Sunday, February 17, 2013

Beautiful Bangalore

Bangalore is the capital of Karnataka state (fast fact: India has 27 states), which is located in the south west of India. Bangalore is known for being an IT hub, as well as for its cosmopolitan lifestyle and horrific traffic. I experienced all three.

I was in Bangalore for a maternal sister (Indian culture treats cousins as siblings) reunion (2nd Feb-9th Feb). My mom has an older sister and a younger sister. I have been living with my mom’s younger sister and her family since October. So then, one of my sisters from New Jersey (and her adorable 11 month old son), the sister I live with, and I, traveled to Bangalore to spend time with our other sister who lives there with her husband and son. Her husband works in IT- it was familiar to be in a household with early morning and late night calls with offshore colleagues. There was a lot of family bonding while we stayed there, as well as some exploration of Mysore (insert link here) and Bangalore.

Bangalore Palace was built in 1887 by Chamaraja Wodeyar and used by the Wodeyars while they were Maharajas (kings) of the state. Most notable was the Tudor (medieval) architecture and photographs from the time of British rule. I had never seen photographs from that time and seeing a woman in a flapper-like dress casually sitting with an Indian man dressed in a suit was a new sight for me. The palace is now used for social events and concerts (examples: Metallica, No Doubt, Ludacris, Elton John, Backstreet Boys).

We also visited Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath (an art gallery), Tipu Sultan’s Palace, the remains of Kempegowda’s fort, and Lalbagh Gardens. My favorite of all these was the art gallery. Not for the art normally on display, but for the exhibitions showing when we went.

Outside the gallery was a huge crafts market and inside there were three rooms hosted by local artists. My favorite was from a man named A. K. Govindan. He had this amazing piece of a tree trunk flowing out into beautiful green leaves and in the peaceful feel of the painting was centered a figure meditating. There was so much harmony between the elements of the painting. I loved it. Honestly lost myself for a few minutes just admiring the work. He is a friendly fellow who is not very well known, but is truly blessed with creative talent.

Other noteworthy items:
  • If you’re looking for typical south indian food (idli, dosa), remember it is a breakfast entrĂ©e. You won’t find it at lunch so dine accordingly.
  • Be weary of silk and sandalwood shopping; best bet is to go to Cauvery Arts & Crafts Emporium as it’s government certified and prices are good (less expensive than Mysore)
  • Use OLA cabs if you are staying further away from the city and need reliable transportation. Amazing concept Bangalore has mastered: cabs on call. Call for a cab and get text updates as to where they are, prices are reasonable and cars are respectable.
  • Traffic is bad. Don’t doubt the reputation Bangalore has.

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