It is possible to plan and take many excursions from Bangalore. In fact Bangalore makes a great base to discover the lush, green surrounding countryside and its fabulous National Parks. For temples, churches and forts, downtown Bangalore is a fascinating place to explore and there are even a few relics from the British Raj albeit these are also fast disappearing. Bangalore is a thriving metropolis and has a few traffic problems but the area does have temperate weather conditions.
Bannerghatta National Park
Another excursion is to the Banerghatta National Park. This is also a good trekking area if you want. The lions are worth seeing, specially the two rare white ones. The rest of the zoo does not have much to offer, but the hour-long safari is fun for kids.
If you are lucky you might get to spot otherwise elusive and shy denizens of the forest. It will take about half a day to do all the sightseeing and if you wish to stay the night in the vicinity you can camp out in some log huts as well.
- Location: 25 km south of Bangalore, half an hour by taxi.
Mahatma Gandhi Road
This is the centre of British Bangalore. The cantonment streets have old relics of a bygone era competing with newer construction necessitated by economics. The 'MG Road' as it is more popularly known is a great place to eat, drink, shop and generally make merry.
There are secondhand bookstores as well as branded clothing outlets selling you the latest international fashions. If you really want to explore, get out of the vehicle and walk around – you won't be disappointed. Step into a restaurant at mealtimes and resume your exploration after a culinary treat.
- Location: Central Bangalore
The Nandi hills located north of Bangalore once used to house the king Tipu Sultan’s summer palace. Two prominent temples built by the Chola Dynasty are also housed in the Nandi hills. The natural beauty of the mountains combined with the relative coolness of the surroundings serves to make it a popular picnic destination.
Most weekends will see these hills swarming with picnickers. You can hire a Taxi to get here or if you prefer to do it cheaply just catch a bus from Bangalore’s central bus stand. There are a few resorts along the hills and you can stop over for lunch at any one of them.
- Location: about 60 km north of Bangalore, an hour and half’s drive in a taxi.
Around 140 km from the Garden City of Bangalore are the Shivasamudram Falls of the river Cauvaery. The first hydroelectric power plant in India was built here and the location is of historical interest. The best way to get there from Bangalore is by road. Hire a cab and try to take the Kannakpura Road instead of the Mysore Road as it is better marked with signposts.
There are no restaurants or shops around and you should carry all that you will need to eat or drink with you. It has pure natural beauty, and there are no entrance fees. All it will cost you is the drive and the food.
- Location: 140 km from Bangalore, about two and half hours by taxi.
Sri Radha Krishna- Chandra Temple
This is a temple built by the International Society of Krishna Consciousness, or ISKON. The temple is open from 07:00 to 13:00 and again from 16:00 to 20:30. If you are interested in attending the 'arti' ceremony make sure you get to the temple well in advance and take your place. Crowds can get difficult to maneuver through during the 'arti' time. 'Prasad' or holy food offerings take place after the 'arti' finishes.
The mandir also has its own souvenir shop selling Krishna Idols, copies of the Bhagvad Gita (the sermon given by Lord Krishna to Arjun) in many languages and products made from cows which are said to cure many diseases. The architecture of the temple is as alluring as the sounds of “Hare Rama Hare Krishna” drifting through the air.
- Location: On Chord road, about 20 minutes from central Bangalore by Taxi.
St Mark’s Cathedral
This church was built by the British and was completed in 1812. It was consecrated by the Bishop of Calcutta in 1816 and is the oldest Anglican Church in Bangalore. Still the quality of its external bells is considered to be the best among all the churches in the city. Earlier under the auspices of the Church of England it is now under the Church of South India or CSI.
The colonial style of architecture shows through in the exquisite woodwork and carvings that are intricate on the ceilings and the dome. The stained glass windows add to the beauty of the church.
- Location: on MG Road, central Bangalore
Tipu Sultan Fort and Palace
While the fort was originally built by Kempegowda, the present fort made out of stone was erected on this site by Hyder Ali in the 18th century. This happened after the Maharaja of Mysore decided to give the village of Bangalore to Hyder Ali. The fort is still in use by the Indian Army and is hence not open to public viewing.
The Palace of Tipu Sultan, son of Hyder Ali, is not restricted for viewing but carries an entry fee of about two dollars. It is open daily from 08:00 to 18:00. Its teakwood pillars are of particular beauty. Another building close by is the Venkataraman Temple which you can also combine in your visit.
- Location: On Albert Victoria Road, just off KR road, about 15 minutes from central Bangalore by taxi