Ratna Vilas Road


The picture of our house , in the center. The wall seen here is along Ratna Vilas Road. In the cricket pictures, in the background is  Anand Bhavan if I remember right,  where  Krest Park Apartments stands now

Ratna Vilas Road
This is a picture of our house, Mahadev Vilas, which was at the corner of Ratna Vilas Road and Kanakapura Road. In present day terms, it is diagonally opposite to Krest Park Apts. My grandfather M Ramabrahma bought and moved into that house in 1944 after retiring in Ahmedabad as an education officer in the Bombay Presidency .
I asked my father, Sheshagiri, who turned 93 this March 12, about Ratna Vilas Road and he of prodigious memory , told me the name comes from a house on the road, where a lady was running an “abhayashram” or a shelter for girls and young women who were victims of exploitation. Sometimes girls who had gone “wayward” and had been abandoned for their sins too found their way there.
My father who was 21 years old at the time, and studying to be a dairy officer at the National Dairy Research Institute says the house, a smallish building with gabled front, a style that was popular at the time, had a small compound with several trees. He remembers an almond tree or two, and also that it was a bleak, depressing place.
Ratna Vilas Abhyashrama ( not sure about the exact name) was run by a trust, with an endowment left by donor whose name is not known. The girls were given training in sewing, tailoring, and the like.
Not many people wandered into that neck of the woods, so to speak, and it was still developing as a residential area in the forties. It was such a gloomy place, that children didn’t need to be told to avoid going near it. Appa said he and friends rarely wandered in that direction,  unless they  were headed for Nagasandra Circle, or Gandhi Bazar or MNK Park, which they could reach through other roads.
Appa says after a few years, the home wound up, probably ran out of funds, and no one was willing to invest in it. It must’ve been sold, demolished and a new house built , and probably in going by current trend, that too has been pulled down to make way for an apartment block.
That, at least has been the fate of Mahadev Vilas, which had a vast compound, with the house in the middle, and originally had the outhouse on its side facing Kanakapura Road. (This is the road the leads off the South End Road somewhere near what was once Shanti Theatre, and goes on to Armugam Circle, and straight on by MNKrishna Rao Park, past the charming Renuka Devi temple). The outhouse was sold to K.S Ramaswamy, who was Editorial Representative of The Hindu, and named their house Sita Bhavan .and our two families have been friends ( and family by marriage, and sometimes purely on an honorary basis cousins, currently in third generation)This bonding was made all the more easier by the little wicket gate in the compound wall by the big champak tree, between the homes, which saw a great deal of traffic -kids, parents, and the grandparents, playing, knitting, and talking.  As  can be seen from the photographs,  the compound was large enough for a game of cricket to be played. And it was!

This is the house we lived in when I was born, and in the pictures here are my brothers and their cousins and friends playing cricket. In the background can be seen Anand Bhavan , with a bandstand, which has made way to Krest Park Apartments.
Another nugget from Appa illustrates the charming, simple lives that was lived in those days, and indeed into the sixties when I was born. With no TV, or Internet, and telephone being a luxury, people were always visiting each other, exchanges news of births, marriages and deaths, and many things in-between. Even the installation of traffic lights at MG road was big news!
So when the R. B Muthu , wife of Capt. R.B Subramanyam, a doctor who had served in the WW-1 and had settled in Bangalore on retirement, came to Ratna Vilas Road all the way from the Cantonment where they lived, my grandmother, Venkamma, ( Subramanyams were friends of our grand-uncle M. Subramanyam who was a major, and a doctor who had served as health officer of Solapur and who lived on Patalamma Gudi Road) welcomed her, and enquired as to the purpose of her visit to these parts.
Muthu, told here she had come to see about the Ratna Vilas abhayashram.
Which alarmed Venkamma a great deal, who exclaimed, ” Ayyo why do you need become a member of such a place,!”
Muthu explained she was a member of the committee that manages the home, and see to it that everything ran smoothly, much to Venkamma’s relief!
Ratna Vilas Abhayashram must been a strange presence amongst the homes of mostly middle and upper class families settling down in Basavanagudi in the 1940s, and while no one doubted its usefulness , they were also wary of it, probably being aware of how the girls who ended up there came to be there.
It wound up a few years later, until today, when the question has popped up , “How did Ratna Vilas Road get its name?”
I could look to Appa, and ask him! And get an answer.
PS – I spoke to him this morning, and when I rang off, he had left Ratna Vilas Road way behind, and racing toward Model House Street, Alur Venkat Rao Road, which referred to as Albert Victor Road, and mumbling merrily about the bus service from market via Minto Hospital , Shankar Mutt Road and terminating at Old Poor House Road.
PPS: Bye I need to catch up with him


  1. Mi3 says:

    Forwarding it to my Mum who talks about that road and about her grandfather.

    1. Jayasri says:

      Oh ! Wow! Thanks so much may be she’ll share some memories here too. I’m very much interested!

  2. Bhaskar says:

    Nice History AJ!! I must have passed that house hundreds of times and never knew these things.

    1. Jayasri says:

      Yes, Bhaskar, We have lived there, and i didnt think to ask about Ratna Vilas Road all these years. ! Now I want to know about other streets too!

  3. John Dennis says:

    Interesting and informative with a hint of nostalgia.

    1. Jayasri says:

      thanks so much!

  4. VK Murthy says:

    I lived just down the street at 11/1 Ratnavilas road , we knew the Hindu Editor , Ramaswamy a gentleman . I always thought the corner house on Ratnavilas road and Kankapura was a haunted home as I never saw any activity in the 60’s We played cricket in this location and we had a mentally ill girl at the Anand Bhavan and she was nice as every time the tennis ball was in their compound with a German Shepard dog she will throw it back.. Those were the beautiful days of my Bangalore. Papa alias V Krishnamurthy.

    1. Jayasri says:

      So good to know! Please do share a bit more about your memories! Thanks for reading my blog!

  5. VK Murthy says:

    I really thought that Ratnavilas road came from my dads name Ratnam (his real name was Venkatram) just kidding. I really enjoyed the story in your blog as this brought my memories .. One thing that is true for Ratnavilas road …..this corner was taken over by Iyers (I being one ) and we had a few mysterious residents including Anand Bhavan and the Gurudwara which had a mysterious prior owner… All being equal we had a great neighbor hood , we trained on the small section of the street our talent and competed with teams in the Krishna road park. Hindu editor Mr Ramaswamy I can remember his face even today as each year I returned from BITS (where I went to college) he will stop by my home and talk to me and he was my dads best friend. We just finalized the sale of our house and I came across this blog from a BITSian , who knew where I lived. Lots of good memories.this blog brought my growing days back …..we will walk the dark Ratnavilas street with Eucalyptus trees and even today darkness never worries me. May be this trained me to join a Indian Naval Submarine. We had a few famous families in this street…. I have lost track of many and love to connect some day… I would have shared some pictures ……..
    unfortunately we didn’t own a camera at that time as this was a luxury item , I have a story on my property and I will reconstruct and post soon.

    1. Jayasri says:

      Sorry for the late trsponse to this, were you there in th late sixties? like 65-69? If you were there, and if you’d head the names Subri and Bunty, , they are my brothers. I’m curious. . So you thought our house was haunted? must’ve been after we left, which was in 1960, I think.

      1. VK Murthy says:

        I was at this location from 50 to 65. I left Bangalore for good I joined BITS Pilani and went to INS VK

      2. Jayasri says:

        Oh! So, my brothers’ nmaes don’t ring a bell then! 😬

  6. Mala says:

    Thank you Jayasri, and may Sheshari Mama’s memory keep us in a happy place for many more years!

  7. Alladi Jagannath says:

    I accidentally discovered this webpage while browsing the internet.
    The photographs of your house caught my attention, and reminded me of my childhood days ( 1953-65) when I used to come there to play with your neighbour Ganesh.
    Your webpage is well written.
    I think there was a bungalow at the present location of Krest Park, which was occupied by Eswari Prasad.
    Alladi Mahadeva Sastry happens to be my great grandfather too.
    My name is Jagannath. I am the son of Shankaran and the grandson of Maj. M.Subramanyam

    1. Jayasri says:

      Dear Jagannath, thanks for your msg! I’m delighted to hear from you! As you know I’m Sheshagiri-Thulasi’s daughter. Thanks for your comments about my blog. Indeed if you see my earlier posts, you will find I have written about Krest Park.
      Our grandfatherRamabrahma’s diaries of 1964 and 1966 mention his visits to your house nearly every day . I keep sharing from them from time to time

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