Turahalli: Bangalore’s last forest standing?

We don’t need no walking track, said tree huggers, as they strode, cycled and trekked to Turahalli, Bangalore’s only surviving urban forest.


We don’t need no walking track, said tree huggers, as they strode, cycled and trekked to Turahalli, perhaps Bangalore’s only surviving forest, pleading with officials to leave it alone.

Old-timers of Bangalore will recollect Turahalli as a lovely forest, set with hillocks, where everyone went to for relaxation.

Turahalli – the last urban forest standing?

Over a period of years, the pressure of population in Bangalore has meant that the once-pristine forest has been “developed” into various layouts. All that remains is just a couple of hillocks.

Illegal shrine at Turahalli

Illegal shrine at Turahalli which has since been removed.

When, however, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) decided that it would put up an “adventure sports hub” on the hillocks, the people of Bangalore decided it was time to protest. Leo Saldanha of Environment Support Group, who has always stood against the privatization of public commons, sent out an email underscoring the fact that once again, public property should not be privatized.

Turahalli trash

Signs of development – trash.

Deepak Arya, an avid Bangalore bird-watcher and his friend Venkatesh M, then decided to have a “Turahalli Festival”, to highlight the threat.

As a group of nature-lovers and bird watchers, we trekked up to Turahalli hillock quite early, to avoid disturbing the birds. The cyclists’ community soon, came sailing up the road ….as did a couple (thankfully, only a couple!) of cars.

Turahalli cycling community

The cycling community came in to show their solidarity for the cause of preserving Turahalli’s forest.

A banner, saying, “Save Turahalli” was put up on the massive Ficus tree in front of the temple, and several visitors signed it. Leo Saldanha and Deepak Arya spoke of the way the hillocks were being encroached by construction on all sides, and the need to save the last large lung space in south Bangalore.

K. Umashankar, the Chief Instructor of General Thimmayya National Academy of Adventure was present, as were noted tree-experts, Sheshadri Ramaswamy and Prashanth Iyengar, were also on hand to conduct a tree census in the area.

A simple vegetarian lunch was served to everyone present.For a long time afterwards, the rock-climbers were having a field day, as there were experts on hand to give the newbies a try at the activity. Many children were seen trying it out, under the watchful eyes of their parents.

Rocks at Turahalli

Rock climbers can have a field day at Turahalli.

Now, the road up to the Shaneeswara temple has been made motorable, and this worries everyone with fears of cars and tourists coming up the easy way to the top, littering and disturbing the peace. Deepak adds, “I am hearing reports of dirt bikes zooming up the road, and there being drinking parties on these rocks….these are matters that concern us, as citizens, and we must keep a vigilant eye out.”

The Saneeshwara temple.

The Saneeshwara temple.

“Turahalli is the last remaining wilderness space so close to South Bangalore…everyone in the adventure community, be it climbers, walkers, birdwatchers or cyclists, have a responsibility to keep the forests as they are, and leave minimum impact. The same responsibility does not seem to hold good with temple constructions and the like, “ adds Venkatesh, alias Venky.

As the lovers of Turahalli dispersed, the last words are good ones, by Chandra Ravikumar, a concerned citizen: “I hope….I will be able to go to Turahalli at least once every month, to pick up one discarded plastic bottle, pull out one plant of congress grass, and share my bottle of water with one little plant on a hot summer’s day.”

Wildflowers growing at Turahalli

Wildflowers growing at Turahalli

Let’s hope that this public space and parcel of forest remains spared to us and our succeeding generations, and does not get swallowed up in the name of adventure sports or “development”!

All pics by Deepa Mohan. For more pictures of the event, visit Deepa Mohan’s Facebook album.


  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Deepa Mohan is deeply concerned about the rapid evolution of her city, Bangalore, but is also interested in theatre, quizzing, music, wildlife, photography, learning about heritage, and writing, all of which she does with enthusiasm. more

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  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Deepa Mohan is deeply concerned about the rapid evolution of her city, Bangalore, but is also interested in theatre, quizzing, music, wildlife, photography, learning about heritage, and writing, all of which she does with enthusiasm. more

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  • Deepa Mohan

    Update on 27 Dec ’17…for their show of solidarity, cyclists and rock-climbers have been banned from Turahalli…a decision that we are protesting. Thankfully, we are still seeing both activities.