Bengaluru (or Bangalore) is one of India’s most thriving metropolitan cities. Its vibrant local culture and flourishing IT industry draw tourists, students, and professionals from across the country and the world.
Bangalore has many titles, known both as the ‘Silicon Valley of India,’ and as its ‘Garden City,’ the city has much to offer. While it may be known for its pubs or its restaurants, there are many major tourist hotspots in and around the city. Bangalore Palace, Lalbagh, MG Road, Cubbon Park, and Bull Temple are all well-known attractions.
However, there are plenty of other lesser known places well worth exploring. Here is a list of 11 of the more unusual things to do in Bangalore:
1. Devanahalli Fort
While most people know about Bangalore Fort, very few make the trip outside the city to visit the spectacular Devanahalli Fort. Unlike Bangalore Fort, most of it still remains, covering a vast area of 20 acres. It was originally built in 1501 by the Saluva Dynasty but was taken over by Hyder Ali. The fort was also where his famous son, Tipu Sultan was born.
Opened by Odissi dancer Protima Gauri in 1990, this modern gurukul is more a community than a school. Situated near Hesaraghatta Lake, about 30 kilometres away from Bangalore, it is the perfect place to escape the city and immerse yourself in both culture and nature. It boasts both beautifully maintained gardens, as well as temples.
3. Big Banyan Tree
Known locally as the Dodda Alada Mara, this 400-year-old tree is located just outside Bangalore in the village of Kethohalli. Several thousand aerial roots hang down from an amalgamation of small and large trees covering over 250 metres. Explore the labyrinths formed by the enormous roots, filled with pathways and brightly painted seats.
4. Jakkur Aerodrome
Visit the Jakkur Aerodrome for a wide range of exciting and engaging activities. Here you can take a ride in an aircraft to watch the city sparkling from below you, or go micro light flying over the city. Adventure junkies can also go parasailing, and much more.
5. Gardi Ustad Pehlwan Kale Bhai
This 110-year-old akhara (wrestling pit) smack in the middle of Shivajinagar is one of the few remaining spaces where kushti (traditional Persian wrestling) is practised in the city. However, in the afternoons, this gardi turns into a restaurant, serving delicious biryani and kebabs.
6. Mayo Hall
Amidst the high-rises and modern buildings of Brigade Road, sits the colonial Mayo Hall. It was built in the 1800s to honour the memory of Lord Mayo, the 4th Viceroy of India. This relic of a bygone era staunchly escaped the rush to modernity that surrounds it. Full of beautiful ornate furniture, chandeliers, stone arches, and Tuscan columns, it houses both government offices and the Kempegowda Museum.
7. Blossom Book House
One of the most beloved bookstores in Bangalore, Blossom may not be the most unusual destination on this list. Opened in 2001 and located on Church Street, Blossom is the largest second-hand bookstore in India and is a must for any book-lover. You can easily get lost in the stacks and stacks of books piled in every nook and cranny of the store. It also recently expanded to a second location nearby.
8. The Real “Malgudi”
Whether you read the short stories or watched the TV series, you might be familiar with RK Narayan’s Malgudi Days. While the town may be fictional, Narayan has said that the name is a combination of two of his favourite areas in Bangalore — Malleswaram, and Basavanagudi. These neighbourhoods still retain much of their old-world charm, with tree-lined streets and gorgeous traditional heritage homes.
9. Freedom Park
Located in what was once Bangalore’s central jail, Freedom Park is said to have been inspired by Hyde Park in London. This intriguing park is meant to be a symbol of India’s freedom and a stage for public meetings. It also has the remains of the barracks and a watchtower, along with a Jail Museum.
10. Pyramid Valley
Located just outside Bangalore, in Kebbedoddi, this international meditation center houses the world’s largest meditational pyramid. The Maitreya-Buddha Pyramid is 102 feet tall and can house over 5000 people. Nestled in a lush green valley, it also has streams and hills that make it an ideal place to relax and meditate.
11. Turahalli Forest
The Turahalli Forest Area is the last surviving forest in Bangalore city. Located off the Kanakapura Road, near Banashankari, this area is full of narrow trails, small hillocks, and dense vegetation. Vehicles have been banned inside this reserve forest, but it is a popular spot for cyclists. It also offers numerous activities for the outdoor enthusiast, such as hiking and rock-climbing.