Bangalore, the Garden City of India, is home to a plethora of lakes. Of all the lakes in the city, it’s the man-made Ulsoor Lake that comes most heavily praised, and for good reasons. This lake is an awe-striking sight to behold, with several picturesque islands on its surface and an array of activities that include everything from touring the islands on the boat to spending the afternoon enjoying a picnic on the lush green expanse around the lake. Restaurants offering local and international fare are nearby if you need to refuel. To know more, here’s our traveller’s guide to Ulsoor Lake, Bangalore, India. Keep reading.
A brief history
The lush islands and shimmering emerald waters of the Ulsoor lake have long drawn visitors from across the city. The history of this natural haven dates back to the late second century when it was first created by Kempe Gowda II and was referred to as ‘Alasur’ or 'Halasur’. Later, it was rebuilt by Sir Lewin Bentham Bowring (the-then Commissioner of Bangalore) and until today, the lake retains a stable status as one of the major recreation spots in the city.
Historically, there is a legend associated with the lake. According to the local legend, the land where the lake is now built was covered in thick forests. One day, Kempe Gowda was completely exhausted after a long day of travel from Yelahankar, so he decided to rest under a tree and take a nap. However, he had no idea that the tree under which he was relaxing was the same tree under which the sage Mandava Rishi is said to have worshipped God Someswara (an incarnation of Lord Shiva). So, while he was asleep, he dreamt of God Someswara and was told about a hidden treasure in the forest. He then dug into the forest and found the treasure, which he then used to build a majestic temple dedicated to God Someswara. Today, the temple stands out with its gorgeous Dravidian style of architecture and also houses ancient scriptures carved onto its walls.
Insider tip: If you happen to be in the city during the Ganesha Chaturthi festival (held in August/September every year), make sure to visit the lake on the last day of the celebration. Idols of Lord Ganesha, made out of clay, are immersed into the lake waters, along with prayers. This ritual is called Ganesh Visarjan and is worth witnessing.
Address: Ulsoor, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560042
Website: Ulsoor Lake
Opening hours: 6am - 8pm (daily)
Price: Free entry
Things to do at Ulsoor lake
While the best thing to do is simply relax and enjoy the lake view and ambience, there are several other things to do in Ulsoor lake.
1. Enjoy a good (and scenic) stroll
There are well-laid out mud tracks around the lake, where you can walk and enjoy some fresh air. The pathways are surrounded on both sides by expanses of lush trees, grass and vibrant flowers, and also has benches that will allow you some quiet and tranquil time. For those looking for a mini-workout session, there’s a neat playground near the lake with exercise equipment that will appeal to adults and kids alike.
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2. Go boating
Among the attributes that make Ulsoor Lake a popular attraction in the city, are its small tree-lined islands which can be explored by boat. Paddleboat and motorboat rides are on offer that will take you around the lake with stopovers at some of these islands, where you can relax and soak up the mesmerizing view. The boat ride lasts for about 20 minutes. While boating, keep an eye out for the different species of birds, including Brahmani kites, herons and purple swamp hens, among others (and don’t forget to snap some great pictures).
Boating at Ulsoor Lake
Opening hours: 10am - 6pm (daily)
Price: 0.58 USD (40 INR per person)
3. Plan a picnic
After wandering around the lake, you must have worked up an appetite. So, settle down on the adjoining lush grass with a blanket and basket, and dine with a view of the lake. We recommend staying until dusk as the sun projects hues of yellow and orange onto the lake, making for a great spectacle.
There are a wide array of accommodations available nearby, at all price points. Trip101 recommends checking out the following -
Travellers rave about the Radisson Bengaluru City Center for its central location, modern facilities and unbeatable value. Each of its rooms is elegantly designed and outfitted with mod cons. A rooftop pool, a 24-hour restaurant, a bar and a shared lounge, and the Bodhi Spa are some of the hallmark features of this property. Be sure to wake up in time for the free breakfast, which is about as delicious as you’ll get anywhere in the city.
A mashup of luxury and old-world charm, The Oberoi offers all the facilities that a modern traveller relies on. For relaxation, there is a spa offering eastern and western massages, while three restaurants on-site will satiate your Indian, Thai and Chinese food cravings. Furthermore, there’s a beauty salon, a sports bar, an outdoor swimming pool, babysitting service, a personal butler and room service for 24 hours. The cherry on top - each of the rooms have private balconies overlooking the magnificent gardens.
Located smack dab in the middle of Bangalore’s Central Business District, Conrad Bengaluru is an upscale hotel where you’ll find high standards of excellence throughout. From the temperature-controlled infinity pool and a signature spa to rooms and suites kitted with floor-to-ceiling windows offering panoramic city and Ulsoor lake views, and a 7,555 square feet (701.88 square meters) Grand Ballroom, the hotel offers its guest an all-round lavish experience. As for dining, there are five eclectic restaurants serving Indian, Asian, Italian, Mediterranean and American cuisines.
There are some worthwhile things to do nearby to fill in a whole day at Ulsoor Lake.
1. Visit one too many religious sanctuaries
For the spiritual and religious lovers, there are many temples and churches around Ulsoor lake. The must-visit shrines include the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha (Bangalore’s largest Sikh shrine), the 17th-century St. Mary’s Basilica that stands out with its Gothic architecture, and the 800-year-old Sri Subrahmanya Temple that is primarily dedicated to the Hindu Lord Shiva but also has shrines of several other deities. Another popular religious sanctuary is the Halasuru Someshwara Temple that is also dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Someshwara Temple belongs to the Chola period and boasts of the Vijayanagara style of architecture, that will leave you wonderstruck.
2. Indulge in retail therapy
To feed your hunger for retail therapy, head to MG Road, which is just an eight-minute drive from Ulsoor Lake. The street is lined with showrooms and stores selling everything from clothes and accessories to traditional handicrafts, souvenirs, homeware, and more. Just off MG Road is another budget shopping spot - Brigade Road. While you’re here, make sure to stop by the Dubai Plaza, where you can get trendy apparels and accessories at budget-friendly prices. If you’re looking for high-end brand shopping, visit the 1MG-Lido Mall located nearby. It houses brands like H&M, Aldo, Puma, Mac, and more.
MG Road- Brigade Road
Address: MG Road, Bengaluru, Karnataka
1 MG-Lido Mall
Address: 1, 1 MG Lido Mall Trinity Circle, 2, Swamy Vivekananda Rd, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560008
Website: 1 MG-Lido Mall
Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 10am - 11pm; Fri - Sun: 10am -1am
3. Relax at Enigma Spa
After all that sightseeing and adventure, your body will be in need of some TLC. Head to Enigma Spa and take advantage of one of the many scrubs and massages on offer. To relax your body and mind, go for the aroma massage or traditional Thai massage; for aching souls, deep tissue massage is the best, and to beautify the skin, opt for a spa facial.
The Enigma Spa
Address: R Hari Niwas, Cambridge Cross Rd, Cambridge Layout, Jogupalya, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560008
Website: The Enigma Spa
Opening hours: Mon, Wed - Fri: 10:30am - 9pm; Tue, Sat - Sun: 10:30am - 9:30pm
4. Drinking and dining
If you’re feeling hungry, you can dine at a restaurant near the Ulsoor Lake. Options include Indian and Asian cuisine at Ebony Restaurant, Chinese fare at Memories of China, Cantonese food at Yauatcha, or Indian and seafood at Carnival de Goa. For drinks, pop into Watson’s Ulsoor that exudes an old-school vibe, or those looking for a more livelier vibe, check out the 13th Floor, where you can enjoy a drink while soaking in the stunning view of the city’s skyline.
Explore the serene and picturesque Ulsoor Lake
Though Bangalore is known as the IT hub of India, it’s also a haven for outdoor lovers. From parks and lakes within the city to hilly terrains on the outskirts, it offers a great deal in the way of recreational opportunities. One spot that is worth visiting is the Ulsoor Lake. Whether you’re looking to indulge in active pursuits like boating or want to go for a walk through the lush greenery or a breezy jog by the lakeside, Ulsoor Lake is perfect for you.
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