Vacationista (sort of): Bangalore, India

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For my first work-related trip this year, I found myself in the busy and exotic Bengaluru, also known as Bangalore and most known as India’s IT hub. One of my work highlights was visiting Infosys Campus, a place I wouldn’t be able to visit in normal circumstances (which was super strict and had armored guards!), & meeting one of the company’s billionaire founders.

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I didn’t have much time to go around the city, which worked for me since there’s not so much to see in Bangalore as a tourist. I think most of their attractions are found outside of India, which unfortunately, I could not afford to go to due to time constraints.

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Thanks to my work, we stayed in the glorious Leela Palace. When we arrived, we were greeted with staff who placed a red ink dot on our forehead – something about prosperity & good health, I think – then we had the special in-our-room check in. First experience. hehe. The hotel really does look like a palace as it was designed after a huge palace in Mysore. The hotel’s outside lobby greets you with its huge columns, high ceilings and intricate designs. Inside, it pretty much looks like a royal living room with lush seats and bright chandeliers. Staff are very nice and accommodating (not to mention, good looking too). I didn’t feel I was discriminated against, which is something I sometimes feel especially in my own country. Haha!

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The hotel graciously upgraded my room, located at the 6th floor, so it’s bigger than their Deluxe Room. Everything was clean, organized and felt very royal-like, complete with my own terrace overlooking the garden below.

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As this was a work trip, I had to squeeze in Bangalore’s sights and sounds in just a few hours. Plus, I really just wanted to relax and unwind after our preparations and meetings. What we did was arrange the tours with the hotel taxi, give them our list of sights to see then let them decide which ones we can squeeze in a few hours’ time.

And so, here’s a very short list of the places we went to in a span of about 2 days, about 5 hours each day:

1) Bangalore Palace: we thought we could take photos but eventually the guard told us not to (stole a few though). There’s a fee going inside but we opted not to proceed.

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2) Vidhana Soudha and Karnataka High Court: the seat of government which was huge and looked very modern and Parliament-like. It actually reminded me of Canada’s parliament. We couldn’t go inside so we literally just stopped at the middle of the road, took quick photos then went on our way.

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3) Someshwara Temple: again, we didn’t go inside (we didn’t feel like taking our shoes off! Haha) but the outside just had this unique façade

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4) Tipu Sultan’s Palace: we opted to hire a tour guide who approached us (INR 200) since my friend wanted a bit of history. It’s not much but the history is nice to know.

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5) Kote Venkataramana Temple: It was right beside Tipu Sultan’s Palace but it was closed on Saturday 😦

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6) Sri Dodda Ganesha Temple: I don’t think this was included in my original list but the hotel staff recommended it and after experiencing it, I recommend this too (you’ll have to take your shoes off though). I used the word “experience” because it’s an “interactive” temple, for the lack of a better word. Good thing our driver went with us since we wouldn’t know what to do! You go inside then follow these “rituals” like placing coins in about 50 tin pots, tie an orange string to the stairs, touch this cold ice that look like a dinosaurs teeth, pour milk over a small well and simply go around a number of stops inside a man-made cave with monks saying a quick ‘prayer’ for you. Last attraction would be the huge 18 feet god. It’s a unique experience and makes swell of a photo op.

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7) Safina Plaza: Did some shopping at this plaza though I just bought this pretty clutch. My friend though bought tons of bed sheets and blankets. There’s also a leather shop here which my sister recommends as well as a footwear shop, some trinkets and tons of clothes, cloths and pashmina.

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For shopping, we walked along Commercial Street, MG Road and our driver brought us to these special stores selling carpets, jewelry, wood carvings and one that sold sarees and clothes at factory price. I always drop by a supermarket when visiting abroad so we went to this special grocery store called Food Hall at One MG Mall (think Gourdo’s) and right beside it is another mini-mall which sells cheaper items and local products (though didn’t buy much there since I wasn’t sure what it would taste like).

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We had one dinner at KFC where there were no rice meals (just chicken) so aside from a one-piece chicken, we ordered a rice bowl which had curry underneath! Not recommended for those with low spiciness tolerance.

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Other sights recommended to us but we opted not to see were the Bull Temple, Cubbon Park and Lal Bagh Botanical Garden. ISKCON Temple was in my list but was too far from the city, about 2 hours away per way.

Next time I go to India, I am definitely visiting the Taj Mahal.

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