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Saturday, May 25, 2013


The Volagamadhi Hills were quite close to Champion Reefs. We could see these Hills from our school St Joseph’s Convent. Every year during the Lenten Season, the Stations of the Cross is conducted on these hills. There is a legend that Tippu Sultan made a passage through these hills from Srirangpatna near Mysore in order to escape from the British. Just before the hills there was a beautiful natural lake and it made a perfect picnic spot and was a favourite fishing spot as well. The water from this lake was pure and crystal clear and it was used by the villages nearby for drinking and cooking.
The Volagamadi Hills in old days were covered with Borum Bushes, Jambolena / Jamlum and other trees. Many youngsters from KGF would go in groups to spend the day in these hills playing hide and seek in the small caves dotting the hills and climbing  the trees to search for bird nests. They’d shoot at the monkeys and crows and knock down the borums and jamblums from the trees with their catapults. When it was time to go back they would take home the baby mynahs, parrots, and squirrels that they were able to catch to keep as pets. Some of these youngsters (their faces sun burnt and mouths stained purple with eating Jamlums) would come back laden with broums, Jamlums  and guavas. They would generously share these spoils with their friends who didn’t accompany them and sometimes their mum’s would even make wine from the Jamlums that their son’s brought from their trips to the hills!!
I remember the many times we went to the Volagamadhi Hills as children –  sometimes from School and also during the Lenten Season for the Stations of the Cross. Quite nostalgic thinking about those golden days.

Sunday, May 12, 2013



The Big Banyan Tree just outside KGF, on the KGF - Bangarapet Road, (close to where the Bharat Earth Movers Ltd., factory stands today), was a popular picnic spot in the good old days. On Sundays and holidays many Families from KGF would pack up snacks, sandwiches and drinks and head to the ‘Big Tree’ as it was fondly known. to spend the day there and then return home in the evening.  The Big tree was also the place that most newly married couples drove to after their weddings before the reception just to spend an hour of quality time together as new man and wife.  
In those days, the surroundings were calm and serene with hardly any traffic or pollution. There was a huge natural pond neat the tree and the water was always fresh and cool. While the elders relaxed and enjoyed their beer and cool drinks and exchanged gossip, the children would enjoy themselves hugely running and catching and teasing each other and riding the cycles that they hired by the hour from the nearby village  Some of them would bring their swimming costumes along and take a cool dip in the pond. The Big Tree was also home to a number of birds  especially big bats or flying foxes.

When I was studying in St Joseph’s Convent, many school picnics were arranged at this  idyllic spot, The students would be taken class wise or section wise and each student would bring their own picnic lunch. There were small shops selling jaggery toffees, Jigg nuts (ground nuts), cut mangoes with chillie powder, panichakke etc. After stuffing our selves with all this forbidden trash and eating our home packed picnic lunch besides playing and shouting ourselves hoarse, we’d return home tired, happy and sun burned after our long day in the sun.

 Sadly the Big Banyan Tree doesn’t look so big now. The pond which was sheltered by its branches is now dry. The traffic and sounds have increased and frightened the birds and flying fox away. Litter and garbage make this once beautiful spot an eyesore and its no more a Picnic Spot. Shops and houses and the BEML Colony  have come up around its periphery and its as busy as the centre of town.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Bethamagala is a small town in Kolar District, about 5 miles from KGF. It has a large man-made lake and is the underground source of the Palar River.  Bethamangalam as it was known earlier, was afavourite picnic destination close to KGF.  Hordes of people from KGF would flock to KGF to spend the day in the serene and beautiful surroundings of the Bethamangala Lake. Swimming, fishing and boating were the added attractions. As children, it was our favourite picnic spot where the School took us for picnics. The water works had a beautiful garden around it and the youngsters loved swimming in the reservoir. However, this idyllic spot was also the place for a number of tragic swimming accidents, and the water works had many notices pasted all around warning people of the dangers.
The British Government had built the Water Works in Bethamangalam in 1903 for filtered water to be supplied to the KGF Mines through huge pipelines from here.  The Bethamangalam  Lake was a popular spot for sailing, fishing. and a beautiful picnic spot for the British population in KGF. A Sailing Club was established here around 1905, and it had a good number of Britishers and Europeans as members. A beautiful Club House was constructed, which had a well stocked Bar, a reading room, a Billiards and Snooker Room as well as a Swimming Pool. The Sailing Club had a fleet of canoes and Row boats, and served as a berth for private boats and canoes also.


The Bethamangalam Club House was later converted into the Government Guest House.

Just before Bethamangala, there is a small temple town called Kamasandra which is famous for its Temple dedicated to the Lingam of Lord Shiva. It is called the Koti Linga Temple as it has almost one crore  Lingas offered by devotees .

Saturday, May 4, 2013

KGF MINING HOSPITAL - Drs. Ffrench and Rowntree

The John Taylor and Sons Company with the co-operation of the O’Donnell brothers, Dr T J O’Donnell and J D O’Donnell, established a well equipped hospital in 1880, to cater to the medical needs and emergencies of the miners and their families. It was centrally located in Champion Reefs. Dr T J O’Donnell was the first Chief Medical Officer of the Hospital and served as the CMO for more than 25 years.  
Dr. Rowntree and Dr. Ffrench then worked in the Mining Hopsital as the Chief Medical Officer and Assistant C M O respectively. This is a photograph of Drs. Rowntree and Ffrench in 1952.
The hospital was staffed with eminent British and Indian doctors and British and Anglo-Indian nurses.
The hospital wards were named after the erstwhile British bosses such as Gideon Ward, Henry’s Ward, Morgan ward, etc.. Medical Treatment was provided free of cost for the miners and their families. A well maintained Maternity Unit was also later established in a separate wing of the Hospital.