India - Bangalore or how to spend hours in the traffic jam
Where should we stay in Bangalore? We had 2 options: a B&B which sounded quite promising bang in the middle of the town or a very promising B&B in Whitefield that was much cheaper and, to top it, one of the 30 most charming B&B in India (according to Conde Nast Traveller). We took the one that offered us a bed first with a lovely email: the Villa Camelot in Whitefield. And yes, living far out of the town was a disadvantage. But we were so lucky to have stayed in Villa Camelot - the advantages outweighed the disadvantages. Well, I will start from the beginning....
To reach Bangalore from Mysore is easy. Just go to the Central Bus Station in Mysore. There are buses departing nearly every 5 minutes. Within 2 hours we reached Bangalore and immediately got a first taste of what this city is about: constant traffic jam! It took us another hour to reach the centrally located bus terminal. We got of our bus and asked around for local buses in the direction of Whitefield. We had no idea where exactly our B&B was located. Whitefield is the IT area of Bangalore with lots of high tech industry as well as some excellent malls, restaurants etc.. It is quite a leafy area, but round about 16-20 ks away from downtown. We just knew this and had the address. So we wanted to reduce the rickshaw costs by simply covering most of the way by public transport. It was not a major problem. We found a Whitefield bound bus. The bus driver told us to get off at a certain point. And we were trying to get a rickshaw. That was difficult as all drivers obviously wanted to ripp us off. But with some patience we found a nice driver who even called our hosts and brought us there safely and by using the meter! A lucky punch. We were welcomed by the hosts Yamini and Raghu with a big hug, huge smiles and a steaming cup of hot chai. It was the warmest welcome we have ever had by arriving in an accomodation! And what an accomodation it was! Really nice decorated, all perfectly clean and our room was just amazing: huge, a great bathroom and an amazing shower. We did not get a key, as the room was simply part of the
family house where we had a room with a bathroom. By stepping outside the room we were standing in the family living room and the kitchen. We were so happy to have chosen this place. For the rest of the afternoon we just relaxed by talking with our hosts. Amazing, how similar minded we were. Sometimes one has to travel half way around the globe to find some soulmates :-). The day went by, we made so amazing new friends and we still had no idea what to do and see in Bangalore. But we did not care. We all had dinner together. And had a perfect sleep in the comfy bed without any stains or bedbugs. Also next morning we took it slowly. After a great breakfast, Raghu drove us the 2 ks to the next bus stop. It was sunday, so it took us only 1 hour to reach town. We got off the bus close to the Garuda Mall. After so many spiritual place where we have been in the last days, we really enjoyed some extensive shopping experience. We walked around the MG Road area, a really beautiful part of Bangalore: new shopping malls for the middle class, tree lined streets and clean streets! There were lots of fantastic restaurants and bars. Wow, this was a totally different part of India which we had not seen so far. This is modern India where even the girls walk around in short trousers. We also enjoyed the atmosphere of the city. It is ruled by business, but somehow people are relaxed, well educated and friendly. For lunch we managed to get a table in the famous and delicious Queen's Restaurant in Church Street. We had some typical south indian treats with veggy curries, dhal and fluffy and hot chapathi. YUMMY!
After lunch we walked around the Vittal Mallya Road area (Grant Road). Wow! Now we believe what we have heared so often: in India, there are living the poorest people as well as the richest people in the world. Well, we were walking among the richest part of Bangalore for sure. We visited the richest mall where we have ever been before (the Trump Center in New York is nothing against that). In our backpacker clothes we truly felt like being at the wrong place. But it was amazing for people watching. And the toilets were wonderful (I never believed I would ever say this about a toilet in India ;-)). Later we walked through the leafy Cubbon Park and passed the State Central Library, the Attara Kacheri (High Court) and the Vidhana Soudha (the government of Karnataka). All these were fantastic colonial buildings. Slowly we made our way back to MG Road and caught a bus back to Whitefield.
The next day, Monday, we naively thought to be back in town by bus in 1 hour. Well, it took us 2 hours! By midday we got of the bus in the Chickpet area. This is the wholesale area of Bangalore with old houses, narrow streets full of little lorries and rickshaws. It is busy, busy, busy. In the beginning we did not know how to take it all in. It was too much for our senses. But after a while it was great fun. We walked along the streets, visited some of the little shops til we finally reached Krishnarajendra Market, the oldest and busiest market in Bangalore. It was really old, but so wonderful. No need to mention that it was packed with people.... We continued with a visit to the old Fort of Bangalore and the Tipu Sultan's Palace. Unfortunately, it was already quite late, so the beautiful Venkataraman Temple (a Vishnu Temple) close to the Sultan's Palace was already closed. We took a rickshaw back to MG Road - and it took us 1 hour to cover the 6 ks. The traffic is unbelievable in this city. The streets are simply full with all means of transport. We had a quick bite to eat before we took a bus in the direction of Whitefield again. But this time we got off at the Kempfort Shiva Temple (which is about half way). This is a very special and beautiful Shiva Temple right behind a huge mall. We spend one hour in the temple. And then it was time to meet a friend. We met Shilpa in Madikeri for the first time at the Abbi Falls and later that day again in a temple in town. We became Facebook friends. When we wrote her that we are in Bangalore where she lives, we quickly found time to meet again. Together with a good friend of her, Niharika, we 4 went for dinner in a restaurant. Later we were invited to Shilpa's home to meet her mum and her brother. It was a great evening and the 2 ladies took great care of us. They even drove us around carefully on their scooters! Herewith we want to thank them again for the lovely evening!
On our last day in Bangalore we went again back to town by bus. OK, again it took us nearly 2 hours to reach the town. This time we went to the Commercial Street, a fantastic shopping street with small shops galore! Unfortunately, it was already too late to visit the Bangalore Palace. We skipped this one. instead we took a rickshaw and went to the Iskcon Bangalore. We both enjoyed the Iskcon temple in Mumbai a lot. The Bangalore temple is much bigger. And it is extremely beautiful. The walls and the ceilings are made of pure gold - and they are not covered with gold, it is solid gold! The murthis (statues of the deities) are also amazing! Wow, we were speechless. We spend some time there for meditation and an aarti. Then it was time to get a rickshaw to the central bus terminal and the bus to Whitefield. To reach our home it took us 3 hours! By that time we were really fed up with the traffic. We love Bangalore. Although there are not many touristic spots to visit, there are a lot of different things to see. We love these kind of cities where there is not much to do from a touristic point of things. But when you follow the suggestion of the locals it is a fantastic city. We had a fantastic homestay, met so many wonderful people. But the traffic is so horrible!
Bangalore has showed us a different kind of India, a modern face. In between our travels we were shocked so many times about the way even young people still think positively about the arranged marriage, about a lot old society rules and a lot of society pressure. These surely may exist in Bangalore as well. But there are a lot of well educated, very open minded young people that create the future of India in a very positive way. One can feel that they want to break out (and they do break out) of this pressure. And what is wonderful to observe, they are very proud to be part of a modern, forward looking India.
There is still a lot to see in Bangalore and we will come back for sure one day. Especially, to visit our new friends again who made our stay great (despite the traffic)! For sure, staying in the middle of town would have saved us a lot of hours on the bus, but we would not have met so amazing people! Thank you so much guys!