Exploring Bengaluru's heritage

Rediscover A view of city market. Photo credit: Unhurried.in

Slow, immersive travel with specially curated experiences at its core was one of the major travel trends last year. According to travel experts, the year 2019 will only take it further with travellers focusing on niche, authentic experiences with local flavours taking centre stage. The objective for most travellers is to discover the true essence of a city or destination.

And when it comes to discovering the true spirit of a place, there is no better way to do it than by exploring it on foot via a heritage walk. These walks generally take place in the heart of the city and are curated such that one experiences a good mix of history, culture, architecture and more.

Some of the major walks in Bengaluru are Pete walk and Startup tour by Gully tours; Towns of Bangalore and The South Indian culture trail by Unhurried.in; Namaste Bangalore and Old Neighbourhood walk by Yours Truly India; Tipu Sultan trail and Houses of Malgudi (Malleshwaram and Basavanagudi) by Bengaluru by Foot.

Multifaceted megalopolis

A bustling city that has evolved in multiple fields including trade, manufacture, aviation and IT, Bengaluru today is known as the silicon city of India and also the start-up capital of the country. But, did you know that when Kempe Gowda, a feudatory of the Vijayanagar empire discovered the place in the 1530s, it consisted of just two main streets, the Chickkapete street that ran in the east-west direction and the Doddapete street which ran in the north-south direction? Well, these are just some of the interesting facts that one can discover about Bengaluru when on a heritage trail.

Bengaluru is a city that is older than many metropolitan cities of modern India and has been home to many cultures since its founding. Thus, a tour around the city offers an interesting kaleidoscope of experiences spanning history, cuisine and traditions.

Given the fact that there is so much to explore in Bengaluru, most neighbourhoods are distinct in the city. “We conduct heritage walks that talk about the history and evolution of a particular neighbourhood in Bengaluru. We focus on the architecture of the buildings there, people who lived there and perhaps helped the neighbourhood grow, any major events that happened there etc. We also conduct tree walks, nature walks, lake walks, get-to-know-the-city walks, temple tours, market tours, and so on” says Meera Iyer, convenor, Bangalore Chapter, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage.

Interesting perspectives

Arguably one of the most interesting facets of Bengaluru is its market area or pete. A heritage walk around the bustling Avenue road is a great way to soak in centuries of Bengaluru’s history. Such walks are a journey in time from when Bengaluru was a traditional market place confined within the fort walls built by Kempe Gowda when it was first discovered, to its expansion during the colonial era and the boom during the late 20th century and to the cosmopolitan, start-up capital city that exists currently.

Walking through the narrow alleys which are chock-a-block with little shops and teeming with people, can be quite an experience in this area that is centuries old. On this walk, you can explore and hear stories about the first church in the old market area, a 10th-century temple renovated in the 17th century, a 110-year-old akhada (wrestling ring) as well as visit a traditional 100-year-old hostel which provides free accommodation to students.

It is here that you can take a glimpse of how trade took place decades ago, visit the city’s historic flower market, watch goldsmiths and silk weaving merchants at work, apart from witnessing astrologers and Sufi saints in their element!

Colonial trail

Apart from the Pete walk, there are tours that take you on a colonial trail in the Garden city. Apart from famous statues like that of Sir Mark Cubbon, Queen Victoria and King Edward VII, one can visit the yesteryear Bengaluru cantonments aka the old towns like Richmond Town, Benson Town, Cox Town, Fraser Town etc. These areas, though only in pockets now, reek of a typical English past with their old-school cathedrals and homes.

Yet another interesting walk is one that follows the trail of Tipu Sultan in Bengaluru. On this walk, you can visit the monuments associated with him including his close association with the historic Bengaluru fort, the royal durbar of Tipu Sultan’s summer palace and pay a visit to his last armoury in Bengaluru. This walk will introduce the guests to Tipu’s rocket technology and provide a glimpse of British India’s administration accounts.

Traditional neighbourhoods like Basavanagudi and Malleshwaram that retain oodles of the elusive old-world charm are best explored through heritage walks. Walking through the rustic lanes, you can explore vintage houses, sample some of the most authentic local food and explore the famous Bull temple. Whether it is the delectable idlis at Veena stores or the iconic masala dosas at Vidyarthi Bhavan, these localities have it all!

Companies also conduct festival walks, which is a great way to meet communities, families and appreciate the nuances of the rituals and beliefs that are followed.

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