Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sightseeing in Bangalore

It is rare that I get to see much of the places I visit when abroad with work. Normally it is just hotel, airport, stadium and whatever tarmac lies in between. But I had a spare morning yesterday and asked a taxi driver to take me on a spin of leafy Bangalore, a city that I like very much.

We saw the crimson-brick law courts, the excessively grand state parliament (and the even grander new one being built next door), the park and the Bangalore Palace, a rather splendid and very British-looking stately pile started by a schoolmaster in the 1860s and completed 80 years later.

It was intended to resemble Windsor Castle, with turrets, battlements and ivy growing up the walls, and from the 1880s was the home of the Maharajahs of Mysore. There was only time for a brief wander, but the palace was being prepared for a large party tonight thrown by Vijay Mallya, owner of the Bangalore Royal Challengers and Mr Kingfisher beer. Clearly my invite went missing in the post.

Then it was on to what the driver called "the white palace", an evening retreat for the maharajah and now a retail mall. Clearly this was the scam bit of the tour - indeed, my driver quite merrily admitted that he got paid a commission for bringing tourists there, flashing a watch that he had received for customers rendered - but I enjoyed a wander round, looking at cashmere scarves, marble chess sets and saris.

When I walked into the area of the palace where carpets are sold, I was approached by a very nice shopkeeper who had a similar look and manner of speaking to Sir Alec Guinness in his later years.

"You want to buy something," he said and I almost felt like replying "I want to buy something". Must be an old Jedi mind trick. The price label of $800 for a small, if gorgeous, carpet that measured about 4ft by 2ft shook me out from his spell.

We finished the trip on the Ulsoor Lake, a reservoir where for 100 rupees (about £1.40), I was able to go for a paddle on a pedalo round the wildlife sanctuary in the middle. It only took two minutes for me to realise how tough pedalling one of these things is. No wonder Flintoff needed a few pints before getting in one at the last World Cup.

Today, being a Saturday, the British journalists on daily papers decided to leave the press conference to the Sunday hacks. There is only so much you can listen to Andrew Strauss talking about how positive England feel. Instead, we went tiger hunting.
 
Well not quite hunting, but we took a drive out of the city and went to a safari reserve where we saw tigers, lions, bears and other wildlife. The tigers, particularly the white tigers with their cold blue eyes, were astounding to see up close, but the bears were not how I imagined they would be. None of them were picking pawpaws or prickly pears, for a start.
 
Driving in India still remains a mystery for me, a combination of aggression and impatience with every spare piece of tarmac an opportunity to gain two inches. "They don't follow the rules of the road," my taxi driver said yesterday, but it wasn't a criticism. "I don't follow the rules of the road either, otherwise it would take much longer."
 
Today's taxi driver had his own views on driving in India. "You need three things," he said. "Good brakes, a good horn and good luck." So far, we have survived.

12 comments:

SouthernWaratah said...

great blog there Paddy

Paddy said...

Thanks Waratah. Now back home, sadly, but I saw a hell of a match before I left

vipul barad said...

That hell of a match u watched before u left INDIA is Ind-Eng tie match. Right? Lol. Peddy... You need to be more positive not only towards Great Britain But also towards other countries.

Paddy said...

Should have written about that match Vipul and will try to do so today (as well as on the Ireland game) but was rather snowed with work after it and then had to fly. It was a great match.

SouthernWaratah said...

Prediction on who will win? Vaughan has been tweeting that the Aussies look good again..

Paddy said...

Aussies look pretty good but South Africa look the best side in the tournament so it will be amusing to see how they blow up later on. Think it looks very open. India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and, especially, England are all vulnerable but on their day could beat anyone.

Southern Waratah said...

You only have to win 3 games at the end of the day, the Qtrs are a given to get too, unless you're playing Like England.

Fox Sports here in Oz has been playing great World Cup Games, I saw the 99 world cup Semi Tie against SA, Klusner was smashing them at will..

looking forward to the business end of this tournament, hopefully the toss doesn't dictate who wins any of the games with some of the dodgy pitches being ... well ... unprepared

kanishks grank said...

Nice blog thanks for sharing
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Nishitha KM said...

hi..thanks for the post.Are you planning any holiday trip with family.i will suggest you the places br hills resort and also near by place k gudi resort..its a nice place to enjoy with family..do visit..

james herry said...

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etc. visit us.

alok singh said...

Thanks for sharing. I would like to recommend you. I hope you will post again soon.
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dimpy roy said...

Nice places to visit. Keep sharing post like this. However, Bengaluru (Bangalore) is not only about industries, it has more to offer in terms of tourism as well. The place is lively, vibrant, bustling with people and very urban in its approach. Not only that, it is also bestowed with long stretches and parks which are lined with beautiful trees, famous historical monuments, busy shopping markets, well maintained gardens and magnificent buildings. Check out all best places to visit in Bangalore for joyful vacations also.