Its rich heritage and pleasant climate has traditionally attracted tourists. But as its reputation of being India’s entrepreneurship hub grows, Karnataka’s capital is also drawing those on the trail of enterprise, says Rashmi Gopal Rao
Call it the silicon city or the garden city, Bengaluru carries both sobriquets with equal élan. It is one of those unique cities where the old and the new coexist. Where elaborate gardens and green areas go hand-in-hand with snazzy glass skyscrapers; swanky IT parks stand alongside heritage structures and traditional coffee joints and Iyengar bakeries mingle with newage pubs, bistros and concept restaurants. Bengaluru is as much a city of parks, forts, colonial bungalows and native markets as it is of high-rise apartments, start-ups and booming high-tech industries.
Founded in 1537 by ruler Kempegowda, Bengaluru, earlier called Bangalore and Bendakaluru, has always been known for its pleasant weather, tree-lined streets, pretty houses and relaxed lifestyle. It was popular as a retirement hub. While there are still some pockets in the city that retain the old-world charm, much of Bengaluru has transformed into a fast-paced metropolis, with a young crowd of technology graduates and entrepreneurs, world-class offices and industrial areas. Today, it is a start-up hub! And while the city’s heritage monuments still remain its main tourist attractions, Bengaluru’s new-age campuses also make for an interesting tour.
There are a few travel companies that offer tours of start-ups in Bengaluru. These are a great way to get behind the scenes of the start-up ecosystem and understand the genesis of ingenious ideas, which make the city one of the world’s favourite destinations when it comes to setting up some of the most exciting ventures.
We start our tour from the Nasscom startup warehouse, a government initiative to scale up the start-up ecosystem in India, in Domlur. A robust support system for early-stage ventures, it provides a subsidised co-working space of about 30,000 sq ft, apart from providing various other facilities, credits and concessions to nascent start-up companies.
Bengaluru also has several privately-funded co-working spaces that help start-ups and small ventures find the right kind of office space solutions based on their needs. Co-working spaces are common office areas, which can be shared by individuals or small groups.
The city also has a culture of start-up hostels and co-living spaces that helps foster the spirit of entrepreneurship. A perfect place for millennials, these hostels provide networking and collaborative opportunities that mutually benefit its inhabitants. Construkt, the next stop on the tour, is one such accommodation that aims to bring inspiring minds and platforms together. Located at Indiranagar, it offers smart living areas and aims to provide opportunities for networking, collaboration and a community atmosphere.
The way ideas are generated and experiences are shared between people at different stages of their career, can be a wonderful revelation! The tour culminates in a meeting with the team of KrazyBee, a well-established start-up by a group of IIM and NIT alumni, set up with the objective of providing hassle- free financing for students to pursue their passion. Interacting with the incredibly talented team and tracing their journey is an enriching experience.
The concept of these tours is to showcase the potential of modern Bengaluru. “This trail has gained immense popularity ever since we started it. We touch upon aspects like fostering ideas, thinking big and taking risks, which appeal to millennials.
The tour can also be customised, based on the preferences and interests of the participants,” says Vinay Parameswarappa of Gully Tours, Bengaluru, one of the several companies conducting such tours.
These tours apart, you can also visit some of the iconic addresses of the city’s startup ecosystem such as Microsoft Accelerator, Indian Institute of Science, IIM Bangalore and Srishti Labs. Some tours also include networking opportunities.
Heritage at heart
Start Bengaluru’s heritage trail at the resplendent Bangalore Palace. Believed to have been built in the 1880s by the rulers of the Wadiyar dynasty, the palace is a picture of luxury and splendour. Located at Vasanthnagar (Vasant Nagar), the palace is said to have been inspired by the elegance of the Windsor Castle in England. Exquisite wooden interiors replete with floral motifs and beautiful paintings, coupled with sprawling gardens make it one of the most beautiful places in the city. It also features Roman arches, fortified towers, turreted parapets and vine-draped walls.
While on a trail of royalty, one must visit Tipu Sultan’s summer palace located close to the KR Market. Built in the Indo-Islamic style in 1791, this two-storied palace boasts teak wood interiors and features fluted pillars, cusped arches and balconies.
The magnificent Vidhana Soudha building, the seat of the Karnataka Legislature, is a must-visit. Spread over 60 acre, the rectangular building is constructed in the neo- Dravidian style of architecture with influences from the British, Dravidian and Indo-Islamic schools of architecture. Close to the Vidhana Soudha are the elegant heritage buildings of Attara Kacheri (the Karnataka High Court) and the Seshadri Iyer Memorial Hall, located at Cubbon Park, that houses the State Central Library. Built in the early 20th century, both buildings feature a characteristic brick red façade and boast historical architecture that is reminiscent of colonial influences.
Another iconic site in the city is the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens. Sultan Hyder Ali commissioned the building of this garden in 1760 and his son, Tipu Sultan completed it.
Spread over 200 acre, it houses rare species of plants from all over the world. The biggest attraction here is the palatial Glass House, which is said to have been built to commemorate the visit of Albert Victor, grandson of Queen Victoria, in 1889.
The author is a freelance writer and the views expressed in this article are her own