Bengaluru Etymology ~ Tejus RS

History is one subject that has continuously evolved and never static. What is known today may alter completely tomorrow with discoveries and research. All of us need to know the history to have better learning of the past for a better future as it will always assist in various ways across all sectors. Understanding the origins of names of places are extremely important as it forms the base of life of billions of people. It is fundamental. It’s just a name, what more, one may say, but it opens up pandora’s box! One of the fastest-growing cities in the world – Bengaluru is as rich historically as any other place. Its root goes back to thousands of years, and interestingly the etymology has got many theories, many of which have no base.

One popular root name of Bengaluru is “Bendakaalooru”, meaning “town of boiled beans.” It was back in the 11th-century when the Hoysala King Veera Ballala the second lost his way on a hunting expedition, hungry and tired, was served with boiled beans by a poor old lady. The king being grateful to the lady named the town as Bendakaalooru. It is by far one of the most popular beliefs by all. But it may not be true because the name Bengaluru was in use earlier than that.

Another popular tale is during the Gangas; it was referred to as “bengavalu-ooru” meaning”city of guards”- as written in one of the books- Bangalore. The Ganga kingdom was here in the year 1004. Whereas, the name goes back to the 8th century and 9th century.

When spoken to a history enthusiast and an author of the book “Mysoorina Kathegalu,” Sree Dharmendra Kumar Aranahalli says that name Bengaluru was recorded in the 8th century itself. The inscription can be seen even today in the Panchalingeshwara Temple in Begur. Along with this, there are many inscriptions found on various articles like the copper, talegari- palm-leaf manuscripts and others in the following years. This clearly shows that the name Bengaluru was in usage before the 8th century as well. Though the name was there what part of the town was called Bengaluru is the question that needs answers. Is it a different part altogether or the is it today’s area is still a discussion among historians. There are many angles to it. One is Sannahalli near Hebbala, Madiwala, Beguru and the other one being the areas of Chikapete build by Kempegowda.

Todays Bengaluru what we call dates back to 15th century where Hiriya Kempegowda moves from Yelahanka to build a new city and names it Bengaluru. This too has many beliefs, mother of Kempegowda hailed from Bengaluru, and that was the reason for it to be named as Bengaluru. Though the name was indeed in use even before the 8th century what inspired Nadaprabhu Kempegowda to name Bengaluru and what part was called Bengaluru in the Beguru inscription needs answers, says Dharmendra Kumar. All the towns like Varthur, Kengeri, Hebbala… are all more than 1000 years old. The root needs to found and for that more inscriptions will have to be searched.

About The Author

Tejus is a Bengaluru based history and conservation enthusiast.