“THIS IS ONE OF THE FOUR WATCH TOWERS SAID TO HAVE BEEN BUILT BY THE FAMOUS KEMPE GOWDA OF MAGADI (1510 – 1569) AND MARKS THE LIMITS TO WHICH IT WAS PREDICTED THAT THE TOWN OF BANGALORE WOULD EXTEND” – so reads inscriptions on plaques placed at each of the four Bangalore Watch Tower sites.
It is possible to run past each of these 400+ year old watch towers – it makes for a 30k route – and along the way you will pass lakes, parks, gardens, a golf course, the oldest road in Bangalore and an even older rock. If the Bangalore Watch Tower design looks familiar, well, you’re quite an observant Bangalorean! They’re an integral part of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) logo and is visible on, among other things, all street signage and road markings. You will have also spotted the watchtower design on the circular tokens issued on the Bangalore Metro.
Now that we’ve dispensed with the trivia – let’s get straight to the run route. Remember – they’re watch towers and so all four are situated at higher elevations than the surroundings – so that’s an easy way to spot them. Depending on the time of the day you’re running along this route – do watch out for traffic.
Lal Bagh Watch Tower (Google Maps link): Begin your run at the Lal Bagh Watch Tower. This watch tower is situated on a rock (Peninsular Gneiss) that is over 2.5 billion years old! The rock is also a good vantage point from which to view the Bangalore skyline. Run past the Lal Bagh Glass house, the Lal Bagh lake and out of the West Gate and then head east towards Gavipuram and Kempabudhi Lake where the next Watch Tower is situated.
Total Run Distance: ~4K.
Kempabudhi Watch Tower (Google Maps link): This watch tower may be a little hard to spot – it’s at an elevation and is right beside the Shri Bandi Mahakali Temple. The watch tower overlooks the Kempabudhi lake on one side and a kitschy dinosaur park on the other. From this watch tower, head east and then north until you reach the Bala Gangadhar Swamy Flyover. Run under the flyover until you reach Avenue Road on your left. It runs in a North-South direction and is technically the first road laid in Bangalore – under the direction of Kempegowda himself! Run along Avenue Road and Palace Road until you reach the Bangalore Golf Course. Then head North West along Sankey Road until you reach Mekhri Circle.
Total Run Distance: ~14.5K.
Mekhri Circle Watch Tower (Google Maps link): This Watch Tower is located just prior to Mekhri Circle – in the Kempegowda Tower Park. Unlike the other two towers, this doesn’t appear to be at a higher elevation than its surroundings. But maybe the roads and infrastructure around it rose up to match its elevation in the 400 years since it was built. Next, head south east along Jayamahal Road,Millers Road and St. John’s Church Road until you reach Ulsoor Lake.
Total Run Distance: ~22K.
Ulsoor Lake Watch Tower (Google Maps link): Since you’re approaching from St. John’s Church Road, you will have to run along the periphery of the lake until you reach the 22k point – opposite Ulsoor Dhobi Ghat and near an army tank on display. The Ulsoor Lake Watch Tower is located within military premises and inaccessible to civilians but is easily visible from this spot. And now, congratulations – you’ve visited all 4 of Bangalore’s watch towers. To head back to Lal Bagh, head down MG Road, Kasturba Road past Kanteerava Stadium and Cubbon Park, Lal Bagh Main Road and then back to the Start Point.
Total Run Distance: 30K.
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