Bangalore, India - Stein Travel
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Bangalore

Until 1831, Bangalore slumbered in the shadow of neighbouring city Mysore. When the British took control over the local kingdom they moved the capital to Bangalore, upgrading its infrastructure in the process with fine colonial buildings, roads, rail connections and wonderful parks and gardens. Bangalore, now officially known as Bengaluru, is today the state capital of Karnataka - and is still known informally as the 'Garden City' due to its leafy avenues and quiet suburbs. Bangalore was the first city in India to become electrified, and has ever since retained the cachet of being India's most technologically modern and progressive city. It is also quite literally one of the country's coolest cities, with an average temperature far lower than the scorching plains of the surrounding region. Among other advantages Bangalore enjoys, are noticeably cleaner streets and a generally calmer and less frenetic atmosphere than other Indian cities. Bangalore is also well-known as the centre of India's IT and telecommunications industries, and thus attracts professionals from all over India and abroad. The influx of westerners and knowledge-workers, coupled with the rise in affluence, have made this India's most modern and secular of cities - imbued with relaxed and refreshing attitudes that many find liberating, but others find scandalous. Bangalore is not a city packed with tourist attractions, but is more often used as a base for tourists to explore the charms of southern India. However, that doesn't mean there isn't plenty to see in the city itself. Apart from some attractive buildings and parks, what is on show here is the modern face of India: confident, brash and progressive, connected to the world at large and evolving all the time. It's a fascinating and energising glimpse into the future of this developing superpower of a nation.

Information & Facts

Climate

Bangalore's cool climate is one of the city's chief attractions - especially to sunburnt travellers arriving from the coastal areas of Karnataka or Goa. The city's altitude of altitude of 920m (3, 021 ft) above sea level brings milder daily temperatures than the plateau below. Overall, the climate of the city can be described as tropical wet. The summer months of March to May are hot and dry, while June to September is the monsoon season, with its heavy rains. December to January are typically cool and dry, and thus an ideal time to visit. Throughout the year, evenings are mild and pleasant.

Eating Out

Bangalore is a great business hub - and like any world-player in the business world, it has some great restaurants to suit all budgets. Try a thali at Konark, Punjabi fare at Oye! Amritsar, or a copious Mediterranean-style brunch at Casa del Sol.

Language

Although English is generally used for official and business purposes, Hindi is the official language and is spoken by about 40 percent of the population. Urdu is the language common with the Muslim demographic. India has a total of 22 official languages

Money

The currency is the Indian Rupee (INR), which is divided into 100 paise (singular paisa). Major currencies can be changed at banks, and authorised bureaux de changes. It is impossible to obtain rupees outside India, but no matter what time you arrive in India there will be an exchange office open at the airport. It is illegal to exchange money through the black market and it is advisable to refuse torn notes, as no one will accept them apart from the National Bank. It is best to change money into small denominations. Travellers cheques and major credit cards are widely accepted, particularly in tourist orientated establishments. ATMs are not generally available.

Night Life

Combine affluence with a young, educated demographic, and plenty of expats - and in Bangalore, you get a lively, cosmopolitan nightlife to rival any city in India. In fact, so active is the bar scene, that Bangalore has earned the moniker 'Pub Capital of India'. Popular hangouts include Pecos, famed for its jazz, draft beer and loyal clientele; Zero G for its many dance floors, Wednesday-night Bollywood theme and spectacular city views; and Fuga, a swanky nightspot on Residency Road. Also along Residency Road is Casa Del Sol, popular for its Salsa Sundays. Last orders are generally taken at 11.30pm so don't expect too many late nights. Many bars and clubs segregate men and women, incredibly, in a largely futile bid to preserve moral standards. A positive aspect of Bangalore's nightlife is that walking between venues late at night is perfectly safe.

Shopping

The city's best buys are high-quality Indian silks, Lambani tribal jewellery, and woodcarvings. The liveliest place to shop is the MG Road and Brigade Road area, which contains a good mix of traditional stores, souvenir outlets and more modern shops. For mall shopping, and all the westernised boutique stores and fast food outlets you might expect, head to Forum Mall on Hosur Road. Bangalore Centre on MG Road and the department stores on Sampige Road are also worth a look. For discount outlets and factory shops, catch a taxi to Marathahalli Main Road. Looking for fake brands like Nikey and Addidas? Make a beeline to the underground emporia of Arihant Plaza, opposite the beginning of Commercial Street. Don't expect bargains in the high-rental shops - this is an affluent city, with prices to match. One place you can haggle is, of course, the markets, which are also the best place to find Indian souvenirs and trinkets. City Market is mostly a local market but has plenty of foodie gifts, and Majestic Market is packed with cheap Bollywood and world cinema dvds, interesting curios and keepsakes.

Sightseeing

Apart from the great shopping that Bangalore has to offer, there are also a number of interesting attractions dotted around the City. Most notably, Bugle Hill and the Bull Temple, Cubbon Park, Lal Bagh and Vidhana Soudha.

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