Its been 6 months since we moved to Bangalore. Visits from in-laws and parents resulted in a lot of sight-seeing in and around Bangalore. It is impossible to cover all the places in one day in Bangalore due to traffic and distance. This post is about all the places we have visited in Bangalore and an attempt to act as a sight-seeing/ tourism guide for any visitor. There are still lot of places yet to be seen.
1. Bull Temple – It is situated in Basavanagudi ( Basava means bull in Kannada). It is the oldest temple built in the Dravidian style by Kempe Gowda, founder of Bangalore and has a monolithic Nandi, the bull (vahana or vehicle of Lord Shiva). Karnataka Tourism website tells me the imposing sculpture of Nandi measures 4.57 meters in height in height and 6.10 meters in length. There is a legend associated with the temple. You can also see the famous Dodda Ganesh temple next to the Bull temple. Apparently there is a huge monolithic statue of Lord Ganapathi about 18 ft in height and 16 ft in width, coated with kilos of butter. We didn’t have time to visit that temple so no photos. Timings of Bull Temple : 6 am to 8 pm.
2. Lalbagh – Well, anyone who wants to travel to Bangalore or knows people who live here, know about Lalbagh So I will just quote introduction from their official website. Timings: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, open all days. No charge for camera.
The Lalbagh Botanical Garden, Bangalore is of royal origin and was started initially as a private garden in an area of 40 acres by Hyder Ali and later developed by Tippu Sultan. Lalbagh was given the status of a Government Botanical Garden in 1856, and since then, it has been an internationally renowned centre for scientific study of plants and botanical artwork and conservation of plants. Today, the garden is a lush green paradise with an area of 240 acres in the heart of the city. The main gate is at the North facing towards Subbaiah circle, the West gate is towards Basavanagudi, the South gate is towards Jayanagar and the East gate is towards the Double Road. Today, nearly 673 genera and 1,854 species of plants are found in Lalbagh.
There are tour vehicles available at the North Gate which give you a tour of the 18 notable places of the huge garden. The charge is Rs 100 person but it is good for the elderly and disabled and for those who are on a sightseeing tour of the city. Of the 18 tourist places, here is a description of few of them.
Above is the Glass House constructed in the year 1890 on the model of Crystal Palace of London. It is the most famous structure in Lalbagh. The glass house is the venue for holding the famous biannual flower shows of Lalbagh.
The lake is the main reason for the establishment of the garden. This 30 acre lake serves as a source of water for watering the garden plants. Below is a tower known as Kempegowda Tower that stands on a wide stretch of rock called peninsular gneiss, constructed in 1597 AD. The tower offers a partial view of the Bangalore city.
3. Kote Venkataramana Temple – It is located at the junction of Albert Victor Road and K R Road at Chamrajpet. It was constructed in 1695 during the time of Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar, one of the Mysore rulers. This famous Vishnu temple has a huge “gopuram” built in typical Dravidian style. Parking can be a problem as it is at a very busy traffic junction. Timings: 08:00 am – 12:00 pm 06:00 pm – 08:30 pm, all days.
4. Tippu Sultan’s Summer Palace – It is located next to the Kote Venkataramana temple. The palace’s construction was started by Hyder Ali and completed by Tipu Sultan in 1791. This was one of Tipu Sultan’s summer retreats hence the name. It is a two storied palace built of teak wood completely and has ornate pillars, arches and balconies. There are floral motifs painted on the walls and ceilings of the palace. There is a huge well-maintained garden leading from the entrance to the palace. Again, parking can be a problem as it is a very busy market area. Timings: 9:30am to 5:30pm, Sunday closed. There is a nominal entrance fee.
5. Government Museum – This is situated on Kasturba road. The museum, constructed in 1876, is one of the oldest in India and has a beautiful well maintained building with two exhibition floors. The museum has a wonderful collection of coins, weaponry, sculptures, inscriptions, old paintings and excavated items including those from Mohenjodaro! Timing : 10 am to 5 pm. Wednesdays closed. Entry fees : Rs 5. Photography prohibited.
6. Venkatappa Art Gallery - The Venkatappa Art Gallery is located next to the Museum and is named after Late K Venkatappa (1887–1962), court painter to the Wodeyars. There is no separate ticket for this gallery..the one to museum is valid for both places. The gallery showcases a selection of Venkatappa’s famous paintings, plaster of paris works and wooden sculptures. Also on view are works of various contemporary artists. Timing: 10 am – 5 pm. Wednesdays closed.
7. Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum - It is situated on Kasturba Road on the other side of the Government Musuem. It was established in 1962 and is one of the units of National Council of Science Museums. The wonderful and impressive musuem is a tribute to the eminent engineer and scholar Sir M. Visvesvaraya. The museum has seven permanent exhibition halls (Engine Hall, Electrotechnic, Fun Science, Space, Biotechnological Revolution, BEL-Hall of Electronics and Science for Children and two special exhibits(Dinosaur Corner and Wright brothers aeroplan). The place is a must visit for all the people interested in science and engineering. Also a number of shows are held for the visitors – Taramandal Show, Science Demonstration Show and 3D film show. Timings: 10 am – 6pm. Open on all days except for Ganesh Chaturthi and Deepawali.
8. Government Aquarium - It is located right at the entrance of Cubbon Park from KG road side. It is the second largest aquarium in India and has a diamond shaped building comprising of three floors. The ground floor has the office and the laboratory. First floor has 14 big tanks of cultivable fish. Second floor has both large and small fishes kept in separate tanks exhibiting their habitat. Timings : 10 am to 5 pm. Closed on Thursdays. Entry fees : Rs 5.
9. Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium – It is situated at T. Chowdiah Road but no one seems to recognize the road’s name so it is better to tell Raj Bhavan road. Also it is better to take auto from Kasturba Gandhi road / Cubbon park area as they know the place. Others don’t know “planetarium” and hard to make them understand if you don’t know Kannada. The planetarium was founded in 1989 and has a dome with 15 m diameter upon which the show is projected. There are exhibition halls which offer more information on astronomy. There is a weighing scale which shows one’s weight on all the planets and gives a print-out. Also there is a Science Park outside the Planetarium. Though the show was good, the crowd spoiled it by doing flash photography; even though cameras were prohibited. The show timings are : 12.30, 3:00, 4.30 and 5.15 pm for English shows. Monday closed.
10. Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain and Park – It is situated right opposite to the Planetarium. The landscaped park, maintained by the Department of Horticulture, is spread over 17 hectares of land and includes a play area for children. At the entrance to the park, there is a railway engine placed in honor of the then Central Railway Minister, C K Jaffer Sharief, who presented the musical fountain in 1995. The musical show consists of synchronized rhythmic dancing of the fountains based on multimedia technology along with both Hindi and Kannada songs and lights which makes it a visual and audio delight. Timings: Two shows are held daily at 7 pm and 8 pm. Mondays and second Tuesdays of the month are holidays.
11. Shiva Temple – It is located behind Total Mall on Old Airport Road. Although it is a must visit for religious people, it makes a good tourist place for non-believers too. The concept of the place is worth seeing. One has to buy tickets at some places and there is extra charge for camera. Upholding the tradition of worshipping Lord Ganesh before all endeavors, there is a 32-feet-tall Vignaharan Ganesh statue at the start of the tour.
Along the tour you will come across 108 Om Namah Shivaya Yatra (where you can drop coins one by one in the 108 bowls chanting Om Namah Shivaya – beware each coins cost rs 10), Pahadi Shiv Dham Yatra (where you can experience the illusion of being at the pilgrimages of Haridwar, Rishikesh, Badrinath, Kedarnath, and Amarnath – complete with an exact replica of the famous frozen shrine!!), Barah Jyotir Ling Yatra (where you can see exact replicas of the 12 sacred lingams along with animatronics!), a replica of Mansarovar Lake, Pratyaksh Ling, Healing Stone and Navagraha Temple.
The temple is abode to the 65-feet-tall Shiva statue seated in a Yogic (Lotus) posture with the scenic backdrop of Mount Kailash, Himalayas and the Ganges flowing from the Lord’s matted locks. Timings: Open 24 hours, all days
12. Ulsoor Lake – It is located near M.G.Road. Though there are timings to visit the lake, a tip of rs 10 will get you inside during off timings. The lake is one of the biggest lakes of the city and is dotted with islands. There is a boat club at the lake (whose gate is on the other side) where you can hire a boat to go boating around the beautiful lake. Boating club timings : 9 am to 6 pm with holiday on Wednesday. Apparently, there is also a gurdwara near the Ulsoor lake, considered to be the largest Sikh shrine in the Bangalore city of India but we didn’t visit that.
13. Bangalore Palace – It is situated in the Palace Gardens, near Jayamahal. The beautiful palace was built by a Wodeyar King in 1887 on the 400 acre space. It is built in the Tudor style, complete with Gothic windows, foiled windows, battlements and turrets; apparently inspired by the Windsor castle in London. The palace is constructed largely of wood and is famous for its carvings, paintings, historical photos, furniture, trophies from hunts and traditional dresses. There are audio tour guides available for tourists which are quite useful to understand and enjoy the palace. Also the audio guide is available in English, Kannada, Hindi, French, Spanish, German, Italian and the tour lasts about an hour. But the entrance fees is very costly. For Indians it is Rs 200 (inclusive of audio guide) and camera charge is Rs 600!!! The grounds are now used for hosting various events. We visited the palace on 31st Dec so there were lot of preparations going on for some New Year bash. So we didn’t get to capture any nice photos of the impressive palace. Timings : 10 am to 6 pm (Sunday Holiday)
14. ISKCON Temple – The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) temple in Bangalore city is situated near Chord Road on a hillock called “Hare Krishna Hill”. The huge cultural complex is quite wonderful and has all the facilities. But one has to give all belongings (except purses) including camera. But people still take snaps using mobiles! Anyway so there are some direct darshan passes ( don’t know the cost) available to bypass the “buffer” system; which is quite tedious to be frank and especially when you fall behind someone who traverses the path actually stepping on stone tiles one at a time while chanting the mantra. And after all that one gets to see the idols and pray for just two seconds and is forced to move along!! But that will make a separate blog post in itself, so moving on..there are three temples mainly, one higher than the earlier. The construction of the place, the interiors, the gold-plated dwajastambha (flag post) at 17m high and the gold plated kalash shikara at 8.5m high are pretty impressive. On the return path, there are all sort of shops selling various mementos, dress materials, stationery items, idols and even tasty food items and sweets. One does get hungry after all that walking! There is free distribution of prasadam too. The place can get very very crowded during evening so beware! Timings for darshana: 4.15 am to 5 am, 7.15 am to 12.50 pm and 4 pm to 8.20 pm everyday.
There are still so many places left to visit – Bannerghatta National Park, HAL Aerospace Museum, Cubbon Park [by the time we visited all the places on KG road it was closing time for the park somehow every time ], St. Marks Cathedral etc. So there will be a second part of this post! Hence to be continued……