Visiting Bangalore - What to See and Do
(Bangalore Bengaluru International Airport BLR, India)
The vast cosmopolitan conurbation of Bangalore
, now also known as Bengaluru, is the Indian equivalent of California's Silicone Valley, with entire districts given over to India's flourishing IT industry. Due to its liberal, forward-thinking heritage, it is now one of the fastest-growing cities in the world and the most developed in India
It is also one of the few cities in the sub-continent which enjoys comparatively mild weather year-round, making it a good destination for visitors who are allergic to high humidity and temperatures. Bangalore is relatively unknown as a tourist destination, although it has an interesting selection of landmarks and cultural attractions, most of which are Hindu temples.
Bangalore's surroundings lend themselves to outdoor and adventure activities, helped along by the mild climate. Hiking, hill climbing, caving, camping and cycling are all fun here and, for an adrenaline rush, paragliding, rock climbing, rappelling, whitewater rafting, microlight flights, dirt biking and mountain safaris are popular activities. Several national parks are nearby and Bangalore's pretty lakes give a relaxing break from the crowded city streets.
Ten things you must do in Bangalore
- Shopping in Bangalore comes high on the list of things to do, with a boom in malls giving unlimited choice of fashions and much more. For a real Indian experience, the city's bazaars and outdoor markets are the place to source amazing bargains, especially saris and other silk products, as well as Indian gold jewellery. Don't forget to haggle!
- Wander around the Iskcon Temple attraction, the heart of the Hare Krishna sect, with its blend of modernity with spiritual harmony. Its massive cultural complex promotes the ancient Vedic culture, along with its many Western offshoots. The annual Krishna and Balarama Rath Yatra festival attracts many thousands of devotees, while stalls in the complex sell devotional and spiritual study items.
- Marvel at the Lord Shiva Temple on the Old Airport Road, remarkable for its massive carved image of the seated god set in the centre of a small artificial lake. The major festival here is the Maha Shivaratri, attended by tens of thousands of worshippers. The temple is even busy on non-festival days.
- St. Mary's Basilica will remind you of India's colonial era, when the city was a refuge for expats and British administrators, and is the oldest church here. Built in an elaborate Gothic style, the basilica's tall spires are visible from all over the sprawling city and its stained-glass windows are quite beautiful.
- An almost obligatory activity in Bangalore is to watch an Indian Premier League cricket match, even if you are not sure exactly what is going on! Cricket is India's national game, and the Chinnaswamy Stadium is home to Bangalore's very own Royal Challengers team. Matches last around three hours and take place in the pleasant cool of the evening.
- Relax in the landscaped Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, spread out over 96 acres / 39 hectares and dating from 1760. A guided, eco-friendly buggy tour takes visitors around its splendours, including the amazing glasshouse, based on London's Crystal Palace. There is even a traditional British bandstand, home to the Bangalore Police Band every Sunday morning. The park itself holds centuries-old trees, flowers and bushes from across the world and is a green lung for this sprawling city.
- For tech fiends and gadget-lovers of all ages, a visit to the Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technical Museum won't disappoint. Its galleries display a huge variety of engineering and electrical models, as well as ultra-modern virtual reality games and a replica of the Wright Brothers' 1903 aircraft. This is a great attraction for families.
- The Bull Temple is famous for its huge granite image of Nandi Bull and is one of Bangalore's most atmospheric Hindu religious sites. Built in the Dravidian style popular in the 16th century, the seated image measures 4.5 metres / 15 feet tall and is garlanded with flowers during festival times.
- Explore the Tipu Sultan's Palace, possibly not as magnificent as the Sultan's summer palace in Srirangapatnam, but boasting elegant teak pillars and charming frescoes. Nearby attractions are the Jama Masjid, the ornate Venkataraman Temple and the Krishnarajendra Market, making a good group for a day of sightseeing.
- Don't miss the magnificent Vidhana Soudha, resembling a vast palace more than it does a government building. This seat of the state parliament comes with features such as Dravidian pillars and vast domes, and is set in the green lung of Cubbon Park. Illuminated at night, its granite frontage dominates the Bangalore skyline.