Bangalore & Somnathpur

Back in August I visited a friend in Bangalore, and while I did not have much time to explore the city, I took some on-the-fly photos of the places we drove by, through his car window. I wanted to get a sense of “contemporary” and “changing” Bangalore, i.e. the high-tech city that is supposed to be India’s answer to silicon valley.

Much like the actual silicon valley, Bangalore seems not to have any single centralized space where all the high-tech stuff takes place, and instead has office buildings spread across the city. Much of central Bangalore is unchanged from decades past, with individual structures coming up here and there, and retains the air of a small-to-mid sized Indian city (as much as such cities can be lumped together). Many parts of central Bangalore actually reminded me of Bombay in a small city package. Like Bombay, much of Bangalore was laid out by the British, and many structures from the early-to-mid-20th century remain. In between these, new commercial and retail buildings are cropping up like so many high-tech coconut trees. If I had more time I’d have loved to explore this early-to-mid-20th c. Bangalore with it’s modernist/art deco architecture.

I only ventured out once into the suburbs of Bangalore, on my way to Somnathpur (and saw a bit more during my train journey into the city), where I spotted some of the new high-rise apartments that the techie youth who populate the tech industry would reside in. I assume that much of Bangalore’s growth is taking place in these suburbs, which seems to be expanding in the manner of other booming small cities in India, i.e. with low to medium density. Some out-of-ordinary projects (larger projects, tall apartment structures etc) signify the uniqueness of Bangalore in the Indian urban scene. Perhaps I didn’t venture into areas where some of the more “exclusive” projects are being constructed.

Bangalore through a car window

A “sail” building for Bangalore, at the head of Vittal Mallya Road, also known as Kingfisher Marg

Empire State Building ripoff, also on Vittal Mallya Road

Office building

Small office buildings coming up all around town

The head of MG Road, Bangalore’s main retail drag, with a metro line coming up along the road

Apartment blocks in various styles in the suburbs

Somnathpur

I made one trip out of Bangalore – to the famous 13th century Hoysala-style temple in the village of Somanthpur, a few hours drive away from Bangalore. I’d visited Halebid, Belur and Hampi as a kid, and might need to formulate another trip to take in all the important Hoysala temple sites sometime in the future!

Houses in Somnathpur village around the temple compound

Temple enclosure

Temple entrance

The Kesava or Chennakesava temple at Somnathpur

Typical sculpture detail

Interior ceiling

Temple interior

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