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Saturday, August 27, 2016


Sharing some old photographs of Edgar Shaft, Oakley Shaft, Oorgaum Mine New Mill and an old map showing the lodes and mines of Kolar Gold Fields in early 1900.

                                                          EDGAR SHAFT

                                                        OAKLEY SHAFT 


                                        OORGAUM NEW MILL 

Friday, August 12, 2016


As we approach the 69th Anniversary of India's independence let me share a small excerpt from my book KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE

'The Miners in KGF also took active part in the Quit India Movement that was sweeping the whole country after the visit of Mahatma Gandhi in 1942. They resorted to Tool-Down Strikes on many occasions. These strikes brought the mining industry to a grinding halt underground and the John Taylor and Sons Company suffered heavily.

The Mine workers and the other people of KGF now joined together and were united in the cause of liberating the country from British rule. Students, teachers, housewives, doctors etc also joined the movement. As the movement for freedom gathered momentum, they began to sabotage communication links and even removed the fishplates on the railway lines near Coramandel, thereby cutting off railway links between KGF and Bowringpet (Bangarapet).

The Miners held huge demonstrations and took out processions demanding freedom from the British. The agitation became so intense that the British Police stationed in Kolar Gold Fields arrested many prominent Trade Union Leaders and Political workers for inciting the people to revolt against the British.

KGF therefore played an important part in the Indian Independence movement! India gained her Independence from the British on the15th of August 1947.' It was a day of great celebration in the whole of KGF. Our National Flag was hoisted at the Gymkhana Grounds where hundreds of workers gathered and cheered. Our national Flag flew proudly on every shaft and office. It was a victory indeed. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016


Some childhood memories of the monsoons.
The monsoons in KGF brought out a lot of creatures and insects as well. It was not uncommon to see garden snakes, lizards and other creepy crawlies slithering about in the open. Insects that come out in the monsoons normally have a short life span and we’d see them only during the months of June to October which is their mating season. Big black Bully Ants, red Ants, White ants, etc, were some of them that made their appearance and gave us a little trouble. The mosquitoes too seemed to increase and multiply during this season and they brought along their own misery.

In the evenings just as the lights were switched on, hordes of flying insects or termites like big ants with white wings would flutter near the light bulbs. The yellow light of the street lights and people’s verandah lights attracted them. The next morning we’d see a carpet of dead insects with their wings detached lying around the lamp posts. Sometimes, they managed to invade the inside of our house and flutter near the drawing room centre light. We called these insects ‘Icheils’. My mum  would fill a big basin full of water and place it on the floor directly in line with the centre light. We’d switch off all the other lights and the Icheils would see the reflection of the light in the water and try to fly into the basin of water and get drowned. Once we were rid of them we’d empty the basin of water with the dead insects in the garden. These Icheils didn’t bite or sting us but they were extremely annoying flying about everywhere. The got into our hair and if we weren’t careful they got into our nose and mouth as well!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

KOLAR GOLD FIELDS -The First Gold Mining Industry in India

Kolar Gold Fields has the distinction of  being the first Gold mining industry in India. However sad to say that KGF is now part of history and is little known by the rest of India.

My book KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE is my small way of preserving for posterity, not only my memories of that once glorious vibrant place called Kolar Gold Fields, but also record its cultural history which has not been documented till now.
This is a book of national importance as it pertains to history, art and cultural heritage of a glorious period in the history of Indiaand Old Mysore Sate / Karnataka in particular. It deals with a period of history that many people in India are not aware of. More over till now no one has ever brought out a book on KGF that focused on the social and cultural aspect of the place.

Kolar Gold Fields, affectionately known as KGF is a small mining town in Karnataka about 110 kms from Bangalore. It was originally owned by the John Taylor and Sons Company, a British Mining Firm for almost a century since 1852.  Kolar Gold  Fields, had a very sizable European and Anglo-Indian population who lived and worked there for generations. 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. as early as the 19th Century. 

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 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.
We were special people living in this very Special Place’.

The 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.

 KGF could become a Tourist attraction and could be preserved as a monument to the pioneers of the Gold Mining Industry in India.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Its the month of May and our beloved KGF is bathed in a sea of Red!!

There were(and still are) huge Gulmohar or May Flower trees all over KGF. The Gulmohar trees were huge, almost 30 to 40 feet in height with large branches spread wide to form an awning.  These trees were prized for their ornamental value and for their shade. They usually flowered towards the end of April or beginning of May, soon after the first spells of rains in April. There was a popular saying in KGF that April Showers bring May Flowers. The riot of red flowers all over the place was a sight to behold. The bright red flowers had their own distinct smell.  The delicate leaves comprising of small individual leaflets supported the clusters of red flowers so as to protect them during the day and they folded up during the evenings. The sepals and ovules after pollination formed long green pods which slowly matured. The ripe pods would split open into woody, boat-shaped forms. We’d collect these wooden pods and pretend they were boats and sail them in the water channels and drains.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


 The KGF Boys’ School was established in 1900, by   the John Taylor and Sons Company, to cater to the educational needs of the European and Anglo-Indian children, who were earlier tutored at home or “home schooled” by Nannies and Governesses brought in by the British Officers from the UK. These Home teachers or Governesses could impart only basic education to their wards, while other aspects of a proper school education were missing.
A Primary School was first started in the year 1900 at Nandydroog Mine. It was known as the Kolar Gold Fields Boys School, Oorigaum. Subsequently it was upgraded to a Middle School and later into a High School. Eventually, the students appeared for the Lower Cambridge and Senior Cambridge Examinations. Even though KGF School was a Boy’s School, they took in girls up to Standard 4 till around the late 1960’s. When Mr Dudley Pinto became the Headmaster, he slowly discontinued the practice of admitting girls in KGF School and it became an ‘All Boys School’.
 The standard of education that was imparted in the KGF School was second to none and the school was well known for its high standards in English due to the presence of many Anglo-Indian teachers on its staff. There were no comprises on Discipline and decorum.
 I began my student life in the KGF Boys’ School in Nandydroog Mine, which was quite close to our house. I spent five happy years in KGF School then moved to St Joseph’s Convent Girls’ School from Class V on wards. KGF Boys’ School was a co-educational School in those days for the primary sections. However, it later became an exclusive ‘all boy’s’ school in the late 1960s.
    Admission to these schools was so easy and simple at that time. We didn’t have to stand in long queues to get the admission forms, etc. When a child reached school going age, the parents took him or her to school and he was admitted in the Baby Class, which today is known as the “Nursery Class”.
    When I was about 3 ½ years old, my Uncle Freddie Bertie took me and my cousin Nigel, (his son) to the KGF Boy’s School to get us admitted in School. I still remember that first day at KGF Boys’ School. We first went to the Principal’s office to register our names. Miss Edith Pinto and Mrs. Oliver were the Secretaries in the Principal’s office and in no time we were enrolled in KGF School. The Principal Mr. Sterling asked us our names and spoke to us for a few minutes then sent us to the Baby class. Thus began our lives as students in KGF School.
 My first teacher was Mrs.Borthwick who was the Baby Class teacher. She taught me my Alphabets and numbers and set me on my journey as a student in KGF School. She was also the music teacher. She would play the piano during the Singing Class and the May Pole Dance Class. Miss Mabel Pinto was my teacher in the First Standard. I remember I got a lot of gold stars for Number work and poetry in her class. Since I was interested in Knitting she taught me to knit my first cardigan when I was barely 6 years old. This training has stood me in good stead till today.
 Mrs. Josephine O’Conner was my Second Standard teacher. She was a very pretty lady and was very kind to all the students. However, she could be quite strict when the occasion warranted.
 Miss Delia Pinto my teacher in the Third Standard.  I remember she had very long and pointed finger nails. She would pinch our cheeks and upper arms with these long nails if we didn’t do our work correctly or if she caught us talking in class.
 Mrs. Monisse was the Fourth Standard Teacher. She was kind to all the students but very strict as well. No one could misbehave in her class. Any one caught talking or doing something wrong in class would be ‘wacked’   on their shins.  She lived quite close to the school. Every morning we’d wait near the school gates and as soon as we saw her leaving her house, we’d rush to carry her bags for her. We were only five girls in a class of thirty boys right from the Baby Class till the Fourth Standard.  Valerie Brown, Virginia Borthwick, Catherine D’monte, Geetha Sampath and myself were the five girls among the boys.
We were always given all the plum roles in the school plays and concerts because we were so few in number. Roland Benson, Daniel O’Connor, Monappa Appachoo, Sudarshan, Janardhan Rao, Robin Pereira and Andrew Edwards were some of the boys in my class. 

The KGF School uniform for boys was khaki shorts, khaki shirts, green striped ties, black shoes and white socks while the girls wore navy blue skirts, white blouses, black shoes and white socks. The teachers were quite strict about us coming to school in clean uniforms and polished shoes. They would inspect our uniforms while we stood in line for the morning assembly.
 One of the most delightful memories that I have of my short stay of 5 years in the KGF School was of the May Pole Dance. Dancing the Maypole was such a delightful experience. The Maypole ribbons were wound around our waists and we had to change our positions in time to the music in order to weave the required design.
 Each step that we took in time to the delightful Music, ensured that the colourful ribbons intercrossed and interlaced and formed beautiful myriad designs. It was truly a sight to behold. This was one of the things that I missed when I left KGF School as I never danced the Maypole dance again in my life

Thursday, February 11, 2016



The grinding stone was an indispensable appendage in every home in the days before the “Electric Mixer Grinder” as invented. It was used on a regular basis to grind the masalas or curry stuff required for the daily cooking as well as for pastes and batter for the Idlis and Dosas too!
 There were three different types of grind stones in our mining house in KGF  when we were growing up. There were many other types of grinding stones as well. Let me tell you about three of them.

1. The Flat Grinding Stone was used to grind the spices and curry stuff or wet masalas for the everyday curries and fries. This grinding stone was known as “Ammi Kal” in Tamil and consisted of a flat granite stone about two feet in length and one foot breadth. The red chillies, turmeric, cumin seeds, coriander seeds or other dry ingredients were placed on this stone and another stone about 10 inches in length that was shaped like a roller or cylinder was used to grind the masalas in an ‘up and down’ direction. The top of the grinding stone had to be rough and coarse so that the masalas could be ground easily to a smooth texture. However, due to continuous grinding, the grinding stone would soon become smooth, and it would take longer to grind the ingredients to the required consistency. This was when the ‘Grinding Stone Tapper’ was called in to tap the grinding stone to make it rough again.
 The Grinding Stone Tapper would use a small chisel and hammer to first make small pits in a star design in the center of the grinding stone and then continue tapping the stone with his chisel and hammer around this design till the whole surface of the grinding stone was covered with small pits very close together. He repeated the same procedure with the top stone as well.
 The Grinding Stone Man had his own peculiar way of calling out ‘Ammi Kalu. Ammi Kalu’ to let people know that he was coming around. He knew that he would get a job of tapping the grinding stone at least twice a month in every house. He was a familiar face in the mining area and was much wanted ‘Service Provider’  in those days.

2. The second type of grinding stone or the ‘Wet Grinder’  was used to grind batter for Idlis, Dosas, or rice pancakes. This type of grinding stone was known as ‘Rubbu Kal’ in Tamil which meant ‘to rotate’. It was shaped like a small barrel with a hole in the centre. It was carved or made from a single piece of granite. The soaked rice and dhal with a little water, was put into this hole and was ground to a smooth batter with another cylindrical shaped stone in a rotary movement. When these grinding stones became smooth, the Ammi Kallu man would tap this stone as well to make it coarse again..
 Using this type of grinding stone was actually a sort of exercise and it ensured a daily work out for the person doing the grinding as the hands and upper body of were fully exercised! This old concept of the ‘Rubbu Kal’ is used in the modern day electric grinders.

3. The third type of grinding stone was the pestle and mortar of undressed granite which was used for pounding small quantities of dry spices. Every house also had one of these. The action of pounding the spices and making them into a smooth powder was quite therapeutic and exciting at the same time.

Man has come a long way from the Stone Age. But its so amazing to think that we have come to adapt and innovate the most primitive of man’s tools for survival and use them to make our lives easier today amongst modern inventions and technology.  

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Andersonpet: The ‘beer shop’ - An excerpt from my book KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE. Two years after the establishment of the township of Robertsonpet, another township, Andersonpet, was established in 1904, just next to the mining areas of Champion Reefs and Mysore Mine/ Marikuppam to cater to the needs of the people living in these places. Andersonpet was also known locally as ‘beer shop’ because it had the only Government Licensed Liquor Store in the whole of KGF to sell beer in those days.

As per the Imperial Gazetteer of India - Mysore 1907-1909, “The right to vend and sell liquor throughout the province of Bangalore, Mysore and Kolar Gold Fields was only through individual shops under what was called the ‘separate shop system.’ The three breweries situated in the civil and military stations in Bangalore supplied beer or ale to the only tavern or ‘separate shop’ in Kolar Gold Fields situated in the new township of Andersonpet.”

The tavern later got a license to sell foreign liquors, brandy, wine and also the locally brewed liquor or arrack. Andersonpet is still called Beer Shop by people who don’t even know the origins of its name!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Namakara Hawker was a Walking fancy Store. He had everything that could be found in a regular Fancy Store among his wares. He had all his wares packed between layers of brown paper and tied with white sheets in two huge bundles (An excerpt from my book KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE)
Life in the olden days in KGF was blissful. We were really lucky and blessed to have had a number of faithful and honest vendors and hawkers who brought their services and goods to our doorsteps. They didn't charge anything extra for this service unlike today. They were just part and parcel of a familiar landscape. 
Namakara Hawker and China Man John were the other hawkers who visited our house on a regular basis. As little children, we didn’t know that Namakara Hawker’s actual name was Mr. Venugopal. He was known as the ‘Namakara’ Hawker only because (being a Brahmin), he had three ‘Namus’ or 3 vertical Red lines drawn on his forehead which was the sign of his Hindu caste. The word ‘Namakara’ meant ‘Man with Namus’.In fact we thought his name was "Okker" conveniently dropping the "H" and only as we grew older we realized that the word was "Hawker" and not "Okker"!!!
Namakara Hawker was a Walking fancy Store. He had everything that could be found in a regular Fancy Store among his wares. He had all his wares packed between layers of brown paper and tied with white sheets in two huge bundles. Namakara engaged two men to carry the bundles for him on their heads while he walked at their side carrying his umbrella.  Namakara Hawker had everything from safety pins, elastic in running length, Cotton Bras, Dress Materials, Nail polish, Hair Pins, Hair clips, Clothes Clips, Cotton Vests and Banyans, Men’s Briefs, locks and keys, screw drivers, nail clippers, nail files, scissors, handkerchiefs, scarves, Naphthalene Balls, etc to Reels of white and Coloured thread for the Sewing machine, Skeins of embroidery thread, machine oil, balms, hair oil, bundles of knitting wool, knitting needles, machine needles, plastic brushes, combs, pens, shirt material, pant material, etc, etc in his bundles. Each variety was packed separately between layers of brown paper.
Whenever Namakara Hawker visited out house, we’d eagerly wait for him to open his wares. It was so exciting watching him open each layer of brown paper and reveal the items concealed in them. There would be ‘Oohs’ and ‘Ahs’ of delight when we saw something we liked and much smirking and sly smiles when he came to the Bras and Panties. We’d worry my mum to buy us stuff from Namakara even if we didn’t need it.
Namakara Hawker was a permanent fixture in our lives during the first and third week of every month. He extended credit and installment facilities to all his customers and each family had a separate page in his account book. He would collect his dues in the first week of the month after the salary day, and bring his wares for sale again in the third week. He was always sure of making a sale in whichever house he went to.
I remember Namakara Hawker coming around to the houses in the mines right up to the 1970’s. He must have been about 80 years old then and he was still healthy and active. However, his walk had slowed down and he was quite bent up. We were all very sad when we heard that he passed away in 1976. It seemed like the end of an era.
Chinaman John was another Hawker who regularly visited all the Anglo-Indian homes in KGF. Chinaman John was a Chinese National settled in KGF. He was married to a local Tamil lady and had 4 children. His son studied in the KGF Boy’s School and his daughters Violet, Charlotte and Lilly studied in St Joseph’s Convent. We didn’t find it at all strange that while they had Chinese features, they had an Indian dark complexion. Chinaman John would get consignments of soft, beautiful Silk dress materials, Silk Cushion Covers, silk table cloths etc from China and bring them around to the Anglo-Indian houses. Sometimes, he would get beautiful Silk Kimonos with elaborate embroidery of dragons and lanterns in gold and red silk threads. Chinaman John never left an Anglo-Indian home without making a sale!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


REMEMBRANCE DAY OR POPPY DAY is observed on 11th November every year

A war memorial is a building, monument, statue or other edifice to celebrate a war or victory, or (predominating in modern times) to commemorate those who died or were injured in war. We also have a War Memorial in KGF near the Central Telephone Exchange and the Central Workshops. Not many from Kolar Gold Fields know about the significance of this War Memorial. This Memorial was erected to commemorate and remember the   members of the armed forces who were killed in the line of duty during the First World War. These brave people are remembered and commemorated on the 11th of November every year on Remembrance Day.
Remembrance Day, also known as Poppy Day or Armistice Day is a Memorial Day observed in all Commonwealth countries since the end of World War I to remember the members of their armed forces who died in the line of duty.It is observed on 11 November every year to recall the end of hostilities of World War I on 11/11/1918. Hostilities formally ended "at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month," in accordance with the ‘Armistice’ signed by representatives of Germany and the Entente between 5:12 and 5:20 that morning. (However, World War I officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919)
Remembrance Day or Armistice Day was specifically dedicated by King George as a day of remembrance for members of the armed forces who were killed during World War I.This day is also known as Poppy Day as some of the worst Battles were fought in the fields of Flanders. Bright Red Poppies later bloomed across these battle fields and their brilliant red colour became an appropriate symbol for the blood spilled in World War 1. The Red Remembrance Poppy therefore became a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem "In Flanders Fields”.
In earlier days a grand Memorial Function was held every year at this War Memorial in KGF. However after the Mines were nationalized and the Government took over, the Ex Servicemen of KGF would generally gather on their own and pay tributes to the martyrs who laid down their lives during World War 1.
Later on only a few people observed this day and slowly, the Memorial began to get neglected with grass and other weeds growing all round it.However, in recent years, the Prasad Charitable Trust run by Mr. Prabhu and his family has now taken over the upkeep and Maintenance of this War Memorial.Every year a small Function is held near the Memorial and the Trust honours the families of those Ex Servicemen from KGF killed in Action and also arranges for Free Medical Checkups and Health Camps

In India till today, the day is usually marked by tributes and ceremonies in Army Cantonments. A wreath and other flowers are placed at the foot of the Memorial by the Officers of the Indian Army and a small Memorial Service is observed. Memorial services are held in some churches

Wednesday, October 21, 2015



A festival that was celebrated very grandly by the Miners in KGF was Ayudha Pooja. This festival was celebrated on the ninth day of the 10 day Dasara Festival. ‘Ayudha Pooja’ literally means ‘The worship of Weapons’ and was performed by the armies of the Rajas in the olden days. However, this ritual was continued through the ages and later became a festival where the tools and implements used in daily life to make a living were worshiped and revered.
All the miners in KGF would wash and clean all their tools, machines, vehicles and other mining equipment and smear them with vermillion or Kumkum and sandalwood paste. The entire work area was cleaned and decorated with coloured buntings, banana plants, mango leaves, flowers, etc and Pooja was performed separately by each section. Offerings of fruits, sweets, Puffed Rice Flakes / Pori and Jaggery were offered during the Ayudha Pooja and then distributed to all the workmen. Needless to say a big bag of the Pori or Puffed rice flakes, fruits and sweets was always brought home for all of us children as well by my dad’s Tea boy Sam.
My dad Sydney White worked as an Underground Engineer in Nandydroog Mines. He was in charge of the Sections dealing with the Hoists, pipes and sand stowing functions underground in Henry Shaft and Richards Shaft in Nandydroog Mine. He had about 300 miners working under him. He was a strict disciplinarian as well as a kind Boss and all his mining workers loved and respected him.
Every year after the Ayudha Pooja in Henrys and Richard’s Shafts, some of the men (including the foreman Dr Doraiswamy, the writer Mr. Daniel and others) would gather at our house and garland my dad and take a group photograph with him. Many a time they would insist that my mum and we children should also sit for the photograph. I'm sharing one of these old photographs taken in the year 1956. My dad, mum, my brother John, sister Maryann and I are also in the picture. Very nostalgic
‪#‎kgfminers‬‪#‎kolargoldfields‬‪#‎kolargoldfieldsdownmemorylane‬ ,‪#‎Ayudhapoojainkgf‬

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.