While the start-up boom has pitched Bengaluru into the future, its old-world experiences continue to charm
REASONS TO GO
Long before the IT boom, Bengaluru, the capital of India’s southern Karnataka state, was a hub of science, engineering and technology. The Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum is just the place to see 3D recreations and simulations of scientific principles and inventions over time. The museum is named after the great engineer Sir M. Visvesvaraya, who hailed from this city.
SEAT OF POWER
While it’s true that the Vidhan Soudha houses the legislative assembly of Karnataka, what makes it worth visiting is its architecture, which is an amalgamation of British, Indo-Islamic and Dravidian. This grand edifice with broad steps leading up to a grand colonnade is emblematic of the city.
STATE OF THE ART
For an introduction to Indian paintings, past and contemporary, head to Venkatappa Art Gallery and the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA). While the former is situated on Kasturba Road, just off M.G. Road, the latter is housed in a century-old mansion on Palace Road. The works of renowned artists such as Raja Ravi Verma, the Tagore brothers and Anjolie Ela Menon share space with those of less-known but brilliant artists.
For a close look at traditional dance forms in an intimate setting, Nrityagram is a place like no other. This commune of dancers allows visitors to watch rehearsals and recitals from Tuesday to Saturday in the AM. Mohiniattam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Bharatanatyam and other dance forms are on offer.
THE DRAMA OF LIFE
Witness a wonderful selection of English plays and performing arts at Jagriti Theatre (in Whitefield) and Rangashankara (in J.P. Nagar). From classics to dramatised takes on contemporary issues, these plays and stand-up comedy acts provide a dose of stimulation.
Cubbon Park, located near M.G. Road, is the perfect introduction to the city’s considerable expanse of green cover. Cubbon Park is the natural outdoor gym for many. On weekends, you can watch people gather in informal groups for talks, poetry readings and music sessions. The chirping of birds provides great background music. If you love wildlife, visit the Bannerghatta National Park on the southern fringe of the city. It gets crowded on holidays, so visiting on a workday is a good idea.
Step back into British colonial times by visiting the Taj Westend. This luxury hotel has been a Bengaluru fixture for several decades. The lush greenery and colonial-era architecture will soothe your senses.
Take leisurely strolls through some of the oldest parts of the city. Their traditional charm stands in stark contrast to the glitz of the business districts. Malleswaram, Jayanagar and Basavanagudi are rich with the scents of coffee, old bakeries and markets selling flowers and vegetables. Many buildings are more than half a century old. In Malleswaram, you could also visit the 400-year-old Kadu Malleswara temple before hopping across the road to Veena Stores for a hearty South Indian breakfast and filter coffee.
TAKE A WALK
Despite the rise in traffic, some parts of Bengaluru are eminently walkable. Sign up for a walking tour with INTACH or Bangalore Walks and acquaint yourself with the city’s green heritage, its Victorian legacy and interestingly, its military heritage. You can choose a regular weekend walk or ask for a customized one.
Participating in a run can be an interesting way of exploring a city. If this appeals to you, sign up for the Bengaluru Marathon on 15 October this year. The race starts and ends at Kanteerava Stadium. If you don’t fancy running the full marathon, you could sign up for the half marathon or a fun five-kilometre run.
WORTH THE TREK
If you crave a little adventure, heed the call of Ramanagaram, situated about 56 kilometres from the city on the highway to Mysuru. The terrain is perfect for rock climbing and short treks. Adventure over, dig into divine thatte idlis (soft rice cakes) and vadas (a fried snack) at Renuka Tiffanies, a popular eatery at Bidadi junction (between Ramanagar and Bengaluru).
Chennapatna is a riot of colour. This tiny town is a short distance after Ramanagara on the Bengaluru-Mysuru highway and is known for wooden toys coloured with vegetable dyes. It is said that the natives learnt this art from the Persians during the time of Tipu Sultan, the erstwhile ruler of Mysuru.
RETAIL THERAPY AND SUSTENANCE
For atmospheric open-air dining, head to Thindi Beedi (‘Food Street’ in Kannada, the local language). The small eateries lining a short stretch of this street dish out a wide variety, even as vehicles crawl by. Idli Mane is a good bet for authentic Karnataka food. Hyderabad Biryani House (near the Lifestyle Store in Victoria Layout) serves delectable mutton and chicken biryani.
A TIPPLE OR TWO
India’s original pub capital has a jolly drinking scene. Enjoy craft beer at Windmills Craft Works (Whitefield) or at Arbor Brewing Company (near Garuda Mall). The former has the added attraction of live music gigs on most days.
South India is home to a wondrous range of handicrafts. Vilakku, a small store tucked on a bylane near the Anjaneya Temple, off Tippasandra Main Road, is a treasure trove of these. Choose from dainty brass and bronze idols and lamps, traditional Aranmula mirrors, handlooms from Kerala, paintings and wooden artefacts. Taking some back home as beautiful souvenirs would be a good idea.
Hinduism, Islam and Christianity are the chief religions here. While shorts, skirts and sleeveless tops are fine by and large, do cover up when visiting places of worship or traditional markets. People are friendly and treat visitors well. Just keep your wits about you, take it easy and smile a lot. However, do avoid venturing out alone late at night.
The days are cool (with temperatures in the high twenties Celsius) and the nights chilly during the latter half of the year. There could be a few sharp showers once in a while. From October to February, a jacket or a set of light woolens will come in handy.
The Indian Rupee (USD0.016) is the official currency. Keep a combination of 500, 100, 50, 20 and 10 rupee notes to meet most of your expenses. The more sophisticated establishments accept international credit cards.
Autos, taxis and the metro are the best modes of local transport. While rolling autos are available, taxis can be hailed using a ride-hailing app. Bengaluru is a city of traffic jams, so wherever you go, keep some extra time in hand.