Know your neighbourhood - 15: Towns of Cantonment

Overview: The word Cantonment is derived from the French word ‘Canton’ meaning district. The Cantonment area established in 1809, thrived under the Raj, and the British are credited for planting trees all across Bangalore giving it the name ‘The Garden City’. Hospitals, schools and Buildings were built in traditional English style. The streets in the old Cantonment area still bear the same names such as Brigade road, Infantry road, Davis Road, Cooke Town, Richards Town. The Cantonment area began from Richmond town in the south to Benson Town in the North, and from Race course road in the West to Halasuru in the East.

Richards Park
A slice of colonial Bangalore, Fraser Town holds a history of its own. Established in 1910, in the heart of Cantonment by FJ Richards, Fraser Town is named after Stuart Mitford Fraser who was the guardian of Krishna Raja Wodeyar IV. The commemorative plaque can be seen near Cole’s Road. Albert Bakery, started in 1902, still attracts a big crowd for its bakery products. The Haji Sir Ismail Sait mosque is one of the biggest mosques in the city and was built in 1900s by Gujarati Memon Ismail Sait with his own money. Bangalore East railway station is close to Fraser town which was established by the British to maintain close connection with Madras. Cartoonist Paul Fernandes has captured the memories of the town in his paintings in his gallery aPaulogy, which is worth a visit. The Everest cinema is also standing since the British times, though has been renovated now. There is a beautiful temple of Sri Rama within the premises of Tulasi Ramdas Math built in 1905. This Matha has the samadhi of the swamy, and nearby is the ancient Ramalingeshwara temple.

Fraser Town Plaque
Tulasi Ramdas Math & Sri Rama temple

Ramalingeshwara temple
Bangalore East Railway station

Germain High School, Fraser Town
The British also built a few churches in Fraser Town and surrounding areas which are very popular landmarks today. The St John’s Church and St Francis Xavier Cathedral are the most famous ones. Richards Town, just a km away from Fraser Town is an example of clean streets and calm neighborhood. Also, following the spread of plague epidemic in the late 1800s, the British encouraged philanthropists to open dispensaries across the city. One of them stands in Fraser Town opened by Rao Bahadur Annaswamy Mudaliar. Bangalore East Railway station near Fraser Town was built by the British to establish rail link with Kolar and KGF.

St John's Church
St Francis Xavier Church, Cleveland Town

Annaswamy Mood Dispensary
The 1821 Wesley Mission was established by Rev. Elijah Hoole and James Mowatt, just north of Coles Park. The Wesley English Church was established in 1888 for the English speaking troops in Cleveland Town near Promenade Road. Initially started as a small chapel, the funds were raised by several people including children who studied Bible.
Wesley English Church
The British brought in a sizeable Tamil population from Ambur and Arcot to work as domestic and positioned them in the eastern areas of the city. Tannery Road was established slightly ‘away’ from the posh Cantonment area where Tanneries were set up. The animal skins and meat were extracted in Slaughter house and were transported into the Cantonment areas. One can still see old buildings with British insignia while walking around Tannery Road today. In the British times, entry into the Cantonment from Tannery road was restricted. Tannery Road starts from Fraser Town and splits into DJ Halli and Arabic College road. A beautiful mosque also is built not far away from Tannery Road which is worth a visit. A little off Tannery Road is Pottery Town where a whole community has taken up pottery business since ages. Different creations out of clay can be seen once entering the area. During Ganesha festival and Deepavali the artists become more busy with orders from across the city. Pottery Town is a big hit with photographers from all across Bangalore.

Pottery Town

Tannery Road Doddi
Cox Town, around a km from Fraser Town, also holds an interesting history. During the partition of the country, a bunch of Sindhis from Pakistan’s Hyderabad in Sindh Province made Bangalore their home and chose Cox Town as the area to settle in due to its calm and serene environs in those days. One can see the Sindhi Colony street near Wheelers Road with several houses and a Sindhi temple. Cox Town also holds a market every new year day showcasing several decorative items and handicrafts. An ancient Hero stone can also be seen near the Vinayaka temple in Cox Town.

Hero Stone, Cox Town
Murphy Town runs along the outer periphery of Halasuru and was one of the most popular areas of British Cantonment. Murphy Town has produced good football players. Murphy Town was earlier known as Knoxpet, later named after WH Murphy for his contribution towards civic work. One of the vintage farmers markets established by the British was still in existence in Murphy Town until recently, which used to attract shoppers from around the area.

Murphy Town market
Richmond Town was added to the Cantonment area in 1883 as a part of extension of the city. Johnson Market, earlier used as a stable for horses, is one of the last surviving traditional markets in the bustle of Richmond town. The old timers fondly remember the shopping times in Johnson Market and some of the well known eateries like Fatima Bakery, Fanoos and Makkah café.

Johnson Market
Benson Town, apart from being a residential locality, has an ancient past. The Beereshwara temple in Benson Town is around 300 years old and has several Hero Stones in its premises.

Beereshwara temple, Benson Town
Also in Richmond Town is the 1894 All Saint’s church built for European pensioners a little away from the army areas. Also not far away from Richmond Town is St. Patrick’s church, popular among Irish soldiers. The Richmond Circle flyover is one of the first flyovers in the city.

All Saints Church, Richmond Town
Austin Town: Another locality from the British Cantonment is Austin Town, which is known to be the birthplace of football in Bangalore. Several national football have their home in Austin Town. Also in Austin Town, British built several Nissen houses for the troops during the war. Some of these Nissen houses can still be seen in Autin Town. In the neighbouring area of Gowthamapura, a statue of Pele has also been installed in Austin Town. The area has supporters of Brazil and Argentina.

Nissen House, Austin Town
St. Philomena Hospital: Started off as two bed maternity centre in 1937 by Mary Veronica Pitt from Australia, St Philomena hospital has expanded over the years and currently offers postgraduate training centre.
Masjid-e-Askari: Abu Ali Askar: A wealthy horse trader, who came to Bangalore all the way from Shiraz, travelling through Mangalore, Coorg and Mysore in 1824 CE. He developed good relations with the British and the Mysore Maharaja and settled in a bungalow in Richmond Town. He worked on designing several buildings with brilliant architecture like the Rajbhavan, Balaboorie Guest house and other colonial bungalows in the Cantonment. He also contributed Rs 800 to build a mosque, which was eventually completed in 1904, after his death in 1891. The Masjid-e-Askari now stands as his remembrance in Richmond town and is the oldest Shia mosque in the city.


Bangalore Cantonment Railway Station: The first train to have chugged out from Bangalore was called the Bangalore Mail, run by Madras Presidency. The train operated from Bangalore Cantonment railway station to Jolarpettai, started in 1864. Though the railway station has got a facelift, the several heritage structure remain intact in the staton. The city’s first railway link was the 149km long metre gauge and the technology used for communication was non-dialing Magento phone.

Bangalore Cantonment Railway station

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