Bangalore in Your Weekend-Budget!


It has almost been a year since my last trip to Bangalore. Incidentally, that also happened to be my first. I had not expected much from this city, colloquially known as the Silicon Valley of India. Would I find much other than office buildings, residential complexes and mid-segment hotels in Bangalore? When my overnight bus reached the city in the wee hours of the morning, I only saw gardens all around me. I inhaled the crisp, fresh air when I alighted my bus, and started realizing for the first time that Bengaluru was perhaps very different from my assumptions.

Glass buildings that reach all the way to the sky

Glass buildings that reach all the way to the sky

I did not require to make any hotel bookings in Bangalore as a friend of mine was kind enough to let me crash at her place near Marathahalli. Rents are quite low there, especially compared to the rates in Mumbai. The city was quite a refreshing change from Bombay, where my home is. The roads were much wider and cleaner; the flats, much more spacious; and the place, full of parks! I knew then why the city was also called the “Garden City”. The flora in the entire area is rather well maintained and trimmed for aesthetic appeal. I spent my first day there exploring the Bangalore Palace and watching the shooting of a popular Kannada tele-series.

The green and glorious Bangalore Palace

The green and glorious Bangalore Palace

The Tudor influenced architecture of the Bangalore Palace makes it appear magical more than regal. The palace complex is also a museum now, and the main hall is rented out for social and corporate functions. On the day I visited, the hall was being decorated for the wedding of the daughter of a wealthy minister. This ensured even the interiors looked like a castle. The palace-exterior is half covered with creepers and climbers that add a rich green colour to the otherwise monochrome facade. If you are a history buff, take the audio tour of the castle interiors.

The hall dons a royal purple for the grand wedding

The hall dons a royal purple for the grand wedding

I unwound that evening at Toit, a brewpub that I had heard great things about. And it did not disappoint! In fact, I absolutely loved some beers I tried there. Toit has its own microbrewery and has an interesting collection of good craft beers which are (obviously) freshly brewed. Full bodied, lightly hopped, fruity or crisp – you can have whatever suits your palate. I even tried one made from Basmati rice!

Let the chugging begin! :-D

Let the chugging begin! 😀

After so much alcohol, it was time for us to hit the sac. For this very reason, I suggest you arrange your stay close to good watering holes. This way, you eliminate the need to arrange for safe transportation to your hotel. There are plenty of boutique hotels in Bangalore that have sprung up alongside uniquely themed restaurants and lounges.

The next day was a Sunday, and we spent the major part of the day at the Bannerghatta National Park, spotting half a dozen animals in their natural habitat. (Read about that trip here: Bannerghatta National Park – Bangalore’s Wild Side) By evening, we were physically spent, but we still had one aspect of the city remaining to be explored – the famed malls!

Snack on Italian cannelloni under a canopy or savour some Mongolian parcels at Shiro's

Snack on Italian cannelloni under a canopy or savour some Mongolian parcels at Shiro’s

We rushed over to UB City mall and went cafe-hopping until we could eat or drink no more. I was feeling a little blue that night as I would be leaving the place and the wonderful company of my dear friend the next day. But you needn’t be sad because I have more stories from my trip to the Garden City coming up! While you wait for that post, let me know if you have been to Bangalore. And if you have, what hangout places do you recommend?

Bannerghatta National Park – Bangalore’s Wild Side


Last Sunday, I decided to take on the sweltering Bangalorean heat by making a neat trip out of it. While most of the city dwellers sheltered themselves in the air conditioned shopping malls and restaurants, I badgered my friends (who also happened to be my kind hosts) to accompany me to a national park.

On the wild trail

On the wild trail

The Bannerghatta National Park is less than 2 hours from the south Indian city of Bengaluru.

Hot Tip: If you don’t have your own vehicle, it’s advisable to pre-book a cab for a comfortable ride to your destination.

We reached Bannerghatta at 11 AM and rushed to a roadside dhaba for a quick breakfast. The fare served here is mostly south Indian (idlis, dosas & uttapams). The food is brought to your table almost instantly, is filling, and very light on the pocket. The taste, unfortunately, isn’t much to boast about.

This national park is open from 10 AM to 5 PM, but the tickets are always in short supply as Bannerghatta happens to be one of the most visited tourist attractions of Bangalore.

Hot Tips:

  1. Book your tickets in advance if you can. (Their website lets you do that but insists that you register first).
  2. If you can’t do point-1, ensure you reach early as the wait-time for the AC-volvo-bus tour is 2 hours on an average, and the queues to the ticket counters are long.
The lions watches the "caged humans"

The lions watches the “caged humans”

We missed doing both point-1 and point-2, but that ensured we took the non-AC grand tour in a bus with caged windows. This was the cheapest option and also allowed us to take decent pictures as the “cages” had circular holes to click pics through. The AC buses, by comparison, are comfortable, but pictures through glass can only be half as good. The best (and also the most expensive) option is to hire a jeep that accommodates 4. There are very few jeeps and you rarely stand a chance to book one unless you’ve pre-booked.

After you have your ticket in hand, you are made to stand in a single file (school-picnics, anyone? 😛 ) as the park-assistants do a headcount and direct you to a waiting area which has several brick-roofed hut-like structures. After a 15 minute wait, you finally have your turn!

Bison with a loud growl

Bison with a loud growl

The 3 of us were extremely lucky to get the best seats in the bus… right behind the driver and the bus conductor! So, we had a dashboard-view & the window-view, without any passenger blocking our shots. To add to that, the conductor would confirm the animals that we spotted and tell us in advance of the ones to expect.

We spotted our first wild animal within minutes of entering the forest-area. The bus screeched to a halt as a huge bison growled and crossed the road, and then it passed by my window! I fumbled with my camera as I was overwhelmed by its size and the power in its growl.

A calf runs to her mother as the other elephants keep bathing

A calf runs to her mother as the other elephants keep bathing

We next saw a few deer for some fleeting seconds before they hid out of our sight. After 5 more minutes, our bus reached a lake and we were mesmerized by the beautiful sight of a baby-elephant splashing about in the water. The calf then ran to its mother who waited on the land. The elephants looked stunning with their black thick skin glistening in the afternoon sun.

A Bengal Tiger in Bengaluru

A Bengal Tiger in Bengaluru

We spotted a couple of bears too, one of which was busy eating inside a ditch. The black fur looked soft and dense, and the bears could easily fool us into thinking they were soft-toys had they not moved. In the next enclosure, we saw an adult Bengal tiger prowl about  and raise its long tail skywards. Let me tell you now that I looked into the eyes of the tiger as it stopped by my window, and felt a little like Pi (Patel) from Life of Pi. We saw a few more tigers – some sleeping, some wandering about the deciduous trees, and one pooping (those poor creatures have no privacy, I tell you)! We also spotted a handsome white tiger before our grand-tour ended (quite grandly, I must say).

A white tiger in the green jungle

A white tiger in the green jungle

Summer is the best time for wildlife tourism as the high temperature forces the animals to hang around near water bodies as they drink and bathe. This makes it easier to spot them.

Let me know if you’ve been to a national park or a wildlife sanctuary. If yes, how many animals did you spot? 🙂