Bengaluru – Maintains its charms in the midst of chaotic change.

“When I shifted to Bengaluru in 2012 it was beautiful, and the Mercer rankings came out that year too. They put Bangalore as India’s no 1 city to live in (of course even then it was 141 out of 221 cities worldwide) but now it is 146th and Hyderabad has come on top! Does that mean its become bad. Don’t think so (sic). I love the way this city lives especially love its weather,” enthuses Shruti who moved in and now refuses to even think of moving away from the warm hug of Bengaluru.

The city has also always been known for its weather. It is mild and pleasant for most parts of the year and that alone makes a huge difference in how you judge a city. Rushing to work on a hot humid day with the sun blazing on your face or when it’s so cold that your toes freeze inside woolen socks makes smiling difficult.

By Nishka Rathi

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Modern Living Modern Problems

Bengaluru, the seeming new but actual old name holds a modern spirit. Actually the name has never really mattered for Bengaluru, for it has been known by different names at different times. It has been called Pensioners’ Paradise and the Garden City of India. Now it is also known as Silicon Valley of India, The Pub Capital of India and also Air Conditioned City! And with all these myriad, modern names it also faces the modern problems of traffic, chaos and space crunch; yet despite it all Bengaluru still holds a welcoming face and a loving spirit.

The population has really surged in the past decade or so and now Bengaluru is the third most populous city of India. The IT revolution made it the technology hub of India and even the bio-technology industry grew here. They are the major employers now and attract talent from all over India and even abroad. Between years 2001 and 2011 its population has grown from just 5.1 million to 8.4 million.

The positive thing is all that population growth indicates economic growth in the last decade because people flock where they get jobs and growing jobs mean growing industries. The city has always had a welcoming way and though the influx of a huge non-ethnic population might have stretched its hospitality a bit and created some mutterings in the deep corners yet the overall feeling is warm.

But on the flip side the infrastructure has not grown at the same pace as the burgeoning population; and all those teeming millions have been fitted into the same claustrophobic space.

Traffic can get your anger blazing in this city. It seems to be rivaling Mumbai in this too. Especially in the last few years there has been a heavy upsurge of traffic and of course traffic jams. Earlier people only complained of heavy traffic during the holiday season; now people are stuck for two hours on normal working days too.

Friends in Bangalore often complain about the traffic. “Do you know it takes me a good hour or so to get to the mall even if it is in a five km radius, thanks to the traffic chaos. Now add more time for getting a parking space, watching a movie or shopping, and finally going back home. The whole trip sounds tiring before I turn on the car key. Prefer watching a movie at home,” rues Arun K. a businessman in this thriving city.

City Verve

There is a different energy in Bengaluru. Recently a city artist Baadal Nanjundaswamy filled a 12-foot-long pothole on the busy Sultan Palya Main Road in RT Nagar, with a life-size crocodile and painted the surrounding area in green and yellow. It surely got the municipal corporation quickly moving to clear the problem caused by a burst pipe a month back. Facets like these liven a city up and people like Nanjundaswamy add character. For a city is more than just the architecture, planning and administration-the people make it throb.

Namma Metro

That’s what the metro is known as in Bengaluru. It has been a work in progress since a decade and even now there are many parts still left unmade. Phase I of Namma Metro will ultimately cover a total of 42.3 km and should be completed by the end of 2015. Phase II (spanning a length of 72.1 km) has an approximate completion date of December 2019. But some issues still exist even in the operational route.

“Yes there are some problems that could have been solved with more attention to detail like certain stations have few bus connections if you want to go further on,” says Revathi B, a frequent metro traveller. “Then I have to get off a station or two earlier to get the bus. But on the whole I love the Metro experience especially the clean stations and AC coaches.”

Bengaluru’s vitality and charm lies in its warm, multi-cultural outlook. Modern industries have made it rise from its slumbering image but its real test is in working its charm and finding its own solutions to city problems.

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Tender SURE Roads

Do you really know what’s under your road? It is a maze of electricity wires, water and sewer pipes and gas lines that overlap underground. And when one department digs to sort out some problem, more often than not it ends up creating a problem for another. The fact is all those line problems, potholes and melting roads cause major bottlenecks plus are expensive to repair. According to the National Transport Development Committee’s 2011 report, the cost of replacing poor roads came to a whopping Rs.9 trillion.

Now, imagine roads that last and don’t melt away at the first drop of rain; roads that are crater-free and smooth. Yes, it is happening in Bengaluru.

‘Tender SURE’s” goal is to ensure that the roads once completed will actually last. It is the brainchild of non-profit Janaagrah Centre for Citizenship and Democracy, is financed by the Karnataka government and adopted by Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, the civic body. It stipulates minimum quality indicators for contractors along with a mandatory five-year maintenance clause and aims to simultaneously sort out the unplanned maze of electricity, water, sewer and gas lines that overlap underground. If this project succeeds it will mean a major re-think over roads in India.

Historical sites

Bangalore has many charms none the least is its majestic history.

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Bangalore Palace:

Its construction was started by Rev. J. Garrett in 1862. He was the first principal of what is now known as Central College. The palace changed hands since and is now owned by the Mysore royal family. A part of the palace is open for the public and the other portion is still a vacation home for the royal family.

Tipu Sultan’s Palace:

It was the summer palace of Tipu Sulatan and stands out as a beautiful example of Indo-Islamic architecture. Built entirely of teak and airy with many balconies, pillars, arches, rooms and walls the palace abounds in beautiful floral motifs paintings of battle scenes.