Ba Na Sundara Rao, a name well known to the historians, litterateurs and journalists of Bengaluru, would have turned 100 on March 26. As a school boy of National High School, Sundara Rao was exposed to the freedom movement and participated in the meeting conducted at the Vidurashwatha in 1938. He took an active part in the 'Chalo Mysuru' movement that was organised a few weeks after independence, to press Mysore State to join independent India.
He travelled widely all over Karnataka and penned a series of travelogues and brought to light some unknown places of historical interest. Sundara Rao composed several poems in the name of Vanavihaari. He wrote short stories for various Kannada periodicals in the 1950s and reviewed several important works of literature for Jeevana, a periodical edited by Masti Venkatesha Iyengar. He was also known for his oratory skills. He is remembered for the lecture series he gave at the Secretarial Club in Cubbon Park in the 1980s.
By virtue of his employment with the Electricity Board, he moved to the Jog Colony where Mahatma Gandhi Hydroelectric Works was being implemented. He utilised the opportunity to identify local talents and organised the first ever regional literary festival in 1955. He has written biographies of personalities like Sir M Visvesvaraya and Bellave Narahari Shastry. He also compiled the biographies of Bangla War heroes. He had meticulously documented the turn of events in the 'Chalo Mysuru' movement; they are all narrated in the historical fiction of the same name.
The lecture series at the Secretarial Club culminated in the monumental work on the history of Bengaluru, which is considered as an authentic source even today. Sundara Rao's birth centenary is being organised at the Indian Institute of World Culture on March 24.