A Small Taste of What Bangalore Has To Offer
We have a lot of catching up to do since I wrote my last blog post a week ago. When I wrote it, I had not yet boarded my flight. Now, I’ve been in Bangalore, or Bengaluru, for a little over a week. Life is so hectic here in the city. It feels as if it has been much longer.
If you haven’t read my About Me section, I should add that I will be working as a journalist at Citizen Matters. I will not be participating in a typical study abroad program where I attend a foreign university. My first assignment was writing about a bus service that takes passengers to sightseeing locations around the city.
The bus system in Bangalore (BMTC) has a service called Bangalore Rounds: Hop-On, Hop-Off. For 250 Rupees, about $4, travelers can visit about 20 different attractions around the city. Buses arrive every 30-45 minutes at drop-off/pick-up points near the locations.
I started later in the afternoon, around 1 p.m., so I was not able to visit many of the sites. The service only runs until around 6 p.m. Because of this, I only had time to go to two sites, Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace, and the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens.
Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace
Back when Bangalore was small enough to fit within a fort, Tipu’s Palace was used as a summer vacation house. The city used to have a cooler environment, until a massive surge in population growth and the accompanying traffic congestion caused air pollution. Tipu Sultan is well known for his political and administrative reforms. He frequently fought with the British, and one of his prized possessions was a wooden toy showing a British soldier being mauled by a tiger. The toy was on exhibit but no pictures were allowed.
The palace was constructed over a period of 10 years, and is held up by the 160 pillars. The architectural design served more than just an aesthetic purpose. The wind is funneled in such a way that the breeze blows stronger upstairs, creating cooler air upstairs. It’s like an old-fashioned, non-electric, air-conditioning unit.
The ruler used to stand on this balcony (see above photograph) and deliver rulings for citizens seeking redress for injustices in a public court. Just picture (MINOR SPOILER ALERT!) what Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, has been doing in Meeran during the last season of Game of Thrones.
Lalbagh Botanical Gardens
The Lalbagh Botanical Gardens are spread across 240 acres of land, and the first thing you notice is its vastness. Unlike the rest of the city, there is open space. It’s one of the few places I’ve been in Bangalore where the sounds of the seemingly never-ending traffic do not reach. It’s a beautiful and calm place.
Unfortunately, I was only able to spend 30 minutes here, so I did not see the majority of what the park has to offer. It’s likely I’ll visit again.
It was an exhausting day, but I enjoyed it. It was the first time I had ventured out into the city on my own. The layout of the city can be confusing, but I was able to find my way back home.
After living in Seattle the last four years, and being able to walk everywhere easily and safely, I’m finding it hard to adjust to India. The road system is unfriendly toward pedestrians. There are few crosswalks, so crossing any street requires finding the smallest gap in traffic and pedestrians just have to start walking, even while cars, buses, motorbikes, and auto rickshaws continue to drive full-speed toward you. Surprisingly, it’s not too terrifying. It’s more of an inconvenience than anything.
Odds and ends
Blogger’s note on this section: I’ll probably end each blog with a few random observations that don’t fit within the context of the narrative, or something that isn’t a topic that could fill an entire blog post.
— I visited a mall yesterday to watch a movie. Turns out they have a metal detector, and a security guard to give visitors a pat down at the entrance of the mall, as well as to the entrance of the auditorium as a security measure. It made me feel nostalgic about going through airport security.
— On the same note: I watched How to Train Your Dragon 2 (not a long movie), but there was still an intermission. The screen turned green, and I thought the projector had broken. During intermission, more commercials were shown. I don’t like this practice.
— It’s my understanding its frowned upon for tourists to travel all the way to the foreign country and then eat in fast food restaurants like KFC, Pizza Hut, or McDonalds. I would disagree. While I would not advocate eating at these places regularly and ignoring the local cuisine, it’s worth it to at least go once to check out the differences in menu. For instance, the McDonalds in Banglaore does not serve beef, so burgers contain non-beef food like chicken, or paneer. “You should see the Chicken Maharaja Mac!” says the guy who forgot to take a photo.