With its salubrious climate, numerous public parks, tree-lined avenues and a profusion of flowering trees, it is not difficult to see how Bangalore- the capital of Karnataka, earned the sobriquet ‘Garden City’. The city’s real charm lies in the way it has elegantly blended its past as a sedate British cantonment with its present status as one of the South Asia’s most cosmopolitan and progressive cities.
Located 949m above sea level on the Deccan Plateau, Bangalore has a lot to offer visitors. A vibrant cultural heritage, historic monuments, handicrafts, antiques and silk stores, golf courses, discotheques, amusement parks, wildlife safari and even weekend getaways and health spas on the outskirts of the city.
A visit to Bangalore cannot be concluded without sampling the mouthwatering variety of the city’s gastronomic delights. From eateries serving traditional vegetarian South Indian fare to fine dining establishments that specialize in Indian, Oriental, Continental and Middle Eastern Cuisine- the diversity is truly delicious.
Within city limits, you have the Vidhan Soudha, pride of Bangalore. It is one of the largest legislature-cum-offices building in the country and houses the State legislature and the Secretariat of Karnataka. The lawns are open to the public but prior permission is necessary to view the interior.
Overlooking the Vidhana Soudha is Attara Kacheri that houses the High Court.
In the same vicinity is Cubbon Park, spread over 300 acres and a favorite with joggers and walkers. The park also houses the State Central Library. Another large expanse of greenery is the Lal Bagh, laid out by Haider Ali. Over 240 acres, it is also the venue of the famous bi-annual flower show. The Sankey Boat Club and Ulsoor Lake are perfect for boat rides and some peace and quiet away from the bustle of the city.
Not too far from the city market is Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace and the Fort of Haider Ali, now, a museum containing artifacts from their days. Mysore was the state capital during the rule of monarchs but Bangalore’s weather prompted the construction of summer palaces here. The Tudor-style Bangalore Palace of the Mysore Maharajas was constructed in 1880 on the lines of Windsor Castle in England.
For the spiritually inclined, bangaloe has some well known temples like the Bull Temple, famed for the monolithic statue of Nandi, International Society for Krishna Conciousness ( ISKCON) and their magnificent temple on a hillock, Gavi Gangadeshwara Temple and the Shiva Temple. The Infant Jesus Church has devotees of all faiths flocking here, especially on Thursdays.
The Vishveshwariaya Industrial and Technological Museum has exhibits representing the technological history of the country. Adjoining it is the Government Museum, considered one of the oldest museums in the country, featuring archeological and geological objects. On the same road is the Venkattappa Art Gallery, venue of many contemporary art shows. The HAL Heritage Centre and Aerospace Musuem, the first and only one of its kind in the country has exhibits of aircraft simulators, air traffic control towers, and even an aero-modelling club. The Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, Bangalore’s premier fine arts colleges is also the venue of many shows, workshops and exhibitions related to visual and performing arts.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium, a great place for star gazing also houses a permanent exhibition on space and astronomy.
And, it’s not for nothing that Bangalore has earned itself the sobriquet-Pub City. The city has several pubs and discotheques that tare magnets for party-goers. Then there are Bangalore’s glittering shopping malls and bargain streets where you can pick up anything from the latest designer wear to exquisite silks, traditional handicrafts and sandalwood souvenirs.
If you want to unwind with friends and family, there are some quick getaways around Bangalore.
Bannerghatta National Park (25km) sprawling over 104sq-km, this National park has a tiger and lion safari, a crocodile farm, a snake park, elephant rides, and a nature camp for children.
Nrityagram Dance Village (30km) Founded at Hessaraghatta by the late Odissi dancer, Protima Gauri, this Dance village offers the study of classical dance and allied subjects like choreography, philosophy, music, mythology and painting. Guided tours are organized for visitors. These include lunch, dance demonstration and a short lecture.
Brindavan, Whitefield (18km) this is the summer ashram of Sri Satya Sai Baba. The seer resides at this spiritual and educational centre for here or four months each year. Electronic gadgets are not allowed inside the ashram.
Big Banyan Tree (28km) the huge banyan tree sprawling over a few acres in Ramohalli is a botanical wonder. It is also a great picnic spot.
Pearl Valley (38km) situated down a deep valley in the midst of hills, the main attraction of this fascinating picnic spot is its waterfall, formed by thin jets of water spurting down from a height of 90m. These jets of water converge at the bottom to resemble pond of pearls, hence the name Pearl Valley. Overlooking these falls is a small shrine dedicated to Shiva, adding a religious aura to the place.
Mekedatu (98km) a beautiful picnic spot where the river Arkavathi surges through a gorge which is narrow enough for a goat to leap over. Hence the name, which means ‘Goat’s Leap’.
Road: Kempegowda Bus Stand (Inter State) is the Central Bus Station, a 24 hour hub with buses plying all over Karnataka and other states. There are inter-state bus services to Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Pondicherry, Goa operated by various State Transport Corporation and Private bus operators.
Bangalore is connected to some of India’s major cities through the National Highways NH 4, NH 7 AND NH48.
Nearest Railhead: city Railway Station is 8km from M G Road, Cantonment Railway Station 3km from M G Road, and Yeshwanthpur is 10km from M G Road. They are well connected to most major cities in India. Bangalore is connected to all the major rail junctions of the country.
Airlines operating in Bangalore: Lufthansa- Six times in a week from Frankfurt, Srilankan Airlines- Thrice a week from Colombo, Malaysian Airlines- Twice a week from Kuala Lumpur, Royal Nepal Airlines- Twice a week from Kathmandu, Air India- Daily connections from Europe, Indian Airlines- Regular flights from Singapore, Bangkok and Middle East.
Crazy Waters, Bangalore. Tel: 080-26584910. Timings: Weekdays-10.00 am to 6.00 pm, Saturday, Sunday & Holidays- 10.00am to 7.00 pm.
Fun World, Bangalore. Tel: 080-23430496. Timings: 11.00 am to 9.30 pm daily. Jaamba Jungle, Bangalore. Tel: 080-25092233. Timings: 11.00 am to 10.00 pm daily. Neeladri Amusement Water Park, Bangalore. Tel: 080-26524390. Timings: 11.00 am to 8.00 pm daily.
Sammy’s Dream Land, Bangalore. Tel: 080-51231444. Timings: 10.30 am to 7.30 pm daily.
Megabowl, Bangalore. Tel: 080-25229746. Timings: 12.00noon to 11.00pm daily. Amoeba- Leisure & Entertainment Centre, Bangalore. Tel: 080-25594631.