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Arundhati Venkatesh is an engineer by degree, an IT professional in her previous life, she now works for an NGO, is an aspiring writer and kid-lit enthusiast, a mother, an observer of life and people, a feminist, a minimalist and a compulsive maker of lists! She blogs at Arundhativ.
Situated close to forests and with the Kaveri just a couple of hours away, Bengaluru has endless possibilities when it comes to weekend getaways or days out. Mekedatu, Nandi hills, Shivanasamudra, Bheemeshwari, Galibore, Ranganathittu, Srirangapatna, Bandipur and Kabini are all less than three hours away. In good weather, Our Native Village with pottery, bullock cart rides, kite flying, catapults and cycles, is lovely. As a bonus, Nrityagram is very close to ONV. Gerry Martin Farm on Sarjapur road is just perfect, if you pack a picnic lunch. Mornings at Lalbagh are heavenly.
Come rain or an overdose of shine, most of these choices are ruled out. Never mind, because the city has some great indoor spaces too! My top ten picks (not in any order) –
With four floors of exhibits, this museum warrants multiple visits with a couple of hours spent each time. The ground floor is about gears, brakes, levers, pulleys, inclined planes, engines and turbines – the then four year-old loved it. The other floors have exhibits on space, electronics and biotech. The children’s area is fun. The mirror maze can be tricky; I would advise that an adult accompany children through it.
Don’t miss the moving dinosaur exhibit on the ground floor – adults may find it tacky but kids seem to love it. My son insisted on one last darshan before we left! There is a small book shop too where you might find something interesting.
The entrance fee being nominal, the museum sees a lot of footfall on weekends and holidays. It is good to see the place being utilized.
The museum boasts archaeological finds from the Indus valley, the Mauryan period, sculpture from the time of Vijayanagara and Hoysala reign, paintings depicting scenes from the Ramayana, miniatures, musical instruments and armory. The museum has something in it each for the budding historian, art enthusiast and mythology buff.
The ticket (that costs all of Rs. 5!) also grants access to the adjoining Venkatappa Art Gallery.
Cichlids, eels, gouramis, sharks… meet them at the aquarium. Not too big, so it is a good place to head to after a leisurely stroll at Cubbon park, or post enjoying the rides at Bal Bhavan which is right next door.
The museums and the aquarium are located on the same road, and none of them has a good café or facilities. Koshy’s is not too far – ideal for a quick bite afterwards.
The shows are alright, nice to introduce the subject to children. An attraction for kids is the chart with body weight as it would appear on each of the planets. Also check out the gift shop while you are there – you can pick up kits with magnets, microscopes and the like. The science park outside is interesting – learning can be fun!
Rajasthani miniatures, Bengal school paintings, the works of Tagore and Jamini Roy – these are a few of my favourite things at the NGMA.
Housed in the magnificient Manikyavelu mansion, surrounded by trees – there is as much beauty outside the art gallery as there is inside! A visit to the art gallery is not complete without doing the tree hunt – be sure to pick up the chart at the counter and spot the trees marked out, learn their colloquial and biological names and more!
For art lovers, there is also Gallery Ske in Langford Town with contemporary art displays, Chitrakala Parishath on Kumarakrupa road, Dastkaar’s bazaar in August, and Janapadaloka Folk Art Museum on the Bangalore-Mysore highway, right next to Kamat Lokaruchi.
Get a taste of the history of the region – visit the Tipu fort and palace.
Arguably the best thing that happened to Bangalore – there is a play staged at Rangashankara almost every day of the year. Plays in English, Hindi, Kannada, and sometimes Urdu, some for children too!
Anju’s – the Rangashankara café serves mouthwatering fare – the sabudana vadas and vada pavs are delicious, the akki rottis perfectly done. You could go for sandwiches or pastas, and finish with one of the desserts on the menu. Be sure to pop in to ‘Shankar’s – The Book People’ while you are there.
The then three-year old fell in love with this place – so many different types of aircraft on display! The place is maintained quite well too.
9. Monkey Maze
A soft play and activity area in Indiranagar, complete with tunnels, slides, rope ladders and nets – guaranteed to be a hit with the 3-6 age group. The ground floor has books, puzzles and games that can be enjoyed while little people catch their breath. Charges are Rs. 100 per hour per child.
At Claytopia in Indiranagar, you get to pick and paint a ceramic piece that will be heated in a kiln and glazed – ready for you to collect in ten days. Colors, brushes, palettes, stencils and books are provided. The price varies depending on what you choose – a fridge magnet would cost you a couple of hundreds and bigger trays, plates or vases more. They also have a great bistro. All the ingredients for an afternoon of fun!
The Bull Temple at Basavangudi didn’t make it to the list. If you do go, the five century old Bugle Rock or Shamanna park is closeby, with its natural rock formations and sizeable population of bats. While you are there, you could sample the fare at Vidyarthi Bhavan – the dosas may be too greasy, but it is an institution and one gets to experience their efficiency and marvel at the process. Parking is an issue and the tiffin hall is packed – not for the faint-hearted.
The Ulsoor gurudwara, St. Marks Church and ISKCON temple are other places of religious significance.
Then there are one-off events like those at:
Dhaatu – Puppetry, storytelling, dance and doll display during Navratri and the Ramayana carnival for New Year’s.
Gayana Samaj – Carnatic music concerts.
As part of the month-long Rama Navami celebrations in April-May, there are ticketed concerts at Fort High School grounds.
Kinkini – classical dance performances
Indian Heritage Academy, Koramangala – classical music and dance
Goethe Institut (Max Mueller Bhavan), Indiranagar
Hippocampus children’s library and activity centre at Koramangala organizes storytelling, craft and workshops for children, while Atta Galatta hosts interesting sessions for adults too.
Chowdiah Memorial Hall, of course.
Art, music, theatre, science, history… Bangalore has it all. What are your favorite haunts?