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How to live like a local in Bengaluru

Lonely Planet Local Supriya Sehgal splits her days between her ‘home at heart’ Bengaluru, and her working home in Delhi. Having lived in Bengaluru for more than 12 years, she knows the ins and outs of the city and its best haunts, old and new.

Flowers for sale in Bengaluru's Krishnarajendra Market © Pierre Ogeron / Getty ImagesFlowers for sale in Bengaluru’s Krishnarajendra Market © Pierre Ogeron / Getty Images

When I have friends in town… I don’t let them leave without an evening following my favourite pub-trail in Indiranagar – Bengaluru is, after all, the ‘beer capital’ of the country. Plot a route via Toit Brewpub, Monkey Bar, Sly Granny and Black Rabbit if your liver is up to the challenge. No visit to Bengaluru should pass without paying homage to Koshy’s Restaurant. Eating here is a rite of passage if you want to feel like a real insider. The restaurant sidesteps the expensive and glitzy in favour of cosy nostalgia in the form of mutton cutlets, potato smileys (fritters) and black tea served from a teapot.

Peaceful scenes in Cubbon Park, the 'lungs of Bengaluru' © Will & Deni McIntyre / Getty ImagesPeaceful scenes in Cubbon Park, the ‘lungs of Bengaluru’ © Will & Deni McIntyre / Getty Images

A typical weekend involves… Friday nights are reserved for live gigs at The Humming Tree, Bengaluru’s liveliest music venue, while lazy Saturday mornings slowly morph into a long stroll in the lungs of the city – Cubbon Park – followed by lunch in the open air along Lavelle Road. SodaBottleOpenerWala serves up delicious Parsi cuisine and you can never go wrong with good ol’ Sunny’s for pizza. Alternatively, UB City offers up a clutch of top notch restaurants within hoppable distance, in case you want to grab a drink in one, eat in another and end with dessert in a third one. Then it’s back to Indiranagar or the high streets of Koramangala for a quick drink. The quirky Sotally Tober and Social have just the right vibe to wind down on a Saturday. Sundays are more paced out with hours kept aside for a play at Ranga Shankara or Jagriti Theatre.

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When I’m up for a big night out… It’s Toit Brewpub to the rescue every single time. And it’s only a stroll away from other favourites like Plan B Loaded, Hangover and food at Siam Trading Co. Thai Kitchen for it’s delicious Thai roast pork. If it’s a low-octane night, I head to The Permit Room for ‘gravy grooviness’ – re-imagined classic South Indian dishes full of fusion flavours. The Highway Pandi Curry (pork belly) and Meen Moily Cuppa (fish fillet) are personal favourite orders.

Idli sambhar - one of South India's favourite breakfast snacks © Bonchan / Getty ImagesIdli sambhar – one of South India’s favourite breakfast snacks © Bonchan / Getty Images

Cheap Eats… The bliss of eating standout South Indian food for less than Rs 100 is insurmountable. Dive into the nearest branch of New Shanthi Sagar (they’re spread all over the city) for ‘tiffin items’. Fluffy idli sambhar (steamed fermented lentil and rice cakes) and vada(savoury lentil flour donuts), backed up by a glass tumbler of filter coffee, always pack a punch, no matter what time of the day. If I’m in the mood for cheap drinks, it’s an old haunt that comes to mind: Noon Wines & Scottish Pub offers inexpensive wines in mini-glasses and an un-fussy menu dominated by fried treats.

Serene tree plantation scenery in Coonoor © Adrian Catalin Lazar / Getty ImagesSerene tree plantation scenery in Coonoor © Adrian Catalin Lazar / Getty Images

When I want to get out of the city… Bengaluru is beautifully set up for weekend getaways, with ample options within an 8-hour driving radius (India is a country of big distances remember!). The coffee plantation country around Kodagu (Coorg) and Chikmagalur, the wildlife reserve at Bandipur, the tea-clad hills of Ooty (Udhgamandalam) and the French-flavoured seaside town of Puducherry (Pondicherry) are staple choices to head out. My favourite pick is Coonoor – a tea-estate retreat with a gentler tone, without the truckloads of tourists who mob Ooty. When my heart seeks sunshine and sea air, it’s off to Gokarna at the edge of the Arabian Sea by overnight bus for a few days on the shore.

De-stressing means… Giving the traffic-clogged centre a miss and heading out of town – even if it means a driving out to the Nandi Hills, a onetime hill fortress outside Bengaluru, and the ancient Bhoga Nandeeshwara Temple at its base. When in the mood for some heritage to break the nine to five routine, joining Mansoor Ali on a Bengaluru By Foot tour is the best way to re-discover the hidden corners of the city.

Supriya hard at work behind the lens © Supriya Sehgal / Lonely PlanetSupriya hard at work behind the lens © Supriya Sehgal / Lonely Planet

I know I’m a Bangalorean because… I still refer to Bengaluru as Bangalore. Despite not being fluent in Kannada, the local language, I can get around by adding the right emphasis of ‘aa’ which locals tack onto most words; think straight-aa, right-aa, left-aa and so on. You know you’ve arrived as a Bangalorean when ‘sending it’ points to a good drinking session and swalpa adjust maadi (adjust to the situation) is part of your lexicon. Food, drinks and history apart, I’m also clued into shopping like a local, whether it’s haggling for silk saris at the Chickpet market or getting a kitsch fix at Levitate.

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