Every city has its unique character, call it soul if you will, and Bengaluru’s resides most definitely in its many parks and structures within them. Not for nothing is this gem in the south called the Garden City. But, Bengaluru has much more in store for its intrepid dwellers, and here we take a look at 10 icons of this vibrant city that are absolute must-visits.
The sprawling 240 acre Lal Bagh in the heart of Bengaluru city is home to several beautiful structures apart from a veritable tumult of plants, trees, and flowers. The crowning glory of the botanical gardens that surround it, the Glass House was built way back in 1889 in honor of the visiting Prince of Wales. With architecture inspired by the Crystal Palace of England, the structure initially served as a greenhouse for exotic plant specimens. Today, it is the center of attraction at Lal Bagh for tourists and locals alike and hosts two famous biannual flower shows around the 26th of January (Republic Day) and 15th of August (Independence Day), every year. You can also book a guided walk using the Cleartrip app and discover the gardens and the history behind them at your leisure.
Architecturally impressive and spiritually sublime, the Shanmukha Temple in Bengaluru has its own associated legends and lore. Built to represent the six (Shan) faces (mukha) of the resident deity, the temple perches atop a hillock, and is a sight to behold at any time of the day or night. The six huge faces are further crowned by a vast crystal dome that channels sunrays to bathe the residing deity with natural light during the day. During the night, thousands of LED lights illuminate the crystal dome, making for a stunning spectacle. Early mornings and late evenings are the best times to visit this place as you can avoid the crowds, while enjoying a nippy breeze and breathtaking views from the top.
The thing about places of worship is, no matter which faith they represent or where they stand, they exude an aura of tranquility unmatched by any other manmade structure. The grand Masjid-e-Khadriya, nestled within the heart of Bengaluru, invites you to experience this particular brand of serenity within its vast colonnades, graceful arches, and wide, spacious prayer halls. Revel in the feelings it evokes or simply stare at the stunning Islamic architecture characterized by geometric designs and intricate carvings.
There are malls, and then there are malls! The UB City mall, located smack in the middle of Bengaluru fits into the latter category. A plush, decadent cacophony of sights, sounds, and smells, this is the place to hang-out on a dull day or a happening night. With scores of luxury brands, high end restaurants, cafes, and discotheques, UB City has the wherewithal to satisfy every craving you may have—be it shopping, food, or entertainment.
A memorial and somewhat controversial statue of Queen Victoria stands in the middle of a lush green lung in Bengaluru city. Built by public subscription way back in 1906, this statue has had its fair share of supporters and detractors over the years. Surrounded by the greenery and tranquility of Cubbon Park, the statue is a marble edifice that commemorates Queen Victoria’s death in 1901, and is one of the only five surviving statues of the monarch that still rest in their original places of installation. A total of 50 such statues of the Queen had been installed all over the Indian subcontinent, including one in Karachi, and these speak volumes about the shared histories of the two nations that are now India and Pakistan.
Bugle Rock is a massif that rises in the middle of a lush park. Just the fact that geologists peg the age of this particular rock at 3000 million years is enough to make Bugle Rock a must-see attraction, in Bengaluru. Perched atop this huge rock is Kempegowda Tower, one of the four towers built by the ruler Kempe Gowda, who is credited with founding the Garden City way back in the 16th century. From the tower you will be treated to spectacular panoramic views of the entire city.
Kids and stars mix exceptionally well at this institution. Even if you don’t have children, but have a child-like curiosity for the heavens, then this is the place to be. The Nehru Planetarium hosts regular shows, films, and documentaries that enlighten us common folks about the solar system, the Milky Way and the millions of galaxies out there. A well laid out park around it provides for a relaxing day out with both indoor and outdoor fun.
Like most noteworthy attractions in Bengaluru, the Bangalore Palace too is surrounded by greenery and is exceptionally well-maintained. Built by King Chamaraja Wodeyar in 1887, the palace is modeled after the famous Windsor Castle in Britain and boasts of beautiful, eye-catching architecture and detailing. Inside the premises, an audio tour and a collection of sepia photographs offer you a glimpse into the glorious past of the palace. Bangalore Palace is one of the best places to visit if you are an architecture, history, or art buff.
With one of the largest idols of the ‘Nandi’ Bull, believed to be Lord Shiva’s ‘Vahana’ or carrier, the Bull Temple is a must visit for devotees, art-lovers, and the curious as well. Towering 15 feet tall, the idol is made of monolithic granite and is amongst the largest of its kind in the world. Temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and Ganesha also lie nearby and the areas hosts a unique groundnut fair, known as Kadalekai Parase, at the onset of winters. The event is a huge draw for locals and tourists alike. You can also sign up for Basavanagudi darshan at the Bull Temple with the Cleartrip app.
Built by Kempe Gowda in the 16th century as a mud fort, this structure was further fortified with wood and stone by Haider Ali, and later by his son Tipu Sultan. If architecture and history inspire and fascinate you, this fort is a must-visit. Very different from the stone and granite forts in the rest of India, the Bangalore Fort holds a special appeal for its visitors. The Summer Palace of Tipu Sultan is also in the vicinity of the fort and is a great place to spend an afternoon.
Uber-luxe malls, ancient temples, serene parks, and unique geological formations are just some of the treasures that Bengaluru has to offer. Be sure to rediscover these gems that have shaped the character and landscape of the great city.