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The Big B Of Indian Cities

Laxman V elaborates on why Bangalore is evolving into India’s most happening city

Bangalore Palace

Few cities in the world can boast of such an eclectic blend of time-honoured heritage and modern day technological advances as Bangalore. Fondly referred to as ‘Silicon Valley’, ‘IT capital of India’, and ‘Garden City’ by the local populace, the city is now an established global business hub. So much so that the city plays host to more than 50 chip design companies, 170 multinational and Indian software firms including the likes of Infosys, Wipro, Intel, IBM, Texas Instruments to name a few. In one word, it is home to more than half of the world’s top software companies. This apart, it encompasses more than 75,000 highly qualified IT professionals, which is complemented by the presence of around 21 engineering colleges, the highest for any city in the world. The city’s software exports touched Rs 9,903 crore in 2001-2002 and is expected to be a whopping Rs 17,000 crore by 2002-03. Such is the technological and financial prowess of Bangalore.

With flora like this no wonder Bangalore is called the Garden City

Although the advent of IT has helped Bangalore emerge as a global business hub, the city has a plethora of assets and surprises to offer a tourist in terms of leisure, entertainment, shopping etc. A multitude of factors have led to dramatic transformations in the people’s lifestyle and attitude. The mantra today is style and fashion. There has been a stark metamorphosis in standard of living, entertainment, hobbies, lifestyle and fashion.

Though the radical shift in the city’s culture and lifestyle has to some extent been conditioned by the new global order in business, the city has more than retained its original ‘heavenly’ self. In contrast to the rapid technological advances, ‘culture’ is more important than ever and societal ethos are more pertinent. This explains the peace and serenity that has pervaded the city. People here are more friendly, soft-spoken and make no fuss about being busy.

Says Dr C Manohar, a leading industry analyst, “The four most exotic ingredients that make up Bangalore’s character are its people, culture, architecture and history. The free spirit and new world enterprise the city engenders has given it a whole new identity, that enables it to quickly adapt to new ideas, cultures and environment. Flavoured with cosmopolitan influence, the city is also home to several corporates, MNCs, IT titans, etc.”

It boasts of an intriguing mix of temple complexes, architectural landmarks, palaces, parks etc. which are in perfect harmony with the vibrant modern day advances. It is considerably easy to gain access to destinations in and around Silicon Valley and moreover it is very cost effective. A trip to the Garden City will be incomplete without a visit to Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, Vidhana Soudha, Cubbon Park, Nandi Hills, Tipu’s Fort, Bangalore Palace, Nritya Gram etc. It is a veritable paradise for shopping and offers some of the most exquisite variety of silks, handicrafts, handlooms etc. This apart, the city has an uncanny reputation of having a very high number of pubs, cocktail lounges and restaurants in the country.

Golf, one of the hot new pastimes of the city

Hotel Scene
In keeping pace with the changing profile and tastes of a discerning traveller, the hotels and resorts of Bangalore have undergone a profound transition in the last several years. Buoyed by a booming local economy several hospitality majors across the world are making a beeline to set up shops in the city. The hotel scene is brimming with exciting deals for a business traveller. A customer can easily avail world class hospitality services at seemingly down to earth prices. A variety of attractive holiday and conferencing offers are floated by individual hotels, resorts and travel operators throughout the year. In recent years there has been a proliferation in the number of budget as well as mid-range hotels targeted mainly at middle class travellers. Notable among the newer hotels which has created ripples in the market is The Leela Palace, Bangalore. The property has already been adjudged as one of the best new hotels of 2001 by Forbes Magazine. The property, which is designed on the lines of the world famous Mysore Palace, has already become a sort of landmark.

City of Fairs & Exhibitions
Drawing on its inherent strengths as a viable business hub, Bangalore has virtually become a gateway to India for hosting major international conferences, seminars, industrial and consumer exhibitions. Some of the high profile events include the likes of IT.com, Bio.com, the CII event, Componex, Air Show and a host of other fairs and exhibitions. The city has played host to as much as 15-20 international fairs and conferences in the recent past during which there was a sizeable increase in the number of trade visitors. Direct flights have also enhanced Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) tourism to and from Bangalore.

ISKCON temple

Says Pervin Shivji, GM, Trails, “Bangalore gives a more modern and open feel than any other Indian city. Its climate adds to the attraction. Its choice of budget as well as luxury hotels gives it the added edge over other cities in the country.”

According to a comprehensive survey of tour operators, hotels and tourism authorities carried out by Jones Lang Lasalle, growth in tourist arrivals in the city was relatively high between 1995 and 1997 before slowing down in 1998 and 1999. On the other hand, arrivals from UK have grown at a relatively consistent rate from 1985. The growth arrivals from US was estimated to be higher in the later part of ’90s.

Must-See Places
There are so many interesting and charming places to see that one would hardly know which to pick out as the best. The roads are wide and are adorned on either side by magnificent trees and heritage buildings.

Vidhana Soudha, seat of the state government in the heart of Bangalore

The city is equally famous as a leisure destination and is surrounded by many attractive places like Bannerghatta Nature Camp, Nandi Hills, Sai Baba Ashram. The Bannerghatta Nature Camp is situated within a national park and offers to visitors all the sights, sounds and action of 25,000 acres of carefully preserved jungle. The nature camp is a strategic corridor for pachyderms traversing the Western Ghats. No visit to the Silicon Valley is complete without a visit to the newly established Heritage Centre & Aerospace Museum. Also the city has a rich tradition of culture and heritage, which is best showcased in all its richness and splendour at Janapada Loka (folk culture world) or at the Nrityagram. The Janapada Loka, located on the city outskirts, has a huge art gallery, open-air theatre, studio, museum and a variety of other activities. The Nrityagram on the other hand is a unique destination whose primary concern is to promote classical dances like Bharatanatyam, Odissi, etc.

Shoppers Paradise
The city’s commercial supremacy has transformed it into a virtual shopping destination with a dazzling variety of shopping malls, lifestyle outlets, plazas and arcades mushrooming every fortnight. There is a constant influx of international visitors at major shopping centers located in MG Road, Commercial Street, Brigade Road. On offer are some of the most exotic varieties of silks, exquisite handicrafts, sandalwood, etc. which makes shopping a truly pleasurable experience. The state has a rich tradition of exquisite craftsmanship and handicrafts. These handicrafts are very popular among foreign tourists and are available at a moderate cost. Some of the well-known shopping destinations include Cauvery Arts Emporium (a subsidiary of the government of Karnataka), Central Cottage Industries Emporium (GOI), Karnataka State Silk Industries Corporation (GoK), Nalli Silk Arcade, Kidskemp etc.

Lalbagh Botanical Gardens

The city’s close proximity with Kolar Gold Fields has made it the hub for some of the most famous jewellery houses in the country. Some of the well known destinations for gold and jewellery include Tanishq Jewellery Showroom, Jewels De Paragon, Navarathan Jewellers, Neel Kanth, C Krishnachetty & Sons.

Eating Out

The city is teeming with hundreds of eatouts and cocktail lounges, which have proliferated in high numbers owing to the enhanced spending power and mobility of the younger generation. Visitors frequent the city’s nouvelle fine dining outlets and cocktail lounges expecting a whole new dining experience that would inevitably leave them spellbound. Truly so, tourists are bound to discover a few exhilarating places in the most mystical and magical moments. Deluxe hotels, golf courts, shopping malls, health resorts, bowling alleys, coffee bars add to the already enchanting mix of the handicrafts, Mysore silk, jasmine.

  • Phoenix - One of most happening spots of the city, its fare is eclectic and delectable. The ambience is another major plus with this joint.
    St Marks Hotel
  • Moksh - A first of its kind in the country, this interactive pan-Indian vegetarian restaurant serves timeless recipes rediscovered from the past.
    The Chancery, Lavelle Road
  • Citrus - This multicuisine 24-hour brasserie at The Leela Palace often plays host to the who’s who of Bangalore.
    Airport Road
    Bangalore -560008
  • Monsoon - This premiere designer restaurant offers a very strong element of ethnicity and food styling. The menu encompasses ethnic delicacies from Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesia, Malaysian, Japanese and Indian.
    Park Hotel
    MG Road, Bangalore-560042
    Tel- 5594666
  • Mandarin - One of the oldest oriental eat-outs in the city this restaurant was once the preferred base for the crème-de-la-crème. It is hard to resist this restaurant for its food and serene ambience.
    The Grand Ashok,
Resorts & Clubs

These days few tourists leave Bangalore without expressing admiration at the sheer number of resorts and clubs across the city. The resorts, with their ravishing blend of luxury and health related services, makes your stay a truly memorable experience. On the other hand Bangalore has had its fair share of club culture, which dates back to the Raj era. Some of the well-known names of that era include The Century Club, Bowring Institute, The Bangalore Club.

  • Angsana Oasis & Spa (AOSR) - A first of its kind resort in the country, the AOSR provides an idyllic setting to help ease the tensions of everyday life.
    Tel: (080) 8468898, Fax: (080) 8468897
  • Golden Palms Resort & Spa - Adorned with a Mediterranean style ambience, this spa resort has taken luxury facilities to new levels.
    Tel: (080) 8394074/ 8398407
  • Kabini River Lodge - A six-hour drive from Bangalore, this idyllic property has earned the distinction of being one of the top five wildlife resorts in the world.
    Tel: 5597021-25
  • Shakti Hill Resorts - A first of its kind resort situated within the city precincts, their latest addition includes ayurveda vishranthi dhama, a unique option to rejuvenate your mind and soul.
    Tel- 2998817/10
Cocktail Lounges & Pubs

Pubs have become an integral part of Bangalore’s lifestyle. The city has the uncanny distinction of having one of the highest number of pubs and cocktail lounges in the country. It is often referred to as the pub city of India in a lighter vein.

  • Hypnos - Named after the Greek God of sleep, Hypnos brings to life the true experience of the Mediterranean belt through its exclusive drinks, ambience and food.
    Gem Plaza, Infantry Road
    Tel- 5323901-4
  • Insomnia - This nouvelle cocktail lounge cum nightclub is one of the most happening places in town and offers an exclusive 4,000 sq ft area replete with 3 bar counters, state of the art dance floors, exquisite furnishings, improved sound systems (jamo) imported from Sweden and a host of other facilities.
    Le Meridien
    Sankey Road, Bangalore
  • I_bar - A product from Park Hotel, this bar encapsulates the energy and dynamism of the wired and wireless era.
    MG Road
    Bangalore -560042
    Tel- 5584666
  • Dublin- The Welcompub - Adorned with Irish artefacts and décor, the pub brings to life the true Irish spirit with authentic décor, music, food and two Irish bartenders who dole out authentic Irish cocktails like Baby Guinness, Molly’s Alexander and much more.
    Windsor Sheraton & Towers
    Sankey Road, Bangalore-560052