***This post was featured by Lonely Planet as one of the top family travel posts from August 2017.***
Bangalore is often overlooked by travellers as it lacks the world-class, wow-factor sights of some other Indian cities. Those that do visit are often only stopping in to savour their creature comforts (think Marmite from Spar supermarket and purchasing clean knickers from M&S) before getting back on the road and heading north to Hampi or west to Mysore or Kochi.
However, this burgeoning IT metropolis with its green open spaces, gated playgrounds and soft-play, is a fantastic destination for kids to run free and play (which in turn gives the parents a welcome break!) Plus, due to its higher altitude, Bangalore enjoys a more benevolent climate; a cool respite if travelling during the warmer months (although it can still get uncomfortably hot between April and June).
Bangalore is currently our home and we love it here; we thought it about time to share our favourite activities for families travelling to Bangalore.
Lalbagh Botanical Gardens
Start at the West Gate and stroll along the lakeside path, look for monkeys and munch on sweetcorn from one of the numerous food vendors. It’s a welcome novelty to enjoy such a beautiful green space in this congested city and allow the kids to run free away from the traffic. Follow the path to the other side of the gardens, find the Peninsular Gneiss and take the short climb to the top for great views of the city skyline, a small temple and drinks stall.
(Open 6am-7pm everyday, entry fee Rs20, children under 12 free, camera Rs50)
Big Bull Temple and Bugle Park
Walk underneath the imposing big bull horns and climb the steps to the Big Bull Temple, containing a giant granite sculpture of the sacred animal, adorned in flowers. A few rupees secures a blessing from the priest and remember to place your hand on the bull’s hoof for good luck. On exiting, follow the steps to the right into Bugle Park and let the kids release some energy by climbing over boulders and mixing with the local kids at the playground.
(Big Bull Temple is open 7am-8.30pm. However, Bugle Park does not open until 4.30pm)
Inaugurated in 1997, this is one of the largest Iskcon temples in the world. It may look like a big wedding cake but it has the substance to match the style. Climb the steps to marvel at the lavish decorations and stop to observe the fascinating ceremonies taking place, as the Hare Krishna chant provides a looping soundtrack to your visit. There is a fantastic food market as you leave the main temple so time your arrival for lunch. There are also lots of souvenir stalls. We treated our boys to a Hare Krishna flute. As with most temples, make sure your legs and shoulders are covered and leave the camera at home; photography is strictly prohibited.
(www.iskconbangalore.org Open 7.15am-1pm and 4.15-8.20pm Mon to Fri, 7.15am-8.30pm Sat, Sun and Public Holidays).
Afternoon Tea at the Taj West End
An oasis hidden amongst the chaos and noise of central Bangalore, the luxurious Taj West End has been providing a sanctuary for locals and travellers alike since 1887. Head to Mynt, their multi-cuisine restaurant, and if it’s not too hot, choose a table on the lawn. Being from the UK, it was an absolute treat to enjoy perfect tea from a teapot, whilst the boys ran barefoot around the manicured lawn. We also indulged in some scrummy cupcakes (only Rs50++ each). Once you’re all tea-d out, explore the lush gardens. Ask a member of staff to show you the way.
Said to be the (overworked) ‘lungs’ of the city, this sprawling 120-hectare park in central Bangalore is where the kids can come to collect sticks, scramble over boulders, climb trees and run free. Combining this with a visit to Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technical Museum makes for a good afternoon (see below). There is also a small fair-ground (Jawahar Bal Bhavan) on the north-eastern edge of the park.
(Cubbon Park is open daily 6am to 6pm)
Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technical Museum
A fantastic hands-on science museum with lots of buttons to press, wheels to turn, levels to pull and a dinosaur. Includes some interesting engineering displays and strange distorting mirrors.
(vismuseum.gov.in, adult/child Rs40/free, open 10:30am-5pm)
In addition to the Bugle Rock playground next to Bull Temple (see above), Bangalore has a plethora of gated, clean playgrounds dotted around the city. Many even have security guards. Admittedly they may need a fresh lick of paint, but they are a great place for your little ones to play with local children. Just bear in mind the majority don’t open until later in the afternoon (sometimes at late as 4pm). Our favourites are Defence Colony Children’s Park (open 8am-12pm and 3:30pm-7pm daily) and Nandanavana Children’s Play Ground (open daily 4pm-8pm, Rs5, shoes must be removed). Check out Buzzing Bubs for a more extensive list of playgrounds in Bangalore.
Funky Monkeys Softplay
Do you feel you need to reward the kids with some normality after all their travelling? Funky Monkeys at 1MG Road Mall is a clean, safe and super fun play area for children under the age of 12. Attentive staff inside the play area oversee your little ones, so kick back with a chai and enjoy some relative peace. There is also a bigger Funky Monkeys at Orion Mall and details of other indoor play centres in Bangalore can be found here.
(www.funkymonkeys.in Open 11am-8pm Mon to Thurs Rs450 per child, 10.30am-8.30am Fri to Sun Rs550 per child)
Hilton swimming pool
Sample 5-star luxury for an afternoon at the Hilton Bangalore Embassy GolfLinks, with a guest day-pass to their outdoor swimming pools. There is a nice heated kids’ pool and jacuzzi pool (which is also great for the little ones), as well as a standard main pool. The staff will look after you extremely well, so sit back on one of their king-size cabanas poolside and order a beef burger and a cold bottle of Kingfisher. You deserve it.
(Rs1500++ adults, children free. Pass is for 2 hours, but you can stretch it to 3)
The one downside of the Hilton, however, is the lack of shade. If it’s a very hot day, or you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, we recommend the covered pool at The Paul. They too have a kids’ pool, although it’s unheated and a bit on the chilly side.
(Day pass is Rs500++ adults, Rs250 children aged 5-12, children under 5 are free)
Sunday Brunch at the Sheraton
Brunch to many of us means a good fry-up enjoyed on a late and lazy morning. In Bangalore, Sunday Brunch is actually a buffet lunch held 12pm until 4pm in most of the big 5* hotels and is extremely popular with expats and locals alike. Our favourite is the Sheraton Sunday Brunch as it lays on the best entertainment for kids. There is a supervised play area that includes a bouncy castle, face painting, crafts, toys and balloon-animals made to order. And the best bit? Kids under 4 are FREE! The buffet is extensive and if you’ve been travelling in India for a while, treat yourselves to some cured meats, cheese and slow cooked beef. Call ahead to book a table on 08042520133 or you can book online via zomato.
(www.sheratongrandbangalore.com, Every Sunday 12pm-4pm, Prices at time of writing: Brunch with unlimited alcohol RS2500++, Brunch with unlimited soft drinks Rs1900++, Kids Brunch (4-12 years) Rs850++)
Other activities in Bangalore
Bangalore Fort, although very small, is a good space for the kids to explore and a peaceful retreat from the chaos of surrounding streets. Combine a visit here with a meander around bustling Krishnarajendra Market for a taste of traditional urban India. It is extremely busy, so we advise putting the kid(s) on your shoulders, taking in the colourful spices and dyes and perhaps purchasing some fresh fruit. In the centre is the colourful flower market. Further South along Krishnarajendra Road (just 500 metres) there is also Tipu Sultan’s Palace and Venkataraman Temple.
Bangalore Palace is another interesting place to visit. Supposedly based on Windsor Castle, marvel at the lavish interiors and walls adorned with old family photographs. There is also some disturbing hunting memorabilia on display.
If you feel the need to escape the city, we also recommend a day trip to Nandi Hills, stopping at Prestige Golfshire for lunch and a dip in the pool on the way back to Bangalore. Or enjoy the thrills at the amusement park and water park of Wonderla, one hour drive South West of the city.
Getting to Bangalore
Bangalore is a well connected hub on the Indian rail network with direct overnight trains to Hampi, Pondicherry, Chennai, Kochi, Goa, and there are up to 14 trains per day to Mysore. Check the IRCTC website for up-to-date train times. There are three main train stations in Bangalore; City train central is the main hub, Cantonment train station is handy for the central MG Road area, while Yeshvantpur train station is 8km northwest and where you’ll arrive if coming from Goa.
International and domestic flights arrive and depart from Kempegowda International Airport, 40km North of central Bangalore. Air Asia, Air India, GoAir, IndiGo, JetAirways and SpiceJet are the domestic operators with daily flights to all major cities across in India.
Getting around Bangalore
Bangalore traffic has to be seen to be believed. A 5km drive, can easily take half an hour. So bare this in mind when planning your day. The easiest way to get around Bangalore is by booking a car through either the Uber or Ola app. However, by far the most fun way to get around is by auto. Check out our post Auto-rickshaws in Bangalore with kids. There is also the shiny new metro, that is still a work in progress. There are currently two lines in operation and the best source of information on it is actually wiki.
To read more about travelling India with young kids, head to our India page.
Where would we be without our trusted Lonely Planet?