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The Bengaluru Rundown

The propitious rise of Bengaluru (Bangalore) over the last two decades plus has been one of the most absorbing and stirring acts in the Bollywood-like epic drama that defines the New India. Technology and industrial parks, homegrown IT stars like Wipro and Infosys, hangar-like call centres replete with plucky, resourceful university grads and a mushrooming middle class; these are the indelible images the world has taken away from the state capital of Karnataka.

There is no question that the de facto Silicon Valley of India is a force to be reckoned with. Bengaluru is the fastest-growing city in the country and outside of Mumbai and Delhi, the most populous as well. It’s not all about hordes of new young professionals donning headsets and fielding calls from all over the world either. Call centre jobs, once so ubiquitous they promptly became a clichéd punchline, have slowly made way for middle-management positions at a variety of multinational Fortune 500s. Pubs have fallen out of favour as a new class of upwardly mobile wannabes find succor in swanky lounges and supperclubs. Once affordable real estate in the downtown districts have become prohibitively expensive. All in the name of progress in this city of aerospace, software and biotech executives.

Yet the side of Bengaluru most likely to charm visitors is not chockablock with gleaming high-tech campuses or yearning office towers but heritage landmarks, museums and temples. The genuine character of the Karnataka metropolis comes courtesy of points of interest like Bangalore Palace, Basavanagudi Nandi Temple, Cubbon Park, the State High Court, Archaeological Museum and Sir Seshadri Iyer Memorial Library. Toss in a vibrant and diverse restaurant and nightlife scene and Bengaluru takes shape as a befitting cosmopolitan capital contender for the 21st century.

Bengaluru’s Top 10

10. Basavanagudi Nandi Temple is the sacred bull Hindu temple of Bangalore built in 1537.

5. Cubbon Park is the de facto lung of Bangalore and a verdant public space for contemplative repose amid the urban furor of the metropolis.

9. Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, the “Red Garden” of Bangalore, was landscaped at the behest of the Kingdom of Mysore monarch in the mid-18th century.

4. Sri Radha Krishna-Chandra Mandir, or ISKCON, is a lavish shrine and one of the foremost Hare Krishna temples in the world.

8. HAL Aerospace Museum provides intriguing insight into India’s burgeoning aviation industry and space program.

3. Government Museum and Venkatappa Art Gallery houses a fine collection of relics and major works by one of Karnataka’s foremost artists of the 20th century.

7. Bengaluru Museum is the chief civic archive and repository of priceless documents and archaeological artefacts in the Karnataka capital.

2. Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath is one of India’s most important promoters of native art and culture and sprawls over a beautiful compound northwest of the central business district.

6. Krishnarajendra Market

is not only the chief Muslim quarter of Bengaluru but a hive of infectious energy.

1. Bangalore Palace took eight decades to complete and has stood conspicuously in the heart of the city since 1944.

Bengaluru History

  • St Mark’s Cathedral – Imposing Roman architecture characterized by a central dome, arches and intricate woodwork.
  • Tipu Sultan Fort and Palace – Marvel at the beautiful wooden Indian architecture of this fort palace.
  • Potter’s House Christian Fellowship Church – A blissfully peaceful church.
  • Nandi Temple – Nandi bull, the divine companion of Lord Shiva, is carved here from a single stone.
  • Heritage Centre & Aerospace Museum – Showcasing India’s aeronautical journey.

Bengaluru Art & Culture

  • ISKCON Sri Radha Krishna-Chandra Temple – Learn the history and religious culture of this organization.
  • Art of Living International Centre – The main meditation hall of the centre is an architectural landmark.
  • Innovative Film City – Children will love the rides here, but the entry fee is expensive.
  • Raj Yoga and Meditation Centre – Learn about Indian culture and spirituality in the peaceful ambiance.
  • Pyramid Valley – Half an hour's drive from Bengaluru, it has the world’s largest pyramid, sufficient to accommodate 5,000 people.

Bengaluru Shopping

  • Mahatma Gandhi Road – The most attractive shopping destination in Bengaluru.
  • Shoppers’ Stop – This is the place for a comprehensive shopping expedition.
  • ffolio, Scandale, and Kingfisher – These are the best boutiques for designer clothes.
  • Raga’s – Buy terracotta jewellery, T-shirts with Indian motifs and other funky gifts.
  • FabIndia – An incredible variety of products with Indian themes, including shirts, shorts, skirts, Western dresses, Indian woven curtain and carpets.

Gay & Lesbian Bengaluru

  • Pink Nation – The most exciting place to indulge, where they work hard to organize LGBT partiesand travels.
  • Arun Massage – Young and energetic male masseurs are available at your place from this gay-owned parlour
  • Ching Lung – This restaurant is a popular local gay hangout, especially on weekends.
  • Hard Rock Café – Exotic cocktails and drinks combine with deafening music.
  • Le Rock Café – Spread across two floors, with drinks and a cool ambiance added to multi-cuisine food and an oxygen bar.

Bengaluru Outdoor

  • Wonder La Amusement Park – A perfect outdoor park with rides that meet international standards.
  • Shivasamudram falls – About 90km from the city centre, a visit to the waterfall is thrillingexperience.
  • Lalbagh Botanical Garden – A sprawling 240-acre botanical garden with more than 1,000 species of plants, some over centuries old.
  • Bannerghatta National Park – You can see wild animals in their natural setting.
  • Savandurga – The mesmerizing geological formation is among the largest monolith rocks.

Bengaluru Sport

  • The principal theme of Xtreme Sports Bar is sports, but it also dabbles in live bands and karaoke.
  • Road Veda organises Royal Enfield trips in South India.
  • Enjoy a fish pedicure and massage at Kenko Fish Spa.
  • Taman Buddha is the place for authentic reflexology and total rejuvenation.
  • Turf Club Race Course is the place where big money and big races meet the best horse breeds.

Bengaluru Local

Bengaluru/Bangalore is a big city that cuts a wide metropolitan swath. The third most populous urban area in India has well over 5 million people and covers more than 7,600². The current cityscape is a mix of old precincts, village clusters (hobli), expansive suburbs, technology and industrial parks and shiny, hyper-growth, purpose-built residential and commercial districts.

The Central Business District and principal commercial node of Bengaluru contains some of the most expensive real estate in Asia and a number of high-profile schools and consulates. Major thoroughfares include Mahatma Gandhi Road and Brigade Road.

Banashankari, or BSK, is the most prominent locality in Bengaluru, with a slew of household-name residents and lush residential areas.

Electronics City is a big industrial park that evinces Bengaluru’s once-nascent Silicon Valley ambitions. Notable residents include the likes of Tata, GE, Siemens and 3M.

Girinagar is a residential enclave with a strong Kannada community and many important temples and shrines.

Jayanagar is another vital Kannada enclave and handsome area for the upwardly-mobile and professional class in Bengaluru. Ragigudda Anjaneya Temple is a major point of interest.

Koramangala is a relatively cosmopolitan and highly developed precinct of Bengaluru. The area contains many technology and software giants and high-rise condominium projects.

Mathikere is the residential home of Jayaprakash Narayan Biodiversity Park.

Thyagarajanagar is significant as the oldest neighbourhood in Bengaluru. The locality contains many temples and places of worship.

Bengaluru Eat & Drink

As a cultural crossroads, Bengaluru has a plethora of restaurants that broach a diversity of culinary styles with relative ease and skill. Visitors to the city are inevitably spoilt for choice.

Samarkand (66 Infantry Road) serves wonderfully fragrant dishes in the Afghani and Peshawari tradition.

Rim Naam (37-39 Mahatma Gandhi Road) evokes all the inherent freshness and depth of Thai cuisine, from the décor to the food on the plate.

Mavalli Tiffin Rooms (14 Lalbagh Road), simply known as MTR, is a Bengaluru institution that pre-dates the tech boom by decades.

Blue Ginger (Taj West End Hotel, Racecourse Road) draws affluent diners in with sumptuous and lively Vietnamese cuisine. The open kitchen and stylish ambiance round out the experience.

Konark (No. 50, Field Marshal Cariappa Road) stuffs locals and visitors alike with generous helpings of stock South Indian fare.

Umerkot (#30, 80 Ft Main Road, ST Bed, Koramangala) serves elegant North Indian cuisine and has a notable wine list.

Karavalli

(66 Residency Road) is a haven of Mangalorean cuisine.

Via Milano (No. 607, 3rd Floor, Asha Plaza, 80 Feet Peripheral Road, Koramangala) is arguably the best Italian restaurant in all of Bangalore, in spite of stiff competition.

Chez Marrianick (1A, Anjanappa Building, Varthur Main Road) is a standout boulangerie and crêperie, run by a native Bretonne pastry chef.

BonSouth (T-39, 3rd Floor, Mantri Square, Malleshwaram) is a chic South Indian eatery with gorgeous interior design and artfully prepared dishes.

Bengaluru Events

Bangalore is not a raucous festival city per se but does serve up the usual colourful mix of Indian holidays and cultural celebrations.

Holi, the lively Hindu Spring festival, takes place sometime in February or March.

Diwali is the national “Festival of Lights” that takes place over five exultant days sometime between mid-October and mid-November.

M. Chinnaswamy Stadium is a first-class cricket ground that hosts Tests and One Day Internationals on a regular basis, in addition to myriad concerts and cultural events. The oval is the home stadium for the Karnataka state team, as well as the Bangalore Royal Challengers of the Indian Premier League, whose owner is billionaire industrialist Vijay Mallya.

Ugadi Festival is a paramount food event in the state of Karnataka in late March, with reams of regional comestible staples on offer all over the city.

Karaga Festival is a major annual event for the endogamous Thigala community of Karnataka. The festival features parades and temple rituals and takes place in March or April.

Durga Puja or Dussehra, the “Fortnight of the Goddess”, is a venerable Bengali Hindu festival in September or October that features much colourful pomp and ceremony.

Bangalore Habba, a pre-eminent showcase of traditional drama, dance and music in December, has evolved into one of the most important cultural events in Karnataka.

Bangalore Queer Film Festival is a relative newcomer on the city scene but is already a hot ticket every February.

When To Go

A telltale tropical savanna climate makes it easy to identify when and when not to go to Bengaluru. The distinction between wet and dry seasons is crystal clear in the Karnataka capital, with the bulk of annual rainfall between May and November. Violent thunderstorms occur with predictable frequency in summer as well, most notably in June, July and August.

Cooler temperatures and scant precipitation then, make December to March the best time to visit Bengaluru. The dry season features conditions that range from 59°F (15°C) to 90°F (32°C), in stark contrast with summer lows that rarely dip below 68°F (20°C).

What To Miss

Traffic, auto-rickshaw scams, touts and shoddy shops and restaurants are at the top of the list of what to miss in Bengaluru. Vehicular congestion is impossible to escape in urban India but that much more manageable if you plan your accommodations in advance and position yourself well in the city.

Auto-rickshaw drivers do take the opportunity to exact ludicrous fares from foreigners and may turn bellicose if you question their integrity or gall. Nonetheless, verify if the meter is on and negotiate a fare you can live with or, perhaps more sagely, avoid the three-wheelers altogether and hire a private taxi.

Taxis will play the same con if given the chance, most notably from the airport. Head straight for the prepaid taxi booth at Bengaluru International and book a cab in advance.

Industrious and entrepreneurial hucksters are invariably eager to ply foreigners with protracted sales pitches. Sadly, polite niceties seldom work in these circumstances. A firmer approach is usually necessary to shoo the peddler hordes away.

The shabbier, more densely populated precincts of Bangalore demand a few sensible, extra precautions. Pickpockets who patrol crowded areas will engage in thievery if they sense a a compromised, distracted tourist. Keep your wits about you and safely store money and valuables.

Getting Around

Bengaluru International Airport is one of the busiest transport hubs in India, with close to 12 million passenger movements a year. That number looks to increase significantly by 2015, when dramatic terminal and runway expansion plans finally wrap up. Major destinations served by the airport include London-Heathrow, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt, Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi, Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore. Needless to say, every major city in India is served by the airport as well.

Bengaluru International is 40 km from downtown Bengaluru proper. Until a proposed high-speed rail link breaks ground and is unveiled, visitors can reach the city by bus or a variety of taxi services.

Government-run and private buses connect to Bengaluru’s central station from just about every major and minor city in India. Comfort and cleanliness levels depend largely on how much you spend per ticket. The same is true for rail transport into one of the city’s two main terminals. While train travel is relatively cheap in India, it comes with inevitable delays and often requires interminable patience.

Within Bengaluru, it makes good sense - for those who can afford it - to hire a car and driver to get around. In truth, the average cost for a day is not terribly expensive and in light of the city’s complex, perilous roads, a perfectly sane decision. Otherwise, travellers can utilize a very busy but reliable bus network or the usual mix of auto-rickshaws and the like. The Namma/Bangalore Metro is in early days but will expand considerably in the years to come.

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Hotels in Bengaluru (Bangalore)

117 hotels in Bengaluru (Bangalore), IN

ITC Windsor Bengaluru is one of the luxurious hotels in Bangalore, India. Featuring a combination of traditional architecture with modern amenities, this hotel is a perfect venue for pleasant stay.... More

2 The Pride Hotel Bangalore

4 stars
5.0 / 5 1 reviews

93, Richmond Road Map

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3 Goldfinch Hotel Bangalore

5 stars
3.8 / 5

Off 32/3, Crescent Road, High Grounds Map

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4 JW Marriott Hotel Bengaluru

5 stars
5.0 / 5

24/1 Vittal Mallya Road Map

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5 Fortune Park JP Celestial

4 stars
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No. 5/43 Seshadari Road Map

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6 Le Meridien Bangalore

5 stars
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No. 28 Sankey Road Map

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7 Hyatt Bangalore MG Road

4 stars
4.0 / 5 1 reviews

No 1/1 Swami Vivekananda Rd Map

Hyatt Bangalore MG Road Hotel invites discerning tourists to tastefully appointed accommodations in downtown Bangalore. Visitors at this lavish hotel can explore Bangalore Palace, take scenic... More

8 The Gateway Hotel Residency Rd

4 stars
5.0 / 5 1 reviews

66 Residency Road, Karnataka Map

Offering comfortable accommodation and quality services, this property is the perfect base for you to reside whether you are in Bengaluru for business or pleasure. GeneralThe hotel offers Wi-Fi... More

9 My Fortune Bengaluru

5 stars
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46 Richmond Road - Off M.G Road Map

My Fortune Bengaluru is a contemporary hotel featuring upscale accommodations and a host of business and recreation facilities ideally set in a commercial district in Bengaluru. This property... More