This is the ultimate first timer’s travel guide for preparing a vacation to Bangalore, India.
Bangalore, or Bengaluru, is a sprawling city in the South Indian state of Karnataka. Many Indian and international companies are headquartered in this bustling IT hub. One of the fastest-growing metro cities in India, Bengaluru is teeming with new opportunities.
It is a city of contrasts. You can stroll through the most beautiful gardens by day and enjoy a night on the town at Bangalore’s famous eclectic pubs. Top-tier STEM schools, startups, and ancient palaces stand shoulder to shoulder in this city. It is the perfect place to experience the confluence of old and modern India.
Ultimate Travel Guide to Bangalore India
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What This Guide Covers
You can read every single Bangalore tip here (highly recommended) or use the navigation links here to skip to the tips that are most valuable to you.
- Top Things to do in Bangalore
- Where is Bangalore located?
- Is it Bangalore or Bengaluru?
- Bangalore Weather
- History of Bangalore
- What language is spoken in Bangalore?
- What is the currency used in Bangalore?
- What to Eat in Bangalore
- Bangalore Webcam
Top Things to do in Bangalore
Here are some places you must visit to get that quintessentially Bangalore feel.
1. Lalbagh Botanical Garden
Nestled between some of the busiest neighborhoods of South Bangalore, the Lalbagh Botanical Garden is a green oasis. It is a 240-acre horticultural garden developed nearly 200 years ago by Tipu Sultan, then ruler of Karnataka. The park contains over two thousand plant species, many imported from all over the world.
Tourists can explore the bonsai garden, the topiary display, the flower clock installation, the greenhouse, and the artificial waterfalls. You can enjoy a leisurely walk through Lalbagh or ride around the garden in a battery-operated car.
- Lalbagh Lake
A beautiful lake at the center of the garden offers some respite and a stellar view. You can relax on a bench and capture gorgeous panoramic photos of the greenery. Mornings at Lalbagh Lake are also a birdwatcher’s paradise.
- Annual Flower Shows
Lalbagh is famous for its flower shows. They are held every year in January and August in honor of the national Independence and Republic Days. Imagine waves and waves of colors, patterns, and textures with over 50 varieties of flowers on display. The floral art and arrangements are indeed a feast for the eyes.
How to Get There:
Lalbagh is located in Sudhama Nagar. The garden is about 4.3 miles from the city center and can be accessed by metro rail, bus, or car. The nearest metro station is Lalbagh Metro Station, which takes 10-15 minutes on foot.
Hours: 6 AM to 7 PM
Entry Fee: 10 INR for children, 30 INR for adults.
2. ISKCON Sri Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Temple
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) has temples in about 16 countries worldwide. The Bengaluru temple on Hare Krishna Hill is among the most beautiful. Spread over a vast area, it maintains a serene air despite the large crowds. The temple is uniquely modern. The architecture is reminiscent of the temples of old India, but it is equipped with modern infrastructure.
In the Hindu pantheon, Lord Narsimha is an avatar of Vishnu, the Preserver of the Universe. The Bengaluru ISKCON temple is dedicated to this god and his consort, Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and Beauty. And what a fitting tribute to these deities!
The temple hall has spectacular murals and paintings. The pearly white spires and the intricate golden arches are a sight for sore eyes. Walking into the temple is like stepping into a spiritual sanctuary.
- Call for Prayer
At fixed points of the day, you hear the priest blowing a conch shell. It is a call for prayer. The priests perform the prayer with a devotional song and enchanting music.
- Special Viewing or ‘Darshan’
If you want to skip the queue to view the shrine, you can pay for a fast-track special darshan. You are led to the inner sanctum, where you can attend prayer, take a glimpse of the idols, and receive blessings.
Pro Tip: Remember to dress modestly with covered knees for a temple visit. Deposit your footwear at the designated facility before you enter the temple campus.
How to Get There:
The temple is located in Rajajinagar, about 2.4 miles from the city center. The nearest metro station is Mahalakshmi. The Sandal Soap Factory Metro Station is also nearby, only a 10-minute walk away.
Timings: 4.30 AM to 8.30 PM
Entry Fee: Access is free.
3. Bull Temple
Located in Basavanagudi, the Bull Temple, or Nandi Temple, is one of the oldest sites in the city. The temple dates back to the 16th century, during the times of the Vijayanagara Empire. Built by the city’s founder, Kempe Gowda himself, this temple is a slice of history.
The bull called “Nandi” is a sacred animal in Hindu mythology. The powerful but gentle animal symbolizes Lord Shiva. The bull is worshiped as the protector of the supreme god.
This temple houses an immense statue of Nandi. Roughly forty stone steps lead up to the main idol. The black granite idol stands fifteen feet tall and is over twenty feet in length. A sight to behold!
- Bugle Rock
A stone’s throw from the Bull Temple is a lush green park named after a rock. The Bugle Rock is a geological marvel once used as a watchtower. It is said to be over 3000 million years old and a survivor of the Archean era. It is one of the oldest natural topographical formations in the state.
How to Get There:
The temple is in the Basavanagudi region of Bengaluru. It is located approximately 3.5 miles away from the city center. The nearest metro station is the National College Station, about a 5-minute walk.
Timings: 6.00 AM to 8.00 PMEntry Fee: Access is free.
4. Vidhana Soudha & Attara Kacheri
The Legislative House, the Vidhana Soudha, and the High Court or Attara Kacheri cut imposing figures in the cityscape. The Vidhana Soudha building is an architectural feat. The Attara Kacheri is a quintessential neoclassical red brick construction. It stands out beautifully against the backdrop of the greenery of the locale.
Made from Bangalore granite, the Vidhana Soudha was built in 1956. The arches and columns look impressive even from afar. The building is lit up on weekends and public holidays. “Attara Kacheri” stands for “Eighteen Offices” in Hindi-Urdu. It was so named after the eighteen departments of the General Secretariat operating out of the offices. The Attara Kacheri was built much earlier, in 1864.
- Assembly Sessions
You can obtain prior permission to visit the Vidhana Soudha when the Karnataka Legislative assembly is in session. It is a chance to see the inner workings of the Indian legislature. It is also a prime opportunity to view the beautiful interiors of this building.
- Cubbon Park
Remember to stroll through Cubbon Park, the garden surrounding the Attara Kacheri. A green lung of the city, this park has over nine thousand tall trees spread over its many acres.
How to Get There:
Both places are located opposite one another on Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Road. It is 2.7 miles from the city center. It is a 2-minute walk to the Vidhana Soudha Metro Station.
Timings: Vidhana Soudha: 9.00 AM to 5.00 PM, Attara Kacheri: 10.00 AM to 5.00 PMEntry Fee: Restricted entry. Access is free with prior permission.
5. Bangalore Palace
The Bangalore Palace is one of the seats of the Wodeyar dynasty, the royal family of Mysore in Karnataka. It is a private residence that has been around for more than a century. It is a regal palace known for its opulent architecture and lavishly furnished interiors.
Inspired by Windsor Castle, the palace is styled after Tudor-era architecture. With gothic windows, turrets and towers, and a facade covered in green creepers, it resembles no other construction in the city. An audio tour guides you through the history of the palace and its royal inhabitants.
- Palace Gardens
The picturesque gardens surrounding the palace make for a peaceful trail. They are well-maintained and often used for commercial events such as concerts, exhibitions, and parties.
- Paintings and pictures
Keep an eye out for the paintings and photographs adorning the palace walls. From portraits of the Wodeyar family members and photos of critical events in Bengaluru’s history to vintage acrylic artwork, the collection captures the essence of India.
How to Get There: Bangalore Palace is located in the Vasanth Nagar area. It is about 3.2 miles from the city center. The nearest metro station is a 10-minute walk from the palace and is called the Cubbon Park Metro Station.
Timings: 10.00 AM to 5.30 PMEntry Fee: 230 INR for Indian residents, 460 INR for foreign visitors
What currency is used in Bengaluru?
You cannot spend US dollars in Bangalore. The currency used in the city is the Indian rupee. 1 USD is roughly equivalent to 81 INR (as of this writing). For more current exchange rates, visit XE.com.
Where is Bangalore located?
Bengaluru is the capital city of Karnataka, which is located in the southwestern part of India. Situated at an elevation in the Mysore region of the Deccan Plateau, the city enjoys a pleasant climate.
It is a landlocked city that sometimes faces water shortages.
Bengaluru covers an area of 286 square miles and is one of the biggest cities in the country.
Is it Bangalore or Bengaluru?
Like many cities in India, Bangalore goes by two names. After gaining independence from the British, the Indian government officially reverted many city names from English names to their local pronunciations. The official name of the city now is Bengaluru.
Urban lore says the city gets its name from a flowering tree called “benga,” as its golden-yellow blossoms color the summers in this region. But the historically-anglicized name, Bangalore, is still in popular memory, and many choose to refer to it that way.
Weather in Bangalore
- Here is the average Bangalore temperatures by month at a glance. (High / Low Fahrenheit)
- January – 83° / 60°
- February – 87° / 64°
- March – 92° / 68°
- April – 94° / 72°
- May – 92° / 71°
- June – 85° / 69°
- July – 83° / 68°
- August – 82° / 68°
- September – 83° / 68°
- October – 83° / 67°
- November – 81° / 64°
- December – 80° / 61°
Check the live webcams in Bangalore here.
What languages are spoken prominently?
Roaming around the city, you are sure to see signs that say “namma Bengaluru” or “my Bangalore city.” And if you want to get in with the locals, you can always try a simple Kannada greeting, like “namaskaram” or “hello!”
Kannada is the official language and is the first language of roughly 44% of the population of Bangalore. It is a Dravidian language belonging to a family of languages spoken mainly in South India.
Bangalore is a melting pot of cultures and languages. Other languages in the city include Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, and Malayalam. English is the lingua franca throughout urban India.
Brief History of Bengaluru
So, how old is this city of “benga” blooms? Founded in the year 1537 CE, Bangalore has had a long and rich past. The city of Bengaluru was founded by Kempe Gowda I, a feudal lord in the times of the Vijayanagara Empire.
He had the vision to build a city of the future, with well-planned infrastructure and numerous lakes and gardens. His dream took shape in the city of Bangalore. He built dams to construct artificial lakes and commissioned lavish gardens. In his time, Bengaluru was called “Kalyānapura” or “Auspicious City.”
Throughout its history, the seat of Bangalore was held by many great rulers. From the Maratha empire and the Wodeyar dynasty to Tipu Sultan, the Tiger of Mysore. It was finally surrendered to the East India Company and housed the British Cantonment and Garrison in the pre-independence era.
In the last fifty years, urbanization saw Bangalore grow in size and scope, and the population shot up with it. Today, the city is the information technology capital of the country, often called India’s Silicon Valley.
What to Eat in Bangalore
A trip to Bangalore is incomplete without tasting authentic South Indian cuisine. Like much of India, Bengaluru boasts of delicious vegetarian and meaty culinary offerings. Here are some dishes you must try:
- Donne Biryani
Spiced rice and lamb or chicken marinated in mind and served in cups of palm leaf, the donne biryani is a Karnataka classic. Visit Shivaji Military Hotel in Jayanagar for some delicious biryani.
- Benne Dose
Dose or dosa is an Indian crepe made of fermented rice. The crisp benne or butter dose is served with dollops of butter, a mint and coconut paste, and a piping hot tomato gravy.
Have breakfast at Vidyarthi Bhavan for the best dosas in town.
Coffee lovers: remember to ask for a South Indian filter coffee with your breakfast. You will not be disappointed.
- Bar-style Burgers
Bangaloreans like their burgers. Typically made using lamb, beef, or chicken patties, Bengaluru’s bar-style burgers are a good place to start exploring American food with an Indian twist.
Visit any Truffles restaurant outlet in Bangalore for a fast-food meal.