Even though my time in Bangalore was a mere two weeks, I still was able to explore quite a bit. I tried to pack in as much as I could, but with weekend trips and getting sick, I didn’t get to do as much as I had hoped I would. I realize that I barely scratched the surface as far as all the Indian city has to offer, but even with volunteering, I was able to experience a decent amount.
Many of what I did revolved around food and shopping, but these are a few things I think you should do if you’re in town. Some may be a bit off the beaten path, while others you may already know about. Still, with even a short amount of time there, these are the experiences that I would easily recommend to those visiting.
Explore the National Gallery of Modern Art
Looking for the perfect escape from the city? The National Gallery of Modern Art is your spot. Once you walk in the gates, you feel transported. The outdoor gardens and building that houses the art gallery is stunning and the art inside is worth a look around. We were lucky enough to catch K.S. Radhakrishnan’s bronze sculpture exhibit, which was inspiring and uplifting. For such a simple concept, the statues evoked many feelings of humanity and the human condition.
While there, I’d also recommend grabbing lunch at the little outdoor cafe, which is reason enough to visit the museum. I’d suggest the paratha and a lassi; one of the best meals I had in Bangalore. If you plan on visiting, the museum is open from 10am-5pm, but closed on Mondays and national holidays. The entrance fee is ₹500 for foreigners and ₹20 for Indian nationals.
Eat your way through Food Street
If you’re looking to try the best street food in the city, look no further than Food Street, also known as Thindi Beedi, which has endless options to choose from. We headed over on a Friday night and it was packed with families; what made it even better was that we were the only Westerners. Since we wanted to try it all, we decided to split each dish between the four of us. Even so, we got full fast, so this spot deserves more than one visit.
We indulged in idli, channa batura, chola tikki, chai, samosa chaat, rumali roti, and falooda kulfi. All were delicious, but the biggest hit was the warm almond milk, which all of us dreamed about having again for the rest of our trip. Most spots are open by 7pm, but get there on the early side if it’s the weekend, as it gets crowded fast. Be sure to bring some friends and an empty stomach.
Indulge in chai and dosas at Central Tiffin Room
Any chance I could, I found myself ordering chai in India, I just had to have it all. But, nothing was as good as the one at Central Tiffin Room. Hands down, it was the best chai I had during my seven weeks in India, and I liked it so much I revisited CTR several times during my two weeks in town. Famous for its Masala Dosas, CTR quickly won over my heart with not just its chai, but also its dosas.
The restaurant, located on 7th Cross at the corner of Margosa Road, is small, always full, and warm, and while you will most likely sweat while eating your dosa and drinking your chai, it is all worth it, and you will find yourself going back for more. It’s also incredibly affordable, especially for the quality of food you’re getting. This was one of my favorite meals while in Bangalore and enough to get me back to the city one day soon.
Shop and eat at Ants
This photo isn’t from Ants, but the kurti I am wearing is from there. Ants, located in Indiranagar, is certified as a fair trade organization and registered as a Public Charitable Trust, as they work to preserve artisan work of tribes in Northeast India.
If you like shopping, but want your money to go to a good cause, this is your place. They have everything from handicrafts to clothes and shoes, beauty products and jewelry to pottery. Not only will you want to buy everything in the store, their products are beautiful, you will feel good supporting tribes who need it most. Feeling hungry after shopping? Located above the shop is a cafe, where you’ll feel a million miles away from the busy city.
Wander the markets in Malleshwaram
One of my favorite streets in the city was right near our apartment. Off of busy Sampige Road around 8th cross are some markets that we wandered around several evenings. My favorite area was where they were selling fresh fruits and vegetables on the street. While I am sure many people at home won’t believe it, the produce looked better than what’s often sold here in the supermarkets.
There’s lots of shopping to be done around here, from clothing to jewelry, though after all the shopping I did in Rishikesh, I held back a bit. Even so, this is the ideal spot to wander around, getting lost in the tree covered streets and alleyways.
Visit one of the many temples
While I had been to a few temples during my time in India, it was interesting to see the difference between temples in the north and those in the south. The ones I visited near our apartment were more colorful and intricate than others I had seen. During one of my first nights in town, I wandered around two in Malleshwaram, but since it was dark, I didn’t get any good photos.
Another notable temple is the Shiva Temple, and while I didn’t get there on this trip, I am hoping to visit one day in the future. Once I got sick, I simply ran out of time. Luckily, I plan on returning to Bangalore eventually.
Enjoy a thali at Mavalli Tiffin Room
There are plenty of places to enjoy a thali in Bangalore, but my first and only experience was at MTR in Malleshwaram, and it was so good, I have to recommend it. This meal is made up of a variety of dishes, served on one plate, and can vary from place to place and day to day. It’s a lot of food, but you get to have it all at once, which was my favorite part.
While I couldn’t handle all of the spices, I loved being able to have more of what I did enjoy. I can’t even tell you what I ate, but every single bite was delicious.
Go out for drinks at High
If you want to experience another side of India and Bangalore, head to High, a posh nightclub on the roof of the World Trade Center. Not only will you get a view of the city, but the drinks are good and the atmosphere is ideal for hanging out with friends.
On Fridays and Saturdays, there’s dancing, but we visited on a week day, and while it was relatively sleepy, it was perfect for bonding with new friends. I felt so far away from India this night, and since it was week six, honestly, it was a welcome change to get dressed up and straighten my hair for the first and only time during my whole trip.
Shop for a saree or salwar suit
Bangalore is known for their sarees, but with one already purchased in Rishikesh, I held back. As much as I love Indian fashion, I couldn’t envision too many opportunities to wear my own saree again, let alone a second one. For a while, I wanted to buy myself a langa, mainly to show off my new yoga stomach, and a beautiful one hanging outside of a shop was enough to drag me inside. But, again, I wasn’t being practical, so I decided instead to look at the salwar suits upstairs in the shop.
Shopping in India is fun because it’s relatively effortless; the shop owners pull out the clothes and you say yes or no. Still, sometimes it’s hard for them to realize exactly what you want, especially when I am there telling them I want something simple, but also sparkly, which kind of contradict each other. But, somehow, the man at the shop managed to pull out the perfect salwar suit. It was so perfect that the three of us who were shopping, all got the same one in different colors; it’s the one that my friend, Arlina, is holding up in the photo.
Just as I was getting used to life in Bangalore, it was time for me to fly home for the holidays. So while I didn’t have enough time, I did feel like I had a relatively good hold on the city. But, now that I am home, I feel it calling back to me; I know that there’s so much more to explore in and around the city.
Did I miss something? Please let me know in the comments. Since I see myself heading back to Bangalore one day in the future, suggestions are essential.