Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Bandstand in Cubbon Park

The bandstand in Cubbon Park is undergoing 'restoration', PWD style. Right now, the roof has been stripped off and only the iron pillars remain standing. It's a little upsetting, especially because INTACH spoke, nay begged, the Horticulture Department to restore the bandstand more than a year ago. They were very interested in it, and asked us to submit a proposal for its restoration, which we did. Some phone calls, some phone-tagging, some emails, some re-sending, more phone calls, and the next thing we know, it's been given to the PWD for restoration. Not that that is a bad thing necessarily, but the PWD's record in restoration does not exactly inspire confidence.

The bandstand is - was - a pretty interesting structure. There has been a bandstand in Cubbon Park since at least the 1870s, but not where it currently stands. In fact, the earlier bandstand was probably where the petrol bunk near Koshy's is today. It was demolished and a new one built at the current location sometime in the early 1900s. The one in Lalbagh was built in 1863. This is just two years after the world's first ever bandstand was built in Kensington in England. Like others built elsewhere in England's then colonies, Bangalore's two bandstands also probably use steel imported from Scotland's foundries.

Of course, the bandstands were built for bands to play music in, and indeed, the Cubbon Park bandstand has been the venue of hundreds of concerts. In the early days, it was military bands that played here. By the 1960s, people came here in their hundreds to listen to musicians and bands playing Kannada hit songs. But in the late 1970s, the crowds thinned and gradually, the music wound down. Some years ago, an NGO called Prakruthi managed to revive the musical tradition. For four years, the grounds around the bandstand once again echoed with music and laughter. But funds weren't forthcoming and the show couldn't go on. But they haven't given up hope. MS Prasad from Prakruthi told me, "We are waiting for the Bandstand's resurrection and will always strive to showcase talent and make it a heritage site." I hope his wish comes true.

You can read more about Cubbon Park's bandstand here.

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