In Bengaluru, the old and the new co-exist in perfect harmony.
Bengaluru is dotted with parks and recreational spaces boasting local and exotic trees that thrive in its pleasant climate.
At first glance, Lalbagh’s grand rock might seem ordinary – Peninsular Gneiss formations like it are hardly unfamiliar to the region. Bengaluru’s founder, 16th century leader Kempe Gowda, chose the rock to mark the city’s southern boundary – he didn’t know its secret, either. This seemingly commonplace rock is over three billion years old, a National Geological monument almost as ancient as Earth, itself.
The city, which still goes by its former name Bangalore, is loved and known for its cosmopolitan demographic, pubs, as well as parks and gardens. But Bengaluru, defined by its laid-back temperament as much as its volatile traffic, is sprinkled with delightfully unexpected details, much like the Lalbagh rock.
Slice of History
The city’s reputation as India’s Silicon Valley tends to overshadow its rich architectural and cultural past. However, history abounds in Bengaluru, beginning with the Bengaluru Palace. Built to replicate Windsor Castle, the palace – its expansive grounds doubling as a site for international concerts – is located a mere 300 metres from Shangri-La Hotel, Bengaluru.
Vidhana Soudha, the state’s legislate seat, is a melange of Neo-Dravidian, Indo-Saracenic and Dravidian architecture. Another historical monument, Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace at Chamrajpet, has been renovated into a museum offering visitors a glimpse through the lives of one of the most revered rulers of the regions. If you have the luxury of time, explore the city’s religious sites that are both picturesque and sacred. The Bull Temple is Bengaluru’s oldest, dedicated to Nandi – a mythical white bull who acted as Lord Shiva’s vahana (vehicle). St Mary’s Basilica is the city’s oldest church, famous for its September festivities while the younger Masjid-e-Khadria is renowned for its minars and calligraphy.
Shangri-La Hotel, Bengaluru combines fitness with sightseeing to showcase these monuments in a new light. Embark on a running tour across major sites – Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain Park, Bangalore Palace and Vidhana Soudha – in the company of a health guide. A morning tour gives you an uncluttered view of the buildings, followed by breakfast at the Horizon Club Lounge.
The Garden Party
Bengaluru is dotted with parks and recreational spaces boasting local and exotic trees that thrive in its pleasant climate. It is little wonder that it has been nicknamed Garden City. Locals lament that the tree cover has diminished over the years, but come spring-summer, an explosion of colourful blossoms in gardens all across the city belies their complaints.
One of the most important is certainly Lalbagh, commissioned by the 18th century ruler Hyder Ali. His son, the famed Tipu Sultan, completed the garden, now home to exotic and rare botanicals and a glasshouse modelled on London’s Crystal Palace.
Nestled in greenery, Cubbon Park is often dubbed the city’s central lung. While its plants and flowers woo nature enthusiasts, the space is also in close proximity to museums and historical buildings like the Attara Kacheri (High Court). Come on a Sunday and you might find yourself watching a play practice or groomed pooches enjoying their day out at a get-together for dogs.
While a trip to these parks and gardens is always a pleasure for the senses, sign up with Bangalore Walks for a more involved experience. Run by Vijay Thiruvady, the weekend walking tours take you to popular destinations like Lalbagh and Cubbon Park, offering fresh perspectives and little known narratives about the landmarks. The conservationist also hosts private walks and Indian nationals interested in Bengaluru’s military history can sign up in advance for a special session (unfortunately, this is restricted to Indian nationals only for security reasons).
Bengaluru’s many charming boutiques are a shopaholic’s delight, with décor items and accessories, European-inspired knick knacks, even sandalwood and traditional souvenirs, among other interesting finds, on offer. A walk around areas like Malleswaram and Chickpet showcase old-fashioned shops selling everything from saris to sweets, while street shoppers prefer the narrow bylanes of Commercial Street.
The city is also known for its pubs and microbreweries. On a Saturday night, head to Indiranagar, which boasts some of the city’s hottest pubs like The Humming Tree or the new Hangover. The stylish Monkey Bar offers Indian-inspired food and cocktails, while Toit and Arbor are the places to check out if you’re in the mood for craft beer. Back at Shangri‑La Hotel, Bengaluru, Hype promises to add to the list of city hotspots with Zodiac-inspired cocktails and a spectacular panoramic view of the entire city.
- Shangri-La Hotel, Bengaluru’s b Cafe Pastry offers Indian sweets created by a traditional Mithaiwala. The Lobby Lounge’s Chai Ki Tadi is a local take on afternoon high tea.
- Bibliophiles must visit Blossom Book House on Brigade Road. If there’s an elusive title on your wish list, there’s a good chance you will find it here.
- Have a day to spare? Drive up to Nandi Hills for a hilltop view of Bengaluru and the surrounding areas, or go trekking at Banerghatta National Park.