From the ‘Town of baked beans’ to the Silicon Valley of India, Bangalore or Bengaluru, as it is called now, has come a long way. What once used to be referred as a pensioners’ paradise has now become the heart of the booming IT industry of India. Not only has the city expanded at an furious pace in the last couple of decades, but it has also become one of the most cosmopolitan and forward looking cities in India with one of the best urban infrastructures. While a part of the city still reminds of its tranquil colonial past, a major part seems adamant to being considered no less than a Metropolis.
Bengaluru International Airport, located at Devanhalli is one of the busiest airports in India and plays host to a number of international and domestic airlines connecting the city to the major destinations across the world. Since the airport is around 40km from Bangalore, it is connected to the main business and administrative districts of the city by a fleet of BMTC buses and private taxis.
Bangalore City is the main railway station, located in the Majestic area. Two other important railway stations are Bangalore Cantt and Yashwantpur. Together, these three stations connect Bangalore to various parts of the country.
Karnataka has a very good network of buses and KSRTC runs bus services connecting Karnataka to various neighboring states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Maharasthra. The Kempe Gowda Bus Station, located near the Bangalore City Railway Station in the Majestic area is the main bus terminus of the city. Another important bus stand which has come up recently to share the load of Majestic is the Shantinagar bus stand.
The fleet of BMTC buses have been serving Bangalore for decades, acting as the primary medium of transport within the city. These buses are cost effective, run on time and are usually crowded. The Kempe Gowda Bus Station is the major hub for city buses. A day pass is ideal if one wants to travel all over the city.
Bangalore Metro, the suburban rail service, is slated to become the most important means of surface transport within the city. It is however, under construction and only 6 stations have become operational so far. Metro rail is air-conditioned, less crowded and usually very comfortable, but the tickets will be a little costlier than the buses.
The Auto rickshaws are the primary means for shorter distances. However, a word of caution: Though not as bad as their counterparts in Chennai, the Auto rickshaw drivers of Bangalore have become quite an infamous lot. They can be rude, reluctant to go by meter and may try to get more than the meter. Instead of haggling with them, it is advisable to look for a more sensible auto driver. In nights, one needs to be cautious while hailing autos as there have been incidences of crime committed by auto drivers.
Pre-paid taxis/ radio cabs are a tension free way of going around in the city but they also happen to be the priciest of all. Meru and EasyCabs are the most common radio cabs to be found.
Being a big city, Bangalore has no dearth of places to stay. Bangalore hotels come in all ranges, from the economical ones located in Majestic to the glittering 5-Star hotels in the downtown. It is advisable to book in advance though.
Places of Interest
Lalbagh Botanical Gardens
Laid out in 1796 by Haidar Ali, Lalbagh is a huge garden spread in nearly 240 acres of land in the heart of the city. Home to centuries old trees of countless varieties and plants collected from all over the globe, Lalbagh is a good place to visit. The garden has a beautiful glasshouse fashioned after the Crystal Palace in London, which houses a grand flower show every year. It also houses one of the towers erected by the founder of the city, Kempe Gowda on the Lal Bagh rock, one of the oldest rock formations in the world. One can take a guided tour of the garden in a buggy (INR 100 per person).
Bangalore is not called the Garden City for nothing. Cubbon park is the mightiest of the numerous gardens and parks in the city. Located in the business district of the city, this sprawling garden spread in 120 hectare is the favorite hangout of joggers, lovers, thinkers, dreamers and all other samples of humanity which one can think of. Cubbon park is also close to the the Gothic style Central Library and two museums. An ideal place to spend a quiet evening.
Built after the Windsor Palace in Britain, this former residence of the Wodeyars is a royal window in the bygone era of the Raj. Lavish interiors, long corridors and a variety of artifacts like trophies, stuffed animals and paintings make this place worth a dekho. The tickets do not come cheap though (Indian/ Foreigner INR 100/200) and Camera charges are downright exorbitant (Still/Video INR 500/1000) so whether one wants to enter the Palace grounds or not depends on the budget also.
Tipu Sultan’s Palace
This elegant palace built by Tipu Sultan stands near the City Market. A beautiful palace with teak pillars and frescoes, this monument is worth visiting if one wants to get to know old Bangalore better. Some other monuments like the Jama Masjid, Fort and the Venkataraman temple are nearby. Tickets are not as pricey as the Bangalore Palace (Indian/ Foreigner INR 5/100), (Still/ Video Camera INR 0/25).
An interesting mix of the contemporary and the traditional styles, the ISKCON temple is a beautiful monument dedicate to Lord Krishna and Radha. The temple is lavish in decoration and may make some uncomfortable, but is a place worth visiting nonetheless. It is located very near to Yashwantpur.
Eat and Drink
Bangalore dining scenes keeps pace with the cosmopolitan nature of the city and its hip and flamboyant crowd, while still retaining some of its traditions. The city has some of the best restaurants and pubs in the country and used to have a vibrant nightlife till the government came up with the idea of 11:00 PM curfew. Some of the best in Bangalore are located in the area near MG Road and Brigade Road. Depending on your taste, you can try Karavalli (seafood), Oye! Amritsar (Punjabi), The Only Place and Windsor Pub (steak), and Mavalli Tiffin Rooms and Palm Groove (South Indian).
Some of the most exotic eating joints in the city are; Ebony (serves one of the best Parsi food in town), Harima (try it for Japanese sushi), Olive and Sunny’s (Mediterranean).
There is no dearth of watering holes in Bangalore, provided you finish your glass by 11:30 PM. Most pubs open at 7:00 PM and shut shop before mid night. Some of the best places to get in high ‘spirits’ are Koshy’s , Plan B, B Flat, 13th Floor and Shiro. Beach can give you an experience of sand and the sea in a city which is 100s of km from the coast.
Brigade Road used to be the most stylish shopping area of the city a decade back and still retains a lot of its charm. MG Road and Brigade road make for glossy shopping centers , restaurants pubs and a crowd which can be a treat to the eyes. New malls have sprung up all over the city, the most famous of them being the Forum and the Garuda Mall.
However, if one wants to get the authentic Bangalore shopping experience, Majestic and City Market are the places to go to. These areas happen to be some of the oldest markets of Bangalore and quite chaotic, however they have some of the most famous shops of city and eating joints located there.