Before arriving in Bangalore, or Bengaluru as it is now officially known, we had been told by some Bangalore residents that it is only known for its shopping centres and craft breweries. Well, if that is what is recommended by residents, then that is what we’ll do!
Koramangala in the south east
I am so pleased that we opted for an Airbnb stay for our 4 days here, because it meant that we got to stay in Koramangala, in the south eastern part of the city. This area, where we are staying, is quieter than much of the rest of the city which means we can easily get around on foot, or by using Uber or Ola (Indian’s version of Uber – which is better than Uber in my opinion!). The streets here are quite wide and tree-lined. It really looks quite lush. There are lovely low-rise apartment blocks and luxury family homes. By Indian standards, it would be an expensive part of the city to live in, but by UK standards, living costs are rather cheap!
We have since done some research, and there are actually quite a few sightseeing opportunities in central Bangalore, but we also enjoying visiting the lovely Koramangala neighbourhood. Today’s trip included as many as we can squeeze in, and these were the highlights:
- Bull Temple
- Botanical Gardens, Lalbagh Park (with its glass house , based on London’s Crystal Palace)
There are a few other museums, fountains etc, but we won’t have the time. One thing I am disappointed about, is missing the Dodda Alada Mana (I have added the link to a short youtube video), literally translated as the Big Banyan Tree. It’s 25kms from Bangalore, but in the wrong direction
Reasons why we love Bangalore
Bangalore really has impressed us. We really did think it would be just another smelly, dirty, congested and polluted Indian city, but what we found is something entirely different.
- Bangalore Airport. This is the first airport we’ve been to where App based travel companies (Uber and Ola)
- No plastic. Bangalore went plastic free 2 years ago. And they would put first world countries to shame with their implementation of the “no plastic” laws. As a result, the streets are pretty clean – such a contrast to the rest of India we’ve been to.
- Some quiet streets. Especially in Koramagala, where we have been hanging out, there are some quiet, tree-lined streets that are good for walking.
- The number of parks. Every region as at least a small park.
- The Garden City. Bangalore is known as the Garden City, because it has so many parks and trees.
- Getting around. Ola and Uber are available, but I really love Ola. It works so well. You have a choice of so many vehicle types from Tuk-Tuks to micro minis to luxury cars. But this thing I love most, is that before the trip can start, you’re sent an OTP (one time password) code that you have to give you driver. This means no-one gets in the wrong car, and makes the system more secure. (Take note Uber!)
- Pavement composters. They have brilliant pavement leaf composters.
- Good Coffee. There are many cafes and coffee shops, and they all serve pretty good coffee. The choice is generally good. And many cafes do now have free wifi – even if it is provided for just an hour or so at a time.
- Micro breweries. This got Tim excited as Bangalore is especially known for its microbreweries. The beer is good, but you pay for it! The pricing can be quite confusing too. We think they count on people not wanting to do the sums, and just order. See if you can understand this below. Bear in mind 10% service charge and ‘applicable taxes’ are added (5%-18%, but we can never figure out how they apply the rate).
- Friendlier people than in Pondy. Pondicherry is supposed to be such a lovely place, but on the whole we didn’t find people very friendly. Whereas in Bangalore, most people we have been in contact with have been much friendlier.
- Good internet. On the whole the internet, and access to the internet is better than elsewhere. But still not as easily accessible as e.g. Vietnam, in spite of being the Silicon Valley of India.
- International foods. The choice of restaurants is incredible. Name a cuisine, and I am sure you’ll find it here. And the standard is pretty good too
- Pleasant suburbs. Certainly Koramangala looks like the kind of place where you’d want to live. It’s funky, aesthetically pleasing, and everything is on your doorstep.
- Progressive city. Compared to other Indian cities where we’ve been, Bangalore seems progressive and optimistic in its outlook. It is certainly facing the future, rather than focusing on the past.
Things Bangalore can improve on
- Pavements. In some parts, pavements are ok, but can disappear without notice, or have big holes that are hard to see in the dark. It generally is safer to talk in the road, which is contradictory, I know!
- Power cuts. Many good establishments or blocks of flats have generators, because power cuts are common. Good news is, they don’t last long. But it would be even better if they didn’t happen.
- Peak hour traffic. Traffic is apparently a nightmare during peak hour. But interestingly enough, the day happens later here. People start work at 10am or 11am and work until 6pm or 7pm. This means peak hour traffic happens later than what we’re used to.
- Lack of public transport. This of course makes traffic worse. It really should be something that India should expand and quickly. This city is growing fast and already has 8million people living here! Imagine a London with no public transport. They are working on this and expanding their current Metro Train service.
- Hard to cross the road. Indians drive like maniacs, and it is often impossible to cross the road. We generally tag onto a local who is crossing the road, but don’t think it’s fool proof. People drive too fast, whenever they can.
- Confusing Indian Taxes. The Indian GST drives us crazy. It isn’t added to most pricing, so you get a nasty surprise when the bill comes. It varies between 5% and 18% in most normal restaurants, but go to a posh place and it will be 28%! Add another 5%-10% service charge on top of that, and the bill is often a third higher than expected.
- Cows and dogs. In spite of it feeling far more like a first world city, you’ll still find random cows on the streets. And if the streets aren’t lit well, you can really stumble upon a cow or feral dog sleeping on the pavement at night.
- Free wifi. It would be good if all coffee shops offered good, free wifi. But I am aware that this isn’t even available in the UK, where broadband is dirt cheap!
All in all, we really like Bangalore. I wouldn’t be adverse to a stint of work out here – but only if it is on an Expat package of course!
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