( Negotiating Routes: Ecologies of the Byways II )

(i) PREMISE: A brief history & natural / functional heritage of Jakkur Lake:

Jakkur Lake is one of the very few lakes existing towards the North-Eastern outskirts of Bangalore/Bengaluru, about 15 kms from Bangalore city center. It is more than two hundred years old and is a lake densely connected with the history of Bangalore, for, it is closer to Yelahanka, the actual place from where the king Kempegowda–the founder of Bengaluru–hails from. The lake has a village (Sampigehalli) towards its eastern part and a township (Jakkur) towards its west.

Currently the lake is being ‘re-structured’ from being a natural one to an artificial lake, an undertaking which is part of a larger scheme of ‘City Beautification’ and ‘Lake Development Projects’; and in the due process, the functional purpose and the natural existence of the lake are both jeopardized and curtailed. What remains now is a renewed appearance and what is available/offered is only the recreational aspect of the lake. The ‘recreative’ element replacing the ‘functional’ and ‘domestic’ aspect of the lake is also a reflection upon the man-made alternatives offered as a choice at the cost of the notion of farming; and how the latter is of the least priority to the governance.

The lake is historic, was an abode for birds, had an intense domestic function (washing, bathing, cleaning, farming and drinking purpose) and perhaps the village Sampigehalli—with about 250 houses–came into existence a century ago just because of the lake. The main source of a settlement has been re-articulated to fit into a larger framework of the historicisation of the city to which the village is an annexure, that too for a recreational purpose, at the cost of the actual intended purpose of offering a livelihood to a settlement.

Fishes cultivated in the lake seasonally by fishermen and the dependant farming around the lake came to an abrupt end owing to the government policy to detach the nomenclature ‘green belt’ category attuned to this area. The decision to convert the green belt into a ‘developmental urban area’ and the conversion of the natural lake into an artificial one, with a shift in purpose is noteworthy.

Surekha – Artist and Initiator of the Project