Karnataka Sights

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The IT Hub of India, Bengaluru is a city that is an ideal gateway to Karnataka. This is also a city that has several sites old and new that make it a sought after destination by itself. With a history that blends a colonial past with royal heritage, the city has much to see and do. Apart from its two beautiful lung spaces Cubbon Park and Lalbagh, the city is home to the beautiful Bangalore Palace. Dating back to 1887, a visit to the palace is ticketed and its design is inspired by England’s Windsor castle and has a Tudor architectural style. The old Bangalore Fort is another landmark that dates back to 1537 and started as a mud fort and was built by Kempe Gowda I. The Tipu Sultan Summer Palace located close by is another wood marvel that has withstood the test of time. Bengaluru also has some important museums like the Government Museum, Venkatappa Art Gallery, National Gallery of Modern Art HAL Heritage Center and Aerospace Museum Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum and the newly opened Indian Music Experience among many others. The city is also known for its interesting food joints where you can sample everything from traditional to contemporary and is a haven for foodies.

Education

An education hub, Bengaluru has a lot of schools and colleges especially for professional education. The Central College of Bangalore established in 1858 is the oldest college in the city. Some of the important educational institutions include the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences, ndian Institute of Management, Indian Statistical Institute, Institute of Finance and International Management, Institute of Wood Science and Technology, Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Indian Institute of Science, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, National Centre for Biological Sciences, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, National Law School of India University, International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore, National Institute of Design, National Institute of Fashion Technology and University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore. In the recently announced State Budget Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy kept the focus on modernization of infrastructure in primary and secondary schools and higher education sector. Some measures announced included the construction of 1500 new class rooms, upgradation of 5000 class rooms, distribution of learning equipment to 1000 schools and appointment of one estate manager for the maintenance of school buildings. This apart a 10 days training to 1 lakh teachers under ‘Guruchethana’ programme was also announced. The Government is also focusing on higher education through the adoption of new learning methods through the Next Generation Learning Initiative in Bengaluru Central University. Bangalore has some of the best educational institutions in India. But in Bangalore, like in many other urban centres in the country, children across all income groups are flocking to private schools. While the number of private schools is rapidly growing, government schools on the other hand are increasingly being shut down in the name of low student enrollment. The biggest problem with government schools is poorly trained or absent teachers. These schools also lack modern infrastructure and students are introduced to technology only in the sixth standard. We see concerned citizens and good Samaritans helping once in a while, but that is not enough. Given that the problem of poorly trained teachers is not something that can be solved anytime soon, the quality of education in these schools can improve if the involved authorities give students access to game-based digital learning tools that make use of the best curriculum frameworks from around the world. This will help students stay motivated and engaged while continuing to improve their skills across key areas,” says Sumantra Roy, Co-Founder and CEO Learning Yogi.

Real Estate

Driven largely by the end-users the Bengaluru real estate market has remained resilient even during the worst phase of the property cycle in the country. Realistic property prices, genuine demand by end-users, the city’s developers’ strategy to keep the new housing project launches under control, and consistent efforts to minimize the demand-supply gap have worked in favour of the ‘Garden City.’ “Since the end-users here are mostly professionals working across service sectors led by the IT/ITeS, developers have been conscientiously aligning their offerings to this demand. For instance, to cater to the demands of a tech-savvy homebuyer, developers have launched ‘Smart Homes’ for their buyers with several features at the ‘click of a button.’ Additionally, builders here were among the first to offer online payment system for property. One of the major positives of this city is that it has always adapted well to the changing market dynamics, and therefore remains well-positioned for future growth as well,” says Anuj Puri, Chairman – ANAROCK Property Consultants. The top three emerging areas in the city based on the new supply and the inherent demand by prospective buyers include Kanakapura Road and Electronic City in south zone and Devanahalli in the north. As per ANAROCK data, Devanahalli is seeing a spurt in real estate activity since 2017 with major builders like Embassy, Salarpuria Sattva and Ozone launching their residential projects.  The area has garnered the interest of buyers due to its proximity to the airport and ample land availability, which has helped in ensuring good supply. Electronic City is largely seeing demand by IT/ITeS professionals and has relatively affordable property prices. Enhanced connectivity to major areas via metro is boosting the realty demand in Kanakapura Road. The advent of IT/ITeS parks in and around the area is also a major reason for high supply of units.As per ANAROCK research, the top three suburban areas in Bengaluru include Yelahanka, Sarjapur and Electronic City. Yelahanka is a self-sustained micro market which boasts of excellent connectivity to the international airport, has ample social infrastructure facilities and is easily accessible to the IT hub in Hebbal. Interestingly, the mid-income segment is the most dominant category in the city in terms of both demand and supply.

Health

Bengaluru is fast emerging as one of the most health conscious cities in India. What’s more is that the city’s health sector is at par with global standards: be it in terms of availability of the best hospitals with eminent medical practitioners; state-of-the-art infrastructure; or technologically advanced equipment. “Some of this can also be attributed to a reverse brain drain which has brought a lot of highly qualified health professionals from abroad to set up base in the city. The city has over 100 marathons every year, making it the fitness capital of India. It is possible for people to avail health services anytime, anywhere in the city today – including home healthcare, diagnostics, and even healthy food from the comfort of their homes. With Bengaluru’s cosmopolitan set up and favorable climate, people from other countries have also started coming to seek treatment in the city,” says Meena Ganesh, MD & CEO, Portea Medical. Owning to its startup culture, the city has seen several new health care companies setting up shop in the bid to come up with new age cutting edge health solutions as well. This apart, the city has seen a spurt of new hospitals opening across the city in a bid to provide healthcare solutions to its denizens. Several of these are super specialty hospitals. Interestingly all the new healthcare ventures are relying on technology like artificial intelligence, robotics and Internet of Things (IoT) to revolutionise healthcare for the city. Rekuram Varadharaj, Co-founder and COO, healthi adds, “as per a recent comprehensive report titled Healthi Insights India released by us, about 98% women and 91% men in Bangalore are aware about the importance of being healthy and feel the need to make necessary lifestyle changes. With the city emerging as a health, fitness, and wellness hub in India, people have a plethora of choices to seek treatment: preventive and curative alike. All this can be attributed to state-of-the-art health infrastructure, mushrooming health-tech startups, technological innovations, and availability of some of the best medical professionals. Organizations are also giving priority to the health of their employees by giving them health and wellness benefits that their families can avail.”

Fun and Entertainment

The city is also home to thematic parks and entertainment zones to ensure that there is never a dull moment here. If you want an adrenalin rush head to Wonder La Amusement Park that has fun rides, water rides, musical fountains, laser shows, rain showers, virtual reality shows and more. The park is naturally a big hit with children and now has an in house resort where you can stay too. This apart there are several restaurants within the sprawling complex. Fun City in VR Bengaluru is an indoor family entertainment centre, a leisure concept by Landmark Group that encourages children to learn while they play, with a variety of activities focused on children’s growth and development. There are also a series of gaming cafes in the city where you can have fun with simulated games virtual reality games as well. The city also has several Go Karting centers that allow you to check out your racing side. Likewise a thrill of speed albeit of a different nature can be experienced at the Bangalore Turf Club when you see a game of Horse Racing. And if the heat is getting to you cool off at Snow City a winter wonderland that has snow based activities that is a good place to chill out quite literally. Another must see place is the Innovative Film City that has a potpourri of attractions including the Aqua Kingdom, Cartoon City, Dino Park, Mini Golf, Mirror Maze, Petting Zoo and Haunted Mansion among many others. This is where you can indulge in adventure sports as well including Go Karting, bungee jumping, dirt biking, archery, net cricket and bull rides. if you love wines a must do activity is to take a detailed vineyard tour, while you taste some spectacular homegrown wine especially in the Nandi Hills area which sees a lot of grape cultivation. Likewise golf lovers can tee off at the Golf Club that also offers classes for newbies. If you are looking for a more invigorating adventure an early morning cycle ride at the ‘Dodda Alada Mara’ or the Big Banyan Tree will take you through some amazing natural vistas too. And if you can do experience Micro light flying a 20 minute aerial ride that gives you a beautiful bird’s eye view of the entire city that happens at the Jakkur Airfield.

Mysore

Located about 130 km from Bengaluru is the royal heritage city of Mysore. Start your city tour at the majestic Mysore Palace which is the official residence of the Wodeyars who ruled Mysore prior to Independence. The Indo-Sarcenic architecture that has Hindu, Muslim, Rajput and Gothic influences is where the 10-day Mysore Dussehra festivities take place. The Palace itself is a must see for its beautiful interiors, paintings and galleries that are a mute witness to a rich past. When you are here do stop by at the quaint Railway Museum that has a display of vintage locomotives and railway engines and was established by the Indian Railways in 1979. You can see some railway gems like the ES 506 4-6-2 locomotive, an Austin Railway Car, built from 1925 Austin model and an YP #2511 made by Telco and the Maharani’s Saloon carriage used by the Queen of Mysore here. A stop at the Chamundi Hills is a must considering that she is the presiding deity of the city and revered by the royal family who worship her as their family deity as well. The drive up the hill is scenic and gives you some stunning aerial views of the city. Said to be the yoga capital of the South Mysore is home to several wellness places, ashrams and yoga learning centers too. Make time to see the the Government Sandalwood factory a heritage building adjacent to the Railway Workshop that is run by the Karnataka Soaps and Detergent Ltd. While production has ceased it is fascinating to see the entire sandalwood processing stages like cutting, chipping, disintegrating wood, distilling, filtering and re-filtering. And when in Mysore shopping for the famed Mysore Silk Sarees must be on your agenda. The sarees are sure to burn a hole in your pocket as they are woven in pure gold thread. However, you can also buy sarees woven in silver threads which though expensive are still worth the price. The silk weaving factory in Mysore owned by Karnataka Silk Industries Corporation (KSIC) is where you can learn about the entire process of silk weaving and see the process from the silk cocoons to the weaving of pure silk fabric. There are several showrooms in the main market that sell silk sarees but the authentic sarees come with the KSIC branding. A stop at the Brindavan Gardens that houses the Krishnaraja Sagar dam engineered by Sir M. Vishveswaraya is a must too.

Hampi

A UNESCO World Heritage Site Hampi has some of the best stone formations and ruins that make it a sought after travel destination. Said to be one of the richest and largest cities in the world in in the past, today it is home to the ruins of Vijayanagara the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. It is also the site of Kishkindha, the empire of monkey king Vaali and Sugreeva and with the Tungabhadra river that flows through this makes it a haven for birds as well. While the place is huge you must start at the Vittala Temple Complex where you will see the symbol of Karnataka Tourism the iconic stone chariot. The Vijaya Vittala Temple dedicated to Vittala, a form of Vishnu is part of the sprawling complex that houses temples, pavilions and halls and massive pillars in the congregation hall are huge made of single granite blocks. The famed musical pillars are also part of this complex. Also check out the Virupaksha Temple that has a nine tiered temple tower and overlooks the famous Hampi Bazaar with intricately carved mandapas and towers. Some of the other places that you must see is the Royal Enclosure a wide open ground with several small shelters with important relics that has the 100-Pillared king’s audience hall, a stepped tank, an underground chamber and the Mahanavami Dibba. The Queen’s Bath is a rectangular complex encircled by a big water channel said to have been used by the queen to bathe in. All around is a huge circular veranda that faces a large open sky pool in its middle. The Hemakuta Hill has a large number of temples, archways and pavilions within large wide stoned walls and has the Moola Virupaksha Temple, which is believed to be the original Virupaksha temple. Check out the Sasivekalu Ganesha, a large statue of Lord Ganesha a monolithic statue is 2.4 metres in height and carved out of a huge boulder. Also check out the Kadalekalu Ganesha Temple located close by when you are here. And to see the entire history stop at the Archaeological Museum of Hampi that has a large collection of sculptures and antiques in four galleries.

This story first appeared in the March 2019 issue of Spice Route here:

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