Bangalore Travel Guide
Tips for business travelers to Bangalore, India’s technology hub.
Bangalore may be aptly nicknamed the Garden City, with wide swaths of greenery that thrive in the tropical climate, but it is also dubbed the Silicon Valley of India, with a worldwide reputation as a technology center. The city is host to many multinational corporations and outsourcing giants, housed both in the city center and in numerous tech parks on its outskirts
Bangalore International Airport (Bengaluruairport.com) is located in Devanahalli, 22 miles north of downtown. This modern, efficient airport is well designed, bright and clean with good shopping and dining options—yet its terminal is home to a flock of tiny sparrows, a reminder of the rural area that hosts this piece of modern India. The airline lounge for all international flights is lackluster and crowded. Allow between 45 minutes and two hours to travel between the airport and the city center, depending on traffic; avoid peak traffic times of 9–11 a.m. and 5–8 p.m. A ride to the city from the airport in an air-conditioned, metered taxi costs approximately Rs600.
Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, accurately described Bangalore as “the city of the future.” Today, the country’s entrepreneurial spirit is most evident in this south Indian city. Also known as India’s Silicon Valley, the city houses India’s most successful companies and important academic institutions, has a cosmopolitan culture and supports the fastest-growing base of wealth in Asia. Bangalore is home to India’s IT and biotech industry leaders, including Infosys, Wipro and Biocon. Many multinationals have located R&D and innovation centers here, including IBM, Yahoo! and Google, as well as aerospace companies such as Boeing and Airbus. United Breweries, India’s largest brewery and alcoholic beverages company, is led by Bangalore’s flamboyant Vijay Mallya, whose interests include an airline, Kingfisher; a Formula 1 racing team, Force One; and an Indian Premier League cricket team, the Bangalore Challengers. Some of India’s richest people live in the city, including Azim Premji, the chairman of Wipro and “the father of outsourcing,” and Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chairman of Biocon.
Business District Intelligence
Central: Mahatma Gandhi (M.G.) Road, at the heart of the city, was the original home of many IT start-ups but is now dominated by retail. Nearby are the headquarters of consulting firms Accenture and Tata Consulting, and just west toward the old HAL airport are Microsoft, Fidelity, Lenovo, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), among other major organizations.
International Technology Park (ITP): Opened in 1994, ITP is located in the high-tech hub of Whitefield, 19 miles east of the city center. Many IT businesses, such as SAP, Oracle and Dell, are headquartered here; the area also has many gated residential precincts that support the working population.
Electronics City: Eleven miles south of the city is a 330-acre industrial park founded in 1978, where Infosys, Wipro, 3M, Hewlett-Packard and Siemens are located.
Infrastructure: The fastest-growing metropolitan area in the country, with a population of more than nine million people, Bangalore faces major infrastructure challenges. Despite being the first city in Asia to have electricity, the city experiences daily power cuts and water shortages, chronic pollution and notorious traffic. A metro system is under construction that should alleviate some of this congestion.
Frugal entrepreneurship: In the new global business climate, India in general (and Bangalore in particular) has excelled, and economic growth maintains robust. This resource-constrained environment shows great potential in affordable innovation, especially in the area of communications and healthcare.
Cricket: It’s never a bad idea to mention the country’s recent World Cup victory and the performance of the local team, the Royal Challengers, in the Indian Premier League: The Challengers reached the semifinals in 2010 and hope for continued success in 2011 under the captainship of New Zealander Daniel Vettori.
The Taj West End
25 Race Course Rd. +91 80 6660 5660, tajhotels.com
A luxury heritage property set on 2 acres of lush gardens.
The Leela Palace Hotel
23 Airport Rd. +91 80 2521 1234, theleela.com/hotel-bangalore.html
An opulent, modern-day palace.
1/1 Swami Vivekananda Rd., Ulsoor +91 80 2555 8888, istahotels.com
A chic hotel celebrating modern Indian style.
Vivanta by Taj
ITPB, Whitefield +91 80 6693 3333, tajhotels.com
New-generation India, with high tech and high style.
39/5 Outer Ring Rd., Doddanekundi +91 80 4262 7777, sevenhotel.com
French-owned and -managed boutique hotel with 49 rooms.
#100/6, HAL-Varthur Main Rd., Whitefield +91 80 2854 4444, alilahotels.com
The first city property by the powerhouse Asian boutique hotel group.
Local Food Culture
This truly cosmopolitan city offers a wide variety of dining experiences from authentic South Indian to the ever popular Chinese and Italian, as well as fine-dining Japanese; there’s also a very active pub culture. Traditional south Indian conservatism is evident in the restrictive licensing hours: Restaurants, bars and clubs close at 11:30 p.m., so Bangalore dines out earlier than the rest of India, starting around 8 p.m.
The two places in town for a power breakfast are located in the highest-profile luxury hotels. Both open at 6:30 a.m. and offer terrace dining to make the most of Bangalore’s balmy climate.
The Leela Palace Hotel, 23 Airport Rd. +91 80 2521 1234, theleela.com
The Taj West End, 25 Race Course Rd. +91 80 6660 5660, tajhotels.com
For more local character, head to MTR (Mavalli Tiffin Room, 14 Lal Bagh Rd., +91 80 2222 0022, mavallitiffinrooms.com), a Bangalore institution since 1924 that serves a traditional South Indian breakfast. There’s also the hypermodern South Indies (840A, 100 Ft Rd., Indiranagar, +91 80 4163 6363, thesouthindies.com).
The Leela Palace Hotel, 23 Airport Rd. +91 80 3057 1344, theleela.com
This fine-dining Indian restaurant is the place for expense-account entertaining.
48/1 Ground Fl., The Estate, 121 Dickenson Rd. +91 80 2559 4567, caperberry.in
Acclaimed Indian chef Abhijit Saha is introducing his country to molecular gastronomy at this upscale restaurant.
16 Wood St., Ashok Nagar +91 80 4112 8400, olivebarandkitchen.com
This sophisticated Mediterranean eatery is located in a charming old villa.
Best Tour Guide
+91 98455 23660 (mobile), bangalorewalks.com
Run by Arun Pai, Bangalore Walks offers heritage and custom tours.
Best Leisure Trip
Mysore, just 88 miles away from Bangalore, is one of the most important hubs for Indian art, spirituality and culture. The most significant site is the splendid Mysore Palace: Built in 1912, it is a triumph of Indo-Saracenic architecture. It is illuminated by 97,000 light bulbs at 7 p.m. on Sundays and during major festivals. Also worth visiting is Devaraja Market, one of India’s most attractive markets. For lunch or an overnight stay, head to the Green Hotel (Chittaranjan Palace, 2270 Vinoba Rd., +91 821 425 5000, greenhotelindia.com). This oasis of calm, in a lovingly restored palace built for Mysore’s princesses, is surrounded by extensive gardens and set up as a model of sustainable tourism; all of its profits go to charitable and environmental projects. By road, the journey takes about two hours (outside of peak hours) on an excellent highway. The Shatabdi Express train also takes two hours, with very comfortable, air-conditioned first-class service available. Deccan Aviation (deccanair.com) can arrange helicopter tours to Mysore.
Palace Grounds +91 80 2336 0818
Daily 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Rs200 for foreign nationals
Owned by the maharaja of Mysore, this late-19th-century palace is an eccentric amalgamation of interior styles and artifacts owned by the four generations of the Wadiyar family who have used this property as their city home.
Tipu Sultan Summer Palace
Albert Victoria Rd. Daily 8 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
This 18th-century structure, a two-story teak building with elaborate wall murals set in a lovely garden, was former ruler Tipu Sultan’s summer retreat from his base in Mysore.
Lalbagh Botanical Gardens
horticulture.kar.nic.in Daily 6 a.m.–7 p.m.
Dating back to 1760, these spectacular gardens are set on 240 acres in the heart of the city. They house close to 2,000 plant species, including wonderful ancient mango trees believed to be planted by Tipu Sultan more than 200 years ago. It’s the perfect spot for an early-morning walk, which is a daily habit for most Bangaloreans.
Bannerghatta Bear Rescue Centre
+91 11 24621939, wildlifesos.org
This inspiring NGO is located in the forest, an hour from the city center. Wildlife SOS cares for 90 rehabilitated bears rescued from a life of slavery as dancing animals on the highways of India. Advance reservations are essential.
11 Walton Rd., +91 80 2221 2426
A chic lifestyle store specializing in contemporary Indian design.
4 Sankey Rd., High Grounds, +91 80 3272 3251
This collection of pretty boutiques sits in an elegant villa on extensive grounds.
Cauvery Arts & Crafts Emporium
45 MG Rd. at Brigade Rd., +91 80 2558 1118
Established in 1964 by the government of Karnataka, this is an excellent local craft shop.
Note: While the city’s name has officially reverted to the precolonial Bengaluru, adoption has been slow and in conversation Bangalore is very often used.