Kempe Gowda I

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Kempe Gowda I
Kempegowda I.jpg
Chieftain of Yalahanka Nadu (a principality under Vijayanagara Empire)
Born Hiriya Kempe Gowda
1510 AD
Died 1569 AD
Other names Bengalooru Kempe Gowda, Kempe Gowda
Known for Founder of Bengaluru
Predecessor Kempananje Gowda
Successor Gidde Gowda

Hiriya Kempe Gowda, well known as Kempe Gowda I, was a feudatory ruler under the Vijayanagara Empire. The city of Bengaluru (Bangalore) itself was established by Kempe Gowda in 1537, as the capital of his erstwhile kingdom. He is considered to be the founder of Bengaluru, currently the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka.

Kempe Gowda was one of the well educated and successful rulers of his time. Being a successor of Kempananje Gowda, descendants of Gowda lineage started as Yelahankanadu Prabhus (ruler of Yelhankanadu). The Yelahankanadu Prabhus were Gowdas or tillers of the land. Fourth in succession from Rana Bhairave Gowda, founder of the dynasty of Avati Nadu Prabhus and great grandson of Jaya Gowda, who established separate dynasty, is the famous Yelahanka Nadu Prabhus, Kempe Gowda I who ruled for 46 years commencing his reign from 1513. Jaya Gowda accepted the sovereignty of the Vijayanagar emperor. He later left Yelankanadu and was successful in planning and building Bengaluru Fort and Bengaluru Pete, the origins of the current city of Bengaluru. He is also noted for his societal reforms and contribution to building temples and water reservoirs in Bengaluru.

Early life and Concept of Bengaluru[edit]

Hiriya Kempe Gowda was the son of Kempananje Gowda, who had ruled Yelhankanadu for more than 70 years. Kempe Gowda, who is reputed to have shown leadership skills during his childhood, was educated at Gurukula in Aivarukandapura (Aigondapura), a village near Hesaraghatta, for nine years.

It is said that Kempe Gowda got the vision of building a big futuristic city during a hunting expedition near Shivanasamudra (near Hesaraghatta) near Bengaluru. He envisioned the city to have a fort, a cantonment, tanks (water reservoirs), temples and people of all trades and professions to live in it. He conquered Sivaganga principality, 30 miles from Bengaluru on Bengaluru-Pune highway. Next he annexed Domlur, which is on the road from Bengaluru to the old Bengaluru Airport. Within this vast forest area, with the necessary Imperial permission of the Vijayanagar Emperor, Achyutharaya (Dasarahalli record dated 1532) he built Bengaluru fort and the town in 1537 A D., and moved his capital from Yelahanka to the new Bengaluru Pete.

Construction of Bengaluru[edit]

Kempe Gowda built a red fort with eight gates and a moat surrounding it. Inside the fort two wide roads ran from North to South and East to West. The other roads were made parallel or perpendicular to them. On a supposedly auspicious moment fixed by an astrologer, Kempe Gowda harnessed the bullocks to the ploughs at the central Doddapete square, at the junction of Doddapete (Avenue Road) and Chikka pete, got the ground ploughed and worked the four main streets running in four directions. One ran from Halasoor (Ulsoor) Gate to Sondekoppa Road from East to West, and another from Yelahanka Gate to the Fort running from North to South. These roads are the present Nagarthapete and Chikka-pete; and Doddapete respectively. The streets and the Blocks were demarcated for the purpose they were meant, like for business or residences etc. Streets of Doddapete, Chikkapete, Nagartha-pete were for marketing of general merchandise; Aralepete (Cotton pet), Tharagupete, Akki pete, Ragipete, Balepete etc. were for marketing of commodities like cotton, grain, rice, ragi, and bangles respectively: kurubarapete, Kumbara-pete, Ganigarapete, Upparapete etc. were for trades and crafts, and residences of Kuruba, Kumbara, Ganiga, Uppara castes respectively and similar petes' (Blocks). Halasoorpete, Manava-rthepete, Mutyalapete (Ballapurapete) etc. were meant for other groups of the society. The Agraharas were for the priests and learned classes. He got skilled artisans and craftsmen from the neighbouring as well as far off places and got them settled so that they could pursue their vocations.

Temples of Vinayaka and Anjaneya were built at the Northern Yelahanka Gate of the fort (near the present head office of state bank of Mysore). Dodda Basavannanagudi (The Bull Temple) and in its neighbourhood, Dodda Vinayaka and Dodda Anjaneya and Veerabhadhra temples, were also built outside the fort on the southern side.

Tanks were built for the water supply to the town, to the moat around the fort and for the irrigation of crops. Inside the fort, a big pond enclosed by masonry of dressed granite stones was dug and built (on the South-Western corner of the present Sri Krishnarajendra Market). Dhar-mambudhi tank, which supplied water to the town (present Subhash Nagar, Bengaluru Transport Service (BTS) and Karnataka State Road Transport Services (KSRTC) bus stands, in front of the city Railway Station), Kempambudhi tank (named after Ranabhaire Gowda's family Goddess, Doddamma or Kempamma), in Gavi-pura Guttahalli and Samp-igambudhi tank (named after one of the daughters-in-law: present Kanteerava Stadium), which were meant for irrigation, were also built. Irrigational facilities gave much impetus to agriculture and horticulture and also encouraged laying of gardens and raising groves of fruit crops.

The Emperor of Vijayanagar pleased with his activities bestowed him with near-by villages of Halasooru (Ulsoor), Begur, Varthur, Jigani, Thalagattapura, Kumbalgodu, Kengeri and Banavara.[1]

Social reforms and interest in art[edit]

One of his social reforms was to prohibit the custom of amputating the last two fingers of the left hand of the married women during "Bandi Devaru", an important custom of Morasu Vokkaligas. He was a patron of art and learning.

Later life and legacy[edit]

Statue of kempegowda 1609.gif

In the mid 16th century due to a complaint from neighbouring Palegar (ruler), Jagadevaraya of Channapattanathe, Emperor Sadashivaraya of Vijayanagar Empire under the supervision of Aliya Ramaraya, imprisoned Kempe Gowda for minting his own coins without the Emperor's prior approval and for fear of rise in power at Penukonda. His territories were also confiscated. He was later released after being imprisoned for five years.

He died in 1569, having ruled for about 56 years. A metal statue of Kempe Gowda was posthumously installed in 1609 at Gangadhareshwara temple at Shivaganga. In 1964, another statue was erected in front of the Corporation offices in Bengaluru. According to some literary sources, Bengaluru Kempe Gowda's elder son. Gidde Gowda, took over control after his death.[2]

The government of Karnataka forwarded the proposal to the central government to rename Bengaluru's international airport after Kempe Gowda. In 2012, the central government accepted the state government's proposal, and on 18 July 2013, the Union Cabinet formally approved the name change as, "Kempe Gowda International Airport". This took effect from 13 December 2013.


The lineage of Kempegowda lasted for a century in Magadi, where they built many temples, forts and tanks. Nelapattana, a subterranean town was built on the foot of the Savandurga, to protect themselves from Muslim invasions. However, in 1728, the Dalawayis of Mysore Kingdom defeated Kempegowda and annexed the principality. The last ruler was imprisoned in Srirangapatana till his death. The family members were moved to Hulikal village in Magadi, where the lineage continues to survive. Some other family members were pensioned off by Dewan Purnaiah by granting jagirs in Hosur, present day Tamil Nadu, where the lineage continues to exist as farmers.[3][4]

Kempegowda Tomb[edit]

The Tomb of Kempegowda (the founder of Bangalore) built by Immadi kempegowda was found after 400 years by Prashanth maruru in March 7, 2015. After the confirmation he made an article and published in Vijayavani newspaper on September 3, 2015.


  1. ^ Dr. Suryanath U. Kamat (2001). Concise History of Karnataka, MCC, Bengaluru (Reprinted 2002).
  2. ^ Nilakanta Sastri, K.A. (1935). The CōĻas, University of Madras, Madras (Reprinted 1984).
  3. ^ Swamy, S Narayana (8 October 2013). "Founding fathers of Bengaluru" (Bangalore). Deccan Herald. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  4. ^ Rice, Benjamin Lewis (1887). Mysore: A Gazetteer Compiled for Government. London, UK: Asian Educational Services. p. 70. ISBN 8120609778. Retrieved 17 January 2015. 

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