If you have plans of coming to Bengaluru (Bangalore) for a fleeting visit, then it’s better you don’t come at all! Sight hopping from one touristy place to another is one thing, but if you want the real flavor of Bangalore, now known as Bengaluru, you need to allow yourself to savor it. Bengaluru is a city that is best left to open itself up to you. It takes its own time, like a shy person opening up to a new acquaintance, but once it does, the bond is cemented forever.
Bengaluru, the capital of the southern Indian state of Karnataka, is also the IT capital of the country (known often as the “Silicon Valley of India”). It has always been the modern counterpart to its more illustrious sister city, the grand, traditional, and royal Mysore. As the seat of power of the erstwhile ruling dynasty of Karnataka, Mysore has always been in the limelight. But Bengaluru has maintained its relevance in a dignified manner down the ages, never glaringly loud, but nevertheless with a luminous presence. That’s the perfect way to describe Bengaluru – it’s subtle in flavor and to enjoy it completely you need to acquire the taste.
The city is almost an anomaly in a tropical country like India with its beautiful weather, the most common epithet used to describe it being “salubrious.” The sun can get a little cruel during the summer months, but the evenings always compensate for it. In spite of those summer months, the weather in Bengaluru is one of the best in India, a weather you can truly enjoy.
That is probably the reason why you feel happy in Bengaluru doing nothing substantial. I call it the ‘aimless wandering’ and that is what a traveler should do. Fixed plans seem to take the charm away from the experience. Usually a day off for me means that I head towards the southern part of the city, namely Basavanagudi, Jayanagar, or to Malleshwaram to one of its many Udupi establishments tucked away in its by lanes. They offer the finest South Indian breakfast and after my fill, I usually wash it down with the best cup of filter coffee. And then I’m ready to face the world!
Lalbagh is one of my favorite places in Bengaluru, because to me it is much more than just a botanical garden. I have spent hours there with friends, family or simply alone. You could take a book along for company; if you like drawing, then the inspiration available here is immense, and if you are an avid birdwatcher or a botanist then this is definitely the place to be. Having spent the morning there lazing around yet surprisingly having built up quite an appetite, I usually head towards the Residency Road, MG Road area since it has so much to offer in terms of variety of cuisines. If it’s the coastal cuisine of Karnataka that you would like to taste, then stop at Mahesh Lunch Home for its clams. Or head to the old establishment of Koshy’s on St. Mark’s Road which have served luminaries down the ages including the Queen herself! Finally I like rounding up the day with a visit to Blossoms on Church Street, you will be amazed to see the huge collection of used books on sale. I’d like to call it my second home in Bengaluru!
True, Bengaluru is a thriving IT city but it has a rich parallel life that runs alongside it. Dance, drama, music, arts, the canvas is full here. Multicultural and cosmopolitan, the city has a vibrant theater scene, where there are multilingual theater performances all over the city. Classical Indian dance and music also finds its most devoted patrons here with an eclectic mix on offer all year round. Art shows, concerts, Bengaluru always has something happening. It is a sort of defiance, as if it does not want to sacrifice its personality to the tag of just being an IT city.
Bengaluru has a young heart, it cannot be tagged as the grand old city even though it dates back to a 1000 years. Maybe that’s the secret, Bengaluru refuses to age, there’s history, but most of all there’s romance in the air and it can be felt by everyone. In its tree lined avenues, in the wafting smell of filter coffee, in the old houses and in its bylanes. And you will find sudden glimpses of the charming old cantonment town that it used to be once and it will fill you with a sense of nostalgia, a feeling you cannot describe but which will feel very familiar.
Tania Basu is a freelance writer from Bangalore, India. She started off her career in advertising as a copywriter, but now has moved on to writing about anything and everything under the sun. She likes traveling, but especially loves it when her dog accompanies her.