Today was the first day since I arrived that I have had chance to really explore Bangalore. It’s a sprawling city, but the auto-rickshaws make getting around very easy (once you get used to the way they drive over here!). My first stop was the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, founded c.1760 by the British (it even has a bandstand!) since I had heard there was a special flower display on today for the forthcoming Independence Day celebrations (15th August).
It took me a while to find my way into the gardens proper as the only map I could find lacked the all-important “you are here” marker, but once I did I found them to be very pleasant—although not the immaculately manicured and picturesque gardens one might expect: more a large collection of different species of flora, with some pleasant spots occupied by families enjoying a Sunday outing. The Independence Day flower show was spectacular, though also extremely crowded, which made taking photos difficult. Photos; only the last two are from the flower show itself.
After the Botanical Gardens I took another rickshaw to MG (Mahatma Gandhi) Road, Bangalore’s retail and entertainment hub. Unfortunately I was rather underwhelmed by the area: admittedly it is Sunday and a few places were closed, but MG Road itself seemed to consist mostly of shops selling traditional Indian goods and still no chic. When I later stopped to pull out the guide book I realised that there were two recommended places just before the start of MG Road which I had missed; as usual the gems are always in the back streets, but I wasn’t feeling up to straying too far from the beaten track on my first trip.
Turning off MG Road, I found myself on Brigade Road which had also been recommended, and here I found the less touristy shops and eateries. Unlike MG Road, it was also thronged with hordes of people enjoying a Sunday shopping expedition. Feeling hot and thirsty, I spotted a suave-looking restaurant, and found myself sat in a comfortable sofa perusing a tasty sounding menu which actually explained what dishes called “Aloo Ka Garlay” were about (fried potatoes with green peppers in a spicy sauce). The waiter was friendly, the air conditioning a welcome relief, and the food lovely—although like much of the food in this country, left me feeling a little queasy. 🙁