I feel glad that Bengaluru is making me fitter. On a daily basis, I walk almost 5-7km, which is about the same as what I walked in Mumbai in a week on an average. The cool breeze and the trees make it pleasant to walk even on the hottest of afternoons.
The past few weeks have been going at eventfully at hyper speed – there was hardly any breathing time. First, back-to-back semester end exams…followed by a speedy flight to the Silicon Valley of India, the start of an internship and a cousin’s marriage! At the end of three weeks I finally got some time to unwind. I have come to learn that Sundays are a pretty rare commodity. I try to make each one of them more memorable than the last.
This weekend was pretty special for a bunch of reasons. The first one being meeting an old friend – Deepu. We go way back – I have known her since preschool. We sort of lost touch after finishing senior secondary school – she came to Bengaluru for her college, while I chose to stay back in Mumbai. But now that I am in Bengaluru as well, I didn’t want to miss out on spending time with her. The second reason was getting a explore more of Namma Bengaluru! We decided to celebrate the Sunday with Lalbagh Botanical Gardens. It worked out perfectly as it was a break from the regular meetup venues like malls.
As we both live pretty far, we decided to meet up at a common point – Kempegowda Bus Station (Majestic) at about 11am. Owing to some miscalculation and the infamous Bengaluru traffic, Deepu ended up reaching almost an hour late. I spent the time listening to music, and observing people around me. I didn’t really realise how the hour went by. One of her close friends had also tagged along. I was more than happy to meet them both – it was a delight to have them around.
We decided to go to SP Road, which is more or less like tech heaven. Here, one can get electronic gadgets at cheaper than online prices. Narrow lanes and bustling shops lining both sides of the road is a characteristic of the place. However, it being a Sunday, the place was more or less deserted. I was rather fortunate to find a shop open. We hurried to grab a bite after that. 20 minutes of discussion regarding the choice of cuisine led to us finding ourselves in a stalemate. Finally, we decided to go to Mantri Square Mall (Deepu sulked as we had decided to stay away from malls) and grab some pizza. The mall was exactly the same as any mall – the same branded retail chains and the same restaurants in the food court. Visiting one mall is equivalent to visiting all of them! After a delicious slice of pizza at Sbarro’s we carried on. It was almost 2pm by now. Although the weather was sultry, it was very much bearable compared to Mumbai’s humid heat. Hopping into a rickshaw, we reached Lalbagh in a while.
My excitement got a double-boost when I heard that there was a Mango and Jackfruit Mela being hosted at Lalbagh. Mango Mela is essentially a month-long festival held in the peak of the mango season. The best part about it is that all the mangoes are organically grown, and are sold by the farmers directly. As there are no middlemen, the fruits are pretty economically priced (the price is regulated by the Karnataka State Government). The Mela invites farmers from all parts of Karnataka. I was surprised by the scale of the event, as more than 90 farmers participated in the event, selling numerous varieties of mangoes. I was completely taken aback when I found out that about 8000 tonnes of mangoes were sold at the last year’s Mela – a stall owner told me that on an average, he would about 2-4 tonnes in a day. On weekends, the sale would be even greater!
We chose to explore the park first. There was too much ground to be covered – 240 acres is quite a huge area. We passed by the floral clock on our way in (I was actually surprised to know that it worked perfectly, despite the huge size!). We walked for a while and then sat down in the damp grass, kicking off our shoes. It was a wonderful combination – bright afternoon (although the sun played hide-and-seek), abundance of trees, cool breeze, and sound of birds chirping. Nothing could possibly have made it better. Talking about our friends, school days and crazy memories we never realised how quickly an hour passed. Very lazily, we picked our bags up and walked towards the picturesque Lalbagh Lake. We enjoyed the scene for a few minutes and walked to the Glass House, munching on cucumber.
I really enjoyed the Mango Mela – we were spoilt for choice looking at the number of varieties present! I unfortunately had limited room in my bag and had to settle for a kilo of Totapuri and a dozen pieces of jackfruit. However, the mango stall-owners loved us. We felt like were singlehandedly responsible for almost half their business on a busy Sunday, because Deepu bought at least 7kg of different varieties of mangoes! It was only then it struck me why she had insisted on purchasing the fruits on our way out. We came across a lady selling fresh juice in three different flavours. We bought one each and shared. I have to say, the guava juice was one of the most delicious juices I have had in a while. The mango and pineapple flavours were tasty as well. We took a bus to Majestic, from where I caught another bus back home.
The Lalbagh experience was amazing – the serenity and beauty of the place was mindblowing. I am definitely going back for more! However, I feel the experience would have been even better had the park been maintained better.
So if you are planning to visit Lalbagh anytime soon, here are a few things you should know in general–
- The size. It’s a huge place, and if you plan to visit Lalbagh, it would be good to decide beforehand which attractions to enjoy.
- Speaking of attractions, a few places of interest in Lalbagh are the Glass House, the Bandstand, the Lalbagh House, the Pigeon House, Statue of Sri Chamaraja Wodeyar, the Lalbagh Lake and the Aquarium.
- A lot of courses are offered at Lalbagh – ranging from Ikebana and Bonsai, to Mushroom Cultivation. It is an important centre for horticulture.
- A lot of programmes are organised at Lalbagh. They are publicised well in advance.
- Videography is prohibited. In case you are carrying still cameras, you will have to pay extra.
- Lalbagh hosts two flower shows annually at the Glass House, on occasions of Republic Day and Independence Day.