The Hindu carried an interesting editorial late last year on developing heritage cities in India.
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Most people don’t associate Bengaluru with heritage. While it is true that Bangalore has only a few monumental historic buildings like – two forts, two palaces and a scattering of temples.
What we do have is: a large network of tanks, plenty of trees and parks, and a number of historic zones. Places like Basavanagudi, Whitefield and Chickpet have a unique historic character defined by their architecture, layout and/or mix of communities and professions. Charming precincts like these are what drew people to Bangalore and gave it the ‘Garden City’ and ‘Pensioner’s Paradise’ epithets.
Today, unfortunately, Bangalore is a classic example of paving over paradise to put up parking lots.
To those who argue that losing heritage is inevitable if we want to modernise, I have only one word: London… though almost any European city could be taken as an example of how retaining our past need not be anti-development. Indeed, heritage protection can be a catalyst for sensitive development. Retaining the historic character of some of our city’s older areas, regenerating our lakes, protecting our parks and trees can all make our city liveable once more. It would also make the city more attractive for visitors.
And perhaps most important, heritage conservation usually leads to an enhanced sense of belonging and civic pride in an area’s residents, often a critical ingredient for further development of the area.