Life’s a Breeze in Balmy Bangalore
General Manager of The Ascott Limited in India, Ajit Koushik, boasts about his adopted city
Issue: Sep 2011
Bangalore, the Garden City with centuries-old history, enjoys moderate weather all year round
Although I am an Indian national, I had been working away from my country for several years, first in Bahrain then in Doha, managing properties in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries under The Ascott Limited. Hence, when I was given the opportunity to return to India to take on the position of the General Manager of The Ascott Limited here more than a year ago, I took the opportunity to bring my family home.
My hometown is in Nagpur in the state of Maharashtra. But these days, I am based in Chennai the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu nearly 1,000 kilometres away from Nagpur. My second base is in Bangalore because Ascott has properties there and my family also likes living there. Bangalore is the best because I simply love the weather here. It is moderate all year round. For example, while it is a cool 23 degrees Celsius here today, it is a sweltering 35 degrees Celsius in Chennai.
Garden City Offers Nature's Best
Banglore's nickname is Garden City as its streets are lined with trees and beautifully landscaped greenery. There are many public parks where you can enjoy the great outdoors and the lovely Bangalore weather. My six-year-old daughter's favourite park is Cubbon Park which is near Gandhi Nagar in the city centre, a 20-minute drive from Citadines Richmond Bangalore. Cubbon Park is one of the city's oldest parks and is named after the longest serving commissioner of the time, Sir Mark Cubbon. Stretching over 1.2 square kilometres, it houses not only hundreds of species of trees and plants but also includes several monuments and entertainment centres. My daughter, Avantika, likes the Jawahar Bal Bhavan best. It is an amusement park for children set within the park. The toy train and accompanying miniature station there never fails to thrill her. She enjoys the fun rides and pony rides too.
Cubbon Park - a great family hangout with lovely greenery for the adults and an amusement park for children
Photo Credit: www.devsojourn.blogspot.com
Parents can also take their children to a doll museum and a multiplex, The Vijayranga Theatre, where children's films and stages plays are shown. At the entrance of the park is the country's second largest aquarium - a diamond-shaped aquarium with an impressive collection of exotic fish.
Koushik with his family, wife, Sonal; and daughters, Pooja and Avantika enjoying family time by a lake
As I am often asked to recommend the attractions of the city to visitors due to the nature of my job, I have made it a point to explore Bangalore whenever I can. Sankey Lake is one attraction that I particularly like. My wife and I took Avantika there for a picnic one weekend.
Weekends are when Koushik and his family find time to explore Bangalore
Bangalore is known for its serene lakes and Sankey Lake is probably one of its most famous. About 20-minute's drive from Citadines Richmond Bangalore, this oasis in the heart of the city has boating facilities for hire. My family and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride on the lake's crystal clear waters. Alternatively, you can jog or stroll on the paths lined along the lake. Otherwise, you can do what we did - simply laze on the immaculately maintained lawns and enjoy the fact that you can have a slice of paradise in the midst of a concrete jungle.
History, Politics and Religion Reflected in Architecture
Bangalore is the fifth largest city in the country and the Silicon Valley of India due toits role as the nation's largest IT exporter. However, it is also a city very much in touch with its heritage and culture.
Many of its magnificent palaces and historical monuments have been preserved to enthrall generation after generation. Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace, 20 minutes' drive from Citadines Richmond Banaglore, is one such place. When I first visited Bangalore, it was one of the places my friends took me to. The palace was built over 200 years ago as a guesthouse for Tipu Sultan during summer and is made entirely of teak wood. Standing just two storeys tall, its pillars, arches and balconies are adorned with exquisite carvings. Today, it is a museum that contains artefacts relating to the Hyder-Tipu regime. Whenever I step into the palace, it is like stepping back in time.
Once the playground of royalty, Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace is now a museum
Photo Credit: www.mckerracher.net
The Vidhana Soudha stands as a symbol of the legislative sovereignty of the people
Photo Credit: www.flickr.com
Bangalore loves its breakfast and you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to your morning meal
Photo Credit: www.fiveprime.ord
Another architecturally stunning monument is the Vidhana Soudha which stands over Cubbon Park. Finished in 1956 in a style known as Neo-Dravidian, the imposing granite building with multiple domes and arches is the seat of the Secretariat and State Legislature of Karnataka. It always catches my breath whenever I see it lit on Sundays and public holidays.
Apart from history and politics, religion is the other factor that inspires great architecture. The Bull Temple is a good testament to this. Built in 1537 and dedicated to the worship of the sacred bull in Hinduism known as Nandi , it is one of the city's oldest temples. Devotees from all over the country come to this temple which is said to house one of the largest Nandi murthis (embodiments) in the world, measuring approximately 4.6 by 6.1 metres.
Sample South Indian Hospitality
Since I work in the hospitality industry, I am always on the lookout for great dining experiences. You cannot leave this city without a taste of an authentic South Indian breakfast. And Bangalore does breakfast best. I recommend the Airlines Hotel which is a mere 10-minute drive from Citadines Richmond Bangalore. This is the only drive-in restaurant in town. The nearly half-a-century-old eatery, amidst over-arching Banyan trees and greenery, offers old world charm and some of the best time-honoured Bangalore breakfast favourites. I don't get to eat there as often as I would like to. But if you get the chance to eat there, do try their khara bhath (a hearty, spicy vegetarian stew) with light and fluffy dosa (rice pancakes) that come with different fillings like potatoes or onions. Their melt-in-your-mouth idlis (steamed rice cakes) and the crisp vadas (savoury vegetarian donuts) are the largest in the country, best served with steaming kopi filter (filtered coffee).
Another place to sample Karnataka cuisine is the iconic Mavalli Tiffin Room (commonly known as MTR), which is a 15-minute drive away from Citadines Richmond Bangalore. Try akki roti, a flat bread made of rice flour that is unique to the state; ragi roti, made with ragi (finger millet) flour; and bisi bele bhath (literally translated as hot lentil rice). For something sweet, savour mysorex pak, a dense cake made of ghee, sugar and chick pea flour.
Bangalore also has a colourful and exciting pubbing culture. If you want a drink or two, head over to Brigade Road just down the road from Citadines Richmond Bangalore where you can have your pick of pubs. My colleagues and I sometimes go there for a break in the evening before returning to work. But I must confess, I'm no drinker. A fruit juice or a mocktail is enough to make me very happy.
To work off the calories, take a walk at Cauvery Emporium and Gandhi bazaar like we do when my family comes over for the weekend. Bangalore is known for its sandalwood and silk. So don't forget to pick up some sandalwood souvenirs and silk saris. You might want to take home Chennapatna dolls (painted wooden dolls from the Bangalore Rural district) as well to remember your trip to this city that is now my home.
Citadines Richmond Bangalore
No 1 Langford Gardens,
Bangalore 560 001, India
Tel: (91-80) 7100 0001
Fax: (91-80) 7100 0010