India | Karnataka

Hiriya Kempe Gowda

The modern metropolitan city of Bangalore owes its origin to a feudal lord named Hiriya Kempe Gowda (1513-1569). Often referred by the name Kempe Gowda-I, he founded the city in 1537. He controlled the province of Yelahanka, a northern suburb in present day Bangalore, which was under the rule of the Vijaynagara Empire.

The idea of establishing a city to serve as his future capital came during a hunting expedition. According to Kempe Gowda-I’s plan the proposed city was to have a fort, a cantonment, water reservoirs, temples and people of all trades and professions. He got the necessary permission from the Vijayanagar Emperor Achyutharaya and built the Bangalore fort and a town inside it in 1537. From this new capital Kempe Gowda-I extended his territories. He ruled his kingdom in an efficient manner and even established his own mint.

Apart from being a kind and just ruler, he was also a social reformer. He banned many evil social customs that were prevalent during his time. He was known for his love towards art and learning. He composed a play titled ‘Ganga-Gouri Sallapamu,’ which conforms to the Yakshagana Bayalatta tradition.

Hiriya Kempe Gowda reign lasted for 56 years until his death in 1569. His was succeeded by Kempe Gowda II, his son, who further developed Bangalore.

Updated on 19th June, 2005


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