful to elders. Every one was known as Aunty and Uncle. The young children would sometimes swallow their words while wishing the elders, and their ‘good evening Aunty’ and ‘good evening uncle’ would sound like ‘D’eening Aunty’ and ‘D’eening Uncle’!!!! They would stress on certain words often repeating the same word twice while talking. A good example would be ‘Hot, hot soup’, ‘Blow, blow and drink up’, ‘curly, curly hair’, etc. Most of the time they used the word ‘child’ or ‘man’ in every sentence or ended the sentence with the word ‘No or Na’

These are just some examples of their unique turn of phrase in the old days. This  colloquial way of speaking has since died out. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015


 A little touch of nostalgia about the simple games we played as children growing up in KGF. Childhood in K G F was blissful. We did not have any luxuries like the present generation but never the less we were happy with simple pleasures and entertainments that our parents could provide for us. Many will remember the games we played in childhood such as Hopscotch or Butch, Top Spinning, Rounders, or Lagorie Seven Stones, Seven Tiles ,   “ L O N D O N”, ‘I Spy”, Running and Catching, Robbers and Police, Kabbadi, Kho-Kho, Gilly Danda, marbles etc and many other simple games besides the usual  Cricket,  Hockey, football, Tennis, etc. Many of  these games are indigent and native to India, but nonetheless played by us with much enthusiasm
There was a huge open ground or ‘Maidan’ behind our house in Nandydroog Mine and all our friends would join us there to play in the evenings after school and on holidays and weekends. Kite flying was one of our favourite pass times. Besides having a lot of fun flying our kites, we had a lot of enjoyment making the kites ourselves with Broom sticks or Bamboo sticks, kite paper, newspapers etc.  A paste of flour and water was used  to stick the paper to the kite frame.  Making the Manja for the kite string was the most exciting part where a mixture of glass pieces, flour paste etc was carefully smeared on the kite sting to make it sharp, so as to cut the strings of other kites midair.
Besides all these above mentioned games, we also played our favourite, ‘Girly’ game of ‘House House’ We had a lot of pots and pans or ‘Chapus; for this game. The Chapus were either made of mud, metal or plastic and we had tea parties with the dolls, cooked over our little stoves with our pots and pans, and we hosted upteen tea parties and dinner parties with our dolls and teddy bears!
I mustn’t forget to mention the various Board games such as Carroms, Chinese Checkers, snakes and ladders, Ludo, Chess, Drafts, Bagatelle, etc

It’s so sad to think that children of today are not given the opportunity to sample and enjoy the simple joys of life. Instead, they play with high tech video games, play stations and other fancy gadgets. They don’t get the exercise and happiness that they would get by playing these simple inexpensive games that we enjoyed playing. We had a blissful childhood indeed!!

Thursday, April 9, 2015


Here's another bit of nostalgia about growing up in Kolar Gold Fields when we were children. In those days, there were refrigerators or ice boxes at home and it was difficult to store perishable food items for more than a couple of days. Hence they were procured fresh on a day to day basis. All the ingredients and stuff required for daily cooking such as the meat, chicken, vegetables, fish etc were bought fresh everyday. This small story is about our regular Fish seller Abdul in Nandydroog Mine.
There was no Fish stall near our house in the mines. And he fish stalls were all located in the market in Robertsonpet. However we didn’t have to go all the way to Robertsonpet to buy fish. The fish was brought to our doorstep by the Fishman or Fish Sellers who came around the mining areas on bicycles with wooden boxes tied to the carrier.  
The fish was brought to KGF on the train from the places on the Sea Coast such as Madras, Mangalore, Kerala, etc. The boxes of fish tightly packed with ice was off loaded from the early morning trains at Bangarapet, then sent to KGF on  the local train. The boxes were then unloaded at each station and the fish sellers would then take delivery from the agent and start their morning round of sales around the houses and bungalows. The Fish sellers, in KGF were mostly from Kerala and they spoke a mixture of Tamil and Malayalam. They had quite a number of loyal customers who bought fish from them on a regular basis. 
We had our own regular Fishman Abdul who brought around quite a variety of fish depending on the consignment that had come in for the day. His familiar cry of ‘MEEN, MEEN’ was eagerly awaited every Wednesday and Friday as that was the day fish formed the main dish for our lunch and dinner. He had a wooden packing case tied to the carrier of his cycle with a wooden plank fixed across the box as a cutting board and a pair of weighing scales. He would weigh and slice the fish according to the customer’s requirements and also clean the fish and remove the scales if they requested him. His weighing scales were really not very accurate as they were quite primitive. Never the less the weight was more more or less accurate. While cleaning and cutting the fish, he was also quite generous in feeding the stray cats and dogs with all the unwanted innards and tails. These strays would faithfully wait for the fishman at the street corners and would welcome him joyously.  
Abdul was our regular fish seller for many years. he came to KGF as a young boy along with his maternal uncle who was also a fish seller. He later got married to a nice girl of his Community  from Kerala and they lived and raised a family in Robertsonpet. He later brought his aged parents as well to KGF and took care of them till their death. He was a very nice person. Really miss those days of Simple living in KGF. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015



 Tomorrow is Good Friday and the day is always associated with Hot Cross Buns for me. The very sight of the Hot Cross Buns brings on a wave of nostalgia for the Hot Cross Buns that we loved and relished from the New Imperial Bakery and Oilman – Victory Confectionery Stores in Champion Reefs, Kolar Gold Fields during our childhood. This bakery always made special Hot Cross Buns filled with plums for Good Friday and our Baker would deliver them along with the bread on Maundy Thursday. We’d have to place an order as to the number of buns required about 10 days in advance. Since Good Friday was the day of fasting and abstinence we normally ate these Hot Cross buns for breakfast and dinner with a little butter 
The ‘New Imperial Bakery and Oilman – Victory Confectionery Stores ’  in Champion Reefs, Kolar Gold Fields, (established during the early 1940s) was just opposite the KGF Mining Hospital. This Store was every child’s delight. Its shelves were lined with huge glass bottles filled with different kinds of sweets, biscuits, toffees, stick jaws, buns, curry puffs, etc. The Egg Sweets, ‘Wording sweets’, lollipops, Jujips, Almond Sweets, etc were all so delicious and enticing. It was so exciting choosing what sweets to buy.  The Eggs sweets were the size of Turkey’s Eggs and the insides were a beautiful yellow just like a real egg. The almond sweets had huge almonds in them and the wording sweets and Bulls Eyes were minty and strong.  Since it was just opposite the hospital, no hospital visit was complete without visiting this delightful place. Parents often had to bribe their kids to take their medicines with promises of goodies from the New Imperial Bakery. Besides these exciting  sweets in their large glass bottles, the trays of Mutton and Vegetable Puffs, Buns, biscuits, cookies and other savouries was a gourmet's delight. We would visit this store whenever we went to the Mining Hospital or to Our Lady of Victories Church in Champion Reefs. 

Our daily bread was also ‘home delivered’ every day at 4 o’clock in the evening. The ‘Bread Man’ brought the freshly baked loaves in a large Wooden Box tied on the carrier of his bicycle. This bread was delivered from the ‘New Imperial Bakery and Stores’ in Champion Reefs. The loaves of bread were always still hot from the oven when he brought them. These loaves were sold whole not sliced and just before dinner every night mummy would slice the loaf and leave it on the table for us. Like the mincing machine, each Anglo-Indian family had their own bread board and bread knife to slice the bread. The payment for the bread that was delivered every day was done on a monthly basis. Every house had their own page in the ‘Bread Man’s’ long  account book, and entries would be made as to the number of loaves of bread and buns bought by them against the date. During the first week of the succeeding month, the representative of the ‘New Imperial Bakery and Stores’ would make the rounds for receiving payment of the bread delivered during the month. 


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