The city of Bangalore is India’s third largest city and the state capital of Karnataka, known for being a modern, cosmopolitan metropolis at the helm of the country’s IT-boom. Bangalore is a shopper’s haven overrun with big malls and shopping districts, as well as a food lover’s paradise with one of the highest concentrations of places to eat in the continent. Spotted with parks and natural lakes, Bangalore is alternately known as ‘The Garden City of India.’ Recently voted as the most livable metro in the country, Bangalore is known as‘Pensioner’s Paradise’ on the one hand and as ‘Start-up City,’ on the other, attracting youth from across the world with its trending markets and rapid availability of jobs. With Bangalore’s ever-doubling IT infrastructure, it is often referred to as the Silicon Valley of India.
Another aspect of Bangalore is soaked in the history of bygone, ancient cultures. Bangalore has been peopled for up to 3000 years, bearing megalithic monuments that treasure its rich past. Bangalore, as we know it today, was established in 1537 by KempeGowda I, who constructed a well-planned city within an oval mud fort in the area that is today known as City Market. Gradually, Bangalore grew into a commercial center and a chief part of the silk industry. Over successive centuries the Marathas, Mughals, Wodeyars and the Mysore Sultanate, all did their bit to develop the city further. In 1809 the British set up a cantonment in Bangalore, drawn by its pleasant weather and central location.
The earliest recorded usage of the name Bengaluru is found in today’s ‘Old Bangalore,’ in a 9th century temple. According to legend, King ViraBallala was once lost in the jungles that once overran these parts. He was wandering, tired and hungry, when an old woman revived him with her hospitality and a plate of boiled beans. Out of gratitude the King consequently named the area ‘Benda KaaluUru’ (Town of Boiled Beans). It was only in 1831, when the British seized Mysore from the ruling Wodeyars that the capital was shifted to Bangalore. The anglicization of Bengaluru turned it into Bangalore until it was recently reverted back to its original.
Although Bangalore is not a popular tourist destination, there are many sites worth taking a tour of. The legislative House of Karnataka, VidhanaSoudha, is one of the Chief attractions of Bangalore. It was built during the 1950s using granite in a neo-Dravidian style of architecture. Other places of historical interest include the Bangalore Palace, constructed by the Mysore Maharajahs and Tipu Sultan’s Palace, built around 1790 as Tipu’s summer retreat.
A tour of Bangalore must also include Lalbagh Botanical Gardens- built by Hyder Ali in 1760, and the Bannerghatta National Park- a 25,000-acre zoological park one and a half hours away from Bangalore City. Educational tours of Bangalore may include the Vishweshwaraiah Industrial and Technological Museum, the State Archaeological Museum, the Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium, the Venkatappa Art Gallery and the Karnataka ChitrakalaParishad. Religious tours of Bangalore cover the Bull Temple in Basavanagudi, the Maha Bodhi Society Temple- a replica of the Bodh Gaya Stupa, the ISCKON temple, the Maruthi Temple, the GaviGangadeshwara Cave Temple as well as many other temples, mosques and churches of historic significance.
Due to an average elevation of 920 meters above the sea level, Bangalore enjoys a cool climate throughout the year. Although summers can get hot with dry heat waves, it seldom exceeds 35 degrees Celsius and hovers around a mean temperature of 24 degrees Celsius.
Nellore was part of the Mauryan Empire, ruled by Ashoka during the third century BC. Since then it came under several rulers such as the Pallavas, Cholas and Satayahanas. Consequently, the varied artistic influences on Nellore is apparent in the structure and architecture of its temples.The city of Nellore is the administrative stronghold of Sri Potti Sri Ramulu Nellore District (previously Nellore District) and the sixth most populated city in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Nellore is located on the banks of the Penneru River, 453 kms from Hyderabad, 168 kms from Chennai and 386 kms from Bangalore. It is renowned for producing handmade gold jewellery, mica and lime. Nellore is also a leading producer of agricultural and aquaculture products, predominantly rice. Known as VikramaSimhapuri till the 13th century AD, the word Nellore derives from a combination of the two Tamil words ‘nelli’ and ‘ooru,’ meaning ‘paddy’ and ‘village,’ respectively. After India gained her independence, the Telugu patriot PottiSriramulu set up the state of Andhra Pradesh from his base in Nellore, giving his name to the district. Today, Nellore boasts of some of the state’s best infrastructure with rapid growth and modernization.
Nellore holds close proximity to time-honored temples like the NarasimhaSwamy Temple and the Someswara Temple. The temple of Sri MulasthaneswaraSwamy, built 1400 years ago at the site where the Lord appeared under a Nelli tree is located to the west of Nellore. The 600-year-old TalpagiriRanganathaswamy Temple is a main attraction for tourists to Nellore sporting a 70 footgaaligopuram, or ‘wind tower,’ that holds 10 feet of gold-plated vessels. During the months of March and April, Nellore plays host to a grand 11-day-long festival held at the Ranganathaswamy Temple called Brahmotsavam, celebrating the life of Lord Rama. Other major temples in and around Nellore include thePenchala Kola, Ayyapa Temple, Jonnavada, KamahshiAmavari, Rajarajesjwari and the GolgamundiVenkayaSwamy Temples.
Nature lovers can find many places to take reggae in and around Nellore such as Pulicat Lake and the Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary, which hosts many rare and exotic bird species. A 165 km coastline adorns Nellore with serene beaches such as Krishnapatnam, Ramayapatnam, Kodur and Mypadu, among many others. The Prabhagiripatnam ruins, 45 kms from Nellore, contain the ruins of a temple housing Lord Shiva and PerumallaSwamy, belonging to 1512 AD. The island of Sriharikota is also found between Pulicat Lake and the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Space Research Organization’s rocket launch site that launched India’s mission to Mars.