Bengaluru, formerly Bangalore, is like a slow-cooked curry steeped in rich tradition then packed into a shiny, crispy shell of cosmopolitan start-up culture. The result is a deliciously vibrant city that never stops moving. Bengaluru offers everyone who visits a range of intriguing sites mixed with British Colonial architecture, expansive parks and opulent temples and some of the tastiest vegetarian cuisines on the planet.
Bengaluru is the capital city of the southern state of Karnataka, India. Known as the ‘Garden City” as well as the “Silicon Valley” of India the city (other tech-meets-creative cities include San Francisco, Berlin and Tokyo) is paradoxically filled with expansive parks alongside a buzzing IT and start-up culture. It is one of India’s most progressive and developed cities, blessed with a temperate climate, a modern metro system, and a lively and burgeoning hospitality and shopping culture. Dating back to 890 CE, as evidenced by a stone inscription found at the Nageshwara Temple, legend has it that, after the fall of the Vijayanagar Empire, it was sold to the Kingdom of Mysore.
Commuting tuk-tuk too long!
Kempegowda International Airport (BLR) is Karnataka’s first fully solar-powered airport, located about 30km (19 miles) north of the city. As public transport links are a bit difficult to navigate, I recommend travelling by taxi to your accommodations. You can expect the fare will cost around £10 so, depending on where you are staying.
Here’s a Pro-tip: The local language is Kannada. The local currency is the Indian Rupee with an exchange rate of 1 pound sterling to 99 Rupees.
There are many wonderful things to do and see when in Bangaluru. Here are my recommendations:
- Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, spread over 240 acres, is a ‘must-see’ when in the Garden City. Alongside glasshouses, plants, ornamental flowers and birds from around the globe, it is also home to the Lalbagh rock, said to be over 3 billion years old. This Park hosts show-stopping flower shows, attended by visitors from around the world.
- The oasis-like Cubbon Park offers respite from the busy business hub in which it’s located. Spread over 98 hectares it’s the home to centuries-old trees and a wide variety of plants. Head here at the weekend for a walk and to catch one of the park’s free music concerts.
- Tour the towering blue and white Iskcon Sri Radha Krishna temple. Erected in 1997 this Hari Krishna temple is lavishly decorated in a mix of contemporary and traditional styles. There are also food stalls, concerts and lectures held here too. It’s a spiritual sanctuary, cultural complex and a welcoming environment to all.
- Cricket is a national pastime. Take in a Royal Challengers Bangalore match, named after the Indian whisky brand. Soak up the atmosphere and become intoxicated by the enthusiasm of the crowd.
Enjoy an IPA at the IPL!
- Bannerghatta Park, just outside the city provides extraordinary animal safaris, recommended between the months of September and January.
- Bull Temple – Visit this temple dedicated to Nandi the sacred bull and vehicle of the Hindu god Shiva. Legend has it, it was built to pacify a bull that was destroying farmers crops – once it was erected the bull left the farmers alone. The temple hosts an annual groundnut festival to honour Nandi.
- Art lovers will be amazed with a visit to Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath and its network of museums, galleries and archives dedicated to folk, traditional, modern and contemporary arts.
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to shopping in Bengaluru. Here are some of my favourite places to visit:
There’s moped-estrians here than elsewhere!
- Commercial Street has been one of the city’s most popular shopping destinations for decades. Bargaining here is a sport and everyone is encouraged to play.
- Phoenix Marketcity is an astounding megacomplex and world-class luxury shopping centre, complete with a cool food court and everything under the sun.
- MG Road or Mahatma Gandhi Road is another well-loved area for shopping and entertainment, located just a few kilometres away from Commercial Street. It is an iconic part of the city and makes for a great evening out as well.
- Krishnarajenda Market: This is where to go to dive into a bustling market filled with fresh produce, vibrant textiles, spices, exotic flowers and copperware.
Bengaluru is a feast for the tastebuds! It’s a vegetarian’s dream with so many options available to try. Here are some of my favourite places to eat:
- Head to the Fatty Bao to experience one of the trendiest restaurants in Bengaluru. Located in the popular Irdiranagar neighbourhood, this fun and vibrant restaurant specialises in pan-Asian street foods including dim sum, curries, sushi and cocktails.
- Vidyarthi Bhavan is a beloved local vegetarian tiffin restaurant and breakfast café that opened in 1943. Located in the Gandhi Bazaar, head there for Urad Dal Vada (fried savoury doughnut) with Sambhar (lentil and tamarind stew) and their signature masala dosas.
- Mavalli Tiffin Rooms or MTR are a legendary institution, known for South Indian comfort foods since 1924. Enjoy their signature Rava Idli (steamed semolina and yoghurt cake) invented by MTR during the rice shortage of WWII.
Doughnut forget these savoury treats!
Here’s one last Pro-tip: For more local flavours, head to VV Puram, aka Food Street, and try one of everything along the strip of specialist stalls and eateries. Chefs here are known for their showmanship and flare whilst cooking in front of the crowds. This all-vegetarian street food market has some of the best cuisine in the city.
The city of Bengaluru comes alive at night. Here are a few of my recommendations for what to do when the sun goes down:
- Indigo XP is a youthful and vibrant nightclub known for great live music, street art décor and an open-air terrace with views of the city.
- Microbreweries have become a major nightlife feature in Bengaluru. Windmill Craftworks is a brewery-meets-library offering a wide range in both brews and books, making it a great place to visit on your own or with friends.
- Ranga Shankara– Named after the late actor Shankar Nag, this theatre, opened in 2004, produces a dynamic and wide range of performances spanning genres and languages. It also hosts several theatre festivals annually, promoting women, children’s theatre and cultural diversity.
There are wonderful places to rest your head in the city. Here are some of my recommendations:
- The Oberoi is a gorgeous 5-star hotel, located close to the action on popular Mahatma Gandhi Road. The hotel boasts a full-service spa, pool and fitness centre to relax and recharge after a day in the city.
- Casa Cottage Bangalore is perfect for those in search of a small, family-run accommodation. Designed in an English bungalow style, this bed and breakfast is also home to a beautiful garden in which to sip a cool drink and unwind.
- Located in the heart of the ‘Electronic City’ hub, The Oterra is a 5-star business hotel spread over 2.5 acres of landscaped greens, with four restaurants on-premise and a wide range in amenities and services. It’s perfect for those looking to combine a business trip with a bit of pleasure.
Whether you’re strolling through the lungs of the city or gobbling up dosas, Bengaluru is an energising place that will revitalise and inspire you. I hope you take the time to visit this fast-growing, warm-hearted city.