The pages of history tell us that the area now called Basavanagudi was an agricultural village called Sukenahalli, consisting of groundnut fields. It is believed that an enraged bull would ruin the groundnut crop year after year. Legend says that a farmer, frustrated with the rampaging bull, hit it with a club. The stunned bull sat still and became motionless. Soon, it transformed into stone. Later in repentance, the farmers built a temple for the bull. The name Basavanagudi stems from the Kannada word 'Basava' or bull. In tribute to this legend, every year, a groundnut fair called Kadale Kaayi Parishe is held around the Bull Temple area. All the local farmers congregate and offer their first groundnut crop each year to the sacred bull. Today, this is one of the many beautiful cultural events in Bangalore.
Basavanagudi as we know it today, was formally developed around the late 1800s. A devastating plague struck Bengaluru in 1896. By the year 1898, more than 3000 people were dead. The core areas of Bengaluru at the time were Mavalli, Chamrajpet and the Fort area. Aware of the rapid spreading epidemic and its potential effects, the then Deputy Commissioner of Bengaluru, V P Madhava Rao ordered citizens to move to the outskirts of the city to distance themselves from the rampant plague.
Madhava Rao proposed the development of two new hygienic extensions of the city as 'modern suburbs'. The government supported this idea, and thus two new extensions, namely Malleswaram and Basavanagudi, were built. The wide, tree line streets in Basavanagudi and its defined gridiron layout are owed to Madhava Rao's foresight and vision. Basavanagudi is still home to some of the oldest and most beautiful gulmohur, tabebuia and coconut trees that sway mesmerically to the cadence of the wind.