I’ve often thought that a nomad like me is just not cut out to enjoy a city. Time and again, my two years in Delhi reinforced that belief. But when I decided to pack my bags and make the road my home (Read: I’m Hitting The Road, Indefinitely), something unexpected happened; I fell in love with Bangalore. Even on a summer afternoon, Bangalore was a breath of fresh air. People hung out on the streets, quaint cafes lurked around every corner, breweries served up handcrafted beers, and the cool weather was perfect for pleasant strolls. Here’s my ode to the city, and a lowdown for your next trip to Bangalore:
WHERE TO STAY
- The Elanza Hotel, Richmond Road. I’ve tried several boutique accommodations in Bangalore over different trips, and found Elanza the most delightful – chic yet homely – so much that I’ve gone back and checked in multiple times. The modern rooms are comparable to a five-star hotel, the staff friendly and willing to go far out of their way to make your stay comfortable, the breakfast buffet well worth waking up for, and the location convenient (walking or short auto ride distance to lots of nice cafes and restos in the city centre). I’ve scored it for as low as INR 3,000 per night on Makemytrip, really excellent value for money!
- [Update: I earlier recommend Roerich Grand Hotel, but since their management changed in early 2014, I don’t recommend them anymore. The last time I booked, I was shocked to find the rooms shabby and the staff unconcerned.]
- Au Bon Pain, Brigade Road. Most coffee shops open around 10 am, but if you find yourself walking the streets in the wee hours of the morning, grab a bite at this gourmet bakery (opens at 7 am). The freshly prepared basil pesto and cheese croissant and the mango smoothie are must tries.
- Art of Bicycle Trips. I accepted their invite to cycle along a 25 km stretch on the outskirts of Bangalore, and it changed everything I knew about the city. We pedaled along mango orchards, wine groves, farms and lakes – flat, scenic, tranquil country roads for the most part. They hold weekend bicycle rides often; the meeting point is RT Nagar, the bikes are in great shape with a safety vehicle, the pricing (at INR 3,000 per person) is more than reasonable, and the guides are a fun bunch. I can’t wait to do longer rides with them. Highly recommended!
- Meghana Foods, Residency Road. Literally a stone’s throw away from Roerich Grand Hotel is this busy biryani joint. It serves some of the best vegetarian biryani I’ve ever tasted, complete with curry and raita, on a banana leaf. I loved it so much, I had it twice in two days.
- BonSouth, Koramangala. What a treat! For some 500 rupees, you get an all-you-can-eat buffet, and I loved the vegetarian starters (south Indian flavors, don’t ask me names yet) so much that I barely had space for the main course. The staff was lovely, and came chasing after us when we were leaving – no tipping allowed! Seriously, don’t miss it.
- Starbucks, Church Street. Bangalore’s first Starbucks opened in the heart of the city and I love it. Spacious and varied seating upstairs, fast and free Wifi, lots of charging points, yummy frappuccinos and plenty of opportunities to eavesdrop on interesting conversations.
- Arbor Brewing Company, Magrath Road. If your creativity flows with beer, this microbrewery for you. The food is nothing to write home about, but the beers are refreshing and the ambiance is awesome even during the day.
JUST TO CHILL
- [Update: The quality of food had fallen considerably on my last visit in 2014] Green Theory Cafe, Convent Road. An oasis in the middle of the city, this is your break from city life (not that you’ll need one in Bangalore, atleast in your first 24 hours!). With leafy green surroundings, this vegetarian / vegan cafe serves up delicious nachos and pizzas, cooked using organic ingredients.
- Matteo Coffea, Church Street. With an alfresco sit-out for people watching, Matteo seems to be a favorite among locals. There’s free Wifi too, but don’t expect to get much done with no charging points.
GRAB A BEER
- The Biere Club, Lavelle Road. An after-work hangout of choice, this microbrewery has a chirpy ambiance, complete with funky wall paintings, a rustic bar, and a whole range of in-house brews to sample.
- Toit, 100 Feet Road. Not one I had the chance to try, but it came highly recommended from my Facebook and Twitter networks. Good beers, great ambiance, they say.
- Mavalli Tiffin Rooms (MTR), Lalbagh Road. I didn’t have the time to try it, but they say it has the best South Indian food in town, and possibly all of India!
- The Glass House, Lavelle Road. A classy hideout in the centre of the city yet away from it all. We hung out for hours on the glass deck upstairs, sampling drinks and indulging in the eggplant-pesto starter.
Over to you, how do you recommend exploring and tasting Bangalore?
Post updated: October 2015. Featured image by Arup Malakar.