Officially known as Bengaluru, this city was once known as the Garden City of India but is quickly becoming India’s Silicon Valley and was recently voted the most livable city in the country. Although Bangalore is not a major tourist destination, there’s still plenty to see, from historic to modern government structures, such as Vidhana Soudha and Bangalore Palace, and from historic to modern sites of worship, from the Bull Temple to the Shiva Temple to Holy Trinity Church. Rent a car to make the most of your trip to Bangalore and the Karnataka region, and mix the business of your trip with the pleasure of getting to know your surroundings!
Bangalore is particularly livable because it doesn’t get the extreme summer heat of most other regions in India. Monsoon season runs from June to October, with the heaviest rains coming before September.
Bangalore’s official language is Kannada, though Tamil, Hindi and English are also widely spoken. Most financial transactions will take place in English throughout the city, and signs are typically written in both Kannada and English.
As in the rest of India, the currency is the Indian rupee. Because Bangalore is not yet a major tourist destination, currency exchange is most available in banks, though you may find that travel agencies will offer a more competitive exchange rate.
The time zone is the India Time Zone, UTC+5:30.
If you’re arriving in Bangalore by air, you’ll likely fly into the KempeGowda International Airport 40 km northeast of the city. Rental or zoom cars are available for pick up in or near the airport, as well as throughout the city, including at the Yeshwantpur Junction, one of two major train stations in the city.
Some excellent day trips outside of the city include a trip to historic Mysore, the second largest city in Karnataka, located 140 km from Bangalore. The spectacular Shivanasamudr Falls are also just around 130 km south of the city. Alternatively, head out to Lepakshi, 120 km from Bangalore, and one of the most important sites of heritage of the Vijayanagara Dynasty. Each of these drives takes between 2 and 3 hours, and for each of these drives outside the city, you should be aware of swiftly changing road conditions, whether due to weather, road maintenance, or other drivers.
Many nationalities can now travel to India via an e-Tourist Visa, which you apply for online at least four days before your scheduled arrival and which allows you to stay for up to 60 days. The fee for the e-Visa depends on your nationality. Double check regulations before you leave, as some nationalities must apply for a visa before they arrive.
Just as in other Indian cities, driving in Bangalore is not for the faint-hearted. Roads are crammed with people, whether in cars or not, traffic conditions often turn to congestion for no apparent reason, and other vehicles on the road change their paths often and without warning. With that said, driving can make your travels in and around Bangalore much more independent and intimate, and if you don’t feel comfortable driving yourself, hiring a driver is a viable and often inexpensive option!