Over the last 5 years I have connected with amazing people from all over the globe on my Facebook page and I am proud to call them friends. I wanted to hear stories about their hometown. We as travelers go to experience new cultures, foods and festivals while on the road. It would take a lifetime, if not longer to experience every location and everything that destination has to offer. This prompted me to start a series called “Where The Locals Go.”
The next interview in my series is Tanya Raj who lives in Bangalore, India. Bangalore is the capital city of the Indian state Karnataka and is known as the “Garden City of India” due to its pleasant climate, greenery and many parks. Located on the Deccan Plateau in the southeastern part of Karnataka, Bangalore offers an abundance of activities for travelers to experience. What can travelers experience in Bangalore that the locals engage in?
TWT: Every destination has a local hot spot. What is the local hot spot in your area and would you please describe the atmosphere? Why do locals go there?
TR: Hands down this has to be the tri-area of Brigade Road, MG Road and Commercial Street. These areas, in immediate vicinity to each other, are the shopping hub of Bangalore, where you can find shops selling antiques to High-Street brands. The general atmosphere is kind of a dichotomy – chaotic yet vibrant. Be it wedding shopping or casual everyday items, people flock here for good deals and bargaining.
TWT: Your friend is flying into town for the first time and wants to experience the local food scene, where would you take him/her? What are some of the dishes you would recommend? How is the ambience?
TR: To experience the local food scene, I would take them to the Russell Market. This is one of the oldest open air market that sells a plethora of farm fresh produces and on-the-go street food. Try out the famous mouth-watering Shawarmas here.
For a more traditional meal, head over to MTR (Mavalli Tiffin Rooms) for a sumptuous meal of dosas and idils, dipped in sambar and coconut chutney.
TWT: Travelers enjoy learning about the local art scene when they arrive in new locations. Are there local artists (musicians, painters, poetry writers, etc.) in your area that perform or feature their work? Where can travelers go for these experiences?
TR: Bangalore is a great place to be for people with artistic inclinations. Known as the cultural capital of India, this city is host to the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat – a state of the art college that offers long and short term courses along with exhibitions of traditional and international artists.
Ravindra Kalakshetra is another place to check out. Built as a commemorative to Rabindranath Tagore, it hosts the works of many renowned artists from across the globe. While in Bangalore, a must do is attending a play in one of the many theaters like Ranga Shankara and Jagriti.
TWT: What are some of the more popular festivals in town? Are they held annually, several times a year, once a month? What time of the year do they take place? Where can travelers go to find out more information?
TR: The two annual festivals of Bangalore that are celebrated with full pomp and show are – Bengaluru Habba and Bangalore Karaga Festival.
The Bengaluru Habba, a 10 day cultural event, is a melting pot of artists from across the state who showcase their talents at the various designated venues. Celebrated in the months of chilly November-December, this festival attracts 2,000+ artists from the state of Karnataka along with 250+ artists from all over India. The events held include music, dance, street theater, film festivals, sporting tournaments and the renowned vintage car rally!
The Bangalore Karaga is a religious festival held at the Dharmaraya Temple in the months of March-April. This festival includes a chariot procession with performers dressed in ancient attire, that starts at midnight and ends with the break of the dawn.
TWT: If travelers want to experience recreational activities during their stay, what can they do and where can they go?
TR: For recreational activities within the city, travelers should visit Lalbagh. This 240 acre park is home to approximately 1,000 exotic and endemic species of flora of the region. The annual flower show along with the 3,000 million years old Lalbagh Rock, attracts numerous visitors all year round.
There are many historic attractions too that the visitors can explore, like Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace, the 400 years old Big Banyan Tree, Bangalore Fort and Bangalore Palace.
TWT: Many travelers pick destinations that offer volunteerism / eco-tourism / activism / volunteer opportunities. What types of opportunities exist in your area?
TR: The Karnataka Forest Department is in-charge of the maintenance and sustenance of the numerous forest reserves that surround the city. Travelers looking for eco-tourism and volunteerism should pick destinations around Bangalore like the Bannerghatta National Park or Bandipur National Park among many more. There are a lot conservation efforts for flora and fauna and visitors can look for opportunities in the sanctuaries and reserves around the city. To find more information see this link: Karnataka Forest Department
TWT: I know travelers like certain forms of transportation. Some like to walk and/or bike while others prefer to get around at a quicker pace. What is the best way for travellers to get around town?
TR: The best way to get from one place to another is by three-wheeler auto rickshaws (beware of the “one and a half”, “double meter” and “Rs. 20 extra” terms used by the drivers to fleece the passengers). A metro rail link is under construction and at the moment connects a small section of the city. Apart from these, state run Volvo buses are a cheaper and more comfortable option (although time consuming). Taxis are also available on a pre-booking basis.
TWT: For those who want to get away for a day for some peace and quiet, yet still take in the scenery, where are some areas that travelers can go to “get away from it all” and still enjoy the outdoors?
TR: An hour’s drive from the city is the Nandi Hills, one of the best spots to get a bird’s eye view of the city and leave it all behind. Along with a 1,000 year old temple located at the peak, visitors can also visit a small summer palace of Tipu Sultan here. Apart from this, there are numerous hillocks around Bangalore known for trekking and climbing.
TWT: Travelers can get a sense of culture by observing their surroundings and people watch. Where can travelers go in your area to engage in this popular activity?
TR: To get a root level feel of the traditional and ancient culture of Bangalore, travelers should visit the residential area of Malleshwaram. One of the oldest settlements of Bangalore, this area is still inhabited by the old time natives (unlike the rest of the city which has seen a tremendous growth in population from other states). The lifestyle, culture and traditions here are still intact and this area is also home to the oldest temples, some dating back 7,000 years.
Apart from this, Bangalore is known as the Garden city of India and almost 55% of the city is covered with gardens and lakes. Take a leisurely stroll along Cubbon Park – the largest green space in the city – or along Ulsoor Lake, to observe the surroundings and mingle with the locals.
Travelers, if you don’t have an opportunity to stay in Bangalore for an extended period of time, Tanya has provided wonderful insights for you to engage in that will allow you to experience the people, culture and beauty of the “Garden City of India.” History is well established in India and as you travel through Bangalore and the outlining region, let your mind relax to welcome in the mastery of her traditions.
To learn more about India and Tanya Raj, follow her on her blog: Wandering Ruminations
You can contact Tony Toto a.k.a. The Walking Traveler at firstname.lastname@example.org