BANGALORE (Reuters Life!) - It may seem that work is all there is to do in Bangalore, India’s IT hub and the world’s outsourcing centre, but this city also knows how to have fun.
Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors make the most of a weekend stay.
7 p.m. - Beat the weekday blues at the open-air Blue Bar in Hotel Taj West End on Race Course Road (080 6660-5660). Enjoy world-class cocktails and an impressive array of wines surrounded by lush gardens and pools. Then walk across the foyer to the hotel’s Blue Ginger restaurant, a branch of the Vietnamese culinary brand, for some delicious oriental fare.
9 a.m. - Breakfast at any of the “darshini” restaurants that can be found all over the city to get a real taste of Bangalore. It’s often standing-room only at these open air eateries, where you can get a quick Indian meal of idli (a steamed rice flour patty), wada (a deep-fried lentil and flour patty) or various dosas (salty pancakes made of rice flour and fried in oil), served with sambar, a spicy lentil-vegetable soup and a spicy coconut chutney. This is best washed down with south India’s signature sweet and milky coffee.
11 a.m. - Hop onto the autorickshaw, the ubiquitous means of transport, and go to Bangalore Palace, built by the Wadiyar dynasty and modeled on England's Windsor Castle. (here
monuments.asp) More than 100 years old, the palace was built as a holiday home for the state’s last monarchs before the British. It teems with elegant glass chandeliers, Belgian mirrors and antique furniture, some of which has been recently refurbished. Hunting trophies, including an elephant’s head with tusks, also abound. The palace is lined with oil paintings, many of them female nudes painted by the maharajas themselves.
There is a nominal entrance fee, with additional charges for photography.
1 p.m. - Lunch at the retro-style Jayamahal Palace Hotel's open-air restaurant (www.jayamahalpalace.com), which serves Indian, Chinese and international food. Sip Bangalore's famous beer, Kingfisher, in the lush grounds.
3 p.m. - Head to Cubbon Park, an oasis of fresh air and greenery in the middle of the teeming city. Established in 1870, the park is popular with joggers. Stroll down the winding, tree-lined avenues and explore the vast expanse, which houses several public buildings including the library and aquarium. If you have the time, hop onto the train that goes round the park.
5 p.m. - Walk to the seat of Karnataka state legislature, housed in an imposing building called the Vidhana Soudha. Immerse yourself in the breathtaking architecture of one of the largest legislative buildings in the world, which is also a great backdrop for photographs.
6 p.m. - Rest before the evening’s entertainment on the banks of the peaceful Ulsoor lake in the middle of the bustling city. Savor the local snacks sold everywhere, which can make for a delicious early dinner.
Alternatively, head to the main shopping district at Mahatma Gandhi (M.G.) Road, Brigade Road and Commercial Street. Stock up on south India’s exquisite sandalwood products at the famous Cauvery store at 49 M.G. Road (080 2559-7511).
8.30 p.m. - Head to Pecos pub, just off Brigade Road, for the retro rock music this city is crazy about. Indulge in some international fare or spicy snacks while listening to Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.
If you’d rather eat somewhere quieter, head to 13th Floor, a bar that is, predictably, on the 13th floor of the Hotel Ivory Tower (84 M.G. Road 080 4178-3333). The views over the city are unrivalled and the wine list long. Entrees are also available.
11 p.m. - Bangalore sleeps early, and most bars do not stay open beyond 11.30 p.m. Most big hotels, however, have 24-hour coffee shops for those seeking one last beer or bite.
9 a.m. - Breakfast at another Bangalore staple, Koshy’s restaurant (39 St. Mark’s road, tel: 080 2221-3793) that boasts of having served Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, to name a few.
On Sundays only, they offer mouth-watering appam and stew, the traditional breakfast fare of the neighboring Kerela state which consists of a big rice-flour pancake, often shaped like a bowl, served typically with mutton, beef or chicken stew. A vegetarian option is available.
11 a.m. - Take another autorickshaw to the Nandi Bull Temple, dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva’s mount. The entrance is flanked by two enormous stone horns, and the temple features a huge statue of Nandi decorated with flowers and incense sticks.
1 p.m. - Lunch at MTR, or Mavalli Tiffin Room, yet another culinary institution in Bangalore. Located near the Lalbagh Botanical Garden, this vegetarian restaurant offers delectable regional food and snacks. Reservations are recommended (080 222-0022). A must-try is the rava idli, a savory cake made from semolina, instead of traditional rice, flour and served with chutney, lentils and ghee. MTR is credited with inventing this dish, which is an essential breakfast item for many south Indians.Top it all off with coffee in a steel tumbler.
3 p.m. - Hop over to Lalbagh gardens, and get lost in the splendor of the vast landscape full of different kinds of flowers. Stroll along the mini-lake, check out the rose garden and the glass house. Take a hat to beat off the sun.
6 p.m. - Go to the old neighborhood of V.V. Puram and sample a staggering array of street food on Bangalore’s “eat street”. Start with pineapple corn, progress to dosas and other Indian snacks, and finish your journey with a masala bun at the bakery at the end of the street. Wash everything down with a masala cola, a local twist on the soda.
8 p.m. - Time for one last Kingfisher beer. Go back to M.G. Road area, wander into any pub, and grab a crunchy masala papad, a fried lentil savory, to nibble on while you are at it.
Editing by Miral Fahmy