I – Mysore
Because of its splendid temples and sights, the area around Mysore easily reaches the top of this list. Although a good three-hour drive from Bangalore, the fame of this City of Palaces attracts many Indian tourists. As the city’s nickname suggests, the main place to visit is the great palace of Mysore, which is one of India’s most famous Indian tourist attractions, and which dates back well into the 14th century. Other places to go to are the Brindavan garden, which stretches out along the Krishnarajasagara dam, and the impressive Chamundeshwari temple. Besides these highlights, the trip itself is also a good opportunity to catch a glimpse of the Indian countryside. Taking this trip with a touring bus is advisable, as it will take you to local restaurants for lunch and dinner and make sure you get to see all of the sights within a day. In all, a trip to Mysore is sure to give you a rather exhaustive, but very rewarding day, in which you’ll get a solid glimpse of Indian history and architecture. A tip: wear sandals, as many of the temples require you leave your footwear (and often camera) outside.
II – Bhannargatta Zoo
The Bhannargatta Zoo, a one hour drive from of Bangalore, is worth a visit for several reasons. First, its location in the south of Bangalore makes for an interesting trip through the city’s suburbs (preferably with bus number 365, which leaves from the city center). Second, although the zoo itself is a bit old, it has an incredibly beautiful variety of animals. Especially popular are the Indian cobras and the black bears, as well as the cheetahs, the hippos and the caimans. Another reason not to miss out on this attraction is the fact that the Bhannargatta Zoo itself is a little more interactive than your average zoo: its many elephants come close enough to throw your hat off with their trunks – which they do if you give a coin to the caretaker – and there are several cheeky monkey families playing around, up in the trees. Finally, there is the famous Bhannargatta national park right next to the zoo, where you can take a safari. Although this will be a bit more expensive, the experience can be worth it, as it gets you up close with the park’s tigers, lions and leopards.
Entrance to the Village
III – Nrityagram
Half of the fun of this outing lies with the trip itself. The ninety minutes to the Nrityagram dancing village provide a beautiful, unique sight on the countryside and the small villages that surround Bangalore. As its founder intended, the school is quite isolated from the outside world and allows for an education that solely focuses on dancing. The village itself, although charming, isn’t very big, and the real reason to go here lies with the unique experience of watching its students dance. For 50 rupees, you can enter their classrooms and witness the most extraordinary performances that will keep you enchanted for a long time after you leave. Secluded from the outside world, one can best reach the place with bus 253K from Bangalore’s K R Market, followed by a 10-minute auto-rickshaw drive.
IV – Banyan Tree
A short trip by bus will take you to India’s 4thbiggest banyan tree, a sight not to be missed. The giant tree doesn’t fail to impress, with its branches having spread out over the past 400 years until the place looked like the small forest that one can visit today. Even weatherworn travelers will be impressed, and the monkeys that live up in the tree’s branches and occasionally come down, make for an amusing show. In the middle of the park, there is a shrine, which is kept meticulously clean by a few women, and where you can pray for a while and get a blessing, if you like. Other than admiring the tree and playing with the monkeys, there is rather little to do here, but the round trip to Banyan Tree, if taken by bus (number 227 from K R Market) does provide an amusing insight in Bangalore’s public transport system, which is a small adventure in itself and a perfect way to strike up conversations with the local population.