Bengalaru, or to use it’s anglicisation, Bangalore is like coming home. Oh, I’ve only spent five day here in the past, but it’s where my friends are in India. Folks that I’ve worked with for years, who are now great friends. Its where I find the meaning of the Indian phrase “Guest is God”. It still embarrasses me that there is so much generosity that I hope to be able to pay back.
In Bengalaru we have a laptop to fix (done), a camera to repair (failed to repair) and new shoes to buy. We score with a three for the price of one on Merrells!. We get contact lenses shipped from the UK with a HUGE amount of tax to pay. Most importantly we have friends to see.
My old company – Actiance- has its Indian base here, so our first stop is the office where I meet my old team, old colleagues and friends. We have lunch and I amuse them when my nose streams as we eat spicy Hyderbad biryani. My iPhone settings get fixed (and Mimit, head of IT, figures out he’ll be supporting me forever more on IT 🙂
We visit with friends at home on the auspicious occasion of a birthday celebration. We meet their extended family and friends. We lunch with them in traditional South Indian style, where our chutneys and curries are placed on a banana leaf and we eat with our hands. Our hosts ensure that all their guests are sated prior to sitting down and eating themselves. Nigel takes what must seem like eons to finish and says that there was a reason he was born in the west. Eating with hands takes some practice and he’s not quite there yet!
Last (heck the only time) time I was here was for work some 7 years ago. I took a rented car and was driven around tourist spots in the city. I took a ride in my first ever auto-rickshaw (with a colleague) and I found my first monsoon rains.
Where We Stay in Bengalaru
Bangalore is the capital of the state of Karnataka and it’s our logical place to regroup in the south. It’s Nigel’s first time in the city, so we’ll spend more of our time exploring here. I love the idea of exploring the state further though, next time we return – and we’re already planning to visit some of the main areas to visit in Karnataka.
This time we take local buses, hail our own auto-rickshaws and walk what feels like the length and breadth of the city. It’s an easy city to stay in. Our hotel is on the Richmond Road, chosen for its proximity to the office. We’re close to the MG (Mahatma Gandhi) road and the Brigade (pronounced br-gid) Road.
There’s an all important visit to Marks & Spencer as there are several branches in the city. We might have found them in Thailand and Vietnam, but they are 40% more expensive than the UK, and put it this way, Thai women’s chest sizes are NOT similar to western womens… M&S delivers, though, here in India. Sorted.
We dine also with old friends, meet new friends and then we take to the tourist sites.
Bengalaru – Bangalore (renamed by the British in 1831) means, quite literally, Town of the Boiled Beans. The legend has it that the name comes from an old village woman who served cooked beans to a lost Hoysala king. There’s been a fort, albeit mud, since 1537, the town rose when it was given to Hyder Ali in 1759.
Winston Churchill’s Visit to Bengalaru
The British arrived in 1809, Winston Churchill was here and left a still open debt at the Bangalore Club. And now, name changed back to Bengalaru in 2006 (although no one much uses it) it’s an IT hub. The inventor of hotmail grew up here.
The Nandi – Bull Temple
And so to touristing. We have a short stop at the Nandi or Bull Temple, which was built by Kempegowda. Unsurprisingly for its name contains a huge granite Nandi.
There’s a photo shoot going on while we’re there, so we duck in and out of sight. We hand over our offerings of rupees, receive the red bindi on our foreheads, circle the bull and head off.
Sadly we picked a time to visit when the nearby (at the bottom of the steps) Ganesh Temple was closed. Next time, I suppose.
Bengalaru Palace – Bangalore Palace
The Bengalaru Palace is the (still used) private residence of the maharajas of Karnataka (the state), the Wodeyars, it’s a lovely building of turrets, towers and lavish furnishings. There are horrific hunting trophies alongside pictures of tiger shoots offset by happy family photos.
There’s a banqueting hall that can be hired out for your own very special Indian wedding. The audio guide is informative, interesting and included in the ticket. A ticket for the camera was a whopping 600 INR (so the only photos on here are of the free outside).
The Tipu Sultan’s Palace
By contrast, the Tipu Sultan’s Palace is tiny. Each of the auto rickshaw drivers we talked to about taking us there couldn’t quite believe that we wanted to go “much small, go big palace”. It has a desolate feel about it, deserted almost, apart from the lounging tourists, all domestic, with tickets at 5 INR and 100 INR for foreigners.
There are worn frescoes, faded glory and wearing teak pillars, all of which hint at a much more salubrious past.
With friends Raj and Somesh we take a trip out of the city and visit the weekend haunt of the Tipu Sultan in the Nandi Hills. We set off in the dark to see the sun rise at this summer retreat of the Tipu Sultan. We marvel at the surrounding landscapes, take in the views of vines surrounding the area and breakfast well.
We didn’t visit the Nandi Hills wine region, but if you fancy trying Indian wine, then read about our experience of Wine Tasting India further north in Maharastra – it may surprise you!
If you’re looking for another day trip from Bangalore, then the Belum Caves comes highly recommended – and you can read all about that with Ashwini and Neetan from Hopping Miles.
On our return to the city we visit the ISKCON Temple – and we find the cleanest temple that we’ve visited in our entire time on the road. We’re fed as we exit too!
There’s also our first ever taste of Jalebi and, it still remains the sweetest we’ve tasted. .
One of the other things that we do in Bangalore is take advice. On what to eat throughout the country, on where to eat it and on when to go where. Then we hurriedly change our plans. Now, Delhi in April seems like a ridiculous place to be. So we’ll head north straight after this, to beat the heat. First, though, we’re taking a short road trip with our great friends Suhail, Murali and Somesh.
When we gave them our dates of travel, they’ve huddled and come up with THE place to visit in South India. We’re going to spend a couple of days with them and we’re heading to Mysore. Because you can’t say you’ve visited South India until you’ve been to Mysore.
Things to Do in Bengalaru
- The Bengaluru Palace
- The Iskhon Temple
- The MG Road
- Visvesraya Industrial and Technical Museum
- Bull Temple
- Lalbagh Botanical Gardens – here’s a great guide to exploring the Botanical Gardens in Bangalore
- Tipu Sultan’s Palace
If you like palaces – then be sure to check out our Explore Jaipur feature, where we cover all the palaces in the Pink City of Rajasthan
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