The capital of India’s southern state of Karnataka, Bengaluru, is the centre of the country’s ever-expanding IT industry. However, this cosmopolitan city offers much more than a progressive, hi-tech metropolis. Its altitude on the Deccan Plateau gives it a relatively temperate climate with deep blue skies most days, even during the monsoon season, allowing visitors to thoroughly enjoy historical and architectural monuments, beautiful parks and wildlife, and lively shopping and nightlife year-round.
Bengaluru’s culture is unique, as it perfectly blends the technologically advanced and the traditional. Conventional arts and crafts are among its most treasured art forms. Here you will find items wrought from metal and those carved from stone, wood, sandalwood and ivory, as well as the famous handmade dolls and puppets on display at various local fairs. Museums and galleries are plentiful, displaying classic fine arts. The performing arts are thriving with contemporary music and theatre, and Yakshagana (traditional theatre combining music, dance, dialogue and elaborate costumes), Carnatic music and Bharatnatyam dance. The architectural styles in Bengaluru are diverse as well—from the skyscrapers in the industrial district to the Victorian Glass House in the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens; from the Dravidian temples to the exclusive bungalows, which have been executed in unique Bengaluru style with magnificent gardens and interiors.
People and Traditions
In 1831 the British anglicised the original name of the city, Bengaluru, to “Bangalore.” In 2014, it returned to its original name; however, the people of Bengaluru still refer to themselves as Bangaloreans. They are friendly and carefree, and they love to spend time outdoors. The cosmopolitan nature of the city makes it a melting pot; therefore, the people celebrate various religious customs during the year. The predominant faiths are Hinduism followed by Islam, Christianity, Sikhism and Buddhism, among others. Bangaloreans enjoy food, and they take joy in eating out. In addition to the city’s many restaurants, bars, nightclubs and coffee bars abound.
In spite of the urbanisation of the city, the people still hold their traditions dear. They take pleasure in sharing their love for their arts. They hold local fairs throughout the year and celebrate numerous Hindu festivals such as Dussehra in October, featuring colourful parades down local streets, and the Diwali festival of lights in October/November that is brightly illuminated with candles and fireworks. Kadalekai Parishe, or the Groundnut Fair, one of Bengaluru’s oldest events, runs for three days. Local farmers and merchants sell their wares and foods to the delight of all.
Overall, Bengaluru enjoys favourable weather year-round. The highest temperatures occur in summer between March and May; the maximum can reach 38°C in May. Many visitors prefer the milder winter months, September through March, when temperatures average 28-32°C. July is the height of the rainy season, but at Bengaluru’s high altitude, it does not experience the monsoon to the degree that other parts of the country do.
The area in and around Bengaluru offers many options for those who are lovers of nature and wildlife. Bannerghatta National Park, one of the largest national parks in India, lies just outside the city. Treat yourself to a walking tour or a safari here—you can see many species of birds and animals, including elephants, bison, leopards, tigers and lions. Lake Ulsoor, on the eastern side of the city, offers boat rides with scenic views. Many of the city’s festivals take place on the shores of this lake. And do not neglect to visit the local markets and bazaars in the city for reasonably priced souvenirs and keepsakes, including beautifully crafted traditional saris. Krishna Rajendra (also known as KR Market) is the largest and busiest of the markets, filled with colourful stalls selling luscious fruits and glorious flowers.
Bengaluru provides extraordinary landmarks and, at the same time, ordinary curiosities to explore. There are royal forts and palaces, among them the 19th century Bangalore Palace, which was modelled after Windsor Castle. In the centre city, stroll through lovely Cubbon Park leading to the Cubbon Museum, which houses collections of historic artefacts, or the aquarium, which contains exotic fish. Visitors may have the chance to feed the fish located in designated tanks on the ground level. Or wander over to the western part of the city, where you will find the stunning Bull Temple and Maharaja Temple. Visit traditional Indian palaces complete with sumptuous gardens, where you can find a shady spot in which to take refuge from the heat of the day. Other scenic venues include the Victorian Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, featuring magnificent rose gardens and a lotus pond.