Editor’s note: This week, we’re taking a stroll along Bangalore’s verdant streets, famous parks, and legendary food joints. Deepthi Bavirisetty’s 48 hour guide to the city balances the mainstream with the offbeat—from museum recommendations and cultural hotspots to a breakdown of the city’s complex dosa culture.
48 hours in Bangalore
Written by: Deepthi Bavirisetty. She is a corporate lawyer, freelance writer, and marketer for small D2C brands in the F&B space in Bangalore.
Bangalore today has a reputation for being the Silicon Valley of India—a land of tech bros and term sheets. While there are several unicorns in the city, there’s more to the city than startups. Till the early 2000s, the city was synonymous with being a pensioner's paradise. In that spirit, here’s a guide on how to slow down and savour the city. Note: This is not a guide for those who want to do the usual tourist circuit of the city, but for those who want to discover its lesser known gems.
With that caveat, onwards:
Where do I stay?
Woke Hostel: This hostel is in the heart of Bangalore’s bustling Indiranagar, close to the metro station and all the cool cafés. The hostel has a great garden with al fresco seating and swings. There is also a kitchen where you can cook your own meals. (Cost: starting from approx Rs 1000 per night for a dormitory. Private rooms are also available)
Casa Cottage: If you are looking for a hotel that feels like home—book a room at Casa Cottage. It’s a heritage bungalow in the heart of Bangalore. An Indo-French couple converted it to a beautiful 3 star bed & breakfast. Popular with many foreign tourists, this option is great for long-term stays, and is pet friendly too! I also quite like the homely, but great breakfast spread (with homemade grape jam made by the owner). (Cost: Rs 2,800 per night)
Taj Westend: This 5-star hotel is another relic of colonial charm. Started by the British in 1887 as a small inn, it is now a 5 star hotel run by the Taj group. Surrounded by 20 acres of lush flora and fauna, this is an oasis of calm in the city. Make sure you drop a postcard from the Victorian-era postbox that is still in use here! (Cost: Rs 22,000 per night)
A Walk To Remember, Lalbagh / Cubbon Park: Bangalore is also called the Garden City because of its sprawling gardens. While it is nice to have a picnic in the park, I would recommend a guided tree tour to understand the city's parks better. On these walks, veterans of the city talk not only about the city's history, but tell you about tree trivia that is sure to give you a deeper appreciation for nature.
Reach out to the following people for a tree tour and unleash your inner Mary Oliver:
- Bangalore by Foot: This is handled by a small group of people who organise different walks across Bangalore. Their ‘Stroll in the Tiger’s Bagh’ is what you’ll need to check out to get a lovely tour of Lalbagh or the ‘Cubbon Park Heritage Walk’ for a tour of Cubbon Park.
- Bangalore Walks: Bangalore Walks have been organising walks and tours for over 15 years, and The ‘Green Heritage Walk’ is what you’ll need for Lalbagh.
- A Green Venture: The ‘Lal Bagh Tree walk’ from Green Venture offers an interesting walk through the botanical Garden and explains the history of how the first trees were planted in Lalbagh.
- Bangalore Local Walks: They offer some great local tours of not just parks, but also some areas in Bangalore like Malleswaram. The Cubbon Park Trail offers a great historic look at one of Bangalore’s favourite public spaces.
Breakfast: It’s time for Dosa Darshan. It’s not just coffee. According to me, dosa joints in Bangalore can be classified into 3 waves.
First up, you have the traditional dosa joints like CTR (map) and Vidyarthi Bhavan. The dosas here tend to be thick and spongy with a crisp exterior. They are doused in benne (butter) and have long waiting queues. Here you get to sit down and savour your dosas.
If you are in a rush, you should head to the second wave of efficient dosa joints called darshinis. Unlike the previous avatars, here you have to stand and eat your dosas in these eateries. Here the service is efficient, the dosas thinner, crisper, and cheaper. This category includes joints like Aarogya Aahar, Taaza Thindi (map), and Bengaluru Café (map).
Lately, there’s been a third type of dosa darshinis which has picked up popularity. The USP of these joints is the usage of an addictive powder called ‘podi’ along with ghee. This category includes places like Rameshwaram Café, Umesh Dosa Point (map) and IDC (map). Pro tip: If you go to Umesh, please pick up packets of the podi as souvenirs to take home.
My pick of the lot for the best dosa in Bangalore is the aptly named Bengaluru Café (map). It is also close to Lalbagh and enroute our next stop.
The Sound (And Feel) of Music at the Indian Music Museum: This is easily one of the best museums in India. It is India’s first interactive music museum which has something for everyone. Do check out the sound garden (where you can play with 'singing' stones and water to make music). The museum also has a recording studio where you can record yourself singing and pick an album cover. You can then send it to yourself as a souvenir. While the entire museum is conducive for great photographs, make sure you take a selfie with the gramophone at the selfie point!
Lunch: Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Nandhini Deluxe (map) for a sumptuous Andhra meal. You eat food on a large banana leaf with a lot of accompanying curries and curd. If you eat meat, definitely check out the biryani and the chicken starters here. Do note this is on the spicy side. I do not recommend planning any sort of excursion after this, as you’re likely to go into a carb coma that’s best slept off.
Play Time at Ranga Shankara: If somehow, you are still up and about despite this heavy meal—you can go catch a play at Ranga Shankara. This theatre destination honours the legacy of Bangalore's famed actor and director Shankar. I'm pretty sure you've seen ‘Malgudi Days’, which he directed. They usually try to have a play a day to keep the city’s theatre culture alive.
In the off chance there is no play, you can always check out the in-house bookstore PaperBack. It has a great collection of new and second-hand books. The authentic Karnataka snacks at the theatre’s cafe are also worth a try. My favourite? The crispy akki roti (a rice-based flatbread).
Dinner: This nicely segues into our next destination—Khmer Kitchen. This used to be the home of another famous Bangalore-based actor and playwright, Girish Karnad. The house has been lovingly restored into a restaurant. As homage to the actor, Karnad’s old library is now a reading room. The restaurant serves Cambodian food. The owner visited Cambodia 8+ times to learn the nuances of Cambodian cuisine—so you can expect the real deal! Do try the char sui piggy baos (shaped like adorable little pigs).
A Serene Start at Ulsoor Lake: Since you’ve eaten a lot of food on Day 1, start your day with a run around Ulsoor Lake (map)—one of the oldest and largest lakes in the city. If you are adventurous, you can also go boating and spot the several birds that flock to the lake. On your way to the lake, you can also spot the palatial and beautiful Aurobindo Bhavan. At one point, it was the home of a Nepali royal. Later the Nepali prince donated it to Sri Aurobindo Society, a spiritual society. The meditation room is open from 7:00 am – 12:30 pm and 4:30 pm – 7:00 pm on all days.
Breakfast: Maverick Coffee at Maverick and Farmer (map) is a unique cafe with artisanal coffee from Coorg. The most unique aspect of this cafe is that it overlooks a beautiful soccer field. Do try the Vietnamese Cold Coffee and the refreshing Portuguese Mazgaran. The presentation is definitely Insta-worthy and the drinks delectable. While there are several other coffee chains operating in the city, this is my favourite third wave coffee chain.
Another breakfast option: A stone’s throw away from Maverick and Farmer is Cinnamon store—it is a refurbished heritage bungalow with a stunning courtyard-cum-cafe at the back which is bursting with pink bougainvillea. Surrounding the courtyard is a series of artisanal gift shops and sari stores. You can pick up souvenirs from the Museum of Art & Photography souvenir store housed here. Or better yet, you can go visit the next place on the agenda.
Get the MAP: Bangalore is now home to one of Asia’s best contemporary art museums, the Museum of Art & Photography. The 5-story building has a collection of 60,000+ artworks—and an AI enabled replica of MF Husain, who will interact with visitors. The building itself is a work of art–designed with steel panels to resemble an industrial water tank. The current exhibits include the work of the legendary photographer Jyoti Bhatt—an early student of one of the first art schools set up after India's Independence.
It is also a rare Indian location that is accessible for those with disabilities. For instance, it has tactile exhibits where you can "feel" art. General admission is free. It is right next to Cubbon Park so you can visit both of them (in case you didn't earlier).
Lunch: No trip to Bangalore is complete without trying pizza from the Bangalore based Brik Oven. Started in 2016, it now has franchises all across Bangalore. Post MAP, you can go visit the original one on Church Street (map) which is close by. Do try their authentic Neapolitan pizzas made in their trademark ‘brik oven’. Their breakfast menus are also legendary but available in only select branches.
Browse the Blossoms: One of the most iconic stops on every Bangalore visitor’s itinerary, Blossoms Book House has now blossomed with 3 branches on Church Street. You can browse books both old and new, and there is a certain charm in finding old books with notes inscribed in them. You can also buy postcards from the front of the original Blossoms store and mail friends.
Sunsets and sound at Record Room: What about the city’s famous microbreweries then? Check out Record Room (map) which is Bangalore’s newest vinyl and craft beer bar. There is a listening station where you can sample various vinyls. Highly recommend going during sunset time and grabbing a spot at their open air seating, which overlooks some gorgeous raintrees. Here you can try Bangalore’s famed Toit beer on tap (without waiting in the long line in front of the original Toit!)
Must try: The popcorn G&T (made with Bonomi’s coffee cold brew and served with caramel popcorn on a stick).
Dinner: Opt for absolute indulgence at Meghana Foods. There’s no better way to end a trip to Bangalore than by having Meghana’s biryani. It tends to be on the spicy side, so proceed with caution. The best bit about Meghana’s biryani is that it tastes even better the next day. Take some home to score some major brownie, nay, biryani points.