by Nancy, MAKE UP
Bengaluru, India: a local’s top 10 tips
Think Bengaluru, and you think IT hub, call centres, silicon capital of India. It’s all of those things, but it’s also a very livable city. Over the past decade, it has attracted India’s sparkiest minds to code, brainstorm and play in its pulsing startup tech scene. This fast-growing and young population has added a big dose of fun: Bengaluru has become India’s most playful city, with an explosion of bars, restaurants, coffee joints and co-working spaces.
Bengaluru’s fun factor also owes something to its topography. At 900 metres above sea level on southern India’s Deccan plateau, it’s the highest of India’s megacities, which means a more moderate climate and a sky washed deep blue most days. Even during the monsoon (June-September), it’s usually sunny in the mornings and early afternoon, and there are plenty of green spaces in which to enjoy the weather – this is the 「Garden City of India」.
Bengaluru also has impressive landmarks including regal Bangalore Fort and Bangalore Palace, modelled on Windsor Castle, and everyday wonders such as KR Market, worth a morning visit to eye the colourful flower stalls.
The Indiranagar neighbourhood, where I live, has a string of rooftop bars on 12th Main Road that are constantly packed but my favourite is Sly Granny. The cocktail menu is playful (the peach popsicle cocktail comes with an ice lolly in it) and small plates of sliders and skewers make this a good spot for a snack while watching the sun go down. The roof attracts a fun, smart crowd, while the upscale restaurant downstairs often lays on Sly Granny house parties, with DJs spinning house, techno and Bollywood tunes.
• Cocktails from 400 rupees (£4.30), 618 12th Main Road, on Facebook
Also on Indiranagar’s 12th Main is this light, lively, Mumbai-inspired eatery. Locals hang out on the blue-and-yellow wooden deck, with a glass of 「half-half」 lime soda (half sweet, half sour) in one hand and a smartphone in the other. If you』re here at lunchtime, try the home veg curry in banana leaf (around £3.25) and relax afterwards in the shady garden to people watch.
• 2989/B 12th Main Road, bombaybrasserie.in
It’s practically a law that every hip city requires a craft beer joint. Bengaluru’s is Toit, a microbrewery off a busy Indiranagar junction, where bar stools sit next to gargantuan tanks brewing beers that include Basmati Blond and Tintin Toit (£2.40). If you crave British-style pub food, you』ll find it here in huge pies, fish and chips and burgers; and if you miss British humour you』ll find it in the amusing monthly newspaper and cardboard coasters with slogans like 「beer tales and truths」.
• 298, 100 Foot Road, toit.in
Church Street Social
Pedestrianised Church Street, just off Mahatma Gandhi Road, is home to myriad shops (bookshop Bluefrog is a favourite), bars (it’s a popular New Year’s Eve spot) and restaurants (like Funjabi, with its moustache logo). Keep walking to the end to industrial-cool Church Street Social, the Bengaluru outpost of the online/offline spaces already making a splash in Delhi and Mumbai. Come for coffee in the daytime and cocktails when the sun goes down.
• Cobalt Building, Church Street, socialoffline.in
The proof of Bengaluru’s garden city vision is the 120-hectare Cubbon Park, protected by law since 1979. Full of flowers, bamboo and ficus trees, its shady paths make it a great place to go for a run. It’s also popular for morning yoga and picnics.
National Gallery of Modern Art
Bengaluru’s coders get their cultural kicks at this century-old colonial mansion, which opened in 2009 as one of India’s three national modern art galleries and houses more than 500 pieces of modern Indian art, photography, sculpture and prints. Alongside Indian miniatures and works by colonial artists, the Bengal School and post-independence artists, there’s a programme of screenings, gallery walks and workshops.
• Tickets £5.40, closed Mon, 49 Palace Rd, Manikyavelu Mansion, ngmaindia.gov.in
Mavalli Tiffin Rooms
The last (and first) word in South Indian food is Mavalli Tiffin Rooms, MTR for short, the 1920 brainchild of three brothers. Almost a century on, Bengaluru institution MTR is the best place in the city for puffy idlis (30p) and tasty dosas (from 80p), and is an ideal place for a fast, local breakfast. The original Lal Bagh Road branch is close to the gorgeous Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens, where you can walk off the carbs.
• Nine locations around Bengaluru, mavallitiffinrooms.com
In the Whitefield neighbourhood, this 200-seat white-walled theatre puts on experimental performances. (I recently watched a play about two scientists in Cambridge arguing over the existence of black holes.) Next door is Italian restaurant the Fat Chef, which serves pastas, pizzas and a storming parmigiana di melanzane for after the show.
• Tickets £3.20, Ramagondanahalli, Varthur Road, jagrititheatre.com
Bottomless brunch is a Bengaluru Sunday institution, and Olive Bar in the Ashok Nagar neighbourhood remains one of my favourites. This white-washed, flower-filled space lays on a Mediterranean brunch of non-stop pintxos (steaks, pesto-slathered paneer, tiny cheese-and-ham toasties) alongside cocktails, prosecco and juices. Drinks flow freely from midday to 4pm but expect to stay much, much later – once the DJ cranks the music up, the atmosphere turns electric.
• Brunch £32, 16 Wood Street, olivebarandkitchen.com
The Indian wine industry is slowly building a reputation on the world stage. Bengaluru’s Soma vineyard, on the outskirts of the city, grows mainly shiraz and sauvignon blanc grapes on red loamy soil, making the most of the city’s warm and sunny microclimate. A day out here involves matching Soma wine with homemade Indian snacks.
• Half-day tour and tasting, £27pp, bangaloresomavineyards.com
Rohit Sen is co-founder of digital credit company Nira
British Airways flies to Bengaluru from Heathrow from £485 return.
OYO Townhouse (doubles from £60 B&B) is part of a chain of hotels and cafes. The one on 12th Main Road in Indiranagar is handy for nightlife.
When to go
Visit over a weekend, for Bengaluru’s infamous brunch. November’s Echoes of Earth festival blends environmental concerns and live music in one mad weekend.
Exchange rate: £1 = 92 rupees
A small beer in a local bar costs around 100 rupees, coffee 150 rupees.
A local's guide
Bars and clubs
Food and drink
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- 2018-04-03 13:42:10