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Thursday, June 9, 2016

KOLAR GOLD FIELDS -The First Gold Mining Industry in India



Kolar Gold Fields has the distinction of  being the first Gold mining industry in India. However sad to say that KGF is now part of history and is little known by the rest of India.

My book KOLAR GOLD FIELDS DOWN MEMORY LANE is my small way of preserving for posterity, not only my memories of that once glorious vibrant place called Kolar Gold Fields, but also record its cultural history which has not been documented till now.
This is a book of national importance as it pertains to history, art and cultural heritage of a glorious period in the history of Indiaand Old Mysore Sate / Karnataka in particular. It deals with a period of history that many people in India are not aware of. More over till now no one has ever brought out a book on KGF that focused on the social and cultural aspect of the place.

Kolar Gold Fields, affectionately known as KGF is a small mining town in Karnataka about 110 kms from Bangalore. It was originally owned by the John Taylor and Sons Company, a British Mining Firm for almost a century since 1852.  Kolar Gold  Fields, had a very sizable European and Anglo-Indian population who lived and worked there for generations. It was well known for its Colonial ambience with elegant bungalows replete with huge gardens, green lawns, and many Clubs with Tennis and Badminton courts, Golf courses, Dance Halls, Swimming Baths, etc. 

It was called “Little England” and was unique for its secular and egalitarian society not found anywhere else in the world. It was one of India’s earliest industrialized towns, which had electricity supplied to it from a captive power plant, good water supply, well-equipped hospitals, schools, etc. as early as the 19th Century. 

The 19th and the early 20th century saw the KGF mines booming and flourishing and it employed almost 4500 employees in its hey days. In what was once a desolate, waste, rocky terrain, a large and flourishing town sprang up which was provided with most of the conveniences and comforts of life at that time. All this was possible due to the perseverance and foresight of a group of British pioneers who were successful in their quest for gold. 

KOLAR GOLD FIELDS – DOWN MEMORY LANE, undertakes a nostalgic journey right from the days of the origins of the Kolar Gold Mines, its historical and mythological connections, the arduous and difficult lives of the miners in those early days, the growth of the mines under the British Company of John Taylor and Sons, its gradual decline, and the ultimate closure of the once prosperous Kolar Gold Mining Company in 2003 after it was taken over by the Government of India. Thus ending a golden chapter in History, which now lies buried in the annals of time.  

It then moves on to give the reader a brief insight into the lives of the Anglo-Indian Community (a living legacy of the British Raj) in the early days of KGF. It brings out vividly the glorious and cosmopolitan life led by that tiny vibrant community in KGF who lived in sprawling bungalows with beautiful gardens and domestic helpers at their beck and call. It recalls the grand Christmas Balls and Dances held at the Skating Rink and the Jam Sessions and Pound Parties in Buffalo Lodge. 

It finally focuses on my childhood memories of growing up as a young Anglo-Indian child in KGF in the 1950s and 60s - home, family, school, playmates, entertainments, games, picnics, etc. It recalls memories of old familiar haunts and landmarks of KGF and the people who were an indispensable part of life in those days. This golden period of KGF post Independence was the period of transition, when the influences of the best of old Colonial India merged with the new emerging independent India.
We were special people living in this very Special Place’.

The book succeeds in capturing and preserving for posterity the nuances and ethos of a bygone era in that once glorious vibrant place called Kolar Gold Fields and at the same time keeps it alive in the hearts of its erstwhile inhabitants, which still beats for it.

 KGF could become a Tourist attraction and could be preserved as a monument to the pioneers of the Gold Mining Industry in India.