You can’t put a single label on a city as dynamic and diverse as Bangalore. That’s why it’s been called the “Silicon Valley of the East,” “Pub Capital” and “Garden City”—to name a few. As wealthy Indians and young professionals have flocked here, Bangalore has grown into a cosmopolitan city with impressive modern shops, fine restaurants and varied nightlife. Growth has generated relentless traffic and pollution, but visitors can take solace in tranquil temples and beautiful palaces that dot the city.
Bangalore is the epicenter of India’s information technology industry and home to regional offices for many multinational corporations. Schools and universities, such as the Indian Institute of Science, attract domestic and international students. Textile and automobile production also fuel Bangalore’s economy.
Getting to and from the airport
Kempegowda International Airport is 40 kilometers (25 miles) from central Bangalore. Taxis are readily available. Karnataka Taxi, MegaCabs and Meru Cabs are the official taxi operators and are all reliable. The flat rate is 80 rupees (US$1.30 using the exchange rate US$1 to 0.016 INR), and every subsequent kilometer is 19.50 INR (US 32 cents). There is a 10% surcharge for night fares. Taking the bus is also a good option for getting to the city. The Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corp. operates frequent, comfortable, air-conditioned buses from the airport to multiple stops in the city center. Look for schedule and route information in the arrival hall of the passenger terminal building. A one-way trip to the city will cost around 250 INR (US$4).
Getting around Bangalore
The bus network in Bangalore is extensive, but it’s always crowded. Pickpockets abound, and women should avoid taking public transport after dark for safety. Fares vary by distance traveled but are almost always under 60 INR (US$1). Many people get around the city by hailing an auto rickshaw—three-wheeled, open-air vehicles that accommodate up to three passengers. Be warned: If you don’t know the city well, rickshaw drivers may take a longer route to your destination to get a higher fare. A taxi is your best bet for getting around. You’ll need to call one ahead of time; hotels will do this for you, or you can call one of the taxi companies recommended above.
Where to stay
For luxury and upscale accommodation, try The Taj West End (Race Course Road, Bangalore 560001; Ph: +91-80-66605660), Hyatt Bangalore MG Road (1/1 Swami Vivekananda Road, Bangalore 560008; Ph: +91-80-49361234), Doubletree Suites by Hilton Bangalore (Iblur Gate, ORR-Sarjapur Road, Bangalore 560102, Ph: + 91-80-67656565) or Aloft Bengaluru Whitefield (Plot No 17-C, Sadarmangala Industrial Area, Bangalore 560066; Ph: +91-80-66707777).
Midscale and economy options include Park Plaza Bengaluru (Outer Ring Road, Bangalore 560037; Ph: + 91-80-49094909), Grand Mercure Bangalore (12th Main 3rd Block, Koramangala, Bangalore 560034, Ph: + 91-84-45121212) or Ibis Bengaluru Hosur Road (1/2 Hosur Road, Bangalore 560068, Ph: +91-80-49009090).
Things to see and do
The serene Bangalore Palace looks out of place amid its bustling surroundings. Construction on the castle began in 1862 and wasn’t completed until 1944. It’s traditional tudor style, complete with gothic windows, fortified towers and turreted parapets. You’ll find intricate carvings and fine paintings throughout the building. An audio guide gives background on points of interest. The palace is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is INR 350 (US$5.71).
Housed in a mansion that dates back 200 years, the National Gallery of Modern Art showcases an impressive permanent collection, as well as changing exhibitions. The Old Wing exhibits works from pre-Independence, including paintings by Raja Ravi Varma and Abanindranath Tagore, while the New Wing focuses on post-Independence works by notable artists such as M.F. Hussain and F.N. Souza. The gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is INR 150 (US$2.45).
The Lalbagh Botanical Gardens offer peace and quiet, as well as nearly 2,000 native and exotic plant species. You’ll find an impressive glass greenhouse, aquarium and small lake on the grounds. Plan to spend a couple hours wandering the paths and truly stopping to smell the roses. The gardens are open daily from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., and admission is free.
Bull Temple is one of the oldest temples in the city and draws worshippers from all over the world. The prime attraction is the large idol of Nandi the Bull, a significant figure in the Hindu religion. The idol is five meters (15 feet) high and carved out of a single piece of granite. The temple is open daily from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Entrance is free.
For a lively experience, head to Brigade Road. The commercial center is always packed and buzzing with energy. The mix of street stalls and name-brand stores will suit any shopper’s needs. When you’ve shopped until you drop, find respite in one of the many nearby restaurants and pubs.
Where to eat
As more expats from around the world have made Bangalore their home, the dining options have become more diverse. You’ll find high-quality Italian fare at Alto Vino, which mixes fresh, local produce with imported ingredients to maintain authentic Italian flavor. Egg-yolk ravioli and mushroom risotto are popular dishes. End your meal right with the delectable tiramisu. Find it at 8th Road, Plot No. 7, Whitefield, Bangalore 560066; Ph: +91-80-49435000.
Jamavar, at the luxurious Leela Palace Hotel, offers an indoor dining room with high ceilings and lavish chandeliers or an outdoor terrace that gives you a sweeping view of the surrounding gardens. The menu is an amalgamation of traditional dishes from northern and southern India. The wine list is extensive. Find it at 23 Old Airport Road, Kodihalli, Bangalore 560008; Ph: +91-80-30571344.
If you like to be in the heart of all the action, head to Toit. Started by three friends who wanted to give Bangalore its own brew pub, Toit offers good eats and seven brews. The Tintin Toit and Toit Red are popular, but the dark Colonial Toit might hit the spot for a seasoned beer-drinker. The fun will die down early; Bangalore has a curfew of 11:30 p.m. Find Toit at 298 100 Foot Road, Indira Nagar II Stage, Bangalore 560038; Ph: + 91-901-9713388.