India’s IT capital is growing at warp speed. And while there’s something for everyone along Bangalore’s neon-lit streets, life amid the bustle can get rather overwhelming. For times like these, it helps to know of a peaceful haven or few.
Lalbagh Botanical Garden
Located in South Bangalore, the Lalbagh Botanical Garden was commissioned by Hyder Ali, king of Mysore, in 1760. Now sprawling over 240 acres of landscaped terrain, it’s the perfect place to beat the mad rush of the city.
I first discovered Lalbagh on a quick photo walk during work hours. New to Bangalore at the time, I expected it to be like any other urban tourist attraction—crowded, if nothing else. But I was wrong.
Shaded in hues of green, the pathways that zigzagged across the garden led to quite a few surprises: a lake with a wide variety of birds, the Glass House, a giant clock built out of colorful flowers, and the peninsular gneiss, one of the oldest rocks on the planet.
Home to India’s largest collection of rare tropical plants, this is quite the wonderland to get lost in. I also recently discovered the nursery that has a wide array of plants and gardening accessories for sale. Needless to say, I have a new, green hobby.
Getting there: You can drive down to Lalbagh but there are also buses, cabs and even autos that will drop you there. Vehicles are allowed in only through the Eastern Gate near the Double Road.
Spread over 100 acres, Cubbon Park offers whole new worlds to discover. Along with more than 6,000 plant species, it is home to some of the most exotic trees in the city, including the Grevillea robusta (silver oak) that is native to Australia.
Located in Bangalore’s Central Administrative Area, the park is close to a number of other interesting sites. Not only is the Karnataka High Court in the vicinity, but the Bangalore Museum, Central Library, India’s second-largest aquarium and an art gallery also lie in and around the park.
With plenty of spots tucked away amid the trees and flowers, Cubbon Park is perfect for a picnic or even a leisurely stroll with just books to keep you company.
Getting there: Starting off from MG Road, be sure to take the route that goes via Lavelle Road and then Vittal Mallya Road. After turning right onto Kasturba Road, the park is just a short walk away.
The Humming Tree
Those familiar with Bangalore might be surprised to see The Humming Tree on this list. After all, it’s best known for live music performances and jam-packed evenings. But little is known about how it miraculously transforms into an oasis of peace and solitude in the afternoon.
It is always a pleasure to stop, take a deep breath and admire the blue skies and blooming flowers with a glass of sangria in hand. The Humming Tree, located in a sleepy lane and boasting an open terrace, is the place to do just that on a fall or winter afternoon.
You might even be lulled into believing that it’s not one of the city’s most popular haunts … just a quaint little pub where great ideas come to life.
Getting there: Located in the heart of Indiranagar, The Humming Tree is just a short walk from the 12th Main Road.
While retreats within the city are the perfect way to beat the weekday blues, weekends should be reserved for destinations an hour or two away from the busy city. Located 30 km from Bangalore, in the Kebbedoddi Village off Kanakapura Road, Pyramid Valley is the city’s first meditational pyramid.
Equipped with instructors as well as rooms that enhance your spiritual healing, this tranquil haven is the place to go when you want some time to yourself to reflect and meditate.
Founded by Brahmarshi Patriji in 2003, the center aims to provide a refuge to tired minds while spreading a message of peace, love and harmony. The pyramid, located in a lush green valley, is also considered to be one of the most amazing sights in the Bangalore region.
Getting there: Located at Kebbedoddi Village, the Pyramid Valley is an hour and a half’s drive from Bangalore. After reaching Kanakpura Road—Ring Road Junction, you will come across signs on Kanakpura Road that will guide you further.
National Gallery of Modern Art
For an art lover, the thought of settling into a retreat of visual delights, far from the noise of the city, is utterly delightful. And it gets better when you realize that the National Gallery of Modern Art, Bengalaru, has more than beautiful art.
Starting with samples of early photography and ending with bizarre works of modern art, there is so much to be discovered that one trip isn’t enough. For those interested, there is a rather fascinating display on the development of modern Indian art.
Sculptors, colonial artists, protest artists who gained prominence during the War of Independence and post-independence artists all enjoy their fair share of limelight in the galleries.
Since walking into the gallery on a whim recently, I have already made several return trips. Apart from the wonderful works of art to be discovered and the history to be learned, there are regular talks, workshops and exhibitions.
The 3.5-acre space is also one of the most breathtaking in Bangalore, thanks to colonial architecture that is somehow in sync with modern sensibilities as well as a mirrored pool that makes for a peaceful escape.
Getting there: The National Gallery of Modern Art is quite hard to miss once you take a right onto Palace Road. There are a couple of one-way streets on your way to the gallery, so if you are driving, it is best to keep an eye out for the entrance.