A fast-paced, fun-filled metropolis

High-altitude, high-energy, high-fashion Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) is perhaps India’s most playful city. Known as the ‘Silicon Valley of India’ thanks to its booming tech start-up scene, the Karnataka state capital was once the summer escape of the sultans of Mysore before becoming one of the most important administrative centres for the British.

However, the new has pushed through and a fast-changing metropolis has emerged, bringing with it a young population, a clutch of skyscrapers and a solid dose of fun. Basking in a tropical savannah climate, it boasts smart bars, brunch spots and quirky independent cafes alongside lovely green spaces, impressive Victorian-era architecture and ornate places of worship.

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Top things to see and do in Bengaluru

Bengaluru’s other moniker is the ‘Garden City’, with the tree-lined capital deemed one of the subcontinent’s prettiest cities. Nowhere is this more evident than Lalbagh. Modelled on the Crystal Palace in London (which housed the Great Exhibition in 1851), the botanical garden has India’s largest collection of tropical plants and hosts the city’s famous bi-annual flower shows.

Alternatively, there’s the loved-by-locals Cubbon Park. With a towering bamboo grove and banyan trees, red-orange cannas and vibrant petunias, there are countless spots for picnics and paths for strolling, plus great bird-watching.

It’s also in this area that you’ll come across countless colonial buildings including the High Court, Government Museum and majestic Bangalore Palace, still home to the current Maharaja. Then there’s the Bangalore Club where Winston Churchill enjoyed life as a young army officer, famously leaving a debt (still on the books) of Rs 13. Harking back further into history, the legacy of Mysorean ruler Tipu Sultan, the ‘Tiger of Mysore’, can also be witnessed at Tipu’s Fort and Palace, an elegant picture of Indo-Islamic architecture.

Shopping is another major draw in Bengaluru, offering up the classics whilst catering for a crowd that’s willing to deviate from the norm. Some of the world’s best silk can be found in the city with ample saree showrooms; for the latest trends, head to Commercial Street. There’s a thriving arts and crafts scene, too, with particularly lovely local sandalwood and rosewood carvings available to buy. It’s also worth spending a morning eying up the rainbow-coloured flower stalls at KR Market, overlooked by the towering Nandi Temple, which is often lavished with garlands.

Then there’s the food. Bangalore may have got its name from Bendakalooru (‘the town of boiled beans’, after the legend of King Veeraballa of Vijayanagara, who got lost in a forest and met an old woman who gave him beans for dinner) but thankfully there’s now more on the menu. Time should be set aside for dosas, South Indian savoury crepes (the best can be found at the iconic Mavalli Tiffin Room), but there’s a remarkably diverse restaurant scene to get stuck into. This is most notable in the Indiranagar neighbourhood, where the city lives up to its nickname: ‘The Pub Capital of India’. Here alone, there are more than 200 English pubs, craft breweries and other drinking holes. To continue the night, the city juggles a calendar packed with big-ticket events and a lively underground music scene. Crowning its cosmopolitan status though is Blu O, the largest tenpin bowling alley in India with 27 lanes.

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