MG Road is a brand on its own across India and even abroad. In most cities across the country, this road is synonymous to an upmarket shopping hub as well as an experience that comes with just a walk on the stretch. In Bangalore, MG Road and its bustling neighbour, Brigade road indeed have a character of their own. For the common Bangaloreans, these roads are an experience by itself, even if there are no intentions of shopping. A walk itself suffices and window shoppers throng these streets. But prior to the Metro rail firming up its pillars, it was the boulevard opposite the shopping side of MG Road, which was a sight to breath in and a stretch to walk and relax.
The bougainvillea that crawled up the sides of the pavement, which was amply shaded with provision of benches sufficiently in place, was a peaceful retreat which was never disturbed by the opposite traffic or the commercial establishments. But in a span of just five years, the boulevard, once the beauty spot of the commercial hub, was mercilessly erased. Old time Bangaloreans helplessly watched what necessary development could cause.
Though BMRCL tested the patience of Bangalore, it had plans up its sleeve. Surprisingly, what has come in place of the old boulevard is contemporary and traditional. Many were awed by the corporation’s efforts and plans, who joined hands with Karnataka Rural Infrastructure Development Limited (KRIDL) to come up with a renovated boulevard. The newly carved Rangoli – metro art centre (R-MAC) is well balanced and stitched with ample amount of greens, fountains, art galleries, an auditorium, children’s play area, an open market, and waterless urinals. The walkway has many varieties of bougainvilleas apart from many other with plants.
“It is a creative spot where the general public and authentic culture may unite harmoniously. My goal is to create an interactive platform which is friendly, educative, informative and approachable for visitors,” beams Sureka, the art curator of Bangalore Boulevard.
The R-MAC consists of three Art Galleries (Vismaya, Chaya and Belaku), 14 Nagara Pete or commercial centres, a children’s interactive play area known as Chilipili, an open area called Bayalu and outdoor spaces for artistic activities and workshops. “The multifunctional auditorium, which will be called Rangasthala, is still under construction. I expect it to be ready within ten days,” said Sureka.
The Rangasthala will host numerous musical concerts, small theatrical plays, puppet shows and the like. “The upper walkway or Hoovina Hoodi is open to the public 24/7. We have planted colourful Bougainvillea flowers from one end to the other, which will accentuate the beauty of the walk-way. I am planning to inaugurate a small eatery here as well,” stated Sureka.
The entire stretch, covering approximately 450 metres has plenty of green cover with flowering trees and plants. As an environment friendly and organic design, the garden area utilises drip irrigation and the contemporary water fountains use recycled water through a filtration system.
“I envision the Bangalore Boulevard as a dynamic hot spot which is in sync with the transitional nature of the environment. The entire set-up will change every three months and the stalls at the beginning of the stretch change every week providing a versatile experience to visitors. I am very happy with the turnout. Over a thousand people walk down this stretch every day,” exclaims Sureka.
The Namma Nagara Project, in collaboration with various art institutions across the city, such as Srishti School of Art and Design and Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, has adorned numerous spaces along the MG Road Boulevard with their creative works. “I aim to provide visitors with a holistic experience. We will expand Namma Nagara to include many more schools and art institutions,” said Sureka.
The responsibility of maintaining the Boulevard is in the hands of Namma Metro. However, Sureka has ensured that vehicles are not parked anywhere along the stretch. When questioned about the security system, Sureka insists that the security guards keep a watchful eye. “We don’t have a fancy security system and we do not check bags,” she says. This seems to be the only drawback in the otherwise splendid Bangalore Boulevard.