Wednesday, February 18, 2009

BANGALORE- SOUTH INDIA

Karnataka's Capital, Bangalore, has been embossed with new sobriquets ever since, reflecting its capacity for excellence. The erstwhile Garden City, still has an abundance of manicured gardens, but its cultural alignment earned it a reputation for hosting the best pubs in the nation. By the turn of the 1990s, Bangalore became the IT capital and was aptly nicknamed 'the Silicon Valley'. Home to more than 250 odd giant brands including the likes of Wipro and Infosys, and larger-than-life names like Kingfisher's Vijay Mallya, fashion guru Prasad Bidappa - Bangalore is one urban city unequaled.


Tale of the City

During the rule of the Vijaynagar Empire a local chieftain Kempe Gowda - whom many regard as the architect of modern Bangalore - built a mud fort in the city and established it as a province of the Vijayanagara Empire. This flourished to become today's hip-hep Bangalore.


Attractions

The gardens at Garden City: Various dynasties have left their imprints here, but the 18th century Ali Haider and his son Tipu Sultan are the the names embossed more prominently than others. Take Lal Bagh, a 2400-acre plush sample of the duo's regal taste. Located South of the city, it is studded with over 1000 species of flora (including species from Persia, Kabul, Turkey, and Mauritius), 100 year old trees, the Glass House (modeled on London's Crystal Palace), a lawn-clock, lotus beds, fountains and a 3000 million years old rock christened after the park.

Cubbon Park is curiously laid out with illuminated fountains and surrounded by Greco colonial-style buildings, the Bangalore Public Library, the Government Museum, the Venkatappa Art Gallery, the Technology Museum, the Government Aquarium and High Court. The museums have 10th century works from Khajuraho, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, Buddhist figures from the 4th and 5th century Gandhara school, and Hoysala carvings from Belur, Halebid, and Hampi.

Ulsoor Lake: Cruise through tiny islands in this 1 ½ km lake that is the venue for the tumultuous Ganesha festivals held during August and September. For that sweeping view climb up the watchtower nearby.


Temples: A 16th century Kempe Gowda brain-child atop Bugle Hill is the Bull Temple, a majestic black-granite statue of Nandi (the bull-mount of Lord Shiva) that is kept glistening bright with coconut oil. Directly beneath is a three-tier Shiva temple so structured that every 14th or 15th of January a beam of light passes through the horns of the bull Nandi located on ground level, and illuminates the idol of god Shiva inside the cave underground.

Just neighboring it is one of the strangest statues ever. It is called Sri Dodda Ganapathi (elephant headed god), and is made of about hundred kilos of butter. Another interesting aspect is, this statue has to be remade every four years and the butter is distributed amongst all the devotees as 'prasad'. Visit the temple anytime between are 7:30-11:30am and 4:30-8:30pm. If you have heard of the famous Rath Yatra of Bangalore, well, the ISKON temple is the genesis. This modern building is Chord Road's landmark and the pilgrims come here to partake in the annual Krishna and Balaram Rath Yatra.

The Maha Bodhi Society Temple built as a replica of the historic stupa at Bodh Gaya is one of the pilgrimage joint of the Buddhists.

Monuments: The 18th century Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace (daily 9am-5pm) in teak wood, is a relic in a city committed more to progress than to preservation. And if you have time, consider stopping for the exhibition with texts about Tipu's and his father's life and military conquests - a brilliant peek into the region's heritage. Next door are the ruins of Bangalore Fort, largely destroyed during the Anglo-Mysore War. Exquisite carvings of religious deities and the Ganapathy temple located inside are views you and your camera should not miss.The Windsor Palace echo, the Bangalore Palace (City Center), with its medieval Normandy and English architecture and a touch of Tudor-style samples a piece sliced from Britain.

The neo-Dravidian style Vidhan Soudha, in M.G.Road, is Karnataka's State Legislature and Secretariat building. Watch it on a Sunday evening and with the floodlights it looks like a true insignia of Bangalore's glitterati. The 'Government Work is God's Work' inscribed over the entrance in gold makes one ponder of its pertinency over the years. If you cross the road, you have Karnataka's High Court, popularly called Attara Kacheri, modest and singular with Corinthian columns and red bricks.


Shopping


Bangalore markets are a concoction of South Indian buys and western branded wares. Right from the AC boulevard of Shopper's Stop and Kemp Fort to the bustling by-lanes of Chickpet, Kanchipuram silk to Swarovski crystals, Bangalore has it all.

The Commercial Street is where the beehive is. Textiles and garments, leather, jewellery, sports items - just anything can be bought here. M.G.Road or the South Parade is an entity in itself, more so, because of the youngsters that studs its lanes exuding the very spirit of the Silicon Valley. Once here, check out the Shrungar Shopping Complex, Barton Court, Public Utility Building, Spencer's Super Market, Natesan's Antiquarts, Saree Kemp, Central Cottage Industries Emporium, Cauvery Arts and Crafts Emporium (for Mysore sandalwood carvings) and others for fine handicraft, ethnic products and so on. Another name that sets the adrenalin of an average Bangalorean racing is the mention of Brigade Road. Interestingly, this used to be the area where once British soldiers bought their necessities. The westernized youngsters today hunt here for their's. The branded showrooms are roosted here. Residency Road is famous for steel furniture and handicrafts in metal, clay and wood. Also check out the government emporiums here.

Richard Square in Russell Market, is known for cutlery, crockery and household items. Chickpet is famous for its silk sarees, silver and gold jewelery and textiles. If it's metal items like brass, silver and copper ware that you are looking for, head for Arcot Srinivaschari Street. B.V.K. Iyengar Road has wooden products, plywood, paper and electrical goods. Avenue Road is best for its stationery, stainless steel ware and silver jewelery.


Cuisine

A traditional Bangalorean dinner basically resonates Konkani cuisine. The table is laid with of dishes seasoned with coconut, chilies, garam masalas, steamed rice cakes (idli), rice and lentil crepes (dosas). Coffee follows. Right from south Indian dishes to those from the kitchens all over the world, the restaurants specialize in many delicacies.
Idli-Vada in Bangalore
For authentic South Indian palate (Mangalorean, Goa, Karwar and Kerala style cuisine), head to Karavalli (Residency Road), Mavalli Tiffin Rooms (Lal Bagh Road), Konkan (Koramangala), Vidyarthi Bhavan (Gandhi Bazaar), Halli Mane (Malleswaram), Upaahara Darshini (one of the oldest and best) and so on. Amravati (Residency Road) has spicy Andhra delicacies served on banana leaves. Drop by at Nilgiri's Café (Brigade Road), for a fast bite at Mexican, Indian and Italian dishes and check out the prawn chips in the flanking supermarket. If desserts are what you want to palate, go to Herbs & Spice (Off CMH Road) or Sunny's (off Lavelle Road). For Italian delights, sample Little Italy (Indiranagar) and i-t.ALIA (Park Hotel). Shiok (Indiranagar) is for Thai, Malay, Indonesian, and Singaporean dishes with more than 60% of the ingredients flown in from overseas. Try lemon-grass chili prawns, spiced fish grilled in banana leaves, and Buddha's Feast. The lip-smacking list is endless and once there, you will see Bangaloreans can actually be sinful foodies.

Hangouts: The Pub City is more than true to its name. Western rock stars right from Mark Knopfler, Jethro Tull and The Rolling Stones to Joe Satriani, Bryan Adams - they have studded many a Bangalore night with their performance. Check out HiNT, Pecos (off Brigade Road), Nasa (Church street), TGIF, Tavern at The Inn (Museum Road), Opus (near Sankey Road), Styx (M.G. Road, for heavy metal), Purple Haze (Residency Road, for classic rock) et al.



Snippets

Art of Living: Bangalore is the hometown of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a disciple of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (he is the man who gave Beatles their spiritual edge), the new age spiritual guru and the propounder of the nonsectarian philosophy "Art of Living". Indian elites and those from foreign shores (San Fransisco has a phenomenal fan-following) swarm his hill-top ashram in south Bangalore for that special spiritual replenishment. Living life right is an art after all! The centers are spread all over the nation.

Spas: Bangalore's luxury spas have a prominent medical streak to it. The Spa at Leela Kempinski, Bollywood director Sanjay Khan's the Golden Palms Spa, and Angsana Oasis Spa have soothing massage sessions. Soukya International Holistic Health Centre (in Whitefield, 30 min from Bangalore) focuses more on therapeutic and holistic wellness programs (that includes Ayurvedic therapies to Hawaiian hot stone treatments) and with the classic visitor listing (Fergie, Princess of York; Archbishop Desmond Tutu; and healthy-living guru Andrew Weil), it must be some fete of its kind.

Bangaluru: India is shedding off all British leftovers one by one. This time, after Bombay aka Mumbai, Madras aka Chennai, Calcatta aka Kolkata, it is Bangalore's turn to be renamed Bangaluru, after Bendakalooru or the town of boiled beans, as it was originally named by an ancient king.



Getaways

Picnic Spots: Ramohalli is 28 km from Bangalore on the Mysore highway is Ramohalli - a beautiful picnic spot with a KSTDC restaurant. The Big Banyan tree there stands like some grandiloquent monument. Mekedatu, 98 km from Bangalore, is where the Arakavathi river flows through a deep gorge to meet the Cauvery River. Very picturesque picnicking ground with the Hindu temple of Lord Sangameshwara.

Banerghatta National Park: Drive 23 km South of Bangalore if you want ot feast on some exotic wildlife. Binoculars are a must carry to spot its exciting avian metropolis.

Nandi Hills: About 60 km from Bangalore is the erstwhile Tipu Sultan retreat with a 600 m high cliff called the Tipu's Drop. The Yoga Nandishvara Temple (a beautiful Chola temple), Dravidian-style Bhoganandishvara temple, the ropeway and para-gliding are what you should not miss out on.

Janapada Loka: 53 km from Bangalore, near Ramanagaram, is Janapada Loka or "Folk-culture World" - a subsidiary of the Karnataka Janapada Parishath dedicated to preserve and promote folk art and culture.

Mysore: The City of Palaces, Mysore, is 140 km from Bangalore known for its Sandalwood, crafts and several other places of interest like Srirangapatna and Krishna Raja Sagara Dam.


Location :
In SE Karnataka, South India

Climate :
23°-34°C (Sum);15°-27°C (Jul-Jan)

When to Go:
Sep - Feb

Local Tongue:
Kannada

Literacy :
83 %

STD Code :
+91 - 80




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