Earlier this year, I spent a week in Bangalore – catching up with old friends, making new ones and trying to get a feel of the City in the few short days that I was there. Most of my time was spent eating (of course) and sampling some of the best that Bangalore had to offer, with a smattering of sightseeing thrown in, too. It really didn’t take me more than a day to see why everyone I know raves about Bangalore so much – it’s so lovely, I definitely want to make another trip again soon. Keeping in mind that I stayed with a friend, and didn’t have an unlimited spending budget, here are some great things to eat, see and do while you’re in India’s Garden City:
I’m definitely not a morning person, but even I have to admit – it was worth waking up a little early just to make a trip to Cubbon Park for some peace and quiet. Though it is bordered by busy roads, the abundance of trees here absorb the noise, and you’ll find people taking their morning walks, surrounded by chirping birds and the occasional dog bounding through the leaves in pursuit of a ball (people are allowed to bring their dogs here – bonus points!). The trees here have such unusual trunks and growth patterns, that I was reminded of the Ents in The Lord of The Rings (never a bad thing). I’d have loved to have spent more time here – probably stretched out under said trees – with a good book and a flask of tea.
Chumbak is a homegrown Indian design brand, making products that are inspired by the local culture. From clothes to home decor, tech and travel accessories to stationery, Chumbak makes it all. I’ve been a loyal customer of theirs since they started out in 2009, picking up their merch from art markets, boutique stores and basically anyplace I could get my hands on it. When I found out their flagship store at CMH Road was close by, AND that they had a sale on, my reaction was, SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY! Honestly, though – I had been saving for this for AGES. The staff at their store were exceptionally friendly and helpful, and were even willing to ship some of my purchases to me, at no extra cost. Basically, I wanted to pack right up and move in to the store , but unfortunately the staff didn’t look to excited at that prospect. I can’t imagine why.
I’ve always enjoyed a meal of Idli and Dosas – in grade 5, I used to trade my sandwiches for them in school during break. I’ve eaten more Dosas than I can count, so when my friends took me to CTR, I wasn’t expecting anything different than the usual. Boy, was I wrong – this Dosa changed the way I will appreciate Dosas for the rest of my life. My culinary journey was spun on it’s head – now THIS was a REAL Dosa. Crisp as paper on the outside, fluffy as a bunny’s tail on the inside and with just a touch of the purest ghee for that extra smooth, buttery taste. I was so overwhelmed, I couldn’t even find the words to speak. And that chutney? Oh, God. This was a culinary education at its best.
Apparently much more popular than my beloved CTR, MTR also caters to the same crowd with much of the same food items. Word has it that people line up outside the restaurant from as early as 5 a.m., and once a certain number of breakfast meals are met, the restaurant closes its doors and prepares for the lunch service. Lather, rinse, repeat. I have to say, I much preferred the Dosas at CTR over these, but they were also quite delicious. My recommendation for MTR would be their sweet shop next to the dining hall. I picked up their famous Mysore Pak and some savouries like Banana Chips and local favourites. The Mysore Pak was absolutely heavenly, melt-in-your-mouth goodness that echoes in my food dreams. Try before you buy, if you’re picky about your Indian sweets.
One of Bangalore’s most popular brewhouses, TOIT, was packed to the gills even on a Wednesday night. Getting a table for two was so difficult at the last minute, that we were seated on bar stools – not that I’m complaining, it was totally worth it. I’m not huge on Beer, but I really enjoyed their Wit Beer which we used to wash down some superb Prawns on Fire and Beefy Loaded Potatoes. For dessert, we tried the Toit Special – and is definitely a must-try of you’re a chocoholic.
Since I was in town to catch a music festival (which sadly, was a huge disappointment) I decided to check out one of Bangalore’s most popular music venues, The Humming Tree. My friends and I went here on two nights, actually. The first night was more relaxed, we had drinks on their open-air terrace which was pleasant. The second night was the pre-party of the music festival I was to attend, so their gig space on the floor below the terrace as well as the terrace itself was full of music-hungry people. If you’re a fan of live gigs in general, check their schedule and make a trip. Also, try the Tickle Me Pink on their Special Cocktails menu.
An Asian themed ‘Gastro-Bar’, also situated on a rooftop, is worth checking out if you love Asian food. Don’t expect 100% authentic dishes, but keep your mind open and your belly empty before you go. I liked the Salmon Carpaccio, dressed with ginger and garlic juice, soy, yuzu, chopped scallions and sliced jalapenos. The Prawn and Garlic Chive Gyoza and the Chasu Ramen – pork stock with bacon, braised pork belly, bean sprouts, marinated soft boiled egg and scallions – were palatable, but nothing to write home about. I did enjoy the Slow Cooked Apples and Filo Pastry Slice – served with a soy caramel sauce, creme mousseline and cinnamon ice cream – much more than I thought I would!
A cutesy, rustic-style cafe that sits right beside Toit, I’d heard that the breakfast here was superb, so we paid Glen’s a visit, with the intention to indulge in some waffles – only to find out that they were only available on the weekend (sad face). Hungry for a quick bite, we ordered a Grilled Chicken Corn Salad – marinated in crushed garlic and lemon juice, tossed with olive oil, crushed pepper, lettuce and cucumber. Unfortunately, it sounded better than it tasted. The only thing you need to try here are their pastries – the Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart, Speckled Chocolate Cornflakes and their luscious Soft-Centered Cupcakes were sinfully good!
If you want to eat like a local, ask a local to take you to lunch! Lucky for me, that’s what I had the chance to experience during my stay. My friends insisted I get a real taste of Andhra cuisine, so they ordered us each a lunch Thali, served on banana leaves. The Sambhar here was sublime, and the Ghee Rice was next-level amazing. I also tried some Fried Fish, and though the masala flavours went well with the rice, it was a bit too dry for my liking. Everyone ate with their hands, but since I have zero hand-eye co-ordination, I opted to eat with a spoon (and received more than one disapproving look from the nearby tables!). It was a meal out of my comfort zone, but one I would definitely go back for.
A trip to Bangalore just isn’t complete without a stop at Opus! A legend in its own right, this Octopus’ Garden is the best place to assimilate yourself. Read more about my experience at Opus, here.
11. Bangalore Palace
The only major sightseeing I did on this trip, was at Bangalore Palace. I’m obsessed with heritage buildings and colonial-style furniture, so this was something I was extremely keen to do. Unfortunately, the state of affairs at Bangalore Palace is a lot more depressing than anyone will let on – something I saw firsthand. Read more about my experience at Bangalore Palace here.
Most of the places I’ve listed here are in or around Indiranagar, because that was closer to where I was staying. They’re usually within walking distance from each other, but double check on Google Maps – I’ve attached the locations to each as well.