23rd – 28th January – dosa, dosa, dosa!

We’ve been incredibly spoilt by the choice of food on offer here. The famous 100 Feet Road of Indirinagar covers every cuisine you could think of. When discussing (over a pint) what business venture or restaurant we might launch here (if we ever did!), Steve suggested opening a sushi joint as that was the only thing that we hadn’t seen. WRONG. When you look hard enough they have an abundance of them! Not as cheap as other places to eat so didn’t sample any unfortunately. If you’re interested, my idea was to bring a record store to Bengaluru, but again if I looked hard enough I’d probably find one. And that is what makes Bengaluru so great, everything and anything is here.

We keep asking each other, ‘could you see yourself living here?‘ at each place we visit, and I think we honestly could with Bengaluru. Don’t get me wrong, there are still the issues and hurdles that every part of India suffers from; lack of any decent pavement to walk on springs to mind, but the positives outweigh the negatives for sure. After nine weeks you almost become customised to these things… pavements included. I do still find myself complaining about certain things only for Steve to reply, ‘you’re still going on about that after two months here?’. Some things will constantly wind me up no doubt.

This week we’ve done a few of the touristy things, visiting Bangalore Palace, walking through ‘old’ Bengaluru on a Heritage walk, strolling through the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, and visiting a Modern Art Gallery. Oh, and eating at the renowned and amazing Mavalli Tiffin Rooms….

Bangalore Palace was built in the 1860s and inhabited by the rulers of the Mysore State at the time, the Wadiyar family. A lot of people say the design resembles Windsor Castle, and you can see that it’s a bit similar, but the interior and certain wings are incredibly different. Nice interesting place to walk around, especially as we had an audio guide included in the price informing us of the paintings, portraits, artefacts and furniture, as well as info about Wadiyar rule during the British Raj days. They would hold elaborate and expensive parties to wine and dine the British establishment.

The Heritage walk was booked via the Blue Bulb website. We’ve booked quite a few things via them, well priced and offering a variety of things and activities to do. We met our tour guide Usha at 7:30am in the morning – any later and the madness of city life interrupts the tour, alas. Usha took us around the old Fort area of Bengaluru, which we never knew existed. To explain the full history and how the British came to take Bengaluru would take up too much of this post, but if interested, for any history buffs out there, click here! Walking through the old fort area we were struck by how different it was from what we had seen of Bengaluru so far, it felt more like the towns of Madurai and Auranagabad, with streets filled with market traders selling vegetables, flowers and textiles, thrown in with the odd Hindu Temple or Christian Church. Usha took us in to a couple of them and explained the significance of certain God and Goddess carvings. Some of the inscriptions within the Temple were said to date back to the 1600s. Although we’ve been to quite a few Temples now (Steve says he is ‘templed out’) this was the most interesting time I’ve spent in one, which was down to our guide being a devout and passionate Hindu herself and taking the time to explain all manners of spiritual rituals still undertaken.

Once the walk had finished we stopped off for a South Indian breakfast at the famous Udupi Sri Krishna Bhavan. I had the dosa, more of that later, and Steve had the idli. These are the main staple meals for a South Indian Breakfast, the equivalent of toast and cereal for us Brits. Usha also explained the method of how they make South Indian coffee, as it tastes different to what we are used too. For Steve, the coffee lover, he was amazed that they soak the beans overnight and use the strong mixture in the morning to infuse with hot milk. With several teaspoons of sugar of course : )

As the walk didn’t take as long as we thought it would, we hopped in an Uber, and drove to Lalbagh Botanical Gardens. Steve’s family said it was better that Cubbon Park so we thought we’d check it out. They were right actually, a lovely place, and we were lucky to go when there was a flower show on. Not sure Steve found looking at orchids or petunias as interesting as I did, however! We didn’t stay as long as we wanted too, by that time we were knackered from getting up at 6am (like the old working days!) and the heat of the day was sapping our energy away.

For our final day, we made our way to the Modern Art Gallery, which was housed in an old Heritage building. Fantastic way to unwind, the grounds alone were a sanctuary full of trees, plants and various sculptures. The art was just as good, dating from the 1850s onwards, not much information on the artists or the pictures but this way you could make your own mind up about what they were about. My favourite pieces were from the artists Jamini Roy and Abanindranath Tagore.

Apart from a few small issues in our apartment (it was never really cleaned that properly and the staff didn’t know or speak any English, which was fun when requesting toilet paper!) we had a great time in Bengaluru. After feeling it was time to move on from India, this was a massive ‘pick me up’ and got our confidence back to deal with all the chaos and enjoy the country again.

I recommend Bengaluru. Don’t listen to people who say ‘there isn’t much to do there’ there. There is. If good food, drink, history, and art is your ‘ting’ then make sure you stop here, it’s worth it.

Places

Chilis – as we were spoilt for choice we headed here for a Monday evening Mexican treat. Yummy fajitas to fill the bellies. Great grub, but unfortunately a bit more expensive than I would have liked, even with a happy hour thrown in!

MTR – aka Mavalli Tiffin Rooms, originally a small family owned restaurant started in the 1920s, it’s now an institution with their own shops and restaurants dotted around India, Singapore and Dubai. This is the place to come if you want the best Idli and Dosa, well in our opinion anyway. We’ve yet to try anything as good. I also had Pav Bhaji, which was a fave of mind from Mumbai, yum yum! If we had known about this place earlier there’s no doubt that we would have been there for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. THIS IS A MUST! Words will never ever do the Masala Dosa justice!

Glen’s Bakehouse – European style bakery/restaurant, had fantastic coffee, baguettes and naughty cheesecakes. The star of the show was the breakfast which, for 350 rupees (about 4 quid) you get: an Omelette, Chicken Sausage (pork is rarely eaten in India), Baked Beans, Toast, Cereal, Pancakes, Apple Cake, Danish Pastry, and a tea or coffee. Good work if you finished it all off!

Church Street Social – a return to our favourite haunt from Mumbai, bit of nostalgia is good but it never compares to how you remember it. Food and drink was okay.

SkinDeep – because when you’re a rebel without a cause getting another tattoo is always a must 🙂 This place was full of alternative Indian metal heads, and don’t worry Mum… it was a clean place and a week later I’m still alive!

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