Bengaluru city guide: Where to eat, drink, shop and stay in India’s Silicon Valley

Otherwise known as India’s Silicon Valley due to the number of start-ups based here – 70 per cent of all start-ups in India to be precise – the park-filled southern Indian city of Bengaluru (the official name is preferred to the anglicised “Bangalore”) is expanding rapidly.

The city has a fantastic food scene, and beer drinkers are especially well-catered for here – there are over 3,000 pubs, including the flagship brew-pub of hip Indian microbrewery Toit.

What to do

Visit a replica of Windsor castle

a castle on top of Bangalore Palace: Visit this curious replica of Windsor castle (Getty Images)

© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Visit this curious replica of Windsor castle (Getty Images)Start with the undeniably bizarre Bengaluru Palace (admission 450 RS/£5), a replica of Windsor Castle. It was built in 1887 by former Mysore king Chamaraja Wadiyar, who was a keen hunter, which explains the weird and wonderful furniture – there’s a stool made from an elephant’s foot and a table supported by four (rather tired) goat’s legs. Don’t forget to make use of the recently launched audio guide. Open daily, 9am-5.30pm.

Explore the city’s gardens

Bengaluru is known as India’s garden city, because of its vast expanses of greenery. At Lalbagh Botanical Gardens you’ll find India’s largest collection of tropical plants in a glass house modelled on the one at Kew. The enormous lump of rock in the gardens’ centre, a National Geological Monument, is over three billion years old and one of the Indian sub-continent’s earliest example of gneiss – metamorphic rock. Open daily, 6am-7pm, admission from 10 RS (£1).

It’s also worth taking the time to wander through leafy, city centre Cubbon Park, named after Lieutenant-General Sir Mark Cubbon, who became British Commissioner of Mysore in 1834. There’s a beautiful rose garden, and the park is packed with historical buildings, including the brick-red State Central Library, which has one of the world’s largest collections of Braille books. The park has statues of Queen Victoria and King Edward VII, too.

a large green field with trees in the background: Wander the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens (Paul Murphy)

© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Wander the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens (Paul Murphy)

Check out a temple

Bengaluru’s pyramid-like ISKON temple is one of the largest ISKON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) temples in the world. Thousands of Hindus come here every day, but everyone’s welcome. Pay 300 RS (£3.30) for an “express ticket”, which allows you to cut the queues. You’ll reach the main temple via a flight of stairs which winds through several smaller ones. Once inside, you’ll receive a puja blessing from one of the monks before watching them perform their aarti.

It’s also worth checking out south Bengaluru’s Bull Temple, with its enormous garland-draped stone bovine – carved from a single piece of granite. It’s dedicated to Nandi, the mount of Lord Shiva.

a view of a house: State Central Library has a huge collection of Braille books (Paul Murphy)

© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited State Central Library has a huge collection of Braille books (Paul Murphy)

Nightlife

Bengaluru’s best nightlife can be found in the city centre – the UB City complex is home to some fantastic bars (including the rooftop Skyye Lounge) while the Indiranagar neighbourhood is famous for its brew-pubs. The imminent opening of Sanchez (the flagship restaurant is in UB City) is cementing this area’s reputation as a fantastic all-round food and drink destination.

Where to stay

Bengaluru now has a number of luxury hotels, including a Ritz-Carlton, a Four Seasons and an Oberoi.

The ITC Gardenia, in the city centre and adjacent to Cubbon Park, feels both luxurious and traditional. The pillars in the courtyard are inspired by the ones at Bengaluru’s ancient Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace, and guests are welcomed with a traditional tikka greeting – the marking of the forehead with a dot of vermillion paste. Make sure you squeeze in a visit to the hotel’s K&K restaurant for some traditional Indian cuisine. Doubles from 24,500 RS (£270), room only.

a resort near the water: It's constantly hot in Bangalore, so cool off at ITC Gardenia (ITC Gardenia)

© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited It’s constantly hot in Bangalore, so cool off at ITC Gardenia (ITC Gardenia)Stay at the Taj MG Road and you’ll have easy access to the city’s best bits. It’s also home to the fantastic Café Mozaic, known for its street food-inspired cuisine. Doubles from 7,888 RS (£87), B&B.

Where to eat

Breakfast

It won’t come as a surprise to discover that eggs reign supreme at the Egg Factory, a Bengaluru breakfast spot with branches throughout the city. The one on St Marks Road is particularly popular. We recommend the Egg Factory special (200 RS/£2.44), which comes with a toasted brioche, masala omelette, akoori pav, sautéed mushrooms and coffee or tea.

Lunch

Time to sample Bengaluru’s legendary food truck cuisine. The city is famous for its roving food trucks, many of which have been set up by entrepreneurs who quit their tech jobs to follow their dreams. There are dozens to choose from, and you can track their locations via their Facebook pages. Expect to pay under 450 RS (£5) for a hearty lunch. Three of the best include Spitfire Barbecue Truck, famous for its slow-cooked ribs, the SWAT truck, serving “authentic American Curbside Gourmet”, and Foodipa, known for delicious kachoris(dumpling-like fried snacks).

a piece of food on a plate: Foodipa serves delicious Indian snacks (Facebook/Foodipa)

© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Foodipa serves delicious Indian snacks (Facebook/Foodipa)

Dinner

Head to UB City’s Sanchez for Asian-Mexican fusion cuisine. Amritsar-born head chef Vikas Seth has worked in some of India’s best restaurants and honed his craft at the Culinary Institute of America. Local ingredients are used to give classic Mexican dishes an Indian twist – for example, order the nachos and your guacamole will be prepared tableside, using India’s famously creamy avocados. Wash it down with one of the restaurant’s legendary margaritas. Prices start from around 1,500 RS (£17) for a meal for two.

Where to drink

Indiranagar has the city’s best pubs but we also recommend the Big Brewsky on Sarjapur Road. It’s one of Bengaluru’s liveliest brew-pubs – on busier nights, you’ll find over 500 people packed into this 65,000 square foot venue. It’s also great value – expect to pay around 250 RS (£2.70) a pint.

a group of people walking down a street: The Big Brewski is perfect for an alfresco pint (Big Brewski)

© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited The Big Brewski is perfect for an alfresco pint (Big Brewski)

Where to shop

For designer goods, head to UB City in Bengaluru’s centre, which describes itself as India’s first luxury mall. MG Road, also in the city centre, is a fantastic place for souvenirs – it’s home to Cauvery Karnataka State Arts and Crafts Emporium, which specialises in local handicrafts.

Architectural highlight

Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace, an Indo-Islamic building made almost entirely from wood, has 160 pillars topped with eight petalled lotuses. It was built by the former ruler of Mysore in the 18th century. It served as his summer residence but also housed the durbar (court).

a group of people walking on the side of a building: Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace has 160 pillars (Paul Murphy)

© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace has 160 pillars (Paul Murphy)

Nuts and bolts

What currency do I need?

RS – Indian rupees.

What language do they speak?

Kannad is the official language of Karnataka but almost everyone speaks English. Hindi and Urdu are also widely spoken.

Should I tip?

Tipping (known as baksheesh) is increasingly common in India. Tip between 10 and 15 per cent in restaurants if you’re happy with the service, and round taxi fares up to the nearest RS 10.

What’s the time difference?

Bengaluru is five and a half hours ahead.

What’s the average flight time from the UK?

Nine hours and 35 minutes.

Public transport

Uber and Ola (the latter is a Bengaluru-based car share app) are cheap and safe. Expect to pay around £3 for a 10km journey.

Best view

In Cubbon Park, staring across the sprawling rose gardens towards the bright red State Central Library.

Insider tip

Look out for traditional “channapatna” toys made from grass-polished dudhi wood. It’s said that after Tipu Sultan, Mysore’s former ruler, fell in love with these lacquered toys on a visit to Persia, he paid artisans to come to this area of India and show locals how to make them.

Source: Independent.co.uk

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