Best things to do in Bengaluru
Find out more about those top places in Bengaluru
Bengaluru, formerly known as Bangalore, is India’s most ‘western’ city thanks to the recent technology boom that has seen the city’s population skyrocket to near the 10 million mark. While Bengaluru has few world class attractions, it more than makes up for this with its buzzy dining scene, hipster craft beer bars and stately Victorian colonial architecture. Unlike most Indian cities, the tech boom in Bengaluru has produced a class of wealthy young urban workers with money to burn, which has resulted in an explosion of fine dining and chic bars in the central business district. In many ways, Bengaluru is India’s hidden gem providing a perfect dose of western comfort for those who have been touring the vast country.
The former residence of the Wodeyars, the maharajas of Karnataka, is known simply as the Begaluru Palace. While it is no longer as well maintained as it once was, its sheer size and lavish decoration make clear the immense wealth once held by Indian royalty. Guided tours of the turreted complex are available that take you through its labyrinth-like interiors and botanical gardens.
Right in the heart of Bengaluru’s technology district is Cubbon Park. The architectural highlight of the area is undoubtedly the blood-red State Central Library, which is one of the city’s most iconic buildings. To make the most of your visit, tour the park on a Sunday when it turns into a vast outdoor farmers market complete with hipster activities, such as yoga, theater and fun runs, that are being embraced by the city’s technology workers.
The most popular day trip from Bengaluru is to the regal city of Mysuru, which is better known by its colonial name Mysore. While the whole city is a treasure trove of historic monuments, day-trippers with limited time should head straight for the UNESCO listed Mysuru Palace, which is the second most visited attraction in the whole of the country. Designed by the Englishman Henry Irwin, the building was the apogee of Victorian architecture in India and is best seen in the evening when its illuminated in thousands of lights.
To experience Bengaluru at its frenetic best, head to the Krishnarajendra Market. At turns gritty, glitzy and ‘hipsterified’, the market really does have something to please any visitor. The highlight is undoubtedly the kaleidoscopic flower market and the vast spice halls where traders hawk everything from fresh turmeric to amchur powder and ground celery fruit.
Despite its reputation as a work-obsessed metropolis (it is often called India’s ‘Silicon Valley’ in the press), Bengaluru is a surprisingly green city filled with numerous verdant parks. One of the best is the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, which were laid out in the 18th century by the maharajah Hyder Ali and are home to a dazzling array of tropical plants from across Asia and some spectacular bird life.
While the colonial-era Opera House may still be called an opera house, it is unlikely you will be hearing any Italian being sung on its stage anymore. Today, thanks to the financial might of Samsung, it has been transformed into a showcase for Bengaluru’s most cutting-edge technology. Some of the most thrilling experiences involve virtual reality while others simply show off new models of iconic tablets and phones.
One of Bengaluru’s most holy sites is the Bull Temple. Famed for its gigantic stone statue of Nandi, better known as Shiva’s Bull, the temple is also one of the city’s most tranquil spots with immaculate flower gardens. In short, the complex is one of the best escapes from the urban jungle.