B B Bakery, Bangalore
I went on a recent lovely evening photo walk through the Pete in Bangalore led by a very talented photographer Vivek Muthuramalingam. The walk was interestingly not a formal walk and the participants were not supposed to follow the photographer, instead, were encouraged to make themselves comfortable in the settlement. While doing so one could experience the lifestyle of the people and the way they reclaim the streets in the evening hours, since the Pete is devoid of parks, gardens, and other open spaces.
During our walk through Pete, we saw a lot of old structures from the Raj. Some structures were dated around 1800 c., although, they were clad with the new age plastic monstrosity. Yet, some structures, one could see, were stuck in time and if lucky, one would chance upon rare carvings and timber joinery as well.
Walking through the Pete we chanced upon a very common looking concrete structure which Vivek explained to us housed the B B Bakery, one of the oldest Iyengar Bakeries in Bangalore. The Iyengars were the Sri Vaishnava Brahmins who identified themselves with erstwhile Kingdom of Mysore. They were also called as “Ashtagrama Iyengars”. Their chief occupations were studying the Vedas, Priesthood, Music, being Agriculture Consultants and Zameendars. Poverty and land reforms forced them to learn baking techniques and establish the Bakery business in Leading Cities in South India. Iyengar Bakeries are known for quality, hygiene and non usage of saturated animal fat in their products. Thus, they were popular in recent times as the “Bakery Iyengars” as they pioneered the Bakery Industry in South India. There are around 500 Iyengar bakeries in Bangalore presently, but only around 20 are original. Earlier most Iyengar bakeries, like BB Bakery, were located in residential areas, which have now morphed into commercial zones.
Researching more about the bakery, I chanced upon this article written recently for the Bangalore Mirror explaining in great detail the origins of Iyengar Bakeries and B B Bakery. Although, the images clicked by me could not find and capture the layer of history, it shows the slow decay that the bakeries have become a part of.