48 Hours In...

Bangalore, India

New flights make it easier to explore the elaborate architecture and spice markets of this buzzing Indian city, says Cathy Packe

Click here for print edition

WHY GO NOW?

Bangalore is a dynamic city at the heart of the "new India". The pace of change is extraordinary - bars opening up, designer shops moving in - but there is still room for tradition. Next Friday and Saturday, for example, 10-11 November, an annual festival will be taking place at the important Hindu Bull Temple during which peanuts are solemnly offered to the statue of the bull.

TOUCH DOWN

The only non-stop link to Bangalore from the UK is with British Airways (0870 850 9850; www.ba.com) which flies daily from Heathrow. Starting this week, Emirates (0870 243 2222; www.emirates.com) flies from Birmingham, Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow and Manchester via Dubai. City taxis can reach the centre in anything from 10 minutes to an hour depending on the time of day. Expect to pay around Rs130 (£1.50) for the eight-mile journey. Autorickshaws charge around Rs75 (90p) for the same journey, and take roughly the same time, although the journey can be hair-raising.

GET YOUR BEARINGS

Bangalore is expanding quickly, but most places of interest to visitors are contained within a compact area. This stretches from the City Market district to the west, as far as Ulsoor Lake to the east. These areas are linked by the city's main thoroughfare, Mahatma Gandhi Road. Universally shortened to MG Road, this was once the artery of the area colonised by the British. The main branch of India Tourism (1) is centrally located at 48 Church Street (00 91 80 2558 5417; www.incredibleindia.org). It opens 9.30am-6pm Monday to Friday, and 9am-1pm on Saturday. To find out what's on in the city, check out page three of the local Deccan Herald, which runs a daily column called "In the City Today".

CHECK IN

By Indian standards, hotel prices in Bangalore are astronomical. The Taj West End (2) at 55 Race Course Road (00 91 80 6660 5660; www.tajhotels.com) is the oldest hotel in the city, a Bangalore institution that is worth visiting for its colonial-style building and lush tropical gardens. Expect to pay US$448 (£249) for a double, including breakfast and one-way airport transfer. The Park Hotel (3) is a boutique-style establishment, designed by Terence Conran, at 14/7 MG Road (00 91 80 2559 4666; www.theparkhotels.com). Double rooms here start at $392 (£230) including breakfast. The Hotel Ramanashree (4) at 16 Rajaram Mohan Roy Road (00 91 80 4135 0000; www.ramanashree.com) has single rooms from $84 (£49), doubles from $95 (£56) including breakfast.

TAKE A HIKE

Explore Bangalore's history by starting at the fort (5). It was constructed by Kempe Gowde when he founded the city in the 16th century. The stone walls you see today were rebuilt some 200 years later by a Muslim ruler, Haider Ali, whose son, Tipu Sultan, built the palace (6) that faces the fort across a busy square. Made from local teak, it is a masterpiece of Indo-Saracenic architecture, a mixture of Islamic arches and pillars with Hindu influences. After Tipu's defeat by the British in 1789 it temporarily became the headquarters of the East India Company. The palace opens 8.30am-5.30pm daily, admission Rs200 (£2.40). Head back across the square, continuing beyond the fort, and wander through the narrow streets of the City Market district, where traders barter, carrying goods in vast packages on their heads or pulled by buffalo carts. The main market (7) is now housed in purpose-built premises, where colourful spices are piled high, and marigold flowers are sold.

LUNCH ON THE RUN

Head further east to the triangle formed by MG, St Mark's and Residency Roads. Look out for Bangalore's various coffee chains - places like Barista and Coffee Day - which serve sandwiches.

TAKE A RIDE

A hop-on hop-off open-topped tour bus service (00 91 80 2558 0660; www.cityswaps.in) started up this summer. It runs every half-hour between 10am and 6pm Monday to Friday (except Tuesday), and stops at 16 of the main city sights including Cubborn Park (8) and Vidhana Soudha (9), the State Assembly. Tickets cost Rs300 (£3.50) and are valid for 24 hours.

WINDOW SHOPPING

Bangalore is best known for its silk shops. At Karishma (10), at 45 MG Road, a seven yard

length of silk - enough for a suit or sari - costs Rs600 (£7); making-up costs start at Rs250 (£2.90) for a dress. Shopping malls are opening up all over the city. Closest to the centre is Bangalore Central (11).

AN APERITIF

The obvious drink is Kingfisher beer, Bangalore's home-brew, although the area around the city is becoming known for its vineyards.

Bangalore, unlike much of the rest of India, has a lively pub culture, although the recently imposed 11.30pm closing time is a subject of discontent. Stay in the MG Road area and order a drink at Taika (12) in the Pavilion building (00 91 80 4151 2828).

DINING WITH THE LOCALS

Try Ebony (13) on the 13th floor of the Barton Centre at 84 MG Road (00 91 80 2558 9333), where the menu is a mixture of European and South Asian dishes.

SUNDAY MORNING: GO TO CHURCH

St Mark's Cathedral (14) at 1 MG Road (00 91 80 2221 4021) is the most important of the many churches built in Bangalore by the British. Founded in the early 19th century, it has been extensively rebuilt, and became a cathedral in 1947.

OUT TO BRUNCH

Brunch became popular a couple of years ago, and now everybody's doing it. Olive Beach (15) opened up last year at 16 Wood Street (00 91 80 5112 8400). Forget about ham and eggs; this is a groaning buffet selection of cold dips and appetisers, salads, seafood, hot meat, pasta and desserts, for a flat Rs1,400 (£16). The current house cocktail is a surprisingly tasty combination, a glass of Indian sparkling wine sprinkled with cinnamon.

CULTURAL AFTERNOON

The Bull Temple is another important monument built by the city's founding father, Kempegowda. Each of the Hindu gods has a "vehicle", or animal with which it is associated, and the bull represents Lord Shiva. The temple contains a vast statue of the bull, carved out of a single piece of granite and turned black by being rubbed with peanut oil. The temple opens at 8am, when the priest wakes up the bull with a Sanskrit song, undressing it and offering it food. The temple is open daily until 8pm, admission free.

A WALK IN THE PARK

Lalbagh Botanical Garden is a pleasant open space containing more than 2,000 species of trees. It was founded in the 18th century and later expanded by the British, who added a glasshouse, a replica of Crystal Palace, to make themselves feel at home. The garden opens 6am-9pm; admission is free until 9am during which time the garden is full of joggers; after 9am, the entry charge is Rs7 (8p). At the north side of the garden is a granite mound, at the top of which is one of the watchtowers of the original city. The tower itself is closed, but from the rock there is a view over the rapidly developing city skyline.

WRITE A POSTCARD...

... from the main Post Office building (16) while you admire the city's architecture. To the right, in the leafy surroundings of Cubborn Park (8), are the State Assembly building, the Vidhana Soudha (9), built in south Indian style, and the High Court (17), a red-brick colonial structure that was originally the headquarters of the East India Company. To the left is Bangalore's cricket ground, Chinnaswamy Stadium (18).

THE ICING ON THE CAKE

While cricket is the national passion, racing is also extremely popular in Bangalore. The winter season begins today at the Bangalore Race Course (19) (00 91 80 22262391; www.bangaloreraces.com), and will continue until March. Tickets cost from Rs20 (25p).

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: MI Developer

    £35 - 45k: Guru Careers: An MI Developer is needed to join the leading provide...

    Recruitment Genius: Fitness Manager

    £20000 - £22500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leisure organisation manag...

    Recruitment Genius: Visitor Experience Manager

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Delivering an inspiring, engagi...

    Recruitment Genius: Learning Team Administrator

    £17500 - £20500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for a great te...

    Day In a Page

    Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

    Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

    Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
    General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

    All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

    The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
    How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

    How Etsy became a crafty little earner

    The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
    Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

    King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

    Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
    Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

    Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

    The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
    Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

    Don't fear the artichoke

    Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
    11 best men's socks

    11 best men's socks

    Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
    Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

    Paul Scholes column

    Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
    Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
    London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

    Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

    Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
    Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

    Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

    Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
    Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

    Khorasan is back in Syria

    America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
    General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

    On the campaign trail with Ukip

    Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
    Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

    Expect a rush on men's tights

    Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions
    Peter Kay's Car Share: BBC show is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade

    In the driving seat: Peter Kay

    Car Share is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade. The programme's co-creator Paul Coleman reveals the challenges of getting the show on the road