Bengaluru, better known as Bangalore, is one of India’s thriving metropolitan cities, drawing tourists, students and employers from across the country and the world. Its vibrant local culture and booming IT industry has earned it a reputation as the ‘Silicon Valley of India’, but Bangalore has so much more to offer. Aside from the obvious tourist hotspots like Bangalore Palace, Cubbon Park, and Bull Temple, the city has plenty of other sites that are worth exploring. While you should certainly visit the most popular destinations, don’t miss out on these hidden gems as well.
Here are 15 underrated attractions in Bengaluru, many of which may not feature on the regular tourist circuit. Don’t give them a miss!
1. Freedom Park
Bengaluru has long been referred to as the ‘Garden City of India’, a reputation that it truly deserves. So, it is only fair that the first attraction on this list should feature an iconic, but less-known park. Freedom Park may not be as well-known as Cubbon Park and it does not draw the same crowd, but it is no less important. This park is not just a place of natural beauty, but it is also important to the city’s historic legacy. Formerly the site of the Central Jail that housed many opposition leaders during the emergency, it was recently transformed and rechristened as Freedom Park. True to its name, a part of the park is actually allotted for protests. The park has a jail museum, a recreational center, an amphitheater, and more, on its 16 acre ground.
2. Mayo Hall
Nestled in the midst of Bengaluru’s ever-burgeoning high-rises and modern buildings, Mayo Hall is an iconic building, characteristic of British colonial architecture. Regarded as one of the most elegant buildings of its time, the structure is even more striking now, like a forgotten relic that escaped the surrounding rush to modernity. The building was constructed early in the 20th century to commemorate Lord Mayo, the 4th Viceroy of India. The two-storied structure is renowned for its architecture, ornate furnishings, chandeliers, stone arches, and Tuscan columns. The building also houses the Kempegowda Museum on its first floor. Although easy to miss in this fast-paced city, Mayo Hall is a site that you definitely should visit.
3. Bangalore Town Hall
Bangalore Town Hall is another landmark in the city. The imposing structure was built by Sir Mirza Ismail at the behest of the then Maharaja of Mysore, Krishna RajendraWodeyer, with his laying of the foundation stone in 1933. The construction was completed in just 2 years. The imposing structure was built in a neoclassical style, with its greco-romancolumns supporting a massive porch. It was later renamed as the Sir K.P PuttannaChetty Town Hall in honor of the former president of Bangalore city municipality. The building was meant to serve as a cultural and entertainment center, with its huge auditorium having a capacity to seat over a 1000 people. After undergoing extensive renovations, the auditorium can now accommodate 810 people.
4. Daly Memorial Hall
Bengaluru is filled with its fair share of monuments and memorials to the many eminent personalities who have passed through this city. The Daly Memorial Hall is one such monument that commemorates Sir Hugh Daly, who was the Resident of Mysore State, from 1910 to 1916. Instilled with history, the memorial has played host to the greats like Rabindranath Tagore, C.V.Raman, and Mahatma Gandhi. The structure was built as a site for the Mythic Society, an organization of like-minded British and Indians, with a deep interest in India’s history, culture, and lifestyles. Daly Memorial Hall is still home to the society today and it contains a huge library with over 40,000 books on Indian history, culture, traditions, folklore art, anthropology, archaeology, and lots more.
5. Bagmane Tech Park
Despite Bengaluru’s reputation as the ‘Silicon Valley of India’, most tourists pass through the city without a true appreciation of its technological prowess and meteoric rise in the global IT sector. This is why it is important that you also pay a visit to Bagmane Tech Park. The sprawling tech park contains 10 impressive modern buildings, tree-lined avenues, world-class facilities, a shopping mall, and a lake that occupies 11 acres of land at the center! Home to some of the largest corporations in the world, with the likes of HSBC, Motorola, Samsung India Software Operations, Lenovo, HP, Dell, Yahoo!, LinkedIn, Tesco Hindustan Service, Ogilvy, Oracle Financial Services Software Limited, Volvo, and many more, Bagmane Tech Park will leave you gaping and gawking.
6. Ulsoor Lake
Ulsoor Lake is another of the city’s notable landmarks, often overlooked by tourists, unless they are paying a visit to the gorgeous Sri Guru Singh SabhaGurudwara, the biggest Sikh shrine in the city. Whether you are a Sikh or not, visit the shrine for its architectural magnificence and spend a relaxing day at this beautiful lake. Constructed by KempeGowda II in the 16th century, the lake is a sight for sore eyes, with its beautiful blue waters and small artificial islands. You can relax on the shores or even enjoy boating activities and visit some of the small islands.
7. Turahalli Forest Area
Any nature-enthusiast or outdoorsman should make it a point to visit the Turahalli Forest Area. Whether you enjoy trekking, hiking, or bicycling, Turahalli Forest is one of the best places to spend the day at, as you will lose track of time, following the narrow and enchanting trails that cut through the dense vegetation. Located 20 kms off Kanakapura road, this forest is regarded by many of the old ‘Bangaloreans’ as the city’s last surviving forest, the area that it covers has shrunk as consequence of urbanization.But it still contains a few hillocks. Bangalore’s environmentalists are quite passionate about conservation and preserving Turahalli is a matter of pride for them. To enjoy adventure activities like trekking and rock-climbing at Turahalli sign up, using Cleartrip’s app.
8. Omkar Hills
Omkar Hills includes one of the highest elevations in Bangalore, making it a great place to get some panoramic photographs of the surrounding landscape. Located in the Rajarajeshwari Nagar area of Bengaluru, Omkar Hills isn’t some kind of nature getaway though. While there is plenty of greenery and some pleasing scenery to be enjoyed, it’s most famous for its historic temples and a gigantic clocktower. The Omkar Clock Tower is the biggest clock tower in India and it is said to be even bigger than the famous Big Ben, of London. While you’re here, make it a point to visit the Omkar Temple and Shanmukha Temple too.
9. Vidhana Soudha
This iconic, palatial building is the seat of legislature in Karnataka. Built in a combination of the neo-Dravidian and Indo-Saracenic styles, this monument boasts of intricately carved arches, pillars and pediments. It is spread over a sprawling 2,45,000 feet, and was created with the intention to show off indigenous artwork and architecture. The foundation stone was laid on July 13, 1951. Keeping in mind the fact that India had just become a democracy, the Vidhana Soudha was constructed to be a “people’s palace”. When you enter, you will be welcomed by a four-headed lion, which symbolizes India’s sovereignty. For a truly breathtaking experience, visit this mammoth structure on Sunday evenings and public holidays, when it is lit up in splendid colors.
10. Dharmaraya Swamy Temple
ShriDharmarayaSwamy Temple may not be as famous as the Bull Temple is with visiting tourists, but it is extremely important to the inhabitants of Bengaluru. This is in fact one of the oldest temples in the city, and it is in many ways at the heart of the city. The precise origin of the temple isnot known, but archeological surveys that have been conducted suggest that it is around 800 years old. When the city of Bangalore was founded by KempeGowda, in the 1500s, it is said that the temple was used as the center point, with the four towers or KempegowdaGopuras, having been erected at the four corners of the city. Whether you are religious or not, this temple warrants a visit, with its architectural excellence displaying styles of the Gangas, Pallavas, and Vijayanagara.
11. St. Mary's Basilica
St. Mary's Basilica is an iconic structure in Bengaluru and is the oldest church in the city. The church was originally constructed in 1811 and from its humble origins, as a small chapel, with a thatched roof it has grown into the monumental structure that it is today. It is the only church to have been given the status of a minor basilica and is an important site of pilgrimage for Christians and other devotees, from in and around the city. The church is an architectural masterpiece, built in the elegant Gothic style, with ornamental motifs, beautiful arches, and exquisite stained-glass windows. The tall spires and columns of the basilica dominate the landscape and can be seen from quite a distance.
12. St. Francis Xavier's Cathedral
Although the first church of St. Francis Xavier was built in 1851, it was soon inadequate for the growing Catholic population in the area. The imposing structure that stands today as St. Francis Xavier's Cathedral was finally constructed in 1932, with work having begun in 1911. It was elevated to the status of a cathedral in 1940 and remains an important site of worship for Bengaluru’s Catholic population. Initially constructed with a single dome, two more domes were added, when the structure underwent renovation in 2009. These added domes were in fact a part of the original construction plans, but they were abandoned at the time because of a paucity of funds.
13. Gavi Gangadhareshwara Cave Temple
The GaviGangadhareshwara Cave Temple is a masterpiece of traditional Indian architecture. Built in the 1500s by KempeGowda, the founder of Bengaluru, this temple is a stunning example of Indian rock-cut temple architecture. The temple is also a testament to the astronomical understanding of ancient Indian society and the mathematical precision of its builders. The horns of the stone bull outside the temple were sculpted in such a manner, so as to ensure that the sunrays fall perfectly through them, illuminating the Shiva Linga within the temple. To witness this phenomenon, visit the temple during the MakarSankranti festivities in mid-January, or between the 26th of November and 2nd December.
14. K. R. Market
KR Market is one of Bengaluru’s most famous markets and is very much a part of its cultural identity. It is also referred to as City Market and is the biggest wholesale commodities market in the city. The market which was setup in 1928, comprises of three floors, a basement, and section now used for underground parking. Believed to have once been the site of a battlefield it is today regarded as the largest flower market in all of Asia. The market was named after a former ruler of Mysore, Krishna RajendraWodeyar, and it is now simply known by his initials. Cleartrip even offers a tour of KR Market, so sign up using their mobile app and prepare to be wowed with the fascinating stories and historic background of the place.
15. Russell Market
Russell Market is another one of Bengaluru’s celebrated markets. It is one of the oldest surviving markets in the city, having been built by the British in 1927. The market was opened to the public in 1933 and was named after T. B. Russell, who was the municipal commissioner at the time. The market has a distinctively Indian and Islamic architectural style, but does seem rather rundown and like a shadow of its past self because of years of neglect. Nevertheless, it is still thriving as a marketplace and is definitely worth a visit, especially if you want to pick up any kind of kitchenware, household items, crockery, and so on.
So, the next time you are in the city, make it a point to take the road less traveled. Don’t just visit the regular tourist haunts; instead take a detour and visit these underrated attractions as well, to truly experience the history, nature, and culture of Bengaluru.