My time in Bangalore was short, barely a day. I was using it as a jump-off point to get further south to Mysore, but I wanted to make sure I got out and explored a little bit so I booked a walking tour with Ameen at Bengaluru By Foot because I had no idea where to start and the city is spread out. Also, I wasn’t really paying attention to proximity when I booked my hotel and ended up staying too far south, about 25 minutes away from the Botanical Garden.
My first tip about Bangalore is this -- stay near the Botanical Garden. It will be much easier to access the rest of the city from there.
If you’ve used tour guides before, you know they come in “types”. There’s the verbatim, wrote tour guides who do it for the extra cash, spew out some general knowledge (which is sometimes right and sometimes wrong), and take you through the major picture points. Then there are the touristy tour guides who, especially in India, use the tour as more of an accompaniment to the shopping stops at their “friends” places along the way. Finally, there are the guides who are in it for the sake of being in it. My tour guide, Ameen, was one of those. He’s passionate about history and it showed in the way he presented the oldest section of Bangalore to me.
We started at KR Market, which operates as a flower and green market in the old city. It’s a super crowded place, and he said due to the upcoming Ganesh Chaturthi festival, which marks the birthday of Lord Ganesha, it was extra busy. The flowers here are beautiful and I highly suggest if you’re heading to Bangalore that you stop by. Take the stairs also to the second level so you can look from above at all the vendors. It’s a colorful scene and nice to watch from above.
Following the market I was shown the old armory belonging to Tipu Sultan, the old ruler, where all the rockets were kept during the Third Mysore War in the late 1700’s. It is hidden behind a school and one does need a guide to locate it, but to see it in person is exciting because of the sheer stoutness of it. Its set into the ground about twelve feet and the walls are at least two feet thick.
Next stops were the old Bangalore Fort, where the massive gate was stormed by the British East India Company in 1791, and Tipu Sultan’s summer palace, a delightful blend of Islamic and Indian architecture. There are massive pillars made of teak, intricately painted walls that are still intact, an attached temple, and a beautiful collection of lawns and plants.
My time here was short, and this morning I am off again today. While I did cover some important locations, a few things I didn’t get a chance to do here were: The Bangalore Palace, Grasshopper restaurant (they apparently do an amazing 7-course tasting menu), The Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, and the Art of Living International Center…hopefully I’ll get a chance to explore Bengaluru some other time and finish off my to-do list!