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Here’s Why Verdant Bengaluru Should Be on Your India Travel Itinerary


[SPONSORED CONTENT] Bengalaru remains a breathe of fresh air with its abundant green spaces and nods to history. Remember to bring your appetite along as well.

Published on Apr 11, 2019

 

IN MANY WAYS Bengaluru defies preconceptions of major Indian cities. While few would deny the innate charisma of centers such as Mumbai, New Delhi and Kolkata, even their most ardent defenders admit they often veer towards the chaotic. Bengaluru, or Bangalore as it is often still referred to, is different.

It may be India's third-largest city, but an enviable infrastructure and array of creature comforts that encompass a burgeoning drinking, dining and shopping scene make it visitor-friendly.

Once called the "Garden City of India" thanks to its lakes and green spaces, Bengaluru has become increasingly urbanized, becoming a center for innovative entrepreneurs and start-ups. Nevertheless, the city is blessed with charming parks and striking Victorian-era architecture. Its modern metro makes it simple to buzz between hipster enclaves studded with craft-beer bars, music venues and coffee roasters to atmospheric Hindu shrines.

 

 PALACES AND PARKS 

A perfect and easily identifiable landmark to start your wanderings in the city is the sprawling Tudor-inspired estate of Bangalore Palace. Bangalore The private residence of the Palace. Wodeyars, erstwhile maharajas of Karnataka, the palace was built in 1887 by King Chamaraj Wadiyar. The late monarch apparently took inspiration for the palace from Windsor Castle in England and other grandiose structures in Scotland and the north of France. While the exterior is inspired by the stolid architecture of northern Europe, Indian traditions really move to the fore inside the palace. Highlights include ornate cornices and patterned walls as well as elephant hunting trophies and an art collection featuring works by Raja Ravi Varma, one of India's most famous painters.

Bangalore Palace.
Bangalore Palace.

More venerable still than the palace is Lal Bagh, which is arguably Bengaluru's most beloved idyll. Laid out in 1760 by famous ruler Hyder Ali, the expansive botanical gardens are at least partly responsible for the city's reputation as India's greenest metropolis. Spread across 98 hectares of landscaped terrain, Lal Bagh was inspired by the great gardens that were being cultivated by the Mughal rulers in the north of India. For their own slice of Eden though, Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan—who oversaw the building of the garden—looked further afield, importing different species of trees and plants from around the world.

While Lal Bagh is as genteel a green haven as you will find in India, a much rawer visitor experience is just outside the city at Bannerghatta Biological Park. Although it's little more than a stone's throw away, the 104-square-kilometer dense forest and scrub is as wild as it gets in the vicinity of a major population center. Tigers, bison, leopards and wild boar all roam here while the park is a main corridor for wild elephants migrating between the Eastern and Western Ghats—the mountain ranges that frame the Deccan Plateau in the interior of South India. There's a host of wildlife-themed activities for visitors at the park ranging from big cat safaris to a snake park where it is possible to get up close and personal with an impressive if daunting collection of slithery creatures.

Bannerghatta Biological Park.
Bannerghatta Biological Park.

 

 TEMPTED BY THE TEMPLES 

Given Bengaluru's plethora of green spaces, well-preserved colonial-era architecture and its many manifestations of contemporary consumer culture, it can sometimes be easy to forget that the city is the capital of staunchly Hindu Karnataka, where an estimated 84 percent of the state's population practice the religion. Closer inspection though reveals a place that is studded with numerous colorful temples and shrines. Few are more atmospheric than the Dodda Basavana Gudi, better known as the Nandi (Bull) Temple. Set in a small park, the temple is accessed via a shady path. While the 16th-century temple, built in a Dravidian style prevalent in South India, is striking in its own right, many come here to view the huge stone monolith of Nandi, the gate-guardian deity of Kailasa, the abode of Lord Shiva. The giant bull is embellished with lavish flower garlands.

Nandi (Bull) Temple.
Nandi (Bull) Temple.

For locals, the unifier is food. Bengaluru abounds with options ranging from the fine Italian cuisine at Le Cirque Signature to a multi-course extravaganza at Grasshopper. At the Sheraton Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel & Convention Center, be sure to order a gin tonic which features the house-infused gin, botanical blends of nut meg, awadi spices, star anise and more.

Don't miss dining along VV Puram, the city's famous food street. Located in the center of town at Sajjan Rao Circle, close to Lal Bagh, this thindi beedi (eat street) runs the gamut of vegetarian delicacies from across India. Must-tries here include crispy masala dosas (lentil crepes stuffed with spiced potato) served with groundnut chutney and sambhar (a thin tamarind-based curry) and gulkand, a sweet preserve of rose petals that makes an ideal sinful coup de grace to any day in South India.

Food galore at VV Puram.
Food galore at VV Puram.

 

Sheraton Grand Bengaluru Whitefield Hotel & Convention Center.

 

 

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