The Jairaj Model

So finally here is the follow-up to the Union Square Park post. Basically most parks in Bangalore follow what I term as the Jairaj model. Even a number of parks that are older than 10 years old have been remodeled using this model in the last few years.

K Jairaj became the commissioner of the BBMP around the turn of the millennium. The story goes that his parents, who live in Banashankari 2nd Stage, complained to him that they had no place for their daily evening walks. And so Jairaj takes this piece of barren BBMP land (on 24th cross, close to the BDA complex) and converts it into a beautiful park. So the park provides for walking paths, lots of shrubs and flowering plants and a small play area for children. Trust me, it’s really beautiful.

This was soon followed by the development of the Hanumanthanagar park by then-corporator later-mayor K Chandrasekhar. It again followed a similar model – and given its greater area included fancies like a musical fountain (if I’m not wrong). Again a big hit among the residents, especially the middle-aged and elderly who now had a nice place for their morning and evening walks.

The trend was set. Following the success of these two parks, all small parks in Bangalore started to be remodeled based on these two. Trust me, they are all really good looking and most are quite well maintained. But it remains that the primary purpose of most of these parks is to provide a venue for middle-aged and elderly to go for morning and evening walks, and a small area for children with slides and swings, and little else.

Normally we take this for granted and wonder what else a park needs to do. But if you visit some of the better parks abroad (I’m taking the example of the tiny Union Square Park here) you’ll know what you are missing out on. Parks are now gated and shuttered, and don’t let people in during the day time (which is good in the way that it provides time for maintenance). And they are unidimensional, which is sad.

And I’m told that there is now a major battle in several areas between youth and middle-aged, with respect to proposals for playgrounds to be converted to parks.

And these parks are strictly “walkers parks” and not “runners parks”. Not so long-ago I used to go to the nearby Krishna Rao park for a run every morning. I gave up because of the traffic jam inside the park. Narrow pathways on which aunties and uncles would walk abreast in large groups, and so it became more of an obstacle race than a leisurely morning run.

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