Visited my mom's hometown today; its around 80 kms from Bangalore; the gold mines of Kolar. It seems both my maternal grandparents' dads worked as foremen in the mines. I have heard lot of stories and interesting facts about the mines, the working environment inside womb of the earth, the stories of workers hiding gold inside their body by various means(those were the days of manual search).
The heydays of Kolar when it was the 'jewel' always being top of the list; the elite club of KGF- being the forth oldest club of India where membership was not allotted to Indians. It was a typical colonial British town; one of the early industrialized town in India known for egalitarian society.
My mom would tell stories of Anglo-Indian(in fact they were English) women and men; their evening stroll to a bakery to buy a pound of bread and meat. Their attires of skirts and blazers, their accented Tamil and of course their bungalows - complete with lawn, garden, cutlery and royal air. The sad stories of Indians who worked as menial laborers to feed the English greed, women/children working as maids in English bungalows and the fact that they took pride in speaking English!
Today; its a ghost town. The mines are shut since 2001; the English left long ago after partition; along with them - they took all the wealth that is gold. The mining shafts stand tall; rusted and unused. The buildings abandoned; the equipments corroded, weeds overgrown all around them. The area around the mines stand mute; an eerie silence. The so called 'Little England' once stands in ruins now.
I never got to hear stories from horse's mouth however. Dont have to; the place has lots to tell; one just has to listen.
One of the many mining shafts. During its operational days; the shaft carried 150 workers at a time and it took 4 minutes to reach 9600+ ms deep under the earth.
In ruins, the Champion reef facility. To imagine that these very complexes once buzzed with activities and the first place to be visited by dignitaries like Gandhi and Nehrus- dad and daughter is quite difficult.
Many such structures tolerating the decay.
Rubble and earth strewn all around the town as a mining by product.
The once elite KGF club; now empty and reminiscing the old glory.
The old world charm
One of the many bungalows.