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Bangalore just doesn’t feel the same. Each time I visit the city, even after a short hiatus of 20 days, something has relocated, closed or altered, and standing in its place is a glitzier, swankier or more kitsch version of the previous establishment, undoubtedly one that serves beer (which is nothing to complain about!).

Once in a while I feel the need to reclaim this place and the things that I loved about it for 11 years. So I set out to list the places that make me and countless others Bangaloreans tear-up, giggle or just sigh with nostalgia for good ol’ Bangalore (not Bengaluru).

1. Koshy’s St. Mark’s Road

The ‘true blue Bangalorean’ hangout for authors, actors and disorientated travellers at the edge of the arterial MG Road – that’s Koshy’s for you. The intellectual chatter is sure to drown out your feeble attempts at hollering for service. Uniformed and uniformly blunt waiters flit around with steel trays, balancing favourites like mutton cutlets, caramel custard and pots of tea; expect only the potato smiley to grin back at you. Previous esteemed clientele include Jawaharlal Nehru and the Queen of England, so why would you not want to venture inside!

koshy's interior bangalore


2. Blossom Book House Church Street, behind MG Road

A loud cheer for humble beginnings! Mayi Gowda arrived in Bangalore from a village near Mysore, intent on finishing his engineering studies, probably trying to break away from the shackles of a career in agriculture. To sustain his studies, selling books and magazines on the pavement of MG Road seemed to be a noble yet lucrative option. One thing led to another, and now stands one of those bookshops in Bangalore that every credible author or reader would swear by. Leave your phone number if you cannot find a particular book and it will be hunted down for you in a few days. If you’ve ever walked around MG Road and not sauntered between the rows of high, musty bookshelves here you have not paid due homage.

inside blossoms book house bangalore


3. Pecos Pub Brigade Road, near MG Road

The most unapologetic, cosy, rock-blaring, ‘dosa-chicken combo’-serving heaven-on-earth would always be Pecos for me. Its tragic downfall from the top rank amongst rock music lovers is easy to ignore for those who still drool over the cassette-lined wall behind the bar and cheeky posters of Frank Zappa, Led Zeppelin and The Who. If you haven’t tumbled down the spiral steps inside the dingy bar or been ushered out from the kitchen at 12 am, then you may not want to claim your love for Pecos to old-timers. A newer version now sits just a short walk away.

photo of the bar at pecos bangalore


4. Indian Coffee House Church Street, behind MG Road

Abstain from delusions of immaculate service and appetizing food when you visit this restaurant, resilient in its character owing to its legendary visitors, a mish-mash of artistes, freedom fighters and jhola wielding intellectuals. Turbaned waiters hastily push the spartan menu and rush you through your meal with frosty hospitality. Take in the aura of crumbling walls, old coffee posters, unpretentious furniture and the chatter of college-goers over cutlets and a glass of rose milk.

waiter at Indian coffee house in bangalore


5. Cubbon Park Kasturba Road

Spread across 300 green acres with clusters of bamboo, boulevards of towering trees and avenues that bisect them. Running clubs, laughing groups, yoga enthusiasts, musicians and dog walkers all have a coterie here, and you’ll likely run into ice cream & pineapple hawkers plus vigilant cops keeping an eye on young couples. Integral to the park are Attara Kacheri (the High Court), the statue of King Edward, the Tennis Academy and Bal Bhavan (the Children’s Park). Go here to breathe easy and dispel all notions of Bangalore’s excessive traffic!

statue in cubbon park bangalore


6. Corner House at Airlines Hotel Madras Bank Road

One of the landmark dessert joints of the city, Corner House has been dishing out the best ice cream combos for over 25 years. The popularity of favourites like Death by Chocolate, Seasonal Fruit (especially strawberries) and the classic Hot Chocolate Fudge prompted the chain to open 15 outlets in Bangalore and another one in Mysore. Choose the Airlines outlet over others for the sheer history of the place.

corner house ice cream parlour at Airlines hotel, Bangalore


7. Levitate 100 Feet Road

Bangalore’s original address for vibrant boho apparel, kitschy knick-knacks, silver and costume jewellery and much more, set in a cosy and packed 1st floor pod at the 100 Feet restaurant. Biker and aficionado of all things handcrafted, owner Meghna Khanna is the city’s glam gal who steered its taste towards alternative jewellery, brightly coloured shoes and unique accessories.

levitate bangalore shopphoto courtesy of Levitate™ India – The 1st Stop CrazY Shop


8. aPaulogy Curious Illustration Gallery Clarke Road, near Richards Park

Travel back in time to the gallery of cartoonist Paul Fernandes, when riding a bicycle in the dark, minus a kerosene oil lamp, was a serious crime. Heritage enthusiasts will love this unique place that brings alive the old institutions of the city. Pick up original prints of posters (INR 1300-2500), they make great souvenirs and are an authentic slice of Bangalore’s past reflected in the here and now.

paul fernandes imagephoto courtesy of aPaulogy.com


9. Chickpet

This 400-year-old market is the place to go if you’re looking for anything from false hair to silk saris! Bustling shoppers pace the narrow streets so watch out for colossal bags that won’t hestitate to knock you down. My pick includes the famous Balaji Antiques, the first vendor of gramophones in the state, followed by a sari pilgrimage via some of the oldest shops here.

sari shop interior in Chikpet Bangalorephoto courtesy of Nicolas Mirguet


10. Juke Box 1st Main Road, Koramangala

The laidback retro ambience coupled with BEER makes Juke Box perfect for languorous lunches. Old rock stars peer down from the wall as their 70s classics nudge you to hum along. What do you order? Sizzlers. Period.

pic of juke box bar in bangalorephoto courtesy of Juke Box