First: Here are the photos (CLICK)
I spent Saturday having a look around Bangalore. The tour started in the gardens below my hotel balcony – in this warm climate there are all kinds of interesting trees and flowers surrounding the hotel swimming pool and fish ponds. I’m staying at the Oberoi hotel since there are no Marriotts in this city. I found it online and confirmed with a friend who grew up in this area; this is the place to stay. The rooms are nice, the staff is very helpful, and they don’t accept tips directly, which takes a lot of pressure off of guests. It seems like people outside the hotel are high pressure when it comes to westerners buying something or giving a tip. I noticed at least once that rates differ for foreigners when it comes to tourist attractions. It’s also important to carry some local money if you want to negotiate on something.
Looking out at the street is somewhat intimidating so I hired a driver for a half day tour through the city. This was not cheap, but he did know where to go and provided door to door service. He even joined me on some of the walking tours making this the simple option for someone who has not been here before. I did notice I was the only one touring around in a nice car – others were in 3 wheeled taxis that seemed to lack the level of safety I was looking for in this traffic. The driver warned me up front that all cars are dented and it’s normal to run into each other since no one really cares about the lanes on the street.
With just four hours to site see, we made our way to all of the key attractions including: Vidhana Soudha, Cubbon Park, Bangalore Palace (Pictured to the left), Tipu’s Palace, Bugle Rock, and the older sections of Bangalore. The palace entrance fee to the left was $175 in local currency for locals, $350 for me. I decided to skip the inside tour. I also visited two stores where they sell silk garments and sandlewood carvings. I noticed I was the only one shopping and the store keepers did not want me to leave without buying something. I did finally break down and purchase a couple of chess sets for my boys…but my sales resistance is pretty high when it comes to high-pressured selling, causing me to pass on things even when I need something. Something to remember while selling – no one likes to be sold or pressured. Most of the tourist attractions are well kept, beautifully architected and hundreds of years old. Had I not hired a driver I would not have seen this side of the city.
Other areas of city were less attractive, but very interesting. My driver said today’s traffic is light! It was crazy – he indicated work days are much worse. Crowds were everywhere, catching crowded buses, buying and selling on the street, and walking around. The men mostly dressed in plain shirts and long pants, the woman in a variety of traditional outfits, colorful, and silk. We even saw several cows making their way through the streets.
Despite knowing where to go, we probably spent more time in traffic than actually touring historical sites, however I did find the streets interesting with their small shops, crowded street corners, and all types of vehicles weaving in and out through the streets. By late afternoon I was ready to head back, having seen all of the major attractions listed as Landmarks and Memorials on my map. Most of the streets look just like this one. At the end of the day it was nice to return the gardens, but not without first walking through the hotel’s metal detector and having our car examined for explosives!
© 2010, David Stelzl