How one man is preserving Bangalore’s historical past, one digital calendar at a time


Come January, the one factor many diehard Bangaloreans sit up for is Babu Ajaz’s calendar. A deal with for historical past and heritage buffs alike, his digital calendars invoke a way of time journey and nostalgia.

Ajaz has been curating thematic calendars centred round previous Bangalore, now renamed Bengaluru, since 2016. Whereas this yr’s calendar is devoted to the town’s well-known colleges, with a lot of them being greater than a century previous, final yr’s was themed round its hospitals, and was created as an ode to Covid-19 warriors.

In 2020, Ajaz featured Bangalore’s famend single-screen cinema theatres and the calendars from 2016 to 2019 had been all about heritage buildings of the town.

“That is one thing I do solely as a passion. I’m passionate in regards to the previous and like to protect and current data of previous Bangalore,” Ajaz tells The Nationwide. He says he sources photos from his private assortment and from his acquaintances.

The beginning of a ardour

Being the one son amongst seven siblings, Ajaz was a much-loved baby and summer season holidays meant sitting for hours listening to his grandmother inform him tales about Anglo-Indian retailers dwelling in quaint cottages and travelling round his neighbourhood of Whitefield in bullock carts. Ajaz’s household has lived in the identical neighbourhood of Whitefield for 130 years, and it’s now often known as Bangalore’s IT hub, with its high-rise buildings, upmarket buying malls and splendid flats.

His grandmother’s tales piqued his curiosity and, as he grew older, he says he began visiting heritage buildings, amassing info, cross checking details from his members of the family and older residents of Whitefield.

Sir Ismail Sait Masjid at Kadugodi, Whitefield, which was built in the 1920. Photo: Babu Ajaz

“My pal Salman Ahmed Shariff and I began a Fb group known as ‘Whitefielders previous and current’ nearly a decade in the past, with the intention to share and trade info and pictures about Whitefield, which was fashioned in 1882 as a pensioners’ paradise for the Eurasian and Anglo-Indian group,” explains Ajaz, 39.

With greater than 4,000 like-minded members, which incorporates old-time residents of Whitefield, the group is a treasure trove of data on this former self-sufficient farming group that was named after David Emmanuel Starkenburgh White.

Gathering snippets of historical past

Sir Winston Churchill was believed to have frequented the Waverley Inn in Whitefield, Bangalore. Photo: Babu Ajaz

From Whitefield’s inhabitants of solely 130 residents in 1907 to the 8 annas — the foreign money unit utilized in British India — it could value for a bullock cart journey from the railway station to the close by village, Ajaz recurrently shares attention-grabbing details in regards to the neighbourhood on the group.

By means of his posts, he has been in a position to take members again in time by tracing the historical past and significance of a few of Whitefield’s best-known Nineteenth-century landmarks such because the Whitefield Memorial Church, Our Girl of Lourdes Church, Whitefield Recreation Membership and the well-known Waverly Inn, which was believed to have been frequented by the likes of Sir Winston Churchill.

Another participating snippets pertain to the primary grocery store of Whitefield known as “Hamilton Shops” which was run by one Mr Hamilton. The 1915 store was later managed by Meer Sahib and was often known as Meer Sahib Normal Shops.

Banagalore's first supermarket, Meer Sahib General Stores, opened in 1915 and was originally called Hamilton Stores, named after its owner. Photo: Babu Ajaz

It was frequent within the Nineteen Sixties and 70s for individuals to ship their pet canine to buy groceries right here, says Ajaz, who runs a provisions retailer within the neighbourhood. The checklist and cash despatched by means of the canine could be collected by the shopkeeper who would then ship again the groceries with the canine.

The posts themselves are enhanced by the feedback with individuals supplementing the knowledge, reconfirming details and including in different particulars.

“Many a time individuals see the publish and are motivated to share extra photos and particulars. A couple of years in the past, we posted a few heritage dwelling known as Excellent Peace that’s over 100 years previous. This was observed by the current proprietor of the home who was gracious sufficient to share previous photos of the house from his private assortment,” Ajaz remembers.

“Members chip in with info each time any related particulars are lacking. Additionally, I’ve seen situations the place heritage websites have been tidied, info boards spruced up after I’ve posted about them within the group.”

Babu Ajaz says collecting and documenting old photos of Bangalore are his passion projects. Photo: Babu Ajaz

Other than the calendars, Ajaz has additionally launched a booklet within the type of a phrase doc in regards to the historical past of Whitefield, which is offered as a delicate copy on request.

“I’ve no intention to commercialise this exercise as I actually can’t put a worth on my ardour. I just lately bought a name from an 85-year-old gentleman in Canada appreciating my 2022 calendar which options his alma mater,” Ajaz says.

“He’s eager to satisfy me personally when he involves India subsequent and I’ve additionally promised to take him on a spin by means of Whitefield on my bike. The happiness in his voice was priceless and it’s these invaluable moments that hold me going.”

Up to date: March 06, 2022, 12:31 PM



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