Sunday, November 20, 2011

Exploring Bangalore - Through the arteries of the city

Hosur Road Elevated Highway
"It’s Devali tomorrow, let’s see Bangalore", I told to Nixon - my roommate. After three years in Bangalore this question is supposed to be ridiculous, we are supposed to see each and every corner of the city by this time. Only yesterday I was remembered by a Karnataka Government official that 'by three years you should have learned Kannada' in not so friendly way. Well Nixon was ok with the idea. As one of our friends was enjoying his vacation, his bike was getting bored in the shed, why not give it some job? So we took it and checked the oil level - it’s just above the reserve, well we have to pour some more Petrol to its thirsty tanks.

Hosur main road - NH7 - is the longest national highway in India connecting Kanyakumari- the southern tip of mainland India, with the holy town Varanasi on the banks of Ganges. Elevated highway offers a bird's view of Electronic City and its neighbouring areas. We thought of visiting the Lalbagh first, but the criss-cross roads in the city - like a beautiful woman's hair -  lead us to some other places. Finally we dropped LalBagh for the time being and thought of going to St. Patrick Church - one of the oldest Churches in Bangalore.

Mayo Hall, Bangalore
But it was Mayo Hall, on the side of MG Road, where we reached first. According to descriptions Mayo Hall is considered as one the finest pieces of British architecture in Bangalore. We stopped in front and I moved close to this white building to take a photo. After seeing my camera one person suddenly started walking towards me and made some gestures. Is it towards me? I turned back, no one was there; so I waited there for him to come. After coming close he started asking so many questions about why I am taking photo of the building etc. All are familiar questions; after hearing the same for so many times my answer it was very easy to answer. But I don’t understand what is the problem in taking photos of a road side monument using camera? If it’s using a mobile there is no such questions. In these days of Satellite photography, Google Earth etc nobody can stop anyone from seeing or taking the photos of a building. Still I appreciate their alertness.

Ulsoor Lake
Just like it is famous for gardens, Bangalore also has a good number of Lakes. Ulsoor lake is one of the important water bodies in the city, but be careful when you are here some sides of the Lake are defence areas. In short keep your camera inside whenever you are near to defence lands. Lake was calm and quiet, so as the people watching it. Some couples are sitting on the sides, families are waiting for their turn to get in to the peddle boats. I looked towards the calm waters and stand there for some time. Near to the lake there is Gurudwara too, an elevated white building in one side of the road. After giving two litres of oil to the thirsty engine we restarted our search for St. Patrick church.

We asked about St Patrick church to many people, as many people as many opinions. In the process we saw many churches in Bangalore and reached the Metro station too. After going through many roads, we reached St Patrick Church. Nixon went for mass and I slowly walked towards the front, renovation was going on. The old architecture of the outer walls many no longer visible.

St Patrick's church
Lalbagh was not very far from there, close to 4km. It was my second visit to Lalbagh, not many changes. After having some refreshment we walked across the park and reached the lake. It’s indeed a good place for the people to spend their evening with loved ones - no matter whether it is young, old or couples. Even in the middle of the crowds Lalbagh offers some moments of privacy.

After checking with some auto drivers about Tipu's Palace we were again on the roads, Nixon was complaining about the call of stomach but we didn’t have much time, so the call remained unanswered. Tipu's Palace is a two storey rest house built in Teak wood, decoration inside the rooms are faded overtime. Other than the building there is nothing much to see. Here you can see the model of one of the famous toys in Tipu's darbar - tiger attacking an English soldier and his cries (I think the original is in British museum).

Tipu Sulthan's Summer palace, Bangalore
According to our plan we should go to Tipu's armory and next to Bull's temple, both are close to Tipu's summer palace. Near to palace one person told us that Bangalore Palace will close by 5pm. There was not much time left so we hurried to towards Bangalore Palace. Close to Tipu's palace we saw the big (but about to fell down) fences of Bangalore fort Originally Built by Kempa Gowda - the founder of Bangalore - as a mud fort. Later it was converted to stone fort by Hyder Ali. Fort remained in the hands of Tipu Sultan till it was captured by English East India Company during the third Mysore war (1790-1792).

After having sugarcane juice we moved towards Bangalore palace. In fact the word 'towards' was not exactly correct, all we know was there is a Palace somewhere in Bangalore. As happened in the morning this time too we lost in the jungle of roads.

Bangalore Palace
Cubbon Park is a good place to spend morning and evenings, a spacious greenery to escape form the chaos of the city. Before becoming famous as India's Silicon Valley and IT capital, Bangalore was famously known as Pensioner’s paradise, Garden City etc. It is another matter that as the city is expanding fast to the adjoining areas it is more of concrete jungles than actual jungles!!!

We travelled further and on the left side the alphabets - Freedom Park - was written in big fonts. From here we travelled according to the traffic, and reached the gates of Karnataka Raj Bhavan next turn took us to Nehru Planetarium, which is close to Raj Bhavan.

If it was another time I will certainly go inside the planetarium, but this time we need to finish some more entries in our list. We went on and reached Sankey's road - a wide one with golf course on one side and famous hotels like Le Meridian and ITC Windsor on other side. From here we finally reached the palace road and then to Bangalore Palace.

Considered as a smaller replica of Windsor castle of England, Bangalore palace was not only good in its looks but in its charges also!!! I get down from from the bike some metres away from the building to take pictures of the palace from a distance, took some pictures and then slowly started walking towards the building. In the front yard an old lady was sitting in a slowly moving horse drawn cart, its look like a picture from the old English movies. I went ahead and tried to take a picture of the palace. Suddenly a whistle blow near to me and a security guard walked towards me. "Photography not allowed, you have to buy a camera pass from inside to take photos".

I went inside and asked about the camera charges. "600Rs for digital camera, 100Rs for Mobile camera, 175Rs/person" the lady sitting in front of a computer told me!!! I simply said "my friend is waiting outside, will call him and come" and then slowly started walking outside. "you will get an audio guide too!!!". I said "Thanks" and started walking outside.

Lalbagh lake
The charge of 600 Rs for camera is the highest I came across till now and this is the first place where I saw a separate charges for mobile cameras too. We went to the front yard of the place to get an over view of the entire structure. It's a beautiful building - just like a smaller version of palaces in "Arabian Nights". Beautiful colours, evening sky appearing in the background added some type of mysticism to the surroundings. I can hear the blow of whistles to stop others from taking the pictures. For my astonishment most of the people are not buying the tickets for camera and a good percentage of them are taking at least one photo before security guard stops them. After spending some more time there we decide to go back, slowly boarded our bike and started our return journey. Still the sounds of whistles were coming from the back.

Karnataka High Court
On the return journey we stopped in front of Vidhan Saudha and spend some time there by looking to these magnificent building. Opposite, decorated in red paint stands Karnataka High Court; other government buildings like Lokayukta office etc are also there.

As the sun is getting sleepy in the western mountains we called it as day


For more photos  please visit Flickr

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