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.
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 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.
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!
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!
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?