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Two Palaces, A Garden & An Art Gallery

The Groom's not-so-nervous-feet
So I was in Bangalore and no prizes for guessing why! I was attending (yet another) wedding of course. But it is not everyday that you get to witness your Nepalese friend a.k.a Groom in a South Indian style dhoti, worn with what seemed like yards of pristine white cloth. With the '2 States' style wedding over in a day, I still had a free day to spend in Bangalore. It's a city I have been to around four to five times now, so I was keen on exploring a new facet of it.

This 'Garden City' was facing its worst summer yet and boy was the mercury soaring. Glaring sun mixed with dust from construction sites mixed with pollution from the never-moving traffic made the most headache-inducing pot pourri. I still decided to brave the heat and venture out to make the most of my time. After a quick check on what Lonely Planet recommends to see, I grabbed a friend and headed out with a list of 4-5 places chalked out to visit.

This walkway was rightly named 'Thandi Sadak'
We began with brunch at India Coffee House. Two greasy dosas, some sugary cold coffee and unappetizing mutton chops later, we began negotiating with an auto driver on a reasonable fare to take us to the Lalbag Botanical Gardens. It was peak afternoon so we were glad when we spotted a golf cart driven by a guide who would take us around the Gardens for a Rs. 100 fare. One of the highlights is the British style glass house under which the yearly flower show takes place. We spotted century-old trees, and trunks which resembled old grumpy ladies; there was flora from Persia, Africa and South America, Chinese black bamboo and Japanese Bonsai, and little mischievous monkeys and bee hives in abundance. Lazy locals were taking shelter under shades of greens to grab an afternoon siesta.

An hour and a half hence, the sun was at its glaring best, showing no mercy. Our next stop was the Tipu Sultan Summer Palace. Grand as the name sounds, it had anything but a grand entrance. That aside, once you make your way in, you are welcomed by a manicured garden leading up to the tall majestic structure. Built in the 16th century, the Palace is now a museum dedicated to showcase the life and times of Tipu Sultan. The structure was built entirely with teak wood, had magnificent design elements carved into its many, many pillars, and was overall well-preserved. Wooden stairs lead up to a higher level and a balcony from where Tipu Sultan used to conduct his meetings. We left with meandering thoughts of what the Palace would have looked like in all its glory five full centuries ago.

A quick refreshing coconut water break was a must before our third stop, The Bangalore Palace. A palace which was still inhabited by the royal family of Mysore. I read somewhere that the design was inspired by England's famous Windsor Castle. Entwined leaves carpeted the walls of the Gothic-style palace and as you walk into the reception area, you see the royal family's two classy cars. One of them was a swanky red BMW with neon yellow-green seat upholstery (now you get why that's etched in my head). We went for an audio tour around the palace.
There was so, so, so much to see and take in. Grand chandeliers, portraits of princes and kings, carvings on walls, catholic style stained glass windows, lavish ballrooms and extravagant furniture.

The Spanish Courtyard
There is a courtyard with a bench on the side and a fountain in the centre, both gifted by the King of Spain. What also caught my attention was the elephant trunk vase and the elephant foot stool. Both trophies from hunting escapades!

Tired, famished and thirsty - that was our state after an entire afternoon of sightseeing. But there was one more place we wanted to visit - the National Gallery of Modern Art which was not too far away from the Palace. It felt like an oasis - the art gallery is housed in a 90 year old pristine white mansion, surrounded by a water body and lush gardens. We waltzed into room after room adorned with paintings and sculptures. My favourite part of the gallery was the wall dedicated to display the works of artist Amrita Sher-Gil, an Indian artist born in Europe who was consumed by the lure of returning to her roots in India.

With that, our exploring for the day was complete. I felt a sense of accomplishment. Shuttling from one landmark to the other, it was fair to say we went back and forth different eras in a matter of a few hours. I always enjoy stepping out of my routine even if momentarily to admire 'what was'. 


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