My post makes it to top in Google blogsearch

Yes, and thats heartening. Within 24 hours of posting my christmas experience at St. Patrick’s Church in Bangalore, the post made it to top spot in google blogsearch – when you search for ‘Christmas in Bangalore’. Here’s the post, and here’s the current status. And oh yes, here’s the snapshot of the search result, just in case it slips down later.

Topspot

Topspot

Christmas in Bangalore – St Patricks Church

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About – The church is second oldest in Bangalore (St. Mary’s being oldest). Originally built for Irish soldiers, the church is now frequented by numerous during weekends. It is located at the junction of Brigade road and Residency Road. Apart from the church, its premises has a shrine, plenty of open space – for parking and strolling.

Inside St. Patrick's

Inside St. Patrick's

Ambience – Inside the church, three columns of seats (5 in a row) were teeming with people. Most were dressed in their best. Men were in usual dark suits. Women were more colorful, wrapped in flamboyant saris, frocks, skirts (of all possible lengths) and salwar-kameez. Every seat had a booklet – of lyrics of Carol Service and Holy Mass. We arrived pretty early (10:15 pm) in the hope of getting a front seat only to find that numerous others thought on similar lines and arrived earlier . This meant only a few seats were left unoccupied. Unable to find a front seat, we settled at whatever was available.

On Left and Right sides of the church, live feeds of the sessions was screened. Seating arrangement was really good. In fact, those who were standing at the back, several church volunteers managed seats for them, especially women and children. Standing the back center position inside the church gave a majestic view of the proceedings. We left our much coveted seats and stood at the back.

Theme – ‘Persecution’ was an all pervasive theme at St. Patrick’s Church. Destruction due to Tsunami, WTC attack, Church attacks (at Orissa, Karnataka and elsewhere) and Mumbai attack was portrayed. It felt good that despite the threats, so many (Christians and non-Christians alike) gathered at midnight to celebrate festive spirit. But after more than two decades of terrorism in the country, this theme has become oh-so-cliched.

I leave you with some more Christmas pictures. Merry Christmas.

Christmas amidst Persecution

Christmas amidst Persecution

Waiting for Baby Jesus

Waiting for Baby Jesus

Baby Jesus Arrives

Baby Jesus Arrives

Announcing the arrival of Baby Jesus

Announcing the arrival of Baby Jesus

Further Reading

Two hours at Cubbon Park

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The earlier tryst: My first visit to Cubbon Park was in April this year when we (me and my parents) took a tour operator’s bus to tour within Bangalore and it took a scheduled break at the place. Half an hour at the Visvesvaraya Industrial & Technological Museum, a brief stint at the park itself (it was just after the spring), a passerby look at the Museum and the board that said there’s an Art Gallery in the premises led me conclude that the place demands spending a quality time and is a full day visit. So, went there yesterday to complete this must-see in Bangalore.

The Plan: Power cut in the morning ensured I couldn’t look for online tips before for the visit – how to reach, timings, must-see, must-do, avoid etc. A bengali travel book – ‘Bhromon Songi’ indicated Kasturba Gandhi Road is where I should be headed to. Based on the earlier tryst and the anticipation thereof, I budgeted for seven hours for the visit, including two for commuting – I was taking BMTC bus after all.

Bus journey: No conductor in the bus inevitably meant queuing up before the driver to get your tickets. Now, this spelled trouble. Twenty minutes after the bus started, it was only a kilometer from where it started. Left the bus and took an auto to the place.

Government Museum: I knew that on public holidays and Wednesday, the Museum is closed. On a Saturday noon, there was hardly anyone around. Took a round of the red building and found a guard who said that ‘its second Saturday, it is closed’. Now, consider this: In all of 15 months in Bangalore, I happened to visit this place for the first time and that too on a day it was closed. Bad luck, eh. The guard suggested to visit the Art Gallery – ‘first floor’.

Museum

Museum

Venkatappa Art Gallery: I’ve been to some Art Galleries in Kolkata, and in Delhi. Loved most of them, Academy of Fine Arts (Kolkata) in particular. The ambiance, buzz of people, overhearing intellectual remarks (‘how you should see this piece’ or ‘why is this painting the best thing to hit the art circuit in last one year’), the canteen all make a mesmerizing combo. Venkatappa Art Gallery looked a little different, rather strikingly different. There were only two souls at the entrance – both of them guards. This really dampened my spirit. ‘First floor’, one of them said.

The First Floor: What struck me, again, was the total absence of visitors. Paintings by 6 artists were exhibited – around 30 odd pieces. Paintings of Buddha (6 I counted), village life (8), horses were abound. There were around 8 abstract paintings – and as usual, couldn’t understand even an iota of it. Back in Nandan, you would find people around and if you seek help, they would help you understand the art, irrespective of your dumb quotient. I consider myself unqualified to comment on something I couldn’t understand. However, the paintings of Ravichandran seemed appealing, even to me. The village market scene, the dancer, the fruit seller all seemed life like. Predictably, all such paintings had one common thread (except the same painter) – they all featured women. I wonder what is it between painters and women? I found solace here – at least I found something in common between art galleries of Kolkata, Delhi and Bangalore. I was done viewing the paintings in twenty minutes – what I expected to take more than an hour.

The Park: The entrance raises your expectation – a little stadium to the left, a bamboo groove to the right and a walk towards the bandstand (LalBagh) like structure in front. However, I was disappointed when I came closer – plastic littered all around, the absence of flowers and only a few people around – the place didn’t seem like the Cubbon Park I expected. A little walk around was all the more disappointing – there were places to sit – but all dirty, there were plants around – but not flowers.

March

March

The Saving Grace: Amidst all these, a group of ducks(or swans?) and turkeys lifted my spirits. The sight of these folks moving in group – like an army troop marching and whistling away to glory – was amazing. Took a couple of photographs and videos of the march. Suddenly, most of the things around seemed interesting – the bamboo groove (its tall and clustered existence), birds and love birds. Hungry and tired, I bid Cubbon Park adieu.

Summary: Power cut, conductor-less bus, second saturday, visitor-less art gallery and flower-less park rendered my much anticipated Cubbon Park visit utterly futile. Thanks you birds for being the silver lining in an otherwise wasteful exercise. Probably, a visit next spring would change my perception. But till that happens, I wouldn’t go to Cubbon Park for Park-like experience. I would rather visit LalBagh for this.

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LalBagh – A scrumptious treat

Tourists visiting Bangalore make it a point to visit LalBagh. All the travels and tour operators keep LalBagh in their itinerary. However, I didn’t pay a visit to this picturesque 240 acre (1 sq Km) Botanical Garden until last Saturday. Here’s a brief description of what I saw, observed and felt during my 5 hours at LalBagh.

Map of LalBagh

About the place

The garden houses 1000+ species of flora and was commissioned two-and-half centuries back by Hyder Ali. It houses a lake, several gardens (Japanese, Rose, Bonsai, Topiary), world’s one of the oldest Rock formations (and atop it lies Kempe Gowda Tower), a magnificient Glass House and a Floral Clock among other things. LalBagh remains open daily from 6 am to 7pm (Entry Fee-INR 10). The place is a jogger’s delight.

Glass House

Glass House

Location/How to Reach

LalBagh has four gates – of which, vehicles are allowed inside only from the East Gate. Local buses ply between several parts of the city to LalBagh, which is only 4km from Vidhana Soudha.

What to See

Glass House: Inspired by the famous Crystal Palace of London, Glass House is surrounded by Pencil Cedars and Champaka trees.

Lake: Ideal for bird watchers, joggers, and of course, love birds. Spending some time around it may remind you of lakes in Ooty and Kodaikanal.

A bird drying itself

A bird drying itself

Kempe Gowda Tower: It is a monument built over a stone formation that is one of the world’s oldest (3 billion years).

Other Attractions: An equestrian Statue of Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar stands tall and beside it, lies a Floral Clock. The Clock is surrounded by Snow White and Seven Dwarfs. Other places you may visit include Band Stand, Dove Cot, Bonsai Garden, Japanese Garden, Rose Garden, Aviary, Deer Paddock and Lotus Pond.

TravellersDiary Recommends

Buy a LalBagh map at the entrance – it costs just INR 5. If you’re an early riser, come to LalBagh at around 6am. Jog or walk around the lake for a mesmerizing view with the breeze caressing your face and hair. If you are a Photography enthusiast, you wouldn’t be dissapointed, thats for sure. A little late in the day, have some roasted corn, half ripe mangoes or groundnuts. Sit on the benches aside the lake, the Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden or the Band Stand and watch – the birds, the trees and flowers, the lake and other people doing the same. If you like sketching, take your ‘implements’ with you and sketch. Sit atop the small hillock – KG Tower and feed your eyes the view of Bangalore. The Flower Shows, organized twice a year (26th January, India’s Republic Day and 15th August, India’s Independence Day) are a must see. Ans yes, don’t miss the Deer Paddock.

Upside Down

Other Resources

TravellersDiary Pics

LalBagh’s Website

LalBagh at Karnataka Tourism

http://www.horticulture.kar.nic.in/lalbagh.htm