We made another pit stop in Bengaluru recently. Like most large Indian cities, it is always chaotic, dusty and very interesting! As we have been around Bengaluru before and our main purpose this time was to visit some friends, we had little time to capture the sights and sounds but what we discovered was charming.
The National Gallery of Modern Art and Bangalore Palace have a locational advantage that actually allows you to spend half a day comfortably on Palace Road – where both attractions are situated. This is a particularly good option because navigating far flung places of interest with the never ending traffic can be quite a task. We also realised that most places of interest or buildings tend to open after 10 a.m. Now, this is a challenge if you have little people who stare at you wide-eyed at 7:30 in the morning, so do plan accordingly and try to stretch the breakfast at the buffet!
National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA)
Located in a heritage building on Palace Road, NGMA is a calm and serene way to spend a few hours. It is housed in an old royal residential building, Manikyavelu Mansions, a white washed building which by itself is beautiful.
NGMA has a nice collection of modern Indian art and paintings including a few treasures by Raja Ravi Varma, Rabindranath Tagore, Jamini Roy and Amrita Sher-Gil. Exhibits are spread across the mansion spanning two floors. You could cover all of it in 1-2 hours. The exhibits are divided into broad categories – according to different time periods, art schools and by artists.
We were interested in buying a few reproductions but sadly, the museum store carried a threadbare selection.
National Gallery of Modern Art, Manikyavelu Mansion, Palace Road, Vasanth Nagar, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560052
The palace is built in mish-mash style with some Tudor influences complete with manicured gardens. The Bangalore palace, we learnt, was built by the Wodeyar Hindu dynasty that ruled the Kingdom of Mysore from 1399 to 1947. Now, I hear that Mysore palace is a sight to behold but the Banguluru edition is definitely a nice spot to spend a few hours.
Home to many interesting artifacts, beautiful paintings and a truly maximalist approach to design, it was a walk back in time to a bygone era of hunting kings and maidens fair. As proof of their hunting spoils, an elephant head in all its formaldehyde glory greets you at the entrance of the palace. Stools made of elephant feet, vases made of elephant trunks, and trophies of elephant hunting are also at display!
The interior of the palace is decorated with floral motifs, cornices, wood carvings as well as stained glass. A staircase leads to the elaborate Durbar hall on the first floor. This grand space functioned as an assembly hall for the king. The hall is beautified with Gothic-style stained-glass windows, with profuse bursts of yellow on the walls and chairs!
There is an open courtyard on the ground floor, which is covered with blue ceramic tiles and adjacent is a ballroom suitable for royal parties.
Enclosed by beautiful gardens, this palace not only attracts tourists in large numbers, but we understand that it is also a destination for cultural programmes. The entry fees and other charges are collected for the maintenance and upkeep of the palace.
We did not make it to the nearby amusement area called Fun World so cannot comment on that. Do share if you have been there!
- An audio tape is provided with headphones (charges included in the entry fee) which gives a detailed narration about the history of the palace.
- Strangely, you have to pay to take photos. You are not allowed to take any photos until you buy a token from the counter inside the palace.
- There is an amusement park, Fun World, situated nearby.
Bangalore Palace: Near Mount Carmel Institute of Management, Palace Rd, Vasanth Nagar, Bengaluru. Visiting Hours – 10:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Where to Eat on Palace Road
Shangri-La Chai Club We had a tea break here at the lovely Chai Club, which also has some lovely nibbles for the kids.
Vasant Nagar The other option is to take an auto rikshaw to nearby Vasant Nagar for a hearty Indian meal, lots of options here.