Literally meaning ‘Town of Boiled Beans', Bengaluru supposedly derived its name from an ancient incident involving an old village woman who served cooked pulses to a lost and hungry Hoysala king. Kempegowda, a feudal lord, was the first person to mark out Bengaluru’s extents, by building a mud fort in 1537. The town remained obscure until 1759, when it was gifted to Hyder Ali by the Mysuru maharaja.
The British arrived in 1809 and made the city their regional administrative base in 1831, renaming it Bangalore. During the Raj era the city played host to many a British officer, including Winston Churchill, who enjoyed life here during his greener years and famously left a debt (still on the books) of ₹13 at the Bangalore Club.
Now home to countless software, electronics and business-outsourcing firms, Bengaluru’s knack for technology developed early. In 1905 it was the first Indian city to have electric street lighting. Since the 1940s it has been home to Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), India’s largest aerospace company.
The city’s name was changed back to Bengaluru in November 2006, though few care to use it in practice.