Bengaluru is a city that wears its heart on its sleeve, a place where the charm of sprawling gardens and sun-kissed lakes weave together a tapestry of love and longing. The arrival of summer transforms the city into a kaleidoscope of colours. The blushing pink trumpets, often known as the cherry blossoms of Bengaluru, cast a spell over the city which is lovingly called ‘Namma Bengaluru’ by its residents.
With pleasant climate throughout the year, the city lures visitors, students and professionals alike. For the uninitiated, Bengaluru not only boasts of some of the best national parks, gardens, bookstores and art galleries, it is also a haven for some of the best gastronomic escapades in the country. Even though these aspects form the skeletal idea of Bengaluru as a city, the reality is quite complex, sometimes meeting our expectations, sometimes going beyond it, while at other times, falling inexplicably short of it. The spirit of the city however, lies somewhere at the intervening spaces that often remain undefined.
With the arrival of the festival season in Bengaluru, it is time we take you through handpicked roads and alleyways in the city, that might inspire you to stay on for a bit more and explore.
What to do
Located at the heart of the city, Cubbon Park is the perfect place for nature-lovers. The park is pet-friendly. Plan a picnic, take a nap, read or just go for a leisurely stroll. Within an easy walking distance of Cubbon Park, is the Museum of Art and Photography (MAP) which includes art galleries, an auditorium, an art and research library, an education centre, a specialised research and conservation facility, a cafe, member’s lounge and fine-dining restaurant. For more art, head to Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, the leading centre of visual arts in the city, or to the National Gallery of Modern Art tucked away in the premises of the Manikyavelu Mansion at Palace Road in Bengaluru.
Situated in the suburbs of Bengaluru, the LalBagh Botanical Garden houses India’s largest collection of tropical and subtropical plants, including trees that are several centuries old. It is the perfect place for a day out if you really want to explore your options a little farther away from the bustling city centre. Also a few kilometres away from the city, is the Bannerghatta National Park. From the zoo and a butterfly park to the famous safari forest ride, the park is one of the favourite destinations for tourists coming to Bengaluru.
If you are in the mood for something light and hearty, try Bengaluru’s favourite pastime and emerging art form, stand-up comedy. Some of the venues popular for hosting stand-up comedy acts in Bengaluru include Atta Gallatta, Bangalore Comedy Club and Drunkling Comedy Club among others.
For the young and adventurous, there is the Bangalore Creative Circus, an old warehouse turned multipurpose space in Yeshwanthpur which hosts a growing community of artists, scientists, chefs, gardeners, dreamers and changemakers who want to create a sustainable way of living in society. The repurposed warehouse consists of a farm to table restaurant called The Circus Canteen, a museum, a garden store, a maker’s space, a sound room, an art gallery and an artist residency.
For the musically inclined, the team at the upcoming Bangalore Open Air festival recommends Pecos, a pub where you can kick back with old school tunes and great beer, Fandom, a venue where you can discover fresh new music acts and Le Rock, a quaint resto-bar with classic décor and music.
Where to Eat
Koshy’s with its red brick walls and large vintage fans not only take you back in time to a 40s Bengaluru, but also offers you some lip-smacking delicacies like bacon-stuffed and Spanish omelettes, Koshy’s Special Coffee, Chicken Liver on Toast, special baked dishes and much more. Serving a wide range of South Indian dishes like vadas, podi idli topped with ghee, dosas and vegetarian pongal, Rameshwaram Cafe is one of the best places to have South Indian food in Bengaluru. For the spirit(ually) inclined (pun intended, of course), there is Toit Bengaluru, where you can find some of the best handcrafted beers and an “unforgettable brewpub experience.” Other pubs and breweries that you should definitely check out include Skakesbierre, Arbor Brewing Company, The Bier Library and Murphys.
Where to Shop
While hopping across cafes and shops at Brigade Road, don’t forget to surf through the best book deals at Blossom Book House. For those who want options for second-hand books, the Bookworm bookstore would be ideal. Commercial Street is the one-stop destination for lovers of street shopping. At Champaca, a woman-run Bookstore you will find books from caste narratives in rural India to dystopian futures where people can move the earth; moving personal memoirs on mental health to poetry bound in sari cloth; and translations from over twenty languages, from India and internationally.
Rohini Kejriwal, curator of Alipore Post and a resident of Bengaluru loves spending Sundays picnic-ing/painting at Cubbon Park under the shade of tabebuia trees. She recommends the Lightroom Bookstore located in Cooke Town. “My inner child is always pleased on my visits!”. Lokesh Vada Pav for the finest vada pav served by lovely people and Sunny’s—a quaint café known for pastas and desserts. “Pro tip: you can ask them for a half portion of the pasta if you’re there solo.”
Saina Jayapal, storyteller and foodie from Bengaluru, recommends Salvadores Fine Dining which offers you a slice of old Bengaluru, Podi and Spice for good authentic Kerala food and Mylari Malgudi Mane, a laid-back place serving curries, rice dishes and mouth-watering keema dosas. “Try their hearty non veg naati (local) breakfast.” Stop by Arirang, an authentic Korean place where even Koreans comes to eat regularly, plus you can stock up on Korean products from their store.
Treks in and around Bengaluru
A quick getaway from the city, a trek to Nandi Hills offers you the best views of sunrise and sunset near Bengaluru. You can also go on a guided wine tour to learn about the entire process of winemaking and testing while trekking. If you want to enjoy the lush greenery and rocky terrain, do make it a point to go on the Skandagiri Trek, which begins at night and takes you through some of the most spectacular routes among the wilderness. The Anthargange trek takes you through the “broken rocks and tricky paths” to explore the Anthargange caves at night.
Know where you go
How to get around?
Use the metro as much as possible, since it’s the fastest and most cost-effective way to get around Bengaluru. You can also get around the city in the Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses, as well as app-based taxis, bicycles, scooters and auto rickshaws. For tourists, the Bengaluru Darshini bus service is a perfect way to go on sightseeing tours in the city.
With pleasant weather conditions throughout the year, the climate is dreamy and provides visitors with options to hang out outdoors whenever they wish.
Useful tips and tricks
Always have some change with you and avoid using notes of high denominations while you are taking the public transport in Bengaluru; that will save you from a lot of hassles! Consider buying a city map for ease of travel. Even though Bengaluru is generally a safe city, it’s best not to go unaccompanied in secluded areas. If you are attending any festival in Bengaluru, get a shrug to shield yourself in case it gets a bit chilly. Comfortable footwear is a must because the best way to explore Bangalore the tree-lined streets of Bangalore is by foot.
For more articles on festivals in India, check out our Read section of this website.