destination india

Monday, September 27, 2004

the heaven of the south

The first time I came to Bangalore was way back in 1975.

I had gone on TD to a nearby Air force base where I received the message about an interview in our Head Office in Bangalore. Immediately, I returned home, repacked my bags and, due to shortage of time, decided to travel by road. Accordingly, I came to the CBS (Central Bus Station) and boarded a bus for Pune. The bus dropped me in Shivajinagar from where I took an auto rickshaw to Swar Gate. Long distance buses normally leave from here. By the time I could gulp down some food to keep my machine in running condition, I spotted a bus about to leave for Hubli. Hubli was en-route Bangalore so I got up, boarded the bus and was pleasantly surprised to find only a handful of passengers. It was an uneventful journey and, early next morning, I took a bus from Hubli for my final destination – Bangalore. This last lap of the journey was miserable for me because the bus was jam packed, I did not get to sit and the crowd understood only the local dialect!

It must be remembered that the period was in 1975 when, even in Bangalore city proper, those who could not interact in the local dialect were viewed with suspicion. However, all said and done, I landed in Bangalore bus terminus towards evening and rushed to the first available hotel in sight in Chikpet. A room with attached bath and toilet was mine for a daily rental of Rs 8.00.
The sprawling bus terminus that one sees today was not even on the drawing board of the city bigwigs! Neither was Majestic and its hustle and bustle. The space in front of the railway station was a huge water hole surrounded by corrugated tin sheets!!

Over the last thirty years, the city has transformed dramatically.

Affectionately called as the Silicon Valley of India, ,it has attracted foreign investments unparalleled in recent times. Another Southern city, one of Bangalore’s close competitors, apparently lost out due to lack of adequate infrastructure.

During this 30 year period, I have had quite a number of opportunities to visit this wonderful city. My family and I have fallen in love with it. Making Bangalore as the base, we have traveled to various Southern destinations like Mysore, Ooty and Sravanbelagola. And – of course – we have never missed the conducted tours of the city proper. Shopping in the Cauvery Emporium for genuine sandalwood products, bargaining in Chikpet for Mysore silk saris, strolling aimlessly on Brigade Road or getting an overview of Ulsoor Lake – your time flies. A highly conservative city where non vegetarianism was taboo today offers innumerable varieties of fish, chicken, mutton and egg dishes. Hindi and English are the link languages. The city of idli-dosa has embraced chana—bhatura with equal ease. This itself speaks volumes for Bangaloreans.
I came here last in December 2002. A flower show was on in the glass house in Lalbagh. It was an unforgettable experience. The sheer variety of flowers and plants on display was mind blogging.

The city really deserves its name - the Garden city. It is the heaven of the South.

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