Bangalore is a lot more than the IT and start-up capital of India. If you are new to this city, here are five recommended ways to get to know it. For all you know, you may just fall in love with the city.
You may not realize it from the pubs, malls and IT parks, but Bangalore city is actually several centuries old. Apart from several Indian rulers, it came under the heel of the British too. Over the years, the city has acquired a wonderful texture – in terms of food, clothing, architecture, lifestyles, festivals and so on.
Bangalore is a city that has so much to offer you. Beautiful churches, gloriously painted temples made of stone, fast-disappearing colonial-era houses, pubs, lush green parks, superb restaurants, malls & multiplexes - all these find place in the city’s landscape. If you haven’t seen much of the city, you can be forgiven for wondering what to see first, where to begin.
For people like you, we have put together a list of places you could start with. These places will serve as a great introduction for you to Bangalore. And if relatives or friends come to town, you could use this list to get them familiarized with the city.
So, here are the first six places we recommend you visit in Bangalore.
St. Mark’s Cathedral
Going by the year in which it was consecrated, St. Mark’s Cathedral turns two hundred years this year. No better time than now to visit this church and revisit a slice of history! Situated on M.G. Road near St. Mark’s Road (which got its name from this very church) and Anil Kumble Circle, this large church is encircled by trees and has a large parking area within its premises. Also located here is a music school. Construction of this church started in 1808 and was completed in 1812. Four years later, the Bishop of Calcutta consecrated it. It was decided to name the church after St. Mark, the apostle who is believed to have written the first Gospel.
A sense of peace envelops you as soon as you enter the church compound. You take in the off-white building with the dome and the holy cross rising above it. The slatted windows with Roman-style arches on them, the high ceiling and the tall pillars in the forecourt catch your eye. Your eyes roam over the elaborate woodwork and ornate carvings in the entrance.
You can sit in the pews and pray, stroll around the compound and then sit on one of the benches outside. A visit to this church is not just about visiting Colonial history, but also about giving yourself moments of quietude and contemplation.
Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace
Close to the vibrant Krishnarajendra Market (popularly known as KR Market or City Market) stands the elegant palace of Tipu Sultan, notable for its teak pillars and ornamental frescoes. The rooms on the ground floor have been converted into a small museum showcasing various achievements of the king. Also, there are newly-done portraits of the people and places of that time. There is a replica of Tipu's Tiger, the original of which is in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Tipu Sultan's clothes and his crown are kept on silver and gold pedestals. The silver vessels given by a military General to Hyder Ali are also on show.
This palace is built entirely of teak and is adorned by pillars, arches and balconies. It is believed that Tipu Sultan used to conduct his durbar (court) from the Eastern and Western balconies of the upper floor. The four smaller rooms in the corners of the first floor were used as the Zenana (women’s quarters). Beautiful floral motifs embellish the walls of the palace.
MTR is a much, much more than a restaurant. For old-timers in Bangalore, it is a continued source of nostalgia and recalls many happy moments spent over a meal with family and friends. It has been in existence since 1924, but got its current name in 1951. MTR is the acronym for ‘Mavalli Tiffin Rooms’, Mavalli referring to the name of the locality (as it was called back then).
MTR brings to mind great food, laughter, conversations, superb filter coffee and happy tummies. No wonder then, that this restaurant is considered an institution by many Bangaloreans. While the city does have many other good restaurants, MTR shines alone as the restaurant that helped place Bangalore’s cuisine on the global tourist map. Definitely worth visiting at least once.
Practically everything on the menu is good. You could visit for breakfast and gorge on masala dosa, rave idli, vada and khara bhaath. Or, you could go at lunch time and have their monstrous South Indian thali (plated multi-course meal). Though it has opened a few outlets around town, a visit to the original outlet near Lalbagh is recommended.
Peco’s is to Bangalore’s guzzlers what MTR is to its food-lovers: a landmark and a sought-after destination. This small pub with a narrow entrance can be easily missed. Situated on a small street called Resthouse Road, off Brigade Road, it has been around since the 1980s. At a time when most people in India had not even heard of the word ‘pub’, Bangalore was already being hailed as India’s pub capital. And until the early 2000s, Peco’s ruled the roost as the coolest pub in town.
Though other pubs (including microbreweries) have sprung up across the city since then, Pecos has an indescribable charm. Go there and enjoy the great selection of Rock music, draught beer and excellent food.
Jayanagar is the crown jewel of South Bangalore. It beautifully captures the essence of this part of the city. South Bangalore is different in character from the other parts of the city. The population largely comprises Kannadigas and Tamilians; therefore, the shops and restaurants here mostly cater to these sensibilities. You are in old Bangalore now. Here, you will find many buildings, houses and establishments that are more than 60 years old.
The Jayanagar 4th Block BDA complex and the market would be good places for you to visit. As you stroll around, you will find everything from bicycles to buckets to bedsheets being sold. You could test your bargaining skills with the vendors and see if you can get a few good deals. Round off your trip with a visit to one of the most popular snacking joints in these parts – Cool Joint. It is situated near the 4th Block BDA Complex and serves very good sandwiches, fruit juices and shakes.