Capital of the southern Indian state of Karnataka, Bangalore has undergone a transformation in recent years, from pensioners town to the IT and start-up hub of the country. The city has also experienced a dining and drinking boom in the last few years. Numerous international cuisine restaurants have sprouted up in different parts of the city, thus enhancing the culinary landscape of the city. Also, drinking in Bangalore has become a round-the-clock activity, with coffee shops and cafes at seemingly every corner serving coffee and other beverages during the day, and pubs and bars pulling in punters and revelers by night. Besides, the city is also known for its pleasant weather, as it is notorious for its traffic congestion. Here are 12 useful things to know before visiting Bangalore, India, to make the best of your trip.
1. The city is a blend of old-world charm and modernity
Bangalore has got a discernible youthful vibe and modernity alongside old-world charm, thus you will feel right at home. Walking around the city, you can admire the historic masterpieces of Indo-Saracenic and Neo-Dravidian architectural styles that sit alongside glass-covered skyscrapers. The Vidhana Soudha and historic palaces like Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace and Bangalore Palace are unmissable. Meanwhile, the modern buildings, such as UB City and World Trade Centre are equally worth checking out. The locals are warm, welcoming and always happy to lend a helping hand. Whether you meet them for the first time or the tenth, here is a question they always ask: oota aita?, which means “did you have your food/ have you eaten yet?”. This phrase is closer to asking ‘How are you’. In short, it is their way of asking about your well being.
2. Darshini's are hotspots for breakfast
In Bangalore, the first meal of the day is often devoured at a darshini. These are small eateries with a pay-first-eat-later concept and specialize in authentic South Indian breakfast items like idli, dosa, vada, and more. Not to mention, if you want to get through the day, they also serve filter coffee. The must-visit darshini’s include the legendary Vidyarthi Bhavan, MTR and Maiyas (to name a few).
3. The weather is unpredictable
In general, the weather is pleasant in Bangalore. But in a matter of hours, it can morph from beautiful sunshine to heavy rain showers. Even lifelong residents can’t predict what will come next. So, be prepared and bring a raincoat, just in case you get caught in one of those rainy days. Also, pack a light summer jacket because the weather gets a bit cold after the rains or when the sun goes down.
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4. South Indian food isn't the only option
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Although Bangalore is known for its south Indian cuisine, most restaurants carry a wide variety of cuisines from across the world. So, if you’re an admirer of food and love trying different foods, then Bangalore won’t disappoint you. The must-visit dining establishments include Rim Naam (for Thai), Shiro (for dim sum), Karavalli (for seafood), Chianti Restaurant (for Italian) and Tandoor Restaurant (for North Indian food), to name a few. Of course, you can’t leave without trying the beloved local food at Mavalli Tiffin Rooms (MTR), Shree Sagar (CTR) or Oota Bangalore.
5. There are cafes and coffee shops at every corner
Bangaloreans rely on the cafes and coffee shops not just for their morning cup of joe, but also for a sense of community. They serve as a meeting place for friends, working spots for professionals, as well as reading getaways. While the Indian Coffee House dating back to 1950s and CCD (Cafe Coffee Day) that entered the Bangalore market in 1996 made the city the coffee capital of India, there are a number of independent and specialty coffee shops as well, including Flying Squirrel, Third Wave Coffee Roasters, Dyu Art Cafe and Matteo Coffea.
6. The city has a burgeoning craft beer scene
Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account
Bangaloreans take their beer seriously (just like their coffee). Their love and growing appetite for beer have led to the rise of brewpubs and microbreweries in the city - and it looks like it’s not stopping anytime soon. And with 406 pubs in the city at the last count, it comes as no surprise that this tech city is also called as the pub capital of India. There is an eclectic mix of urban breweries, old-style cocktail bars and quirky pubs in the city, where locals and tourists hang out over a beer. The Biere Club, Pecos, Toit, and Skyye are some great options.
7. Art is a way of life here
Art aficionados will love Bangalore. Seemingly everywhere you look in the city, on the exterior of the metro stations, walls and the sides of buildings, you’ll find murals, geometric paintings and other forms of street art. The artwork is based around a theme, such as quirks of daily life, women empowerment, feminism, and other social and local problems. Of particular interest is the street art in Koramangala, MG Road and 6th and 7th Cross of Malleshwaram. The city is also filled with art galleries - the National Gallery of Modern Art, Gallery SKE, Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, and Crimson Art Gallery are the prominent ones.
8. It's greener than you think
Nature lovers can revel in the fact that nearly everywhere in Bangalore, there’s green space - hence it is also called the ‘Garden City of India’. Some of the must-visit green spaces include Cubbon Park which is the biggest lung area of the city, the Lalbagh Botanical Garden that houses more than 2,500 species of flora and a 19th century glasshouse, and the Bannerghatta National Park that is home to India’s first butterfly park, in addition to a wide variety of flora and fauna.
9. Be prepared to experience notorious traffic conditions
Bangalore endures some of the worst traffic in India. Most of the time the city is in a rush-hour mode, which makes getting around a task in itself. The best way, however, to navigate your way through Bangalore traffic, is a bike or a scooty. Metro is also a great option - it doesn’t cover the entire city as of now but is expanding around the city at a breakneck speed. The other alternatives include public buses and auto rickshaws that can be hailed from anywhere, and taxi apps like Uber and Ola are also useful if you need to get around the city.
Pro tip: Avoid traveling across the city from 7:30am to 10am and 5pm to 8pm. And, just to be on the safe side, always leave 20 - 30 minutes before you think you need to.
10. Learning some lingo is a good idea
Although English (of varying degree, though) is used and understood by many, to earn yourself some bonus points with the locals, learn some lingo. Also, at some places in the city, even Hindi, which is one of the official languages of India, is not well understood, so it helps to learn a couple of basic words in the local language, i.e. Kannada. Learning numbers from 1 to 10 could be very useful while shopping, while simple greetings like namaskara (hello), neevu hegidheera (how are you), chenagiddini (I am fine), kshamisi (sorry) and dayaviṭṭu (please) are always appreciated by the locals.
11. Temples are everywhere you look
Expect to see a temple at every nook and corner. These temples - of which there are too many to mention - range from centuries-old religious sanctuary to architecturally beautiful houses of worship. The must-visit includes ISKCON temple that stands out with its mix of contemporary and Dravidian style of architecture, Dodda Basavana Gudi (Nandi temple) that is the biggest temple of its kind in the country, Dharmaraya Swamy Temple is the only temple dedicated to Pandavas (from the epic Mahabharata), and the Halasuru Someshwara Temple that dates back to the Chola period.
12. Don't limit yourself to the city alone
Bangalore has excellent historical, cultural and fun attractions to keep you occupied for days, but there is much more to explore and experience outside its boundaries. Within a few hours from Bangalore, there are beautiful places worthy of a day or weekend trip. These include Nandi Hills, Coorg, Hampi, Mysore and Hogenakkal Falls, to name a few.
Bangalore is a city for all
From a plethora of religious sanctuaries and green spaces to diverse cuisine and lively drinking culture, Bangalore is a great place to visit for any traveler. Whether you’re in the city for a break or passing through for work, check out the above-mentioned list of things to know before visiting Bangalore, India. Enjoy your time in the Garden City of India!
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