India and Bangalore

Unlike Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and Hyderabad, which boast rich preservations of their local history through monuments, documentation and folklore, Bangalore’s past is relatively a blur. But the bits and pieces the curious traveler chances upon bring a happy delight, keeping one looking for more.

More than 500 years ago, provincial chieftain Kempe Gowda was out on a game hunt when he chanced upon a strange occurrence: a ferocious rabbit was chasing a terrified tiger. Kempe Gowda concluded that there was something special about this place, and immediately instructed part of his family to move here to Bangalore and reap its first benefits. Not much happened here in their time. And little would Kempe Gowda have known that this uninhabitable wasteland, which he nicknamed Bende Kaal Ooru (the town of cooked beans), would in 2016 be inhabited by 10.2 million people, 600,000 street dogs, and 200,000 cows. Little did he think then that the misty marshes he once precariously rode over were the foundations for India’s future headquarters of technological superpowers from around the world.

Could the British, who set up an army base in Bangalore in 1780 to engage in a 17-year war against the Sultan of Mysore, have imagined this city would one day produce and employ the largest pool of scientists in the world? In 1905, when gold deposits were discovered by colonial settlers on the city’s outskirts, Bangalore became the first city in India with electricity. This propelled Bangalore from a sleepy destination for retired military officers to the nucleus of scientific revolution. It also resulted in the city becoming a melting pot of sub-cultures from across the country, with its inter-state immigrant student population.

Today, Bangalore no longer boasts the 280 lakes and tanks that dotted its landscape until 100 years ago. And there’s barely a trace of the tree-lined avenues that were once the signature of the city’s infrastructure planning, which earned it the name “Garden City.” But it is home to the futures of 10 million people, who work hard and also party hard enough to keep Bangalore’s title of India’s Pub Capital. The city is home to more than half of the country’s 750,000 graduating engineers every year, springing from its 77 engineering colleges.

But hidden among the statistics, the politics and the science, lies the Soul of Bangalore: a symphony of cultures, a dance around the senses, a harmony of faiths – where temples, mosques and churches share walls with each other, and festivals are celebrated together by people of a variety of religious backgrounds. The Soul that shines out as the magic on the roads, that turns the impossible mass of beeping, screeching, revving vehicles into a flowing river that will gently meander to its destination. The eternal smiles on the children you pass, who catch your eye and want to shake hands with you. The irony of the rich in the face of the less privileged. The contentment in the eyes of the poor. The disillusionment and spiritual awakening among the rich.

Bangalore: the city filled with ideas, where everything is a possibility, and everyone is an entrepreneur; a city of collaboration, where every problem brings about the creation of multiple ingenious solutions; a city waiting to settle down from its current chaos into the peace that every Bangalorean, every day, dreams about and works towards.

Contact Bluefoot directly to experience Bangalore and other parts of India through tours, in an extraordinary and unusual way:

Kaveri Sinhji
Founder, Bluefoot Tours
+91 9845100026

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